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8 easy mac and cheese recipes

Celebrate National Macaroni and Cheese with a cheesy dinner!
/ Source: TODAY

With all those gooey layers of melted cheddar swirling around noodles, there's a reason mac and cheese is a staple item on children's menus, holiday tables and one of the most popular items at Panera. At fancy restaurants, chefs love to create elevated versions of the decadent dish by adding truffles or pancetta.

Whether it's served plain or dressed up, mac and cheese is pretty much always a winner — especially on National Macaroni and Cheese Day, which is July 14.

But before stocking up on ready-made versions from the freezer aisle (or using boxes with powdered cheese), consider the DIY approach. Making mac is probably a lot easier than you think — you can even make it in a slow cooker!

Here are eight creamy, dreamy macaroni and cheese recipes that will satisfy any craving for comfort food.

Mac and Cheese with Goldfish Crackers

For anyone who has ever enjoyed Goldfish sprinkled into their soup, this kid-friendly mac and cheese might be the new most-requested dish at dinner. Adding the little cheddar crackers on top gives this dish a new layer of flavor and a wonderfully crisp texture.

Six rich cheeses and fragrant truffle oil turn this simple dish into something really special. It's a great spin on the timeless classic that makes a wow-worthy date-night meal.

Cauliflower Mac and Cheese Bake

Sneak some veggies into this baked, one-pot recipe for mac and cheese. It may not make it that much healthier, but the gooey cheese clings to the little florets beautifully. Plus, it only takes five minutes to prep!

Pizza Mac and Cheese

Pizza Mac and Cheese

Derrick Turton

Craving some mac and cheese after National Pizza Day? This recipe is great because you don't have to make a decision between the two comfort foods. It's also a great way to step outside the box when making the traditional creamy dish.

Shaq's Mom's Macaroni and Cheese

Could the secret to Shaquille O'Neal's height be in his mom's mac and cheese? We're not sure, but it's worth a shot! Still, Shaq says his mom, Lucille O'Neal, makes the best mac and cheese, hands down. She uses three kinds of cheese and tops the tender noodles with crunchy cheese crackers.

Forget about boiling your noodles the next time you make baked macaroni and cheese. This hack saves time and energy. The recipe might just be the easiest baked macaroni and cheese you've ever made.

Siri Daly's mac and cheese is delightfully creamy, hearty and completely uncomplicated. No need to stand over a hot stove, whisking away at a roux until it forms into a thickened sauce. Instead, she simply tosses everything in a slow cooker and lets the handy countertop device do the rest.

Kimchi Mac and Cheese

Upgrade mac from the instant version by using a thick béchamel base, four different types of cheese, plus a bit spice from the kimchi. Kimchi with cheese is an umami-packed combo that will truly knock your socks off.