October 10, 2018

(Un)Stuffed banana pepper macaroni and cheese

I've talked about stuffed banana peppers on this blog before when I posted my super popular (Un)Stuffed Banana Pepper Soup. They are a regional specialty at bars and pizzerias here in Western New York. Ever since making and posting my soup version, I've been meaning to do a mac n' cheese version. We've been getting a lot of hot banana peppers gifted to us recently, so it was time. My soup recipe uses pork, but with the noodles I kept this dish meatless. I made this dish with all hot banana peppers because that's what we had, but you can use mild/sweet banana peppers or a mix of sweet and hot depending on your heat preference. Ours was pretty hot, even with all the noodles and cheese, but we like spicy hot foods every now and again (I made some separate plain mac n' cheese for the toddlers). I will admit that it isn't the prettiest looking stuff or the most photogenic meal, but it tastes delicious. Creamy and gooey macaroni and cheese with a kick! This recipe will serve about 4-5 people as a main dish with a side like a salad, or more people as a side dish.

(Un)Stuffed banana pepper macaroni and cheese
5 tablespoons unsalted butter, divided
12 oz. small shell pasta (or other short cut pasta such as elbows)
1 medium sweet yellow onion, chopped
4 medium/large banana peppers, seeded and chopped (about 1-1/2 cups)
salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
3 garlic cloves, minced
1-1/2 teaspoons Italian seasoning, divided
1/4 cup all-purpose flour
4 cups milk (I used 2%)
4 oz. cream cheese, cubed and softened
2 packed cups grated mozzarella cheese
1 packed cup grated extra-sharp cheddar cheese
1/4 cup breadcrumbs

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. Butter a large baking dish. Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil and cook the noodles until just under al dente. Drain and return the noodles to the pot off the heat. While the noodles cook, make the sauce. 

In a large pot melt one tablespoon of butter over medium heat. Add the onions and banana peppers along with a good pinch of salt and a few grinds of black pepper. Cook, stirring often, until the vegetables are softened. Stir in the garlic, 1 teaspoon of Italian seasoning, and 2 tablespoons of butter. Cook for one minute and then whisk in the flour.

Cook the flour for one minute and then whisk in the milk. Bring to a low boil, whisking often, and then reduce to a simmer. Continue cooking whisking often, until the mixture begins to thicken. Whisk in the cream cheese until melted and season with more salt and pepper if needed.

Remove from the heat and whisk in the mozzarella and cheddar one handful at a time. Stir the cheese sauce into the pot of noodles and then pour everything into the baking dish (it will be soupy).

In a small pan, melt the remaining 2 tablespoons of butter. Stir in the remaining 1/2 teaspoon of Italian seasoning and the breadcrumbs. Sprinkle on top of the macaroni and cheese.

Bake for about 15-20 minutes, until the cheese is bubbling and the breadcrumbs are golden. Let cool for about 5 minutes before serving.

What was I cooking one year ago?: banana spinach oat blender muffins
Two years ago?: chocolate beetroot cake
Three years ago?: three-cheese apple & bacon pizza
Four years ago?: pumpkin spice snickerdoodles
Five?: cabbage roll soup
Six?: apple crisp pie
Seven?: roasted chicken thighs w/ garlic cloves
8?: pork & pepper goulash


  1. This looks super comforting and moreish!

  2. I love banana peppers- this is getting made! What a great combo in here!

  3. Some of the best tasting stuff isn't that photogenic, is it? Although this looks pretty good if you ask me! Awesome recipe -- thanks.

  4. I bet this is really good! Sounds like a great recipe to try! Thanks!

  5. i have made pint after pint of pickled banana peppers and i can't take it anymore! this is a fantastic way to use them up!!

  6. What size dish? Can I use canned sliced banana peppers

  7. What size dish and can canned sliced banana peppers be used

    1. A large baking dish will do. I think the one I use is a deep 11" x 11" square. A 9x13 should be fine. I've never used canned banana peppers. They are generally pickled so it would change the flavors, and may be a little overpowering? I'm not sure.

  8. Do you think you could do rice instead of noodles?

    1. I've never tried it, but if you do let me know! Sounds delicious.


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