Southwestern Macaroni and Cheese with Adobo Meatballs Recipe -
Southwestern Macaroni and Cheese with Adobo Meatballs Recipe

Southwestern Macaroni and Cheese with Adobo Meatballs

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"A smooth and surprising macaroni and cheese recipe with savory Mexican meatballs that will make you say 'Ole! Gimme more!'"

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Ingredients Edit and Save

Original recipe makes 8 servings Change Servings
  • PREP

    25 mins
  • COOK

    40 mins

    1 hr 5 mins


  1. Preheat oven to 325 degrees F (165 degrees C). Bring a large pot of lightly salted water to a boil. Add macaroni and cook for 8 to 10 minutes or until al dente; drain.
  2. In a large bowl, mix ground beef with adobo seasoning and powdered jalapeno pepper. Roll into small, 1 inch meatballs. Heat olive oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add meatballs, and cook until browned on all sides, then remove to drain on a paper towel-lined plate. The meatballs do not need to be thoroughly cooked at this point as they will finish cooking in the oven.
  3. While the meatballs are cooking, melt the butter in a large saucepan over medium heat. Gently cook the butter until it begins to brown, and acquires a nutty fragrance, about 1 minute. Stir in the cream, sour cream, Cheddar cheese, cottage cheese, cotija cheese, garlic powder, and cilantro. Bring to a simmer, stirring constantly until the cheese has melted. Season to taste with salt and white pepper.
  4. Stir the cooked macaroni and diced chiles into the cheese sauce, and pour into a 9x13 inch baking dish. Slice the meatballs in half, and place onto the pasta cut-side down.
  5. Bake in preheated oven until the cheese sauce is bubbly, and the meatballs are no longer pink in the center, about 25 minutes.
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Reviews More Reviews

Most Helpful Positive Review
Oct 24, 2007

I made this tonight and am eating it right now. I was not sure what "adobo seasoning" was, but I found something by Goya that had the word Adobo on it so I used that. I couldn't find any jalapeno powder so I used a whole jalapeno minced fine. I don't know what it would be like if you added the jalapeno powder, but just by adding the jalapeno it wasn't spicy at all. The flavor of the dish is really good, but when I went to serve it, there was a lot of runny liquid in the casserole. I think the next time I might leave out the cream and see if that helps. Also, the meatballs are very salty, there is a lot of salt in the adobo seasoning so the next time I will only use 1 Tbls of the seasoning. Instead of putting the meatballs on top of the dish, I cut them in half and mixed them in with the macaroni and cheese. The sauce is really good. I will definitely make this again, it's really good. UPDATE: the pasta must have absorbed the excess liquid because I ate the leftovers today and it wasn't too runny.

Most Helpful Critical Review
Oct 16, 2012

Thought that the fat-free cottage cheese wasn't exactly the most fun of textures in my opinion. The kids hated it the chunks of rubbery cheese. The problem with fat free cottage cheese is that it can be rubbery and not appetizing whatsoever. What I do suggest though, however, is use 2% ricotta cheese. Use fresh chilis instead of canned, and use real garlic cloves as opposed to garlic powder. I would never make this recipe again to the T like I did prior, but I would make it to where it was not the original.


22 Ratings

May 04, 2010

I made this over the weekend for some friends. Although I did change up the recipe (used already made/frozen meatballs and added adobo seasoning to it), still was a hit. I personally thought the recipe was 4 stars, but this turned out to be the favorite dish of the night amongst everyone else. Definitely be patient and let all the cheese melt together before adding the pasta. The combination of the different cheeses was great (I actually used a 4 c of a mexican blend rather than 4 c of plain cheddar cheese). Tastes great reheated the next day as well.

Nov 05, 2007

I've made this twice and it's really good. The other poster mentioned it being liquidy, which happened the first time I made it. The second time I took my time and really let the cheese melt into the cream before mixing in the noodles and it was perfect. The adobo meatballs are a great touch and round out the dish. My adobo seasoning is salt-free (from Penzeys Spices, not Goya), so the meatballs were a great compliment to the cheesiness (sp?) and not overly salty. Also, a great idea to add coriander to the macaroni--it's the perfect substitute for nutmeg that I like to add to my regular macaroni. GREAT DISH!

Sep 22, 2008

I personally liked the macaroni and cheese a lot, but hubby and kids did not. No one liked the meatballs. That's a lot of seasoning for the amount of meat, and I followed the recipe to a tee except I used dried cilantro had no jalapeno pepper powder. I did not, however, have any problems with it being runny, just be patient and let the cheese melt and stir. It was the perfect consistency! I'd love to make the mac & cheese without the meatballs sometime because I thought it was a great mexican-type dish all by itself. I also supplied the photo.

Apr 30, 2012

The meatballs need help, so season them however you'd like. I was excited to try this recipe honestly. I was a little skeptical of the fat free cottage cheese and the light sour cream. I highly advice all of you to not use the fat free cottage cheese because the mouth feel is unpleasant. What's the logic behind using light sour cream and fat free cottage cheese if you've got other high fat ingredients? Just go for the gold and make a good recipe for Pete's sake.

Apr 30, 2012

Disappointing! I wish I read the reviews first before I made this dish, I bet it would've saved the flavors and textures. The fat free cottage cheese was a bad idea!!!

Oct 07, 2011

mac n cheese was ok but the meatballs were missing some flavor! dont know if i will make again


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  • Calories
  • 589 kcal
  • 29%
  • Carbohydrates
  • 29.2 g
  • 9%
  • Cholesterol
  • 121 mg
  • 40%
  • Fat
  • 36.4 g
  • 56%
  • Fiber
  • 2.1 g
  • 8%
  • Protein
  • 35.7 g
  • 71%
  • Sodium
  • 963 mg
  • 39%

* Percent Daily Values are based on a 2,000 calorie diet.

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