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 ([url href=”https://gogingham.com/2013/04/how-to-make-chicken-broth/” target=”_blank”]easy how to – homemade chicken broth[/url])
- 1 cup white beans ([url href=”https://gogingham.com/2014/04/cook-beans/” target=”_blank”]follow instructions for soaking and cooking[/url]) – or 1 can rinsed and drained
- 1 Tablespoon chipotle peppers in adobo sauce ([url href=”https://gogingham.com/2011/01/chipotle-peppers-adobo-sauce/” target=”_blank”]how to blend, use and store[/url])
- 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.
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!
“Mac & Cheese Mania” is being sponsored by Door to Door Organics and OXO.
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
14 thoughts on “Healthier Mac and Cheese”
I love that you can justify eating macaroni cheese more often if you make it a bit healthier 🙂 love this version!
Thanks, Becca! I’m just sayin – we’re going to be eating it anyway – may as well get a little health in there.
Thanks for stopping by and saying hi! 🙂
I own the Jessica Seinfeld original hide-veggies-in-your-food cookbook. I found it as a terrific bargain (seems like it was $3 but maybe it was $5) several years ago when I had a baby and a toddler. I have a son who doesn’t like certain textures so hiding veggies in “easy” foods like chili or spaghetti didn’t work for me since he will eat his 2 polite bites and that’s about it. Some of the foods Jessica hides don’t seem to be the most “invisible” choices–I think cruciferous veggies have an obvious taste and the few recipes I tried doing that didn’t work well. However, a lot of baked goods are great with added fruit or veggies and add moisture to the finished product. Pumpkin/squash/sweet potato/carrots/beans are pretty easy to work with. One of the recipes my family loves from that cookbook is a peanut butter/banana muffin recipe made with whole wheat flour. To.die.for. Thankfully, my kids are pretty good veggie eaters so now I make hidden veggie recipes more because we like them and not to sneak healthiness into my family. Your mac & cheese sounds yummy and I’ll be right over for lunch. 🙂
Kris, those muffins sound amazing!
We do love our mac & cheese over here and really – adding white beans to every pasta dish is usually my goal! LOL!! My son made a new recipe last night – *meat*loaf that didn’t have a stitch of meat in it. It had white beans, veggies, chia seeds and everyone really liked it. And, was surprised they liked it!
It’s from a new cookbook I received that I hope to do as a giveaway soon….I’ll keep you posted 😉
As always, thank you, Kris.
This is so unique and interesting! I can’t wait to try this one out.
OOoh I have a recipe coming this week that uses pureed white beans! I love the creaminess they add without tons of added fat. Thanks for helping us kick off our event!
Thanks for organizing it, Rachel! I do love tossing beans into a dish. They’re really a musical fruit 😉
That sounds yummy. I’ve made a recipe before that just uses past, cheese, a little bit of sour cream, a little bit of butter, and a splash of wine and it’s way less fat than the traditional, too. Will give this one a go! Thanks, Sar!
You’re welcome, EFB! Your recipe sounds good, too. I like the splash of wine. 🙂
Love the idea of using “creamed beans” as a sauce thickener. I’m gluten free and sometimes using alternative flours is tricky (maybe I should invest in a gluten free cookbook…) I too love mac and cheese as well as “one pot” meals. I add veggies to my mac and cheese such as a bag of frozen peas, sauteed mushrooms, roasted red peppers – just about any well-liked veggie works. It has to be a well-liked vegetable because, after all, it is comfort food. I haven’t tried tomatoes or chilies…
I love the one-pot meal as long as we don’t call it a “casserole” – that term doesn’t go over well here. LOL!!
We like the tomatoes sliced on top – much like a pizza and then broiled. Cheese, tomatoes and broiling – what’s not to love there?
My mom is gluten free also so the white beans are a good trick for GF folks. I like the beans because it adds health and is thick/creamy – much like whole wheat flour would be.
Can’t wait to hear how yours turns out. Thanks, Meg!
Love the chipotle in there. Never thought of adding beans to it. Great way to make it a little healthier!
This is simply gorgeous. I love that it’s a healthier version.
Loving this healthier mac! Adding the beans – genius!
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