The classic macaroni and cheese that Americans know and love is made simply with a sharp cheese, usually cheddar, grated and melted over elbow pasta and milk, for a cheesy and creamy texture that is just right.
Of course, not all macaroni and cheese is made alike. Depending on flavor preferences and who’s making it, there are tons of variations on this classic mac and cheese dish that are enjoyed all over the world. Some recipes go as far back as 1769, around the time when the earliest known recipe for mac and cheese was tested and jotted down in a pasta-lover’s cookbook.
Historians believe macaroni and cheese originated in Northern Europe, later making its way to the rest of the world. It was introduced to America in the 1800s by Thomas Jefferson, who, while visiting France, fell in love with the dish and brought home recipes and a pasta machine. He even served mac and cheese at an 1802 state dinner.
Just as we love it in America, so do people around the world. But macaroni and cheese isn’t made the same in every country. Traditional Egyptian mac and cheese, known as “macaroni béchamel,” calls for ground meat baked between two layers of macaroni and covered in béchamel sauce (a mixture of butter, flour, and milk) and cheese. Käsespätzle, the German version of mac and cheese is traditionally made simply with cheese and caramelized onions.
What Indian people call “desi mac” is made with tomatoes, haldi (turmeric), garlic, dhania (cilantro leaves), and cheese. In Spain, though, cheese isn’t the main ingredient in mac and cheese. The Spanish version is typically made with pork sausage, tomato sauce, and onion and then topped with grated cheese.
No matter the region or the recipe, all mac and cheese is always made with two ingredients: plenty of cheese and pasta. Read on to see how people make macaroni and cheese around the world.
Brazilian Mac and Cheese
Requeijão, a brand of cream cheese spread, is the main ingredient Brazilians use in their mac and cheese to make it an especially creamy dish.
Egyptian Mac and Cheese
Known as “macaroni béchamel,” traditional Egyptian mac and cheese calls for ground meet baked between two layers of macaroni and covered in béchamel sauce (a mixture of butter, flour, and milk) and cheese.
Haley WIllard is The Daily Meal's assistant editor. Follow her on Twitter @haleywillrd.
Originally published on April 11, 2014.