Homemade Baked Mac and Cheese Recipe, a win-win for the family! Lighter in calories but still filled with cheesy goodness! No one will miss the extra calories because they will be enjoying a cheesy mac and cheese!
Use high fiber pasta, low-fat cheese, low-fat milk and you have a game-changing lower calorie and lower fat mac and cheese that will blow your socks off!
My Baked Macaroni and Cheese is loved by kids and adults, a great party pleaser. No one knows I am using lighter ingredients because the flavor is fantastic!
My love of Lighter Baked Homemade Mac and Cheese!
Who doesn’t love homemade mac and cheese! When my older kids were younger, I loved when their friends came over and I offered them mac and cheese. The kids never had homemade mac and cheese! They were all mesmerized by the color and taste! The kids love my mac and cheese!
The kids go home and then I got the calls from their Moms, why did I ruin it for them, mac and cheese not out of a box, why! I made a lot of make and cheese during those years. They were half kidding, but not really! I certainly didn’t want to upset my friends
So it began, after getting a mac and cheese call, I’d make a batch of my low-fat mac and cheese for that family and attached the recipe!
My Friends New Love of Baked Macaroni and Cheese!
The results, a reduction in the sales of boxed mac and cheese in my neighborhood! An increase in Easy Homemade Mac and Cheese Recipes! Trust me, this is an easy recipe and you won’t buy a box of mac and cheese again!
My one girlfriend who finds cooking the enemy still makes this recipe all the time. Granted this is the only recipe she likes to make but for me at least she can make mac and cheese! She is so lucky! Her hubs can grill and her kids follow my blog and cook.
I used one of my favorites, Ronzoni® Smart Taste Pasta – with extra fiber! I love the taste of the Smart Taste pasta and it has extra fiber, which is always great! You can also use whole wheat pasta, or a combo of whole wheat and high fiber!
What ingredients can I use to lighten up Homemade Mac and Cheese?
- Using high fiber pasta will always be a benefit to any recipe.
- low-fat milk, skim milk, fat-free half-half can also be used.
- low-fat cheese. Sargento makes a good low-fat cheese and it melts well in this recipe.
- whole wheat flour or almond flour can be used to make the roux.
What are the origins of Macaroni and Cheese?
Kraft Macaroni in the box came about in 1937. It is thought that the origins of Mac and Cheese came from an Italian dish but the specifics are not clear. I found history notes that Thomas Jefferson’s daughter served a parmesan and macaroni dish that later changed to a macaroni and cheddar cheese recipe.
Can Baked Macaroni and Cheese be frozen?
Absolutely, i generally make two batches. One to eat and one to freeze. I place wax paper on the to of the cheese, spray with non-stick cooking spray. Wrap the pan very well with plastic wrap and then a layer of aluminum foil. if you have a food saver, use that to ensure no freezer burn.
What types of pasta can I use to make this mac and cheese recipe?
Any small sized pasta will work with Baked Mac and Cheese. Here are a few I use regularly to make this recipe.
- shells, large or small
- bow ties
I have a dairy issue, are there any substitutes for the milk in Mac and Cheese?
I have used almond milk to make mac and cheese for my daughters who have dairy sensitivities. My older daughter loves it, the younger loves using milk.
Can I make this healthier with veggies?
Yes, yes, yes! Feel free to add into the pasta water either fresh or frozen veggies for the last 4 minutes or so. I add broccoli, spinach, or kale a lot! A great way to sneak in veggies.
Enjoy your mac and cheese! The key is portion control. I make a large salad to accompany the lightened up mac and cheese!
Everyday tip: I have a big family so this recipe works well for us, with a pound of pasta, my sons eat a lot! If your family is smaller, you can make this as written and split between two casserole dishes and freeze one for later for your family!
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Homemade Baked Mac and Cheese
- 1 pound high fiber pasta shells Note 1
- 4 teaspoons unsalted butter
- 4 teaspoons all-purpose flour Note 2
- 4 cups 2% milk Note 3
- 2 cups low-fat cheddar cheese
- 1/3 cup Parmesan cheese
- 1/2 cup Colby Cheese
- ½ teaspoon Dijon mustard
- ½ teaspoon smoked paprika
- salt and pepper, to taste
- ⅓ cup Panko bread crumbs
- Pre-heat oven to 375 degrees.
- Spray a 9 x 13-inch baking dish with cooking spray, set aside.
- Cook pasta according to package, reduce cooking time by 4 minutes.
- In a medium pot, over medium heat, melt butter. Add in the flour and whisk for about 2-3 minutes.
- Increase heat to medium-high, add the milk, continue to whisk until mixture becomes thick and bubbly. The mixture should be able to coat a spoon when thick enough.
- Add the cheddar cheese, Colby cheese, Parmesan cheese, Dijon mustard, smoked paprika, and season with salt and pepper to taste. Combine until smooth.
- In the baking dish, combine the cooked pasta and the cheese mixture.
- Sprinkle the top with the Panko breadcrumbs.
- Cover with aluminum foil and bake for 15 - 20 minutes. Remove aluminum foil and continue to bake about 5-10 minutes. Ready to serve.