Who doesn’t love mac & cheese? My family does! Pasta and cheese together? Yum! This healthier mac & cheese has a secret ingredient – not that I’m advocating hiding foods and tricking your family – but no one needs to know about the beans! This recipe tastes great and without lots of butter, cream or half-and-half.
While you can add bacon, ground beef, caramelized onions, sliced tomatoes, bread crumbs – or whatever else you’d like – and these all taste great in it – this is the basic recipe we start with.
Having homemade chicken broth, cooked white beans, and chipotle peppers in adobo sauce all on-hand and thawed – I keep all of those ingredients in the freezer – makes this meal come together in 45 minutes – or less. We love it for lunch on Saturdays.
Red pepper flakes and hot sauce go really well on top if you like even more spice.
- 1 pound (16 ounces) whole wheat pasta – preferably elbows
- 2 cups chicken broth (easy how to - homemade chicken broth)
- 1 cup white beans (follow instructions for soaking and cooking) – or 1 can rinsed and drained
- 1 Tablespoon chipotle peppers in adobo sauce (how to blend, use and store)
- 1 teaspoon Kosher salt
- 1 cup milk
- 3 or 4 cups cheddar cheese, shredded
- 2 Tablespoons butter, unsalted
- Set oven to 350 degrees and place an 11” x 17” jelly roll pan in oven while it preheats.
- Cook pasta to al dente, drain and set aside.
- While pasta is cooking, put chicken broth, beans, chipotle peppers, milk and salt in a saucepan over medium heat.
- Warm slightly and use an immersion blender to combine until smooth and creamy.
- Carefully remove hot pan from oven and place 2 Tablespoons of butter in pan to melt and coat.
- Place half the pasta in the pan and sprinkle with half the shredded cheese.
- Repeat with remaining pasta and cheese.
- Pour liquid sauce over pasta and cheese and place pan in oven.
- Bake for 25-30 minutes.
- Optional: broil for 2-5 minutes for crunchier topping.
This recipe can also be made with milk, broth, and cheese. The pasta will absorb the liquid while it's cooking.
Served the next day as leftovers is always a hit at our house. There’s nothing wrong with a breakfast of healthy mac and cheese!
Notes for this recipe:
- It helps to combine the broth, beans, milk and peppers when it’s warmed.
- If you don’t own an immersion blender, a food processor or blender will work.
- Red pepper flakes and hot sauce go really well on top if you like more spice.
- An arugula salad is an excellent side dish with just the right amount of pepper-y flavor. I like Earthbound Farm’s arugula – already triple washed – just add dressing.
- Sliced tomatoes, caramelized onions or bread crumbs are tasty toppings that can be added before baking.
What’s your favorite topping to add to mac & cheese?
Go Gingham related links:
Pumpkin and squash soup – it’s easy and delicious!
Lentils and pork – lentils are similar to beans but there’s no soaking
Sour cream chipotle sauce that is an excellent dip
Our favorite summer tomato meal – it’s called summer dinner!
Looking for more mac & cheese recipes? You’re in luck! It’s “Mac & Cheese Mania” today – Rachel of Rachel Cooks and Brandy of Nutmeg Nanny are hosting a giveaway party! There’s prizes – and lots of recipes! Look for the hashtag #MacCheeseMania and see what prizes you can win!
Even more cheesy links:
Can’t get enough mac & cheese? Me either! Check out these fabulous foodies who have mac & cheese on their blogs!
Jalapeno Popper Mac & Cheese by Heather’s Dish
Buffalo Cheddar Mac and Cheese by Eats Well With Others
Creamy Spinach Artichoke Macaroni and Cheese with Gouda by Sarah’s Cucina Bella
Light Sweet Potato Mac ‘n Cheese Recipe by Cookin’ Canuck
Macaroni and Cheese Fritters by Amuse Your Bouche
Skinny Chicken Mac and Cheese Casserole by A Zesty Bite
Creamy Pancetta + Leek Macaroni and Cheese by Simply Scratch
Smoked Bacon Mac and Cheese by Cravings of a Lunatic
Pizza Mac and Cheese by Very Culinary
Crab Mac and Cheese by Dine & Dish
Bacon & Eggs Breakfast Mac & Cheese by Sweet Remedy
Fried Mac & Cheese Balls by The Little Kitchen
Sweet Pork Macaroni and Cheese by Oh, Sweet Basil
Butternut Squash Quinoa Mac n’ Cheese Bake by Queen of Quinoa
Lightened Up Buffalo Chicken Mac and Cheese by Prevention RD
Butternut Mac and Cheese with Pretzel Crust by Healthy. Delicious.
Skinny Greek Mac and Cheese with Crunchy Pita Chip Topping by The Law Student’s Wife
Potato Skin Mac and Cheese by Eat Your Heart Out
Homestyle Baked Mac & Cheese by Pocket Change Gourmet
Bacon Mac and Cheese Egg Rolls by Miss in the Kitchen
Pepper Jack Mac and Cheese by Crunchy Creamy Sweet
Blue Cheese Bechamel Mac and Cheese by Sweetphi
Korean Mac & Cheese by Cooking with Books
Black and Blue Mac and Cheese by Fabtastic Eats
Tomato and Leek Mac and Cheese by Susie Freaking Homemaker
Mac and Cheese Ice Cream by Fat Girl Trapped in a Skinny Body
Blue Cheese & Bacon Macaroni & Cheese by Gimme Some Oven
Poutine Mac and Cheese with Andouille Gravy by Climbing Grier Mountain
Double Smoked Chicken Mac and Cheese by Girl Carnivore
Creamy Greek Yogurt Mac and Cheese with Peas and Bacon by Running to the Kitchen
Nudel Gratin by Crumbs and Chaos
Mushroom and Truffle Sea Salt White Cheddar Macaroni and Cheese by Big Bear’s Wife
Roasted Poblano and Goat Cheese Mac by Daisy at Home
Creamy Cauliflower ‘n Cheese with Bacon by Barefeet in the Kitchen
Wisconsin Cheese, Brats, and Onion Macaroni and Cheese by a farmgirl’s dabbles
Spinach Queso Mac & Cheese by Bake Your Day
Roasted Garlic Mac and Cheese with a Pancetta Parmesan Crust by Mountain Mama Cooks
French Onion Mac & Cheese by Dinners, Dishes, and Desserts
Healthier Macaroni and Cheese by Texanerin Baking
Pulled Pork Mac and Cheese by CafeTerraBlog
Macaroni and Cheese Stuffed Peppers by Cook the Story
Jack Daniels Mac and Cheese by The Slow Roasted Italian
Lobster Mac and Cheese by FoodieCrush
Green Chili 5-cheese Baked Mac and Cheese by A Southern Fairytale
Homemade Elbow Noodle Tutorial + a Recipe for Roasted Veggie Mac by Bakeaholic Mama
Salsa Verde Mac-n-Cheese (two ways) by Eat2Gather
Cauliflower Mac and Cheese with Crispy Panko Topping by The Lemon Bowl