What Protein Goes With Mac and Cheese? [FAQs]

Mac and cheese is a classic dish that everyone loves. But if you want to elevate your mac and cheese game, adding some protein can be a great way to make it heartier and more filling.

In this article, I will list five of the best proteins that pair well with mac and cheese.

Chicken Breast

Grilled chicken breast is a healthy option that pairs perfectly with mac and cheese. When paired with the creamy, cheesy goodness of mac and cheese, grilled chicken breast adds a nice savory flavor that balances the dish’s richness.

You can season your chicken breast with any spices or herbs to add extra flavor.

Pulled Pork

Pulled pork is a delicious protein option with mac and cheese. The smoky flavor of pulled pork complements the cheesy flavors in mac and cheese perfectly.

You can slow-cook your pork in advance, then shred it before mixing it into your prepared macaroni and cheese for an irresistibly tasty meal.

Shrimp Scampi

The buttery garlic sauce pairs well with pasta dishes like mac and cheese, adding a lightness that balances out all those carbs from the pasta.

Plus, seafood always adds an air of sophistication to any meal.

Ground Beef

Ground beef is another classic protein pairing for macaroni and cheese. It adds heartiness without overwhelming the delicate flavors in macaroni and cheese.

You can cook or season it with taco or chili seasoning mix for added spice.


Adding bacon crumbles or chopped-up bacon pieces to your homemade stovetop- or baked-style macaroni & “cheese” brings some savory smokiness and texture contrast via its crispy/chewy exterior while remaining juicy on the inside – perfect for making this comfort food even more comforting!

Grilled Chicken

Grilled chicken is the way to go if you’re looking for a classic pairing.

To achieve that perfectly cooked chicken breast, marinate it with your favorite blend of spices. Grill it until it reaches an internal temperature of 165°F and serves over macaroni and cheese for a protein-packed meal.

Grilled Steak

Steak lovers can pick up their meal by pairing it with Mac & Cheese. Juicy medium-rare steak is excellent with creamy macaroni and melted cheddar cheese. The combination perfectly contrasts textures – soft pasta vs. juicy meat flavor explosion in every bite!

Season both sides generously with salt and pepper rub to cook a steak properly at home. Preheat your grill on high heat until smoking hot, then place the steak onto grill grates turning once halfway through the cooking process until the desired doneness is achieved.

Roasted Broccoli

If you prefer plant-based proteins, roasted broccoli is a great choice that pairs well with mac & cheese. It provides fiber and vitamins like Vitamin C while adding crunchiness and depth to the texture of this classic dish.

Roasting broccoli enhances its natural sweetness making them slightly caramelized, so they have more flavor when combined with creamy mac n’ cheese. And since both dishes cook relatively quickly under high heat (around 400 degrees Fahrenheit), it’s easy enough to get them on the table together simultaneously.

Was this article helpful?