And during lockdown mac n' cheese (alongside other pasta favourites like spaghetti bolognese and lasagne) became even more comforting - not just because of its carb goodness, but also thanks to its wallet-friendly credentials. Indeed, some of us may not want to admit how many boxes of pantry mac we whipped up - or at what time of day... mac n' cheese breakfast, anyone?!
So, it's a tried-and-tested favourite - but there's another reason why mac n' cheese rides a never ending popularity wave. It's oh so versatile, and provides the perfect canvas for any number of flavours, ingredients or twists. No surprise then, that lots of retailers and restaurants have been playing around with the classic formula - adding their flair to a much loved staple.
So whatever your flavour, there's a mac n' cheese out there for you... even if you don't eat cheese! We take a look in this article at some of the latest and most popular trends in the world of mac.
Simply The Best
You know the old saying... If it ain't broke, don't fix it. And there are plenty of restaurants and retailers out there taking that approach to mac and cheese. Rather than jazzing up the classic format with unexpected twists, flavours and textures - many are focusing instead on getting the classic formula right. Think multiple (2! 4!! 6! 8!) cheeses in the bechamel, or artisanal varieties, or slow-cooked leek, onion, herbs and spices folded in for a subtle flavour lift and nuanced depth.
More Cheese, Please
When it comes to maxing out the 'cheese credentials' of the classic formula, some restaurants are really upping the ante. They are not just making the base itself super cheesy... but they are adding extra layers of cheesy goodness above (and sometimes even below!) the mac; think freshly grated cheddar added tableside, or oozy raclette or even a whole burrata to burst over the top.
Perhaps the biggest trend in the world of mac n' cheese is the unstoppable rise of plant-based iterations... no longer do those avoiding dairy need to steer clear of cheesy mac, or settle for substandard knock offs, as we are seeing tonnes of 'real deal' varieties made with the likes of cashew cream, nut 'cheese', nutritional yeast, sweet potato and more.