Instant Pot Mac and Cheese

This Instant Pot mac and cheese recipe is cozy and cheesy: the ultimate comfort food! It’s fast and easy to whip up in a pressure cooker. There’s nothing more comforting than a good bowl of mac and cheese. Ever tried it in your pressure cooker? Turns out, Instant Pot mac and cheese is layer upon layer of cozy. The way the Instant Pot cooks pasta makes it soft and supple, which has a down-home sort of vibe to it. It’s not al dente, but it almost feels like an elevated version of box mac and cheese. The big selling point here? The method is very hands off: throw the ingredients in the pot and press Go! Nothing better than that. Here are all the cozy secrets to this method. Ingredients for this Instant Pot mac and cheese recipe This Instant Pot mac and cheese recipe might even better easier than cooking from a box. (Maybe?) You need only a few ingredients, and assuming you stock cheese and pasta: they might already be in your pantry. Here’s what you need: Short pasta: Sure, you can use macaroni. But our favorite pasta shapes for mac and cheese are any other short type […]

A Couple Cooks – Healthy, Whole Food, & Vegetarian Recipes

This Instant Pot mac and cheese recipe is cozy and cheesy: the ultimate comfort food! It’s fast and easy to whip up in a pressure cooker.

Instant Pot Mac and Cheese

There’s nothing more comforting than a good bowl of mac and cheese. Ever tried it in your pressure cooker? Turns out, Instant Pot mac and cheese is layer upon layer of cozy. The way the Instant Pot cooks pasta makes it soft and supple, which has a down-home sort of vibe to it. It’s not al dente, but it almost feels like an elevated version of box mac and cheese. The big selling point here? The method is very hands off: throw the ingredients in the pot and press Go! Nothing better than that. Here are all the cozy secrets to this method.

Ingredients for this Instant Pot mac and cheese recipe

This Instant Pot mac and cheese recipe might even better easier than cooking from a box. (Maybe?) You need only a few ingredients, and assuming you stock cheese and pasta: they might already be in your pantry. Here’s what you need:

  • Short pasta: Sure, you can use macaroni. But our favorite pasta shapes for mac and cheese are any other short type of pasta: shells, penne, fusilli, bowties, orecchiette and more. See below!
  • Sharp cheddar cheese: make sure it’s not aged
  • Monterey Jack cheese
  • Milk
  • Onion powder
  • Garlic powder
  • Seasoned Italian breadcrumbs (optional)
Mac and cheese Instant Pot

Pasta cooks to soft, not al dente in an Instant Pot

Over here, we’re sticklers for getting the perfect al dente when we cook our pasta. But here’s what to know about mac and cheese in the Instant Pot:

  • Cooking pasta in the Instant Pot comes out with a soft texture, not al dente. But here’s the thing: it’s still delicious! Cooking the pasta to a softer texture helps it to soak in sauces and it has more of a “down-home” cozy comforting vibe. Think of it as a totally different way to make a pot of pasta!
  • Leftovers of this Instant Pot mac and cheese work too. Even though the pasta comes out soft, leftovers work too! Add a splash of milk and reheat it in a skillet, and this tastes almost as good as new.

How to make Instant Pot mac and cheese: basic steps

There’s barely 5 minutes of hands on time here! It takes about 25 minutes to complete, but most of this Instant Pot mac and cheese recipe is hands off. That’s what makes it great as a quick weeknight meal, or to whip up for kids or as a side dish for a stunning main. Here are the basic steps to this recipe:

  • Pressure cook the pasta for 4 minutes. Remember that there’s a “preheat time” of about 10 minute before the Instant Pot gets up to pressure. This part takes about 15 minutes total.
  • Quick release! If you’re an Instant Pot pro, you’ll know: quick release recipes are the best! This means you don’t have to continue to wait for a natural release.
  • Switch to slow cooker mode and stir in the milk and cheese. Stir until they form a creamy sauce, just a minute or two.
Instant pot mac and cheese recipe

Bread crumbs optional!

If you’re a mac and cheese purist, there’s something so satisfying about topping this gooey, cheesy mess with crunchy breadcrumbs. The contrasting texture is extremely satisfying. But of course it’s not necessary! We like using seasoned Italian breadcrumbs because it adds a little nuance of herbs. They’re easy to find at the store, or you can make your own breadcrumbs and add Italian seasoning.

Best noodles for mac and cheese in the Instant Pot

You can use macaroni for Instant Pot mac and cheese…but what’s the fun in that? In fact, our favorite pasta for this comfort food is anything but macaroni. We love using a unique pasta shape to keep things interesting. Shells are a favorite around here: and while they aren’t unexpected, there’s something that’s even more homey about them than the typical mac. Here are our favorite types of short pasta for mac and cheese, in order of preference:

  1. Conchiglie (shells): what we used here
  2. Cavatappicork-screw shapes
  3. Orecchiette: ear shapes
  4. Gigli (Campanelle)lily shapes
  5. Penne: long thin tubes with diagonal ends
  6. Gemelli: twisted tube shapes
  7. Rigatoni: long thicker tubes
Instant Pot mac and cheese

Sides to serve with Instant Pot mac and cheese

If the idea of using your Instant Pot for mac and cheese is to not do any cooking: let’s stick with the theme! There are lots of ideas for adding nutrients and fiber to round out this pasta into a meal. Here are a few no-cook side dishes to serve alongside:

  1. Spinach salad: This Spinach Apple Salad is full of good-for-you ingredients and topped with a tangy dressing.
  2. Veggies & ranch: Go simple with this Greek Yogurt Ranch Dip and carrot sticks. Perfect for kids (and adults, really).
  3. Coleslaw: Try this Best Coleslaw with a tangy, creamy dressing.
  4. Celery salad: This Celery Salad with Apples is unexpectedly refreshing and a great counterpoint to pasta.
  5. Citrus salad: This Simple Citrus Salad is gorgeous, with beautiful colors and a citrus zing.

More Instant Pot pasta recipes

Want to keep cooking up pasta in your pressure cooker? Here are a few other ideas to try outside of this Instant Pot mac and cheese recipe:

Instant pot mac and cheese

A note on pressure cookers

All pressure cooker brands vary! Here’s the brand we use: the Instant Pot 6 Qt Programmable Pressure Cooker. We also have 2 Instant Pot sealing rings and use one for savory recipes and one for sweet recipes. This recipe is customized for a 6 quart pressure cooker. We also can’t speak to using other brands and types of pressure cookers for this recipe. Use them at your own risk!

This Instant Pot mac and cheese recipe is…

Vegetarian.

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Instant Pot Mac and Cheese

Instant Pot Mac and Cheese


1 Star2 Stars3 Stars4 Stars5 Stars (5 votes, average: 5.00 out of 5)

  • Author: Sonja Overhiser
  • Prep Time: 10 minutes
  • Cook Time: 15 minutes
  • Total Time: 25 minutes
  • Yield: 6 to 8 as a main, 10 to 12 as a side
  • Diet: Vegetarian

Description

This Instant Pot mac and cheese recipe is cozy and cheesy: the ultimate comfort food! It’s fast and easy to whip up in a pressure cooker. Stovetop variation below.*


Ingredients

  • 1 pound short pasta (shells, macaroni, penne, etc)*
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon onion powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 8 ounces (2 cups) sharp cheddar cheese (not aged), grated
  • 8 ounces (2 cups) Monterey Jack cheese, grated
  • 1 to 1 1/2 cups 2% milk
  • 1/2 cup seasoned Italian breadcrumbs (or plain breadcrumbs, optional)

Instructions

  1. Place the dry pasta in the Instant Pot and stir in 4 cups water and the kosher salt, onion powder and garlic powder. Lock the lid of the Instant Pot. Place the pressure release handle (vent) in the “Sealing” position.
  2. Cook on High Pressure for 4 minutes: Press the Pressure Cook button, making sure the “High Pressure” setting is selected, and set the time. Note that it takes about 10 minutes for the pot to “preheat” and come up to pressure before it starts cooking. (During cooking, avoid touching the metal part of the lid.)
  3. Quick release: Vent the remaining steam from the Instant Pot by moving the pressure release handle to “Venting”, covering your hand with a towel or hot pad. Never put your hands or face near the vent when releasing steam. Open the pressure cooker lid. There will be water remaining, which is what is intended. 
  4. Slow cook and make the sauce: Switch to the “slow cook” setting on the Instant Pot. Stir the pasta, then stir in the grated cheese. Add the milk and continue to stir for a minute or two until the cheese melts to form a creamy sauce, adding more milk if necessary. Serve warm, topped with breadcrumbs.

Notes

*Stovetop variation: Cook the pasta to al dente in boiling water. Drain and return to the pot. Stir in the remaining ingredients and heat on low heat until the cheese melts and forms a creamy sauce.

  • Category: Main Dish
  • Method: Pressure Cooker
  • Cuisine: American

Keywords: Instant Pot Mac and Cheese, Instant Pot mac and cheese recipe, mac and cheese Instant Pot

A Couple Cooks - Healthy, Whole Food, & Vegetarian Recipes

Homemade Mac and Cheese

Here’s how to make homemade mac and cheese! Cook this ultimate comfort food from scratch and it’s better than any you’ve ever had. Ready for the best EVER homemade mac and cheese? We promise: it’s really worth pulling out the superlatives here! Making this comfort food from scratch makes it taste infinitely better than the kind from a box. Want to impress everyone? This homemade mac and cheese tastes homey and cozy, with the best gooey, cheesy sauce and crunchy breadcrumbs. Alex and I made this for a recent family gathering and everyone around the table agreed: “this is the best mac and cheese.” How to make homemade mac and cheese: basic steps! Here’s the thing. Making homemade mac and cheese is easy, but you need to know a few basic cooking techniques to make it perfect. Here are the two techniques you’ll have to master: How to cook pasta to al dente. How to make a roux. Once you’ve got these two skills under your belt, the rest is a piece of cake! Let’s talk through these briefly before we start. How (and why!) to cook pasta to al dente What is al dente? Al dente means “to the […]

A Couple Cooks – Healthy, Whole Food, & Vegetarian Recipes

Here’s how to make homemade mac and cheese! Cook this ultimate comfort food from scratch and it’s better than any you’ve ever had.

Homemade mac and cheese

Ready for the best EVER homemade mac and cheese? We promise: it’s really worth pulling out the superlatives here! Making this comfort food from scratch makes it taste infinitely better than the kind from a box. Want to impress everyone? This homemade mac and cheese tastes homey and cozy, with the best gooey, cheesy sauce and crunchy breadcrumbs. Alex and I made this for a recent family gathering and everyone around the table agreed: “this is the best mac and cheese.”

How to make homemade mac and cheese: basic steps!

Here’s the thing. Making homemade mac and cheese is easy, but you need to know a few basic cooking techniques to make it perfect. Here are the two techniques you’ll have to master:

  • How to cook pasta to al dente.
  • How to make a roux.

Once you’ve got these two skills under your belt, the rest is a piece of cake! Let’s talk through these briefly before we start.

How to make mac and cheese

How (and why!) to cook pasta to al dente

What is al dente? Al dente means “to the bite” in Italian. It refers to cooking pasta to just the point where it’s tender but has a subtly firm center. Here’s the thing: overcooked pasta is not only rubbery and unappetizing. It also has less nutrients and it makes you less full (read more here). Cooking the pasta for this homemade mac and cheese to al dente means it tastes better, you get more nutrients, and you’re full for longer. Win, win, win! Here are some notes on how to cook pasta to al dente:

  • Don’t trust the package instructions! Most pasta packages have timing that results in overcooked pasta. Start tasting the pasta a few minutes before the package indicates.
  • Taste and drain it right when it’s tender but firm inside. Some chefs say to look for a small white fleck at the core (others think it should just disappear for perfect al dente).
  • Move quickly! Pasta can go from al dente to overcooked in a matter of seconds.

Tips for making a roux

The main kitchen technique you need for homemade mac and cheese is making a roux. What’s a roux? A “roux” (pronounced “Roo“) is flour and butter cooked together and used to thicken sauces. It’s usually made from equal parts of flour and butter. For mac and cheese, you make a roux and then add the cheese. This is what makes the gooey sauce: cheese by its would be too sticky. There are a few important things to note about making a roux:

  • Measure out your ingredients in advance (mise en place). The cooking process goes fast, so you don’t want to be distracted by measuring. The French way to say measure out all your ingredients is mise en place, which means everything in its place.
  • Don’t leave the stove, and watch closely. The flour and butter can burn easily here! You must stand by the stove and start adding milk right when the flour turns golden brown.
  • Add the milk gradually. Pour in the milk and constantly whisk, adding it little by little, until it forms a smooth sauce. Once you get to this point, it’s smooth sailing!
Homemade mac and cheese

Best noodles for homemade mac and cheese

By the way…you don’t have to use macaroni for homemade mac and cheese! No: it’s actually even tastier when you use different types of noodles. You can use all sorts of short pasta shapes, from shells to bowties to penne. Here are our favorite types of short pasta for mac and cheese, in order of preference:

Mac and cheese

Best cheese for homemade mac and cheese

There are a few different cheeses that work well in this homemade mac and cheese. Here’s what we’d recommend, and then a few other options:

  • Use sharp cheddar and Monterey Jack. This is the perfect combination for a classic mac and cheese flavor! But be aware…
  • Don’t use aged cheddar! It sounds like it would taste delicious, but aged cheddar doesn’t have quite the right flavor. Stay with a standard sharp.
  • Get fancy with gouda, Havarti or white cheddar. Substitute the cheddar, or try our separate recipes: Gouda Mac and Cheese, Pesto Havarti Mac and Cheese, or White Cheddar Mac and Cheese.

Sides to serve with homemade mac and cheese

Cook this pasta to al dente and this cozy homemade mac and cheese is the stuff dreams are made of! We recently made a pan of this for family who were grieving a loved one, and it was just the right food that tastes like a hug. It’s perfect for anytime you need a cozy meal. Here are a few sides that are full of nutrients and fiber to make it into a healthy dinner idea:

Homemade Mac and Cheese

Tip: how to reheat mac and cheese!

Here’s a great homemade mac and cheese kitchen hack! You can save leftovers of mac and cheese in the refrigerator for about 5 days. But the cheese solidifies and dries out in the fridge! How to get it back to a creamy sauce? Here are our tips:

  • Place it in a skillet and add a splash of milk. Use a ratio of about 1 cup noodles to 1 tablespoon milk.
  • Heat over medium heat and stir until the sauce becomes creamy again!

This homemade mac and cheese recipe is…

Vegetarian. For gluten-free, use gluten-free noodles.

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Homemade Mac and Cheese

*Best* Homemade Mac and Cheese


1 Star2 Stars3 Stars4 Stars5 Stars (6 votes, average: 5.00 out of 5)

  • Author: Sonja Overhiser
  • Prep Time: 15 minutes
  • Cook Time: 15 minutes
  • Total Time: 30 minutes
  • Yield: 10 to 12 as a side, 6 to 8 as a main
  • Diet: Vegetarian

Description

Here’s how to make homemade mac and cheese! Cook this ultimate comfort food from scratch and it’s better than any you’ve ever had.


Ingredients

  • 1 pound short pasta of any type (we like large shells)
  • 8 ounces sharp cheddar cheese (not aged)
  • 8 ounces Monterey Jack cheese
  • 3 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 3 tablespoons all-purpose flour
  • 1 3/4 cups 2% milk
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon onion powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1/2 cup seasoned Italian breadcrumbs (or plain breadcrumbs)

Instructions

  1. Boil the pasta: Bring a large pot of water to a boil and add about 1 tablespoon of kosher salt. Add the pasta and cook until al dente. Start tasting the pasta a few minutes before the package instructions and stop cooking once the pasta is just tender but still firm. Then drain the pasta in a colander and rinse it quickly with warm water.
  2. Meanwhile, make the sauce: Grate the cheese (if necessary). Measure out the butter, flour, milk, salt, onion powder, and garlic powder. In a large saucepan or Dutch oven, heat the butter over medium heat; when it melts, stir in the flour. Heat the mixture for about 2 minutes, stirring constantly. Immediately when the color starts to turn light brown, reduce the heat to low. Start to add the milk very slowly: whisk constantly until the mixture is completely smooth, then add a bit more milk until it is fully incorporated, then repeat. Once all the milk is added, add the salt, onion powder, and garlic powder. Continue cooking on low heat for about 2 minutes to thicken slightly, whisking frequently. After 2 minutes, gradually add the grated cheese and keep stirring until it is fully melted.
  3. Top with breadcrumbs and serve: Stir the pasta into the cheese sauce, then pour it into a dish and top with breadcrumbs. If you’d like, place it in a baking dish and broil it for 2 to 4 minutes until the crumbs are lightly browned, turning the pan to even out the browning as necessary. Serve immediately. Refrigerate leftovers up to 4 days. Reheat on the stovetop with a splash of milk and stir until creamy. 

  • Category: Main Dish
  • Method: Stovetop
  • Cuisine: American

Keywords: Homemade mac and cheese, how to make mac and cheese

A Couple Cooks - Healthy, Whole Food, & Vegetarian Recipes

Creamed Spinach Mac and Cheese.

No problem eating greens with this creamed spinach mac and cheese!  I am serious. A whole huge bunch of fresh spinach. Baked into the loveliest mac and cheese pot that you ever will see. It’s everything you want and more, plus it is full of vegetables. There is NO getting around this one.  Who needs […]

The post Creamed Spinach Mac and Cheese. appeared first on How Sweet Eats.

No problem eating greens with this creamed spinach mac and cheese! 

This creamed spinach mac and cheese is a dreamy, cheesy mac and cheese dish with tons of fresh baby spinach! Super comforting and flavorful.

I am serious. A whole huge bunch of fresh spinach. Baked into the loveliest mac and cheese pot that you ever will see. It’s everything you want and more, plus it is full of vegetables. There is NO getting around this one. 

Who needs a bowl of mac and cheese with extra pow? ME! And you. Definitely you. 

This creamed spinach mac and cheese is a dreamy, cheesy mac and cheese dish with tons of fresh baby spinach! Super comforting and flavorful.

Secret time? I never had creamed spinach growing up. My mom and grandma never made anything like it – in fact, it wasn’t until my 20s that I had it. Obviously, I avoided it like the plague if I was offered it prior to that. My distaste for vegetables was off the charts and even creamed spinach, with what appeared to be a silky bechamel, was off limits for me.

The only thing that got me eating spinach was when it was drenched in hot bacon dressing.

And let’s be real – that dish is amazing. 

fresh baby spinach

But creamed spinach? No way! I feel like I totally missed out on plates of comfort food by avoiding it most of my life. 

No longer! I’m here for all the creamed spinach. I’m even putting it in your mac and cheese. 

I shared this on instagram a few weeks ago and many of you have been anticipating the recipe! It’s finally here, and you can find me making it on my instagram stories later today too!

creamed spinach

Okay so here’s the deal. You’re basically going to make creamed spinach (like, a bunch of it) and then throw in tons of cheese. And tons of pasta.

This creamed spinach mac and cheese is a dreamy, cheesy mac and cheese dish with tons of fresh baby spinach! Super comforting and flavorful.

Then sprinkle it with crispy crunchy fried onions. Or breadcrumbs!

Then bake it until super melty and cheese and hot. 

And you just WON’T BELIEVE how fabulous it is.

This creamed spinach mac and cheese is a dreamy, cheesy mac and cheese dish with tons of fresh baby spinach! Super comforting and flavorful.

This is such a great side dish or comforting meal, it has lots of green for Saint Patrick’s Day and it’s super satisfying and warming. Food is love all the time, but especially right now.

This creamed spinach mac and cheese is a dreamy, cheesy mac and cheese dish with tons of fresh baby spinach! Super comforting and flavorful.

The crunchy topping is my favorite part. I like to use those crispy onions you may still have hiding in your pantry from the holiday season (use ’em up! they’re going to expire soon!) but you can also use breadcrumbs, cracker crumbs, heck – even pretzel crumbs!

This creamed spinach mac and cheese is a dreamy, cheesy mac and cheese dish with tons of fresh baby spinach! Super comforting and flavorful.

Just look at that perfection! Cheesy, melty, soft but sturdy noodles, tons of green! I love it so much. There is no better time to eat our feelings.

This creamed spinach mac and cheese is a dreamy, cheesy mac and cheese dish with tons of fresh baby spinach! Super comforting and flavorful.

Creamed Spinach Mac and Cheese

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Creamed Spinach Mac and Cheese

This creamed spinach mac and cheese is a dreamy, cheesy mac and cheese dish with tons of fresh baby spinach! Super comforting and flavorful.
Course Main Course, Side Dish
Cuisine American
Prep Time 40 minutes
Cook Time 30 minutes
Total Time 1 hour 10 minutes
Servings 8 people
Author How Sweet Eats

Ingredients

  • 1 pound short cut pasta, cooked according to package directions
  • 4 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 1 sweet onion, diced
  • 3 garlic cloves, minced
  • pinch of salt and pepper
  • 4 tablespoons flour
  • ¼ teaspoon freshly ground nutmeg
  • 12 ounces fresh baby spinach
  • 2 cups milk
  • 12 ounces fontina
  • 2 1/2 cups milk
  • 12 ounces fontina cheese, freshly grated
  • 6 ounces white cheddar, freshly grated
  • 2 ounces parmesan cheese, freshly grated
  • ½ cup crispy onions or breadcrumbs, for topping

Instructions

  • Heat a large oven-safe pot over medium-low heat and add the butter. Stir in the onion and garlic with a pinch of salt and pepper. Cook, stirring often, until the onions have softened.
  • At this time, you can also cook the pasta in another pot. You can cook it before too - just make sure to give it a quick spritz of olive oil so it doesn't stick together.
  • Toss all the grated cheese together.
  • Stir the flour into the onions to create a roux. Cook for 2 to 3 minutes, until it becomes golden in color and starts to smell nutty. Slowly stream in the milk while stirring constantly. The mixture will begin to come together and thicken. Stir in the nutmeg.
  • Add in the spinach - it will seem overwhelming at first, but it will quickly cook down! Stir until it cooks down and softens.
  • Once the spinach cooks down, stir in almost all of the cheese (reserve a bit for topping) and the pasta. Toss it together over and over until it is combined.
  • Top with the remaining grated cheese. Top with crispy onions. Bake for 35 to 30 minutes, until golden and bubbly.

This creamed spinach mac and cheese is a dreamy, cheesy mac and cheese dish with tons of fresh baby spinach! Super comforting and flavorful.

I mean I’m pretty sure this is what they mean by eat your greens. 

The post Creamed Spinach Mac and Cheese. appeared first on How Sweet Eats.

Pesto Mac and Cheese

A swirl of basil pesto brings so much flavor to this classic comfort food! This pesto mac and cheese features Havarti cheese for ultra creaminess. Oh hey there, creamy pesto mac and cheese! This seriously cozy comfort food is just as gooey as it looks, and adding a swirl of bright green basil pesto is a total genius move. That genius is not from us: it’s by way of Maria Lichty, our dear friend and author of the new Two Peas and Their Pod Cookbook. We could not be more proud to see her book in print, as we’ve been chatting with her through the entire cookbook writing process. (Which, we might add, is quite the trip! Here are some things we learned writing a cookbook.) Keep reading for the recipe and more about this fabulous book. About the book: Two Peas and Their Pod Last year, I crossed paths with Maria at a few events (a party in Detroit, a conference at Pinterest among others). Alex and I had known her ultra popular blog Two Peas and Their Pod for years. So it was such fun to meet the person behind the drool-worthy cookie recipes and family-friendly meals. Of […]

A Couple Cooks – Healthy, Whole Food, Vegetarian Recipes

A swirl of basil pesto brings so much flavor to this classic comfort food! This pesto mac and cheese features Havarti cheese for ultra creaminess.

Pesto mac and cheese

Oh hey there, creamy pesto mac and cheese! This seriously cozy comfort food is just as gooey as it looks, and adding a swirl of bright green basil pesto is a total genius move. That genius is not from us: it’s by way of Maria Lichty, our dear friend and author of the new Two Peas and Their Pod Cookbook. We could not be more proud to see her book in print, as we’ve been chatting with her through the entire cookbook writing process. (Which, we might add, is quite the trip! Here are some things we learned writing a cookbook.) Keep reading for the recipe and more about this fabulous book.

Two Peas and Their Pod Cookbook

About the book: Two Peas and Their Pod

Last year, I crossed paths with Maria at a few events (a party in Detroit, a conference at Pinterest among others). Alex and I had known her ultra popular blog Two Peas and Their Pod for years. So it was such fun to meet the person behind the drool-worthy cookie recipes and family-friendly meals. Of course, Maria is the most kind and generous soul, and just as lovely as her writing voice seems! When we met up, Maria was in the midst of writing this book: which is an intense process, to say the least.

So it was with great anticipation that Alex and I received the Two Peas and Their Pod Cookbook: and it’s even more beautiful and drool-worthy than we imagined! The subtitle is “Everyday recipes from our family kitchen” and that’s exactly what I think of when I think of Maria and her sweet family. It’s full of fresh, beautiful photography and recipes that we can assure you will be family favorites in no time! Exactly like this pesto mac and cheese…

Pesto mac and cheese

Making pesto mac and cheese

This pesto mac and cheese was a huge hit in this house: our son Larson literally could not stop eating it. “Mac and cheese!” he would yell and try to get it out of the refrigerator himself, which at age 2 is quite the feat. Suffice it to say, this one is a serious winner in our family: and I’m not sure where it wouldn’t be. The way that the Havarti cheese melts into the creamiest sauce makes it our new favorite. (I thought Gouda mac and cheese was my ultimate…before that Spaghetti squash mac and cheese.)

The ingredients to make this pesto mac and cheese are very simple: here’s what you’ll need:

  • 12 ounces elbow macaroni or other short pasta: we used gigli pasta (more on that below)
  • Butter
  • All-purpose flour
  • Milk
  • Shredded Havarti or mozzarella cheese (8 ounces)
  • Basil Pesto 

The only part that requires some technique is making a roux. What’s a roux? A “roux” is flour and butter cooked together and used to thicken sauces. It’s usually made from equal parts of flour and butter. You’ll cook the butter and flour together until they start to turn light brown, then add milk and cheese to the sauce. This is pretty standard for most mac and cheese recipes: it’s what makes the creamy sauce!

Pesto mac and cheese

What is gigli pasta?

We used gigli pasta for this pesto mac and cheese because we love using unique pasta shapes. What is it? Gigli is a short pasta shape with a fluted edge that is rolled into a cone shaped flour. It’s also known as campanelle and is best when served with thick sauces. Which, makes it perfect for mac and cheese! A few other of our pasta recipes that work with gigli pasta:

It’s worth finding a fun pasta shape like gigli for this pesto mac and cheese: just for the novelty! But any short pasta shape will work, including:

  • Macaroni (obviously!)
  • Shells
  • Farfalle
  • Fusilli
  • Penne
  • Rigatoni
Basil pesto

Making homemade pesto

If it’s the season for basil and you’ve got a plant, making homemade pesto makes this mac and cheese even more terrific. Of course if it’s not, you can use purchased pesto: here’s one of our favorite brands.

If you decide to make your own, we have lots of great pesto recipes. Our Best Basil Pesto is the classic, made with pinenuts, basil and Parmesan, But you can use lots of types of nuts in pesto: try our Cashew Pesto with Basil or Walnut Pesto with Basil. By the way, we also have a few vegan pesto recipes: Vegan Cashew Pesto and Easy Vegan Pesto. But we assume if you’re making mac and cheese, you’re not eating vegan at the moment!

Pesto mac and cheese

This pesto mac and cheese recipe is…

Vegetarian. For gluten-free, use gluten-free pasta.

Print
Pesto mac and cheese

Pesto Mac and Cheese


1 Star2 Stars3 Stars4 Stars5 Stars (No Ratings Yet)

  • Author: Sonja Overhiser
  • Prep Time: 5 minutes
  • Cook Time: 15 minutes
  • Total Time: 20 minutes
  • Yield: 6

Description

A swirl of basil pesto brings so much flavor to this classic comfort food! This pesto mac and cheese features Havarti cheese for ultra creaminess.


Ingredients

  •  Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
  •  12 ounces elbow macaroni or other short pasta shape (we used gigli pasta)
  •  4 tablespoons unsalted butter
  •  1/4 cup all-purpose flour
  •  2 cups 2% milk at room temperature
  •  2 cups shredded Havarti or mozzarella cheese (8 ounces)
  •  3 tablespoons Basil Pesto or store bought basil pesto

Instructions

  1. Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Add the pasta and cook just until al dente, about 8 minutes. Drain the pasta and set aside.
  2. In a large pot, melt the butter over medium heat. Reduce the heat to low and whisk in the flour to create a paste. Add the milk and whisk until smooth. Increase the heat to medium and continue whisking until the sauce starts to thicken, about 2 minutes. Stir in the shredded cheese and continue stirring until the cheese is melted and the sauce is smooth. Fold in the pesto.
  3. Add the pasta, stirring to combine, and cook just until the pasta is warmed through. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Serve immediately.

Notes

Reprinted with permission from Two Peas and Their Pod Cookbook by Maria Lichty

  • Category: Main Dish
  • Method: Stovetop
  • Cuisine: American

Keywords: Pesto Mac and Cheese, Mac and Cheese, Kid Friendly, Comfort Food Recipes, Havarti Mac and Cheese

A Couple Cooks - Healthy, Whole Food, Vegetarian Recipes

Pesto Havarti Mac and Cheese

Pesto Havarti Mac and Cheese-this stovetop mac and cheese is super creamy, cheesy, and full of flavor! It is easy to make but tastes gourmet! Pesto Mac and Cheese My boys LOVE mac and cheese. Our baked mac and cheese recipe is one of their very favorit…

Pesto Havarti Mac and Cheese-this stovetop mac and cheese is super creamy, cheesy, and full of flavor! It is easy to make but tastes gourmet! Pesto Mac and Cheese My boys LOVE mac and cheese. Our baked mac and cheese recipe is one of their very favorite meals. You can’t go wrong with a classic,…

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White Cheddar Mac and Cheese (with Broccoli and Peas)

This vegan White Cheddar Mac and Cheese with Broccoli and Peas has everything you need for a hearty, healthy, delicious dinner – served in one big bowl. Creamy, fluffy mac + cheese is the everyone-will-love-this base. Warm veggies add greens, texture and extra goodness. Everything is coated in an easy, blended, cashew-based cheese sauce. (You can soak the cashews or not, I’ve had success both ways.) Add a few slivers of avocado on the side, for more buttery, green goodness.

This is this week’s one bowl wonder comfort food dinner…Read more »

This is a summary, images and full post available on HHL website!

This vegan White Cheddar Mac and Cheese with Broccoli and Peas has everything you need for a hearty, healthy, delicious dinner - served in one big bowl. Creamy, fluffy mac + cheese is the everyone-will-love-this base. Warm veggies add greens, texture and extra goodness. Everything is coated in an easy, blended, cashew-based cheese sauce. (You can soak the cashews or not, I've had success both ways.) Add a few slivers of avocado on the side, for more buttery, green goodness. This is this week's one bowl wonder comfort food dinner...Read more »

This is a summary, images and full post available on HHL website!