This lightened up mac and cheese is creamy and decadent, and it has NO butter, cream, or processed cheese in it!I’d like to think that I’m a good multitasker…but then I think of times like when I was making this mac and cheese.
Picture the scene: I’m taking careful notes so I can share it with you (I came up with the method a few years ago and have made it a bunch of times since, but I usually don’t measure), stepping over my dog who’s sprawled out in the middle of the kitchen floor, conducting a mock-interview with my little brother who’s sitting at the kitchen counter because he’s about to have his first job interview, and snapping quick photos of the recipe as I go.
Needless to say, I burned myself not once, but twice. Whatever. I got to drown my sorrows in a big bowl of this mac and cheese.
This lightened up mac and cheese is one of my favorite recipes EVER. Not only is it creamy and decadent, but it’s a lot healthier than your typical mac and cheese recipe since it has no butter, cream, or processed cheese in it. Added bonus: you only have to use one pot, which means fewer dishes to wash.
I almost always use whole wheat pasta when I cook, but this recipe is the one exception for me because whole wheat pasta is so dense and nutty while this sauce is light and creamy. Feel free to use whatever type of pasta you like, including rice pasta and gluten-free flour if you’re sensitive to gluten.
If you can swing it, shred your own cheese so your mac and cheese will be extra creamy.
Serve your mac and cheese with grilled chicken, make it for your next cookout, enjoy it for a Meatless Monday entree, eat it straight out of the pot with a spoon…no judgement here. Here’s a handy dandy step-by-step:
Lightened Up Mac and Cheese
- 16 ounces small pasta like shells or elbows
- 3 ½ cups milk, divided (I like using almond milk or 2% or whole milk)
- 1/4 cup + 1 tablespoon all-purpose flour
- 1/4 teaspoon salt
- 1/4 teaspoon black pepper
- 1/4 teaspoon ground red cayenne pepper
- 8 ounces sharp Cheddar cheese, shredded
- In a medium pot, prepare pasta to al dente according to package directions and drain into a colander. Be sure to not to overcook pasta.
- Add flour to a liquid measuring cup. Slowly and gradually add 1/2 cup of milk, whisking constantly. The flour/milk mixture will be thick.
- Using the same pot as you cooked the pasta, add 1 cup of milk to the pot and then whisk in flour/milk mixture until smooth. Heat over medium-low heat whisking constantly, for 2 minutes or until thickened. Gradually whisk in 2 more cups of milk, and continue cooking on medium-low for 7-10 more minutes, until thickened again.
- Remove pot from heat. Whisk in salt, black pepper, cayenne pepper, and shredded cheese. Once cheese is fully melted, gently stir in pasta.
- Keep warm on low heat until ready to serve and add more milk to thin if necessary, as the sauce gets thicker over time. Enjoy!
Freshly shredded cheese will give the mac and cheese a creamier texture than pre-shredded cheese, but pre-shredded will work in a pinch.
If sauce gets too thick, add an additional splash of milk before serving or when heating up leftovers.
Nutrition per 1/8 of recipe:
Calories: 314 Fat: 12g Carbs: 37g Protein: 14g