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Hard Rock Cafe Twisted Mac & Cheese is cavatappi pasta tossed in a slightly spicy cheese sauce with roasted red peppers and topped with Parmesan parsley breadcrumbs. A copycat version of a favorite restaurant dish!

bowl of twisted mac & cheese

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I have only been to Hard Rock Cafe a handful of times – Detroit doesn’t even have one anymore – but this Twisted Mac & Cheese was what I liked to order. 

Because there aren’t any around, I needed to find a copycat recipe to make it at home.

Serve a whole copycat meal with this twisted mac & cheese, TGI Friday’s Jack Daniels Sauce with some grilled chicken, and a Starbucks Passion Tea Lemonade.

two bowls of macaroni & cheese


  • Cavatappi Pasta
  • Milk
  • Velveeta Cheese
  • Cheddar Cheese
  • Monterey Jack Cheese
  • Cayenne Pepper
  • Black Pepper
  • Roasted Red Pepper
  • Italian Bread Crumbs
  • Parmesan Cheese

box of spilled cavatappi pasta noodles


If you live in an area that doesn’t sell Velveeta cheese (which is a processed cheese product – it melts really evenly and adds to the creaminess), you can replace it with cubed cream cheese. 

Normally I don’t like recipes that call for Velveeta but it is really good in this mac & cheese.

Very cheesy with a little kick from the cayenne pepper and I love breadcrumb topping.

overhead shot of cheese in a saucepan

You’ll melt all the cheeses together to get a really smooth, creamy, cheese sauce. 

If you don’t like a little kick, skip the cayenne pepper, but it adds a nice contrast.

melted cheese sauce with a wooden spoon in a saucepan

Tips for making this copycat Twisted Mac & Cheese a success:

  • To roast the red bell pepper, you can either take it out to the grill, like I did, or if you’re not grilling, set it directly over the flame of a gas stove set to medium heat. Turn the pepper as the skin blisters and chars black. Place the pepper in a bowl and cover it with plastic wrap. After a few minutes you can easily remove the skin.
  • If you have an electric stove (like I now do…or it’s winter & your grill is put away), you can use your broiler. Rub the bell pepper with olive oil and salt, roast for 10 minutes under the broiler, then peel and dice.
  • You can also use a jar of roasted red bell peppers.
  • If you’re an area that doesn’t sell Velveeta (or you just don’t like it), you could skip it, but it adds to the creaminess. To replace it, I would up the cheddar cheese and throw in some cubed cream cheese.
  • If you can’t find twisted cavatappi noodles, no worries, use whatever kind of pasta you like.

overhead shot of seasoned bread crumbs


cheesy pasta in a saucepan with wooden spoon


fork full of hard rock cafe twisted mac & cheese


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Hard Rock Cafe Twisted Macaroni & Cheese is cavatappi pasta tossed in a slightly spicy cheese sauce with roasted red peppers and topped with Parmesan parsley breadcrumbs. A copycat version of a favorite restaurant dish! |
4.92 from 24 votes

Hard Rock Cafe Twisted Mac & Cheese

Servings: 6 servings
Prep Time: 10 minutes
Cook Time: 20 minutes
Total Time: 30 minutes
Hard Rock Cafe Twisted Mac & Cheese is cavatappi pasta tossed in a slightly spicy cheese sauce with roasted red peppers and topped with Parmesan parsley breadcrumbs. A copycat version of a favorite restaurant dish!


  • 1 lb cavatappi pasta
  • cup milk plus a splash more
  • 8 oz Velveeta cheese cubed
  • 1 ¼ cup cheddar cheese shredded
  • 1 cup Monterey Jack cheese shredded
  • ¼ teaspoon ground cayenne pepper
  • ¼ teaspoon ground black pepper
  • ¼ cup roasted bell pepper diced
  • 4 teaspoon Italian seasoned bread crumbs
  • 4 teaspoon Parmesan cheese grated
  • ¼ teaspoon parsley finely minced


  • In a large saucepan, bring salted water to boil to cook your cavatappi. Once cooked, drain the pasta and set aside.
  • To the same saucepan, add the milk, Velveeta, cheddar cheese, Monterey Jack cheese, cayenne pepper and black pepper and heat over low for about 10 minutes until the cheese is melted and sauce is smooth.
  • Add in the cooked pasta and roasted pepper to the pan, and then toss to coat the pasta.
  • To a small bowl, add the breadcrumbs, Parmesan cheese and parsley and toss to combine.
  • Pour your pasta into a serving bowl and then sprinkle Parmesan breadcrumbs over the top.


See above for tips on roasting a red pepper and Velveeta substitutes.


Serving: 1g | Calories: 555kcal | Carbohydrates: 64g | Protein: 29g | Fat: 20g | Saturated Fat: 12g | Cholesterol: 61mg | Sodium: 971mg | Potassium: 382mg | Fiber: 3g | Sugar: 7g | Vitamin A: 861IU | Vitamin C: 3mg | Calcium: 586mg | Iron: 1mg

Nutritional information is an estimate and provided to you as a courtesy. You should calculate the nutritional information with the actual ingredients used in your recipe using your preferred nutrition calculator.

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  1. wow, this looks amazing! I love mac and cheese, but it’s so hard to find a GOOD recipe for one! I’m gonna give this a whirl! I’ll let you know how it turns out when i get around to fixing it! 😉

    I thought I would come by and say hello, from the online blog con, and be your newest follow! so there!

    <3 Bethany @

  2. We are welcoming a new bride to the family and she’s vegetarian. This recipe seems to have all the qualities of being vegetarian – friendly. Am I right? There are so many rules for this kind of eating. She does eat cheese/milk products, but not sour cream. I’m dying to try it out!

  3. 5 stars
    So I worked at the Hard Rock Cafe Detroit for ten years. My daughter’s father was a cook there for over ten years. If there’s anyone who knows this recipe in and out, it’s me haha. Tonight was a night that we all just couldn’t make up our mind on what to have for dinner and with a 9yr old that loves Mac and cheese and a boyfriend who isn’t the biggest fan of plain old regular Mac and cheese, I thought about my old favorite, my number one pick to eat on my breaks from serving drinks there, twisted Mac chicken and cheese! I know the recipe like the back of my hand but I always find recipes to back my knowledge to compare. I looked this one up and was honestly surprised to see copycat recipes but after merely reading yours, it’s spot on and I know will be the closest thing to it, if not exact. Thanks for posting this recipe, it takes me back and gives me really fond memories of the years I spent there. I wouldn’t have my daughter if it wasn’t for the HRC 313!

    1. Thank you for confirming this I’m pregnant and all i can think about is hrc mac and cheese and i live 4hrs from the nearest one

  4. 5 stars
    I have just had a similar dish in our local pub in the UK, but without the bell peppers and with cauliflower. It was delicious and I can’t wait to try to cook it myself! 😋 💖