Southwestern Macaroni and Cheese with Adobo Meatballs

Southwestern Macaroni and Cheese with Adobo Meatballs

16 Reviews 2 Pics
  • Prep

    25 m
  • Cook

    40 m
  • Ready In

    1 h 5 m
Recipe by  Javagoddess

“A smooth and surprising macaroni and cheese recipe with savory Mexican meatballs that will make you say 'Ole! Gimme more!'”

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Adjust Servings

Original recipe yields 8 servings



  1. Preheat oven to 325 degrees F (165 degrees C). Bring a large pot of lightly salted water to a boil. Add macaroni and cook for 8 to 10 minutes or until al dente; drain.
  2. In a large bowl, mix ground beef with adobo seasoning and powdered jalapeno pepper. Roll into small, 1 inch meatballs. Heat olive oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add meatballs, and cook until browned on all sides, then remove to drain on a paper towel-lined plate. The meatballs do not need to be thoroughly cooked at this point as they will finish cooking in the oven.
  3. While the meatballs are cooking, melt the butter in a large saucepan over medium heat. Gently cook the butter until it begins to brown, and acquires a nutty fragrance, about 1 minute. Stir in the cream, sour cream, Cheddar cheese, cottage cheese, cotija cheese, garlic powder, and cilantro. Bring to a simmer, stirring constantly until the cheese has melted. Season to taste with salt and white pepper.
  4. Stir the cooked macaroni and diced chiles into the cheese sauce, and pour into a 9x13 inch baking dish. Slice the meatballs in half, and place onto the pasta cut-side down.
  5. Bake in preheated oven until the cheese sauce is bubbly, and the meatballs are no longer pink in the center, about 25 minutes.

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Reviews (16)

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I made this tonight and am eating it right now. I was not sure what "adobo seasoning" was, but I found something by Goya that had the word Adobo on it so I used that. I couldn't find any jalapeno powder so I used a whole jalapeno minced fine. I don't know what it would be like if you added the jalapeno powder, but just by adding the jalapeno it wasn't spicy at all. The flavor of the dish is really good, but when I went to serve it, there was a lot of runny liquid in the casserole. I think the next time I might leave out the cream and see if that helps. Also, the meatballs are very salty, there is a lot of salt in the adobo seasoning so the next time I will only use 1 Tbls of the seasoning. Instead of putting the meatballs on top of the dish, I cut them in half and mixed them in with the macaroni and cheese. The sauce is really good. I will definitely make this again, it's really good. UPDATE: the pasta must have absorbed the excess liquid because I ate the leftovers today and it wasn't too runny.



Thought that the fat-free cottage cheese wasn't exactly the most fun of textures in my opinion. The kids hated it the chunks of rubbery cheese. The problem with fat free cottage cheese is that it can be rubbery and not appetizing whatsoever. What I do suggest though, however, is use 2% ricotta cheese. Use fresh chilis instead of canned, and use real garlic cloves as opposed to garlic powder. I would never make this recipe again to the T like I did prior, but I would make it to where it was not the original.



I made this over the weekend for some friends. Although I did change up the recipe (used already made/frozen meatballs and added adobo seasoning to it), still was a hit. I personally thought the recipe was 4 stars, but this turned out to be the favorite dish of the night amongst everyone else. Definitely be patient and let all the cheese melt together before adding the pasta. The combination of the different cheeses was great (I actually used a 4 c of a mexican blend rather than 4 c of plain cheddar cheese). Tastes great reheated the next day as well.

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Amount Per Serving (8 total)

  • Calories
  • 589 cal
  • 29%
  • Fat
  • 36.4 g
  • 56%
  • Carbs
  • 29.2 g
  • 9%
  • Protein
  • 35.7 g
  • 71%
  • Cholesterol
  • 121 mg
  • 40%
  • Sodium
  • 963 mg
  • 39%

Based on a 2,000 calorie diet



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Macaroni and Cheese with Caramelized Onions and Bacon


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Baked Homemade Macaroni and Cheese