Recreate a classic side dish from California Pizza Kitchen or CPK kids menu with this quick and easy CPK mac and cheese recipe. You don’t need an oven or a baking dish to make it. All you need is a deep skillet to mix and cook this creamy CPK mac and cheese.
This side dish is creamy and cheesy, all because the curly fusilli pasta is mixed with milk, Colby Jack cheese, and heavy cream. Served alongside a good serving of ribeye steak and roasted veggies, this delicious mac and cheese will surely tie your meal together.
Tips on Making Copycat California Pizza Kitchen Mac and Cheese
In just 20 minutes or less, you can easily make this kid-friendly CPK mac and cheese at home using simple ingredients. You can also try including other flavorful ingredients so it’s extra tasty!
Make this side dish cheesier and more delicious by following some of our helpful tips below:
- Use different kinds of pasta. You can try rotini pasta as a substitute for the fusilli pasta. Much like fusilli, it’s a corkscrew or twisted type of pasta as well. That means rotini also has curves or grooves that are good for holding the sauces longer. You can also use the usual elbow macaroni pasta for this recipe. It won’t be identical to the original CPK mac and cheese, but it will still taste delicious!
- Add in more cheese. A copycat CPK mac and cheese dish is all about the cheese! This recipe doesn’t use Velveeta cheese, but rather Colby Jack cheese. However, you can always try experimenting with different kinds of cheeses like fontina, cheddar, gruyere cheese, or even Velveeta cheese if you can’t find Colby Jack. Mix and match some of your favorite cheeses for a tastier mac and cheese side dish.
- Try adding in bits of meat. Top your cheesy and creamy CPK pasta with yummy bacon bits, or combine the mixture with shredded chicken or ground beef for added protein and flavor.
How To Make Copycat California Pizza Kitchen Mac and Cheese
Make your own creamy CPK mac and cheese side dish with fusilli pasta, cheese, and heavy cream. Try your hand at it with the help of this easy copycat recipe.
- Boil milk and cook pasta according to package directions. Remove pasta when cooked.
- In the same pot, mix cheese and heavy cream with the remaining milk. Stir together over medium heat until combined.
- Toss cooked pasta into the mixture, and season with salt and pepper.
- Serve immediately. Enjoy!
- Adding in about 1 to 2 tablespoons of butter into the creamy sauce is optional, but recommended if you wish to give your CPK mac and cheese dish a slightly buttery flavor.
- To store mac and cheese, transfer to an airtight freezer container and place in the freezer. Your leftover mac and cheese will last for up to 3 months if stored properly.
- Reheat your frozen CPK mac and cheese on the stove top or oven. Just make sure it’s thawed first. For the stove top, place the mac and cheese in a pot and stir constantly on medium-low heat. For the oven method, preheat the oven first to 350 degrees F. Transfer the mac and cheese to a baking dish, and then heat for 15 to 20 minutes, depending on how much you’re reheating.
- Sugar: 23g
- Calcium: 1649mg
- Calories: 1696kcal
- Carbohydrates: 135g
- Cholesterol: 290mg
- Fat: 96g
- Fiber: 5g
- Iron: 3mg
- Monounsaturated Fat: 26g
- Polyunsaturated Fat: 4g
- Potassium: 1117mg
- Protein: 73g
- Saturated Fat: 59g
- Sodium: 1182mg
- Vitamin A: 3384IU
- Vitamin C: 1mg
Frequently Asked Questions
Why is my mac and cheese grainy?
Heating cheese too quickly causes it to break down and curdle. The heat separates the liquid from the milk solids, making it grainy. This can make the mac and cheese gritty in texture. To prevent this cooking issue, it’s best to add the shredded or grated cheese bit by bit. Don’t add it all at once. Add a little bit, stir slowly, and then repeat until all cheese is gone.
Do you rinse noodles for mac and cheese?
We recommend not rinsing your macaroni noodles for this CPK mac and cheese recipe. It’s better to leave the starches on the noodles when boiling your pasta. The starches help ensure that the cheesy sauce will adhere to the macaroni pasta longer.
Can you use almond milk for this side dish?
Yes, you can. When making mac and cheese, whole milk is the common ingredient to use. However, if you prefer a dairy-free alternative, then you can also use almond milk. This will still make your dish creamy and cheesy. However, there will be a subtle change in taste since almond milk has a distinctive nutty flavor, so keep this in mind.
ConclusionEnjoy your homemade CPK mac and cheese that's creamy, cheesy, and delicious to eat with this quick and easy recipe. It's definitely the perfect kid-friendly side dish to pair with any entree dish.
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