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Nando’s Style Peri Peri Mac and Cheese Pasta Recipe

The ultimate macaroni cheese with a crunchy garlic peri-peri crumb is sure to please the Nando’s lovers in your family. With 3 different cheeses and simple ingredients, I’ll show you how easy it is to make this copycat recipe at home. Serve it as a cheesy main meal or a side dish to juicy chicken and enjoy a fake-away from your own kitchen.

A person is lifting a cheesy forkful of macaroni cheese from a black oven dish.

What Makes This Recipe Great!

  • Easy To Make – With simple ingredients that you can find in most local supermarkets and grocery stores.
  • Restaurant Quality – Delicious Peri-Peri macaroni cheese without having to leave the house!
  • A Crowd Pleaser – From picky eaters to adults, the whole family will love this cheesy comfort food.

About This Recipe – In More Detail

We really love peri-peri recipes in our little home! From Peri-Peri chicken wraps, to Butterfly Chicken Burgers, I even season our Fries and make Perinaise with my very own Peri-Peri Seasoning.

So naturally, I wanted to add to that list and bring you my ultimate mac and cheese recipe with peri-peri flavouring! I’ll show you how to make a roux and a white sauce, then combine that with 3 different cheeses including mozzarella for a stringy cheese pull experience with every forkful. To top it off, I make a simple panko breadcrumb topping that gives you extra texture and the signature flavour of Peri-Peri.

Peri Peri Mac and Cheese is really simple to make, and, if you keep make up a jar of homemade peri peri seasoning, you can have this favourite Nando’s side dish whenever you get the cravings for cheesy comfort food.

Serve it up with whole chicken, sweet potato fries, salad leaves or simply on it’s own with a side of garlic bread. Or pair it up with my other Peri-Peri recipes, for the ultimate copycat Nando’s experience.


Four black dishes filled with cooked peri-peri mac and cheese inside. Around the dishes there are some herbs, seasoning and breadcrumbs.

Equipment Needed

  • Grater: Used for grating the 3 cheeses needed for the recipe.
  • Large Saucepan and Medium Saucepan: For making the cheese sauce and boiling the pasta.
  • Whisk: For combining ingredients, particularly when whisking milk into the flour mixture to create a smooth white sauce.
  • Spatula or Wooden Spoon – To mix everything together.

Ingredients

A labelled photo of all the ingredients needed to make peri-peri mac and cheese.
  • Cheddar, Red Leicester Cheese, Mozzarella: I use a combination of 3 cheeses to create a rich and creamy cheese sauce.
  • Butter: Melted to form the base of the white sauce to make a roux with the flour. This helps to thicken the sauce.
  • Plain Flour: Combined with butter to create a thick paste called a roux, for the cheese sauce’s thick consistency.
  • Whole Milk: Whisked into the roux to form a smooth white sauce, adding creaminess to the cheese sauce. I use full fat milk, but you can choose a lighter one if you prefer.
  • Yellow Mustard: Adds a tangy flavour to enhance the cheese sauce.
  • Dried Macaroni Pasta: Boiled until al dente and mixed with the cheese sauce for the macaroni and cheese base.
  • Peri Peri Seasoning: Infuses a spicy kick to the crispy breadcrumb topping. I make my own, but you can also buy it too.
  • Panko Breadcrumbs: Combined with garlic powder and peri-peri seasoning for a crispy topping, adding texture to the dish.
  • Garlic Powder: Mixed with breadcrumbs to gave a little garlicky flavour to the topping. Perfect when you want to combine this recipe with garlic bread.

Additions and Substitutions

Substitutions:

  • Cheddar, Red Leicester Cheese, Mozzarella: Substitute with Gouda, Gruyère, Monterey Jack, or Colby for different flavours.
  • Yellow Mustard: Swap with Dijon or whole grain mustard for a slightly different flavour.
  • Dried Macaroni Pasta: Substitute with any pasta shape you choose. Elbow and Spiralli pasta will also work well.
  • Panko Breadcrumbs: Use regular breadcrumbs or crushed crackers for a different texture.

Additions:

  • Meat Version: Add cooked chicken, bacon, or ham for a more substantial dish.
  • Herbs: Sprinkle with fresh parsley, chives, or thyme for a burst of freshness.

Step-By-Step Guide – How To Make Peri Peri Mac and Cheese

Step 1: Preparing Cheeses:

  • Preheat the oven to 170°C (340°F).
  • Grate the cheddar, Red Leicester cheese, and mozzarella. Set aside.

Step 2: Creating Cheese Sauce:

  • Melt the butter in a medium saucepan over low heat.
  • Add the flour and whisk to form a thick paste.
  • Add milk to the flour in stages, whisking each time until smooth.
  • Heat and stir until the mixture thickens to form a white sauce.
  • Sprinkle cheese into the white sauce. Stir as the cheese melts.
  • Incorporate yellow mustard, season to taste, and mix thoroughly.
An overhead view of a saucepan with flour and melted butter inside.
A hand is using a whisk to mix together butter and flour.
A hand is using a whisk to mix a white roux in a saucepan.
An overhead view of a saucepan with a white roux and 3 types of grated cheese inside.
A hand is using a whisk to mix together a macaroni cheese sauce.
An overhead view of a saucepan with cheesy sauce and a whisk inside. Pepper and salt have been sprinkled on top ready to mix in for seasoning.

Step 3: Cooking Macaroni:

  • Cook the macaroni in boiling water with a generous pinch of salt until al dente.
  • Drain the cooked pasta in a colander.
A saucepan with boiling water and macaroni pasta inside.
A hand is holding a colander with cooked macaroni pasta inside.

Step 4: Coating Macaroni with Cheese Sauce:

  • Mix the drained macaroni with the cheesy sauce until fully coated.
  • Transfer to an oven-proof dish.
A hand is using a pink spatula to mix macaroni pasta and cheese sauce together in a saucepan.
A hand is spooning macaroni cheese into small, black oven proof dishes.

Step 5: Preparing Breadcrumb Topping:

  • Combine panko breadcrumbs with garlic powder and peri-peri seasoning.
An overhead view of a white bowl with panko breadcrumbs, garlic granules and peri peri seasoning inside.

Step 6: Baking:

  • Sprinkle the breadcrumb mixture evenly over the macaroni and cheese.
  • Place in the preheated oven for 20-25 minutes, until the breadcrumbs are toasted and the sauce is hot and bubbling.
A hand is sprinkling a peri peri seasoned breadcrumb mixture onto the top of 4 small dishes filled with macaroni cheese.

Step 7: Serving:

  • Remove from the oven and serve.

FAQ

Can I make this mac and cheese ahead of time and bake it later?

While it’s best enjoyed fresh, you can prepare the peri mac and cheese up to the baking step and refrigerate for 24 hours before baking. For best results, keep the sauce and pasta separate and assemble just before baking (you may need to heat the sauce up a little for this).

How can I make the breadcrumb topping extra crunchy?

Toast the panko breadcrumbs separately before sprinkling them over the mac and cheese. This gives you a much crispier topping.

Can I omit the mustard in the cheese sauce?

Absolutely! The mustard adds a tangy taste, but you can omit it if you prefer a milder flavour.


Pro Tips and Guidance

  • Gradual Milk Addition: When whisking the milk into the roux, add it gradually. This prevents lumps and creates a smooth white sauce.
  • Seasoning Balancing Act: Taste the cheese sauce before adding the macaroni, ensuring a well-balanced seasoning. Adjust the mustard, salt, and pepper to your liking.
  • Al Dente Pasta: Cook the macaroni just until al dente. Overcooking the pasta will make it soggy after baking.
  • Rest Before Serving: Allow the peri peri mac and cheese to rest for a few minutes after baking. This helps the flavours settle, and it makes it easier to serve.

A front view of a black dish with cooked peri per mac and cheese inside, there are 3 more small dishes slightly out of focus in the photo.

Storage

Storage: Store any leftover peri peri mac and cheese in an airtight container in the refrigerator. Consume within 2-3 days for freshness. Be aware that the texture may alter slightly from when it was baked fresh.

Reheating: Reheat individual portions in the microwave or warm larger portions in the oven covered with foil and heated through. Avoid overcooking to prevent the sauce from drying out.

Freezing: I don’t recommend freezing as a storage option for this cheesy mac. The texture of the cheese sauce and pasta will change upon thawing. Freezing can lead to a separation of the ingredients and affect overall quality.


Check Out These Peri Peri Recipes

A Butterfly chicken burger sat on a wooden board with Perinaise sauce spilling out of the side.

Butterfly Chicken Burger

A delicious grilled burger, marinated in a special homemade peri peri sauce. Served up in a Portuguese Bun.

An overhead view of the Peri Peri Mayonnaise in a white bowl on top of a pile of Peri Peri fries.

Perinaise

A classic and versatile dip that is flavoured with my homemade peri peri seasoning. Easy to make.

An overhead view of Peri Peri fries in a black baking tin to the left next to dried chillis and a pot peri peri mayonnaise to the right.

Peri Peri Fries

I bake these fries in the oven until golden brown and crispy and serve with a generous seasoning of Peri-peri.

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An overhead view of peri peri mac and cheese in four black dishes. There is seasoning and breadcrumbs in the photo.

Nando’s Style Peri Peri Mac and Cheese Pasta Recipe

5 from 4 votes
The ultimate macaroni cheese recipe with a garlicky Peri-Peri panko crumb topping. The whole family will love this. You can serve it as a side dish or main course with garlic bread for a comforting and delicious meal.
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Course: Main Course, Side Dish
Cuisine: American
Prep Time: 20 minutes
Cook Time: 30 minutes
Servings: 6
Calories: 710kcal

Ingredients
 
 

  • 150 g Cheddar
  • 110 g Red Leicester Cheese
  • 100 g Mozzarella
  • 40 g Butter
  • 40 g Plain Flour
  • 700 ml Milk
  • 1 tsp Yellow Mustard
  • 500 g Dried Macaroni Pasta
  • 1.5 tbsp Peri Peri Seasoning
  • 50 g Panko Breadcrumbs
  • 1 tsp Garlic Powder

Instructions

  • Preheat the oven to 170°C (340°F).
  • Grate the cheddar, Red Leicester cheese, and mozzarella. Set aside.
  • Melt the butter in a medium saucepan over low heat. Add the flour and whisk to form a thick paste.
  • Add milk to the flour in stages, whisking each time until smooth. Heat and stir until the mixture thickens to form a white sauce.
  • Add the grated cheese to the white sauce. Stir as the cheese melts.
  • Add the yellow mustard, season to taste, and mix thoroughly.
  • Cook the macaroni in boiling, salted water until al dente. Drain the cooked pasta in a colander.
  • Mix the drained macaroni with the cheesy sauce until fully coated. Transfer to an oven-proof dish.
  • Combine panko breadcrumbs with garlic powder and peri-peri seasoning. Sprinkle the mixture evenly over the macaroni and cheese.
  • Place in the preheated oven for 20-25 minutes, until the breadcrumbs are toasted and the sauce is hot and bubbling.
  • Remove from the oven and serve.

Recipe Notes

  • Gradual Milk: Add milk slowly to roux for smooth sauce to prevent lumps.
  • Seasoning Balance: Taste cheese sauce pre-macaroni, adjust mustard, salt, pepper to taste.
  • Al Dente Pasta: Cook macaroni until al dente to prevent sogginess.
  • Rest Before Serving: Let peri peri mac and cheese rest briefly for settled flavours and for easier serving.

Nutrition Estimate

Calories: 710kcal | Carbohydrates: 80g | Protein: 31g | Fat: 29g | Saturated Fat: 17g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 1g | Monounsaturated Fat: 5g | Trans Fat: 0.2g | Cholesterol: 86mg | Sodium: 482mg | Potassium: 448mg | Fiber: 3g | Sugar: 9g | Vitamin A: 768IU | Vitamin C: 0.01mg | Calcium: 563mg | Iron: 2mg

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