Have you ever wondered why breadcrumbs are added to our favorite macaroni cheese while dining out at restaurants?
Why do some people do it and many others don’t?
Is it even necessary?
What does it even do to the dish?
It is not essential to add breadcrumbs to macaroni cheese. It is an optional element. However, adding breadcrumbs makes it delectable as it will add another layer of texture to the dish which will make it soft, cheesy, and crispy.
In this article, we shall try an answer all the questions and try and understand if it is important to add breadcrumbs to the dish.
Why do people put breadcrumbs on macaroni?
Most people and restaurants put breadcrumbs on macaroni and cheese so as to give a crispy element to the dish. Mac n cheese already has a creamy and soft texture. Adding the breadcrumbs will add another layer of texture which is crisp.
This mix of three textures makes the baked macaroni and cheese more delectable. Breadcrumbs can be made at home or even be store brought. Just pulse some old bread or you can toast the bread and make the crumbs.
Panko breadcrumbs are Japanese-styled breadcrumbs that will give the dish a super crusty coating. As they are larger in size also they do not soak themselves and become greasy when cheese is added thus retaining their crispiness.
Adding the breadcrumb layer on top also prevents macaroni cheese which is on the drier side to become even drier.
which do you put first breadcrumbs or cheese?
Breadcrumbs and cheese are mixed together with herbs and seasonings and then added by spreading them on top of the dish. Neither of them is put first, it is better to put them together as you will put the baking dish in the oven and needn’t bring out the dish again to add in the cheese and then heat it again.
Also, if you do not add in the cheese and breadcrumbs they will take more time to cook as well as you risk burning the breadcrumbs when they lose their moisture. The cheese mixed in them gives a layer of moisture so they don’t burn but become brown and crusty.
Once you have boiled the pasta and made the cheese sauce mix them well together. Adjust the seasonings if needed. Transfer the cooked macaroni and cheese to a baking dish and then sprinkle the breadcrumbs and seasoning mixed with parmesan or any other cheese of your liking. Bake till it has a brown crust and is bubbly.
What kind of breadcrumbs do you use in macaroni and cheese?
Plain breadcrumbs that are widely available at superstores are generally used to layer macaroni and cheese. However, other types of breadcrumbs such as Italian breadcrumbs and Pank breadcrumbs may also be added.
If you are planning on using Italian breadcrumbs then you should skip adding seasonings. Since they are regular breadcrumbs with Italian seasonings such as basil, oregano, parsley, and garlic added to it. Although, cheese can be added since they aren’t greasy and are dry. However, they contain quite a few bits of artificial dough conditioners and chemicals added to them.
If you choose Panko breadcrumbs you will have to add in the seasonings. Panko breadcrumbs are flakier than other breadcrumbs as they are made of crustless white bread. They are also drier than breadcrumbs thus resulting in light and crispier tops. They absorb less oil and have fewer chemicals added to them.
You can choose any of the breadcrumbs according to ti your preference.
What can I use instead of breadcrumbs on mac and cheese?
Adding breadcrumbs to the dish is to make it crispy and retains its gooey texture. Thus, if you do not have breadcrumbs at hand and would still like to bring in the crispy element then you can add the following substitutes to breadcrumbs:
1. Tortilla Chips
These super crunch corn chips retain their crispy texture even after being baked. They will give you a hint of corn in the dish which will enhance the flavor profile.
Chips such as potato chips or any other salted chips can be added to macaroni and cheese. You will have to pulse them in the food processor. A few things to keep in mind though, they are salted and hence they will add more salt to the dish. Also, they are fried so have quite a bit of oil as well. Instead, you can opt for the baked version of potato chips.
Oats are a great breadcrumb substitute for macaroni and cheese. However, unlike potato chips and tortilla chips, they are very bland so you might have to adjust the seasoning in the dish. Also, oats tend to absorb moisture; thus, they should be added later in the dish.
4. Crackers and Crisps
Salted crackers, cheese crackers, and various crisps such as rice are a great addition. As adding them will also give the crust a cheesy flavor and you will not have to add in the cheese bits or parmesan. However, you might have to adjust the seasonings.
Store-bought croutons are the perfect substitute for breadcrumbs just pulse them or roll them over with a rolling pin and mix in the seasonings and sprinkle them over your dish!
Cornflakes are crispy, crunchy, and flaky just roll them with the rolling pin and add in the seasonings to sprinkle them over!
7. Sweet onion and bacon
This will give that extra depth of flavor to the dish. Just fry some bacon and sprinkle it over the top with some store brought crispy fried onions. Well, it will bring out the yummiest flavors and who doesn’t love bacon?!!
Hopefully, this article has brought out the essence of adding breadcrumbs to macaroni cheese and some substitutions that can be made if you do not have breadcrumbs or simply adding the extra zing to the dish. These additions will certainly make your mac n cheese stand out!
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