Salsa Verde Pepper Jack Macaroni and Cheese

This mega creamy Lightened Up Salsa Verde Pepper Jack Macaroni and Cheese is crazy flavorful infused with salsa verde, pepper jack and sharp cheddar and super easy to make!  I’ve also included the option to add chicken, corn and zucchini for a complete meal all in one and on your table in under 30 minutes!

This mega creamy (lightened up) Salsa Verde Pepper Jack Macaroni and Cheese is crazy flavorful infused with salsa verde, pepper jack and sharp cheddar and super easy to make! A new family favorite on the table in under 30 minutes (including the option of chicken and veggies)!

Happy National Pasta Day!  Today I’m celebrating with this ridiculously delicious Lightened Up Salsa Verde Pepper Jack Macaroni and Cheese because Mexican food + creamy pasta = my dreams come true.  And hopefully yours too!

This mega creamy (lightened up) Salsa Verde Pepper Jack Macaroni and Cheese is crazy flavorful infused with salsa verde, pepper jack and sharp cheddar and super easy to make! A new family favorite on the table in under 30 minutes (including the option of chicken and veggies)!


I loooooove Macaroni and Cheese from my Buffalo Chicken Macaroni and Cheese to Beefy Buffalo Mac and Cheese to my Million Dollar Macaroni and Cheese and I loooove salsa verde from my Homemade Salsa Verde to my Salsa Verde Chicken to my Salsa Verde Chicken Enchiladas.  So why not combine my two loves and make Salsa Verde Macaroni and Cheese?!

This mega creamy (lightened up) Salsa Verde Pepper Jack Macaroni and Cheese is crazy flavorful infused with salsa verde, pepper jack and sharp cheddar and super easy to make! A new family favorite on the table in under 30 minutes (including the option of chicken and veggies)!

I chose to make this Mac and Cheese a meal in one with the addition of chicken, zucchini and corn that sauté for a couple minutes with some salt and pepper.  You can certainly leave the chicken and veggies out or swap out the veggies for whatever you have on hand.  Ground beef would also be divine instead of chicken in this Pepper Jack Macaroni and Cheese.

This mega creamy (lightened up) Salsa Verde Pepper Jack Macaroni and Cheese is crazy flavorful infused with salsa verde, pepper jack and sharp cheddar and super easy to make! A new family favorite on the table in under 30 minutes (including the option of chicken and veggies)!

The lightened up Salsa Verde Pepper Jack Sauce – that tastes anything but light –  has only 2 tablespoons of butter and no heavy cream so you can feel a little less guilty about eating half the pan. And I ate almost half the pan.

This mega creamy (lightened up) Salsa Verde Pepper Jack Macaroni and Cheese is crazy flavorful infused with salsa verde, pepper jack and sharp cheddar and super easy to make! A new family favorite on the table in under 30 minutes (including the option of chicken and veggies)!

The sauce has a nice kick thanks to the salsa verde and the pepper jack cheese, but shouldn’t be overly spicy for your kiddos.  I add ancho chili pepper for even more of a kick and my husband loaded it with hot sauce but I recommend tasting the sauce before adding and heat because even without extra heat its packed with fiestalicious flavor!

This mega creamy (lightened up) Salsa Verde Pepper Jack Macaroni and Cheese is crazy flavorful infused with salsa verde, pepper jack and sharp cheddar and super easy to make! A new family favorite on the table in under 30 minutes (including the option of chicken and veggies)!

To make the quick homemade cheese sauce, simply melt your butter in some olive oil and whisk in some flour, cook for 2 minutes then stir in your salsa verde, milk and evaporated milk.  The evaporated milk helps create an incredibly silky sauce that’s not only lighter but doesn’t separate or curdle.

Next, stir in your Cheeses and your optional chicken and veggies and silkilicoius Salsa Verde Pepper Jack Macaroni and Cheese is served!

This mega creamy (lightened up) Salsa Verde Pepper Jack Macaroni and Cheese is crazy flavorful infused with salsa verde, pepper jack and sharp cheddar and super easy to make! A new family favorite on the table in under 30 minutes (including the option of chicken and veggies)!

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©Carlsbad Cravings by CarlsbadCravings.com

This mega creamy (lightened up) Salsa Verde Pepper Jack Macaroni and Cheese is crazy flavorful infused with salsa verde, pepper jack and sharp cheddar and super easy to make! A new family favorite on the table in under 30 minutes (including the option of chicken and veggies)!

LOOKING FOR MORE RECIPES WITH SALSA VERDE?

Looking for more Mexican recipes?

This mega creamy (lightened up) Salsa Verde Pepper Jack Macaroni and Cheese is crazy flavorful infused with salsa verde, pepper jack and sharp cheddar and super easy to make! A new family favorite on the table in under 30 minutes (including the option of chicken and veggies)!

Salsa Verde Pepper Jack Macaroni and Cheese

his mega creamy Lightened Up Salsa Verde Pepper Jack Macaroni and Cheese is crazy flavorful infused with salsa verde, pepper jack and sharp cheddar and super easy to make!  I’ve also included the option to add chicken, corn and zucchini for a complete meal all in one and on your table in under 30 minutes!
Servings: 4 -6
Prep Time: 10 minutes
Cook Time: 15 minutes

Ingredients

  • 1 pound cellentani pasta (may sub rigatoni, penne or macaroni)
  • 1 pound chicken breasts chopped into bite size pieces
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 cup chopped zucchini
  • 1 cup sweet corn
  • salt and pepper

Cheese Sauce

  • 2 tablespoons butter
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • ¼ cup AP flour
  • 1 1/2 cups milk
  • 1 cup Homemade Salsa Verde (or mild storebought Herdez)
  • 1 12 oz. can evaporated milk
  • ½ teaspoon salt plus more to taste
  • 1/2 teaspon ground cumin
  • 1 cup freshly grated Pepper Jack cheese
  • 1 cup freshly grated sharp cheddar cheese
  • 1/4-1/2 teaspoon ancho chili pepper, (optional)
  • Hot sauce to taste (optional)

Instructions

  • Cook pasta in generously salted water just until al dente according to package directions.
  • Meanwhile, heat 1 tablespoon olive oil over medium high heat in a large skillet. Add chicken, season with ½ teaspoon salt and ⅛ teaspoon pepper and cook just until the outside of the chicken is no longer pink. Add zucchini and corn and cook an additional 1-2 minutes or until chicken is completely cooked through and zucchini is crisp-tender. Remove to a plate and wipe out skillet.
  • To the now empty skillet, melt 2 tablespoons butter in 2 tablespoons olive oil over medium heat then whisk in flour. Cook, while stirring for 2 minutes. Turn heat to low then gradually whisk in milk, salsa verde evaporated milk, salt and cumin.
  • Bring to a boil, whisking constantly, then reduce heat to medium and simmer, whisking occasionally until thickened (but not overly thick). Remove from heat and stir in pepper jack cheese until melted followed by cheddar cheese until completely melted. Taste and add ancho chili powder if desired.
  • Add pasta and toss until evenly coated. Add chicken/corn/zucchini and stir until evenly combined. Season with additional salt and pepper to taste and hot sauce if desired.

Notes

Feel free to swap out the zucchini and corn for whatever veggies you want.  Ground beef would also be delicious instead of chicken.  If you don’t use the chicken, zucchini and/or corn just know that your pasta will be a little extra cheesy  – which is never a bad thing :).

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121 Comments

  1. Michele Davidson says

    This looks amazing!
    I love to make homemade meat sauce with zesty Italian sausage and ground beef or spaghetti. Yum!

  2. Brittany says

    Any kind of homemade mac and cheese!! I have a buffalo chicken mac and cheese that is one of my favorite dishes to make!

  3. Cherie says

    Macaroni and cheese with poblano peppers and bacon 🙂 Your taco pasta bake is also one of my favs!

  4. Rana Durham says

    i love making beef vegeable stragnoff.

    • Carolyn says

      This was delicious! I had leftover salsa verde (from making those delicious creamy white chicken enchiladas) as well as some Monterey Jack cheese. I subbed Monterey Jack for pepper jack. Still delicious. Will be making again. Thanks for the recipe!

      • Jen says

        You’re so welcome Carolyn! I’m so pleased it was a hit!

  5. ashley y. says

    My favorite pasta dish to make at home is probably a creamy white wine/mushroom sauce with a fat noodle like fettuccine or tagliatelle.

  6. Geoff Spraguer says

    Garlic Shrimp Fettuccini Alfredo is my all time Favorite!

  7. Jessica says

    Quick Question: Could this be frozen and then baked it reheat? I’m in the process of putting meals away in our freezer for the birth of our first baby and was thinking this might be a good candidate?

    THANKS!

    • Jen says

      Hi Jessica, you are so on top of things! Yes, this should freeze very well. A few tips- make sure you cook your pasta al dente so it is slightly firm to prevent mushiness. To keep the pasta from absorbing too much sauce and making a dry dish, use 25% less pasta so the ratio of sauce to pasta is increased. Hope this helps! Congrats!

      • Jessica says

        AWESOME!! Thank you!! Also. I just stumbled upon your site last week and LOVE your taste! Thanks so much!

        • Jen says

          You are so welcome Jessica! I am glad we are share the same tastes – I know how fun it can be to fins a “foodie kindred spirit” 🙂

  8. Sue says

    My favorite pasta to make at home is seafood mac and cheese with shrimp and lobster, but your recipe looks delicious and I can’t wait to try it!! And I would be so excited to win this pan!!

  9. Heidi says

    Just made this, turned out great! Added bacon, 1 clove of garlic, and onion, left out the corn and zucchini. Every recipe I’ve made turns out, thank you!!

    • Jen says

      Hearing that everything you’ve made of mine has turned out is the ultimate compliment! I’m so happy you loved this pasta and your changes sound delicious!!

  10. Kristy says

    What can I use instead of evaporated milk? I am lactose intolerant.

    I love your meals ..btw!

    • Jen says

      Hi Kristy, I would use chicken broth. Enjoy!

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