Delicious California Pizza Kitchen Mac & Cheese Recipe

Are you a fan of California Pizza Kitchen’s famous mac and cheese recipe? Then, you’re in for a treat! I am here to share with you this copycat recipe that replicates the flavors and creaminess of the original one. With velvety Velveeta cheese, rotini pasta, and heavy cream, this dish is the ultimate comfort food that will satisfy your cravings.

As a culinary explorer, I have been on a mission to recreate some of the most popular dishes from famous restaurants. From crispy mac and cheese challenges to creamy pasta recipes, I have become an expert in replicating restaurant-quality meals that you can make at home.

So get ready to embark on a journey to California Pizza Kitchen’s kitchen as I share with you this Just Like California Pizza Kitchen Mac & Cheese Recipe.

Why You’ll Love This Recipe

Just Like California Pizza Kitchen Mac & Cheese
Just Like California Pizza Kitchen Mac & Cheese

Are you a mac n’ cheese lover? Then you’ll absolutely fall in love with this copycat California Pizza Kitchen Mac & Cheese recipe. This dish is a mouth-watering combination of curly rotini pasta and creamy sauce that will leave you feeling satisfied and comforted.

One of the best things about this recipe is that it’s so easy to make, even for amateur chefs. All you need are simple ingredients that can be found at any grocery store, such as velvety Velveeta cheese, heavy cream, and unsalted butter. With clear directions on how to cook the pasta and make the sauce, you’ll have this delicious meal ready in no time.

But what truly sets this mac n’ cheese recipe apart from others is its unique flavor. The Velveeta cheese gives it a slight tanginess, while the heavy cream adds a luscious creaminess that balances out the tanginess. The combination of those two flavors creates a blend that will tantalize your taste buds and leave you wanting more.

Not only is this dish incredibly flavorful, but it’s also versatile. You can easily modify it to fit your personal preferences by adding or omitting ingredients according to your liking. You can swap out the rotini pasta for fusilli or add different types of cheeses. The possibilities are endless.

This California Pizza Kitchen Mac & Cheese recipe is also perfect for serving to your friends and family during gatherings, as it’s not only hearty but also visually appealing with its captivating golden brown crust. It pairs well with almost anything you’d like to serve alongside it, from burgers and hot dogs to grilled chicken and steaks.

So why not give this crispy mac n’ cheese recipe a try? Whether you are cooking for picky eaters or experienced foodies, this dish is sure to please everyone who loves comfort food. Once you taste it, you’ll see why it’s a popular dish among Californians who frequent the Pizza Kitchen restaurant chain.

Ingredient List

 Indulge in the creamy goodness of our California Pizza Kitchen Mac & Cheese!
Indulge in the creamy goodness of our California Pizza Kitchen Mac & Cheese!

Here is a list of everything you’ll need to recreate this copycat California Pizza Kitchen mac & cheese recipe at home:

  • 1 pound fusilli pasta, cooked according to package directions
  • 1 tablespoon unsalted butter
  • 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
  • 1 cup heavy cream
  • 16 ounces Velveeta cheese, cut into small cubes
  • 8 ounces shredded cheese (California pizza kitchen uses a three-cheese blend of white cheddar, yellow cheddar and Monterey jack)
  • 1/4 teaspoon black pepper

The Recipe How-To

Once you have all the ingredients ready, it’s time to cook the CPK Mac n’ Cheese. Here’s how to do it:

  1. Cook the pasta: Cook 1 pound of fusilli or rotini pasta according to package directions until al dente. Drain and set aside.

  2. Melt the cheese: In a saucepan over medium heat, melt 2 tablespoons of unsalted butter. Add 16 ounces of Velveeta cheese and 8 ounces of heavy cream in small batches, stirring constantly to prevent burning.

  3. Combine and heat the ingredients: Once all the cheese has melted, add the cooked pasta to the pot and stir until it is completely coated with cheese sauce. Reduce the heat and let everything simmer together for a few minutes until thickened.

  4. Season and serve: Once the mixture reaches your desired thickness, remove it from heat and season with salt and pepper to taste. Serve hot and enjoy this creamy, cheesy goodness!

  5. Optional Crispy Mac Topping: If you want to add some crunch to your mac n’ cheese, simply mix some Panko breadcrumbs with melted butter in a pan until golden brown, sprinkle them over your macaroni and cheese before serving.

That’s all there is to making this delicious recipe! Don’t be afraid to get creative with your toppings or mix-ins— try adding cooked bacon bits or diced jalapeños for an added kick.

Note: Be sure to keep an eye on your pot of mac n’ cheese while cooking- nobody wants a burnt mess! Also, for a lighter option, feel free to use half-and-half instead of heavy cream for this recipe.

Substitutions and Variations

Looking to switch things up with California Pizza Kitchen Mac & Cheese? There are plenty of substitutions and variations to make this mac n cheese recipe your own!

First, let’s talk pasta. While rotini is included in the original recipe, you can easily substitute it with your favorite type of pasta. Fusilli, elbow macaroni or even curly mac can work just as well.

If you’re looking for a more gourmet flavor profile, try swapping out Velveeta cheese with shredded cheddar or gouda. Not a fan of processed cheese? Cream cheese and heavy cream make a great combo for a creamy sauce without Velveeta.

For those who want to add some extra crunch on top, crispy mac n’ cheese is always a hit. Simply sprinkle breadcrumbs or crushed potato chips over the top of the dish before baking. You won’t be disappointed with a crispy result!

Feeding little ones at home? Try making traditional mac n’ cheese fun by using shapes instead of straight pasta. Or try adding chopped veggies like broccoli or bell pepper to sneak in some extra nutrition while still keeping the cheesy flavor.

The possibilities for variations and substitutions are endless with this copycat California Pizza Kitchen Mac & Cheese Recipe. Get creative and enjoy!

Serving and Pairing

Now that you have cooked this exquisite mac & cheese dish, it is time to get imaginative with the serving and pairing. This dish is great as a side dish or as a main course, depending on how you prefer it. Pair your mac & cheese with a green salad for an all-vegetarian meal.

For those who like meat, pair your mac & cheese with grilled chicken breast or roast beef. Add some steamed vegetables such as broccoli, carrots or peas to make it even healthier. If you want something even more satisfying, top your mac & cheese with crispy bacon bits or sauteed mushrooms.

To add some crunch and texture to the creamy mac & cheese, you can sprinkle some breadcrumbs on top before baking it in the oven. For a gourmet twist to this classic recipe, serve your mac & cheese with truffle oil and grated parmesan cheese.

This versatile dish can be served in casual settings such as family dinners or potlucks, but also for more formal occasions such as weddings or holidays. It is ideal for feeding a crowd since it makes a large quantity and can be easily reheated.

Don’t be shy when serving this mouthwatering dish – remember that everyone loves mac & cheese!

Make-Ahead, Storing and Reheating

If you are planning on serving the Just Like California Pizza Kitchen Mac & Cheese Recipe for a big group or wish to save time in the kitchen, there are a couple of strategies that you can use to make this recipe ahead of time.

One option is to prepare the mac and cheese entirely, but stop short of baking it. After cooking and mixing all the ingredients together, let your mac and cheese cool completely. Once it is fully cooled, transfer it into a covered container and place it into the refrigerator until you are ready to serve it. This dish can be refrigerated for up to three days.

If you want to freeze your mac and cheese for future meals, place your cooled mac and cheese into an airtight container, cover it tightly with plastic wrap and then foil, and place it into the freezer. This macaroni and cheese can be stored in the freezer for up to two months.

When it comes time to reheat your Just Like California Pizza Kitchen Mac & Cheese, there are a few things to keep in mind to ensure that it comes out perfectly. If your macaroni is coming from frozen, allow enough time for it to thaw completely overnight in the fridge before reheating.

To reheat your macaroni and cheese, preheat your oven to 350°F. Remove any foil or plastic wrap from the top of the container and then place it onto a baking sheet. Reheat for about 15-20 minutes or until heated through, and then serve immediately.

By using these simple techniques, you can easily make-ahead or store this delicious mac-n-cheese recipe without compromising its integrity.

Tips for Perfect Results

To achieve the creamiest, most decadent mac and cheese, there are a few tips and tricks we’ve gathered for you. It’s important to note that while this recipe is a copycat of California Pizza Kitchen’s famous mac and cheese, it’s not as simple as just cooking pasta and dumping cheese on top. So, here are our best tips for ensuring your mac and cheese turns out just like California Pizza Kitchen’s.

Firstly, make sure you’re using good quality ingredients! We cannot stress enough the importance of using unsalted butter and heavy cream. These two ingredients will make all the difference in the world when it comes to creamy texture and richness.

Another key ingredient is Velveeta cheese. Although it might not be your go-to choice for everyday eating, it is crucial in achieving the smooth texture of this mac and cheese recipe. The addition of Velveeta gives this dish its signature velvety consistency that melts in your mouth.

It’s also important to cook the pasta according to package directions. Overcooking will result in mushy pasta, while undercooking may result in a crunchy texture that does not blend well with the sauce. So, make sure you follow the instructions on the box carefully.

When preparing the cheese sauce, be patient and allow each ingredient to melt before adding additional ones. Start with melting the butter on medium heat before slowly adding the Velveeta cheese. Once it has melted, gradually mix in the heavy cream until everything is well combined.

Finally, if you want to take your mac and cheese up a notch, try adding some variations such as crispy mac or curly mac by baking it in an oven-safe dish until golden brown on top.

Follow these tips closely and you’ll have yourself a creamy macaroni and cheese that tastes like it was straight from California Pizza Kitchen!


Before wrapping up this recipe article, let’s dive into some frequently asked questions (FAQs) to help you execute the California Pizza Kitchen Mac & Cheese Recipe perfectly, whether you’re a seasoned chef or a kitchen newbie. So, read on for some helpful tips and guidance in making this creamy and cheesy mac n’ cheese recipe.

Is CPK mac n cheese good?

One dish that has become a staple at California Pizza Kitchen is their mouthwatering mac ‘n’ cheese, which has gained such a following that they offer an adult-sized portion on their menu.

What is going on with California Pizza Kitchen?

On Thursday, CPK declared bankruptcy due to accumulated debts and unprofitable locations, resulting in a lack of funds. The company’s financial situation had been deteriorating for months, leading to unpaid leases and a need to cut back on costs. This decision was made in an effort to improve the company’s financial stability.

Is it cheaper to make your own mac and cheese?

If you’re a fan of fancy mac and cheese, you know that it can cost upwards of 7 dollars per serving. While storebought options may be more affordable, creating your own oven baked mac and cheese featuring multiple types of cheese can cost as little as 1 dollar per serving. Not only is it a budget-friendly option, but in my experience, it far exceeds the quality of most commercial mac and cheese products available. But hey, that’s just my two cents.

Bottom Line

In conclusion, California Pizza Kitchen Mac & Cheese Recipe is a comfort food that can be enjoyed any time of the day. This recipe is simple, easy to follow, and will leave your taste buds wanting more. By following these simple steps, you too can recreate this restaurant classic at home. So gather your ingredients and get cooking!

Remember, the key to a perfect mac and cheese is in the right ingredients and the proper technique. Don’t be afraid to experiment with different variations and serving suggestions to create a dish that best suits your taste. Whether you are cooking for family, friends or yourself, this recipe is sure to be a hit.

So go ahead and take on the cheese challenge with this copycat California Pizza Kitchen Mac & Cheese Recipe! Trust me, your loved ones will thank you for it.

Just Like California Pizza Kitchen Mac & Cheese

Just Like California Pizza Kitchen Mac & Cheese Recipe

My family loves the macaroni and cheese at California Pizza Kitchen, so I tinkered around and came pretty close to it. Enjoy!
No ratings yet
Prep Time 5 mins
Cook Time 15 mins
Course Side Dish
Cuisine American
Calories 600.1 kcal


  • 16 ounces rotini pasta
  • 8 ounces Velveeta cheese
  • 1 1/4 cups heavy cream
  • 2 tablespoons unsalted butter


  • Cook pasta in boiling water for 10 - 12 minutes until al dente.
  • Meanwhile, cut the Velveeta into cubes and add it to the cream and butter in a large saucepan over low heat, stirring often.
  • Drain pasta well and add to Velveeta mixture and gently mix to coat.

Your Own Notes


Serving: 125gCalories: 600.1kcalCarbohydrates: 61.8gProtein: 17.1gFat: 31.6gSaturated Fat: 19.4gCholesterol: 108mgSodium: 582.8mgFiber: 2.4gSugar: 4.4g
Keyword < 30 Mins, Beginner Cook, Cheese, Easy
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