5 Creative Ways to Repurpose Leftover Mac and Cheese

These new spins on a classic will become instant family favorites.

Southerners never run out of food. We over-prepare for every holiday, and more often than not, even low-key family dinners leave us with ample leftovers. We love to make extra food not only to ensure that everyone gets a fair share, but also to make our lives easier—leftovers take care of meals for the next few days. We've been meal prepping since before it was a trend.

But chipping away at the same leftover casserole for three meals in a row can get tiring. That's why we've devised quite a few creative ways to revamp our leftovers. From leftover turkey sandwiches to casseroles crowned with leftover mashed potatoes, Southern leftover concoctions are always innovative. And now, we're here with ideas to bring new life to a household staple—macaroni and cheese.

Classic Baked Macaroni and Cheese

 Beth Dreiling Hontzas; Food Styling: Angella Sellers and Vanessa McNiel Rocchio; Prop Styling: Melanie J. Clarke and Sissy Lamerton

Whether you're eating mac and cheese as part of a holiday meal or just have a portion or two left over from a weeknight dinner, we've come up with 5 ideas to repurpose everyone's favorite cheesy dish. Some are simple ways to dress up your leftovers, while others are more elaborate methods to make a whole new dish out of last night's dinner. No matter which route you take, these dishes that use leftover mac and cheese will become instant classics.

1. Top it with breadcrumbs

The easiest way to make any dish of mac and cheese feel brand new? Top it with a fresh layer of cheese and herbed breadcrumbs, then bake it in the oven. The bubbling cheese and crisp, golden breadcrumbs will make you forget that you're eating yesterday's meal.

2. Spice it up

Ramp up the flavors of a traditional mac and cheese to transform it into an entirely new dish. We love embracing spices to bring some heat to bland leftovers; our Cajun Mac and Cheese leans on Cajun seasoning, as well as onions and bell peppers, to reinvent a tray of mac.

3. Bake it into a casserole

Most casseroles involve a starch of some sort, whether it's pasta, rice, or potatoes. Since most casseroles also include some kind of cheese, so why not kill two birds with one stone and throw your mac and cheese into your casserole? Mac and cheese would be a great substitute for fresh pasta or rice in any of our favorite casseroles, like Sloppy Joe Casserole or Cheesy Broccoli-and-Rice Casserole.

4. Bake it into a pie

Refrigerated pie crust + leftover mac and cheese = the ultimate dinnertime treat. Use our recipe for Macaroni Pie as a guide, swapping freshly-cooked pasta for your mac leftovers. Dinner will be ready in a jiffy.

5. Fry it

As Mama always said, "When in doubt, throw it in the deep fryer." Test Kitchen Professional Ivy Odom has taught us that one way to instantly upgrade leftovers—from pie to ice cream—is to fry them, and we can't help but agree.

While there are many foods that can be upgraded with a flash-fry (Oreos, mozzarella sticks, Twinkies… the list goes on), fried mac and cheese is an indulgent snack that we just cannot resist. The best way to fry your mac and cheese is to shape it into balls, freeze them, coat them in egg and breadcrumbs and toss them in the fryer. These fried mac and cheese poppers can be served as an appetizer, a side, or a midday snack.

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