Elbow Pasta Substitute To Make Mac and Cheese

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Last Updated on March 22, 2024 by Share My Kitchen

Mac and cheese is well-known comfort food and a favourite dish around the world. However, you need the right ingredients to make the perfect mac and cheese. Ran out of the legendary elbow pasta? We’ve got your elbow pasta substitute for mac and cheese right here.

Pasta is a key ingredient you shouldn’t overlook since not all kinds of pasta can make a great mac and cheese. So, continue reading to learn what pasta you should use.

The Best Elbow Pasta Substitute for Mac And Cheese

These pasta types can be successfully used in a mac and cheese recipe. You can also choose the pasta that suits your taste.

1. Elbow or straight macaroni

Macaroni is the best pasta you can use for mac and cheese recipes. Any type of macaroni can be used, but the elbow and straight varieties are the most popular.

Moreover, children tend to prefer elbow macaroni to straight ones since they are more fun to eat due to its shape.

These pastas have a unique cylindrical shape, which is ideal for holding cream cheese. They are also the perfect size for every bite.

It is entirely up to you which macaroni you prefer, straight or elbow. Additionally, it is easier to eat elbow macaroni with a spoon, so it makes them better for children.

2. Cavatappi

Next on the list is cavatappi. It is similar to elbow macaroni, so it can be used in mac and cheese any time you want. Although it is larger and chewier than elbow macaroni, this pasta is still delicious.

It will likely take a little longer to achieve your desired consistency. However, the taste of macaroni will be the same as the macaroni.

In addition, the cavatappi is much more filling than other pastas. Therefore, you won’t need to eat as much to get a full serving. Both adults and children love this pasta, so it’s impossible for it to fail.

3. Shell pasta

Conchiglie pasta or shell pasta are great choices for those who like lighter pasta for their mac and cheese. This pasta also has a variety of sizes, so you can find the perfect size for you or your family.

Keep in mind that it will take longer to cook larger sized pasta. However, the Conchiglie pasta has the perfect shape to hold the cheese sauce or cream you use in your dish. They also work well with different types of sauces.

There are people who prefer their mac and cheese with a thinner, watery sauce. Therefore, not all pastas will work equally well. These shells, however, are great no matter what sauce you use.

4. Farfalle

Farfalle, also known as bow tie pasta, is one of the most well-known types of pasta in Italy. It can work perfectly for mac and cheese, but not a lot of people try to use them.

This pasta’s butterfly shape is especially appealing to children. Hence, it is impossible to fail with this pasta. They are also ideal for holding seasonings, herbs, and the delicious cheese cream or sauce since they have a flat surface.

They will not, however, get caught together like other pasta. So, they can be difficult to eat using a fork because of its flat shape. But you will have no problem eating them with a spoon.

5. Penne

Penne pasta is more popular than any other type of pasta already listed in this article. This pasta is thick and filling, so you can make delicious mac and cheese whenever you like.

In addition, penne is also easier to find in grocery stores. Almost every supermarket carries this variety of pasta. Penne is also classified as straight pasta with a cylindrical shape.

Cheese sauce and cream can also get into your pasta rather than staying on it. So, if you consider this, they can be very easy and enjoyable to eat.

Penne offers a pleasant chewy texture, which people prefer in their mac-and-cheese dishes.

6. Fusilli

Fusilli is another pasta that works well in mac and cheese recipes.

It is a type of pasta with a spiral shape, so it’s great for getting cheese sauce all over them. Moreover, fusilli mac and cheese can be eaten with both a spoon and a fork.

This pasta is also very easy to cook, if you did not get a thicker version. Fusilli pasta looks great on any plate or bowl, so children will surely love them.

7. Funky shapes pasta

It is also an option to get a pack of unusually shaped pasta to use for your mac and cheese.

They are very popular with kids because they come in different shapes. But, adults also enjoy them since they hold the sauce better than other pasta types.

There are shapes that have pockets or ridges, which allow the cheese sauce to stick to each piece of pasta, and create a perfect bite every time.

8. Rotini pasta

Rotini pasta can be described as a fusilli-like pasta, but in a smaller size. These pastas are also thinner, so they are cooked faster.

This pasta, however, can be a little more difficult to find than fusilli. So, they might not be the most convenient option.

In the event that you find them, use this pasta in your mac and cheese recipe. You will undoubtedly be impressed with the outcome of your dish.

9. Tagliatelle

Tagliatelle is the last item on this list.

These are incredibly tasty, and can be used in a mac and cheese recipe. Tagliatelle pasta is flat and thin, which makes it harder for the sauce to stick to them.

Tagliatelle is long and slippery, so you should eat them with forks to hold them better. However, they can still be great in your mac and cheese, if you can’t find an alternative.

Can You Use Different Types of Pasta for Mac And Cheese?

Yes. You have a variety of pasta to choose from, like straight macaroni, shell pasta or the other types of pasta listed in this article. You can cook any pasta you like, provided you cook them correctly and use the correct utensils when eating.

What Is The Best Filling For Mac And Cheese?

Mac and cheese is already a filling and delicious meal on its own. However, you can pair it with a delicious salad. This meal can be paired with any type of salad you choose.

You may try fresh salads like tomatoes and cucumbers. These will go well with the flavors of your mac and cheese. Pickles also work well with mac and cheese.

But you can be as imaginative as you want while still enjoying this delicious dish. You come up with some amazing combinations on your own!


Mac and cheese are not only delicious, but they can also be used in many different ways. It can be comfort food, or a quick meal for when you don’t have much time.

This dish can be made with any of the recommended pastas in this guide. So, be sure to find the one that fits your preference!


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