Flamin’ Hot Cheetos Mac and Cheese

This Creamy and Spicy Mac and Cheese made with three cheeses and topped with a hot Cheetos breadcrumbs topping will take your Mac and Cheese game to the next level! You can totally leave out the Hot Cheetos for a regular Mac and cheese but the Hot Cheetos make it a showstopper.

Flamin Hot Cheetos Mac and Cheese

What Kind of Cheese?

The key to this recipe is not the type of cheese you use, but how you buy it. Tt can make or break your mac and cheese! The most important thing to remember is that you should try to use block cheese and shred it on your own rather than buying pre-shredded cheese. The pre-shredded cheese is often coated stuff that is meant to keep the cheese from clumping up. The type of cheese you use is completely up to what you like and can find at your supermarket. I’ll pretty much always use one sharp cheddar for classic Mac and cheese, one process cheese like American or Velveeta for texture and one fun cheese like pepper jack! I always buy them off the block and grate them myself.

Flamin Hot Cheetos Mac and Cheese

Breaking it Down: Step by Step

Making homemade mac and cheese may seem like a daunting task, but trust me when I say it’s easier than it’s made out to be. I broke it down into a few simple steps to outline just how simple it really is!

  1. For the first step of the sauce, mix butter, garlic and flour to make the roux – which is meant to thicken the sauce.
  2. Then, add in the milk, seasonings and half and half.
  3. Once the sauce thickens, add in your shredded cheese and stir!
  4. Toss in the cooked macaroni or any pasta.
  5. Spread half of the mac and cheese onto a baking pan and top with some additional cheese. Add on the second layer of mac and cheese and then top lots of breadcrumbs and hot cheeto dust.

Yes! It’s really that simple!

Flamin Hot Cheetos Mac and Cheese

What is a Roux?

For pretty much any pasta sauce recipe on my website, you will most often see the word “roux”. What is a roux and why do we use it? A roux is simply a starch and fat mixed together. Usually butter and flour. This mixture helps create a thicken up the milk for your cheese sauce. Roux is not essential for a cheese sauce, but it is definitely my preferred and recommended method because it creates a really nice texture!

Troubleshooting Grainy mac & cheese

A common complaint with homemade cheese sauce is that it has a grainy texture. This happens for many reasons but here are some tips that will help you avoid common mistakes that lead to this odd texture:

  1. Try to only use freshly-grated cheese as pre-shredded cheese will not melt as evenly in the sauce.
  2. Another very common mistake is tossing cheese into the sauce straight out of the refrigerator. You want to allow the cheese to get to room temperature before adding it to the sauce to help it melt better.
  3. Don’t stir the cheese sauce on a high flame. You want to expose it to gradual temperature changes slow and steady to allow it to melt properly. Be patient!
  4. Use Whole Milk, all milk is not created equally and a whole or 2% milk with fat will create a much better texture.
  5. Only stir as much as needed. Do not over-stir the sauce. Once the cheese has melted, add in the pasta and then leave it alone!
  6. For this recipe particularly, DO NOT mix the Cheetos into the Mac and cheese. The texture is best when you use it as a crumb topping and mix it as you eat. Mixing it while cooking just creates a really unpleasant color and texture.
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Flamin’ Hot Cheetos Mac and Cheetos

  • Total Time: 40 minutes
  • Yield: 810 1x


This Creamy and Spicy Mac and Cheese made with three cheeses and topped with a hot Cheetos breadcrumbs topping will take your Mac and Cheese game to the next level! You can totally leave out the Hot Cheetos for a regular Mac and cheese but the Hot Cheetos make it a showstopper.


  • 1 lb dry Macaroni
  • 1 stick butter (1/2 cup)
  • 4 cloves garlic, minced
  • 2 jalapenos, minced (with seeds for spice)
  • 1/2 cup flour
  • 3 cups milk
  • 1 tsp black pepper
  • 1/2 tsp paprika
  • 1/2 tsp salt, or to taste
  • 2 cups half and half
  • 1/2 cup Velveeta or 56 slices American Cheese
  • 2.5 cups cheddar cheese
  • 2 cups pepper jack cheese
  • Panko Breadcrumbs
  • Hot Cheetos


  1. Boil your macaroni according to the package to al dente will you make the sauce. Strain once cooked and set aside. 
  2. Put all your ingredients out so you can work quickly and have them the same temperature as you cook.
  3. In a saucepan, add butter and let it completely melt on medium heat. Add in garlic and jalapeños, and sauté until it smells nice. Then, add in the flour and mix it really well (this is called the “roux”). It’s gonna get really thick like a paste. Cook for 1-2 minutes (this is important for texture)
  4. Now add in 3 cups of milk, stirring as you add it and let it thicken like a sauce. Then, add in the half and half, black pepper and paprika. Heat on medium heat until everything thicken and bubbles. Taste and add salt to taste.
  5. Lower the stove to a LOW HEAT. Whisk in one cup of cheese at a time until completely melted. If it gets thick, don’t worry you’re on the right track!
  6. Turn off the heat immediately after cheese is melted, add in the cooked macaroni pasta and stir well. 
  7. Pour the macaroni and cheese into an over safe dish and top with cheddar cheese. Broil on high until the top is browned. Then, sprinkle on panko breadcrumbs and broil until golden. While this is baking, add the Hot Cheetos to a ziploc bag and use a rolling pin to break it down into fine crumbles to make cheeto dust. Once the the Mac and cheese is done baking, sprinkle the hot cheetos dust all over the top and serve! (you can definitely skip the baking if you would like – just leave out the cheese topping and and directly top with Cheetos dust + breadcrumbs and serve)

Make sure to tag me @eatsbyramya (or send me a picture if you’re private) to get entered into a Nespresso/Ourplace pan giveaway!!

  • Prep Time: 10 minutes
  • Cook Time: 30 minutes
  • Category: Pasta

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  1. Jasmine Patel says:

    This is such a delicious twist to our normal Mac and cheese recipe! Everyone loved the twist of putting hot Cheetos on top and it won everyone’s heart!! It was so so good, and I definitely will be making this again because the Mac and cheese was delicious!

  2. I made this for Thanksgiving without the Flamin’ Hot Cheetos topping but it was still amazing! It has the right amount of heat and a great flavor. Super creamy too! My family absolutely loved it and I will definitely be making it again!