This creamy and delicious macaroni and cheese recipe is also high in protein, thanks to the addition of Greek yogurt! Gluten-free options included.
I've never been a big macaroni and cheese eater, so, consequently, my kids haven't grown up with it.
My older girls, however, recently came home from summer camp raving about the mac and cheese that was served there.
When I pressed them about why they liked it, they told me a few things:
- No topping (Jade, in particular, hates a crumb topping)
- No 'weird' spices, AKA, paprika, cayenne, or the like
- Not too saucy or too dry
I knew I had to create something a bit healthier that they would love equally as much.
All of their tastes actually made preparing this recipe a breeze, ha! Boil some noodles, create the sauce, mix it all together, and voila!
And that's pretty much this recipe in a nutshell...except I sneak in some yogurt, which adds protein to this carb bomb.
Ingredients and substitutions
Pasta - Shells or elbows are both classic choices; Both wheat-based and gluten-free pastas produce good results. Delallo is my favorite brand of gluten-free pasta.
Olive oil and butter - I like to use a combination of these fats, but two tablespoons of one or the other works as well. Butter is classic to mac and cheese recipes.
Shallot - This adds a little sophistication without being detected by the littles. Red onion will also work, or you can omit it, if you like.
Milk - I typically use whole milk.
Greek yogurt - We use full-fat, but low-fat will also work well.
Cheddar AND parmesan - I enjoy the taste parmesan brings, but you can substitute it for an equal amount of cheddar for a more classic flavor. I enjoy sharp cheddar most, as it has a stronger flavor that shines in this!
Salt - Everyone is so different with their salt preference, especially with something that contains a lot of cheese. I'd recommend starting with 1/8 teaspoon and adding more as desired.
This first thing is to boil the pasta. Follow the directions on the package, as each brand cooks a bit different. Shells and elbows are the best for mac and cheese!
Then, set a saucepan over medium heat.
Add the oil and butter combo, and once they melt and start to bubble, add in the shallot.
Stir until soft, then add in the flour. Give the flour at least a minute to cook out the flour 'taste'.
Slowly pour in the milk and pasta water, and stir the mixture continuously until thick, about 2-3 minutes.
Lower the heat, and stir in the yogurt, cheeses, and salt, and cook until the cheeses have melted.
Add your pasta and give it a good mix.
Lastly, taste for salt, adding more if you like.
You can add in 1/2 teaspoon of prepared mustard (or 1/4 teaspoon of mustard powder), but the yogurt serves as the 'tang' factor, and I didn't feel the need for it.
I really feel like the combination of sharp cheddar, parmesan, and yogurt makes this so delicious! I originally tried 100% mild cheddar and wasn't nearly as impressed.
If you use brown rice flour to make the roux, please know that texture is a bit grainier.
Greek Yogurt Mac and Cheese
- 3 ½ cups elbows or shells uncooked
- 1 Tablespoon olive oil
- 1 Tablespoon butter
- 2 Tablespoons shallot or red onion chopped fine
- 2 Tablespoons whole spelt or einkorn flour use brown rice flour for gluten-free
- ½ cup milk of your choice we use whole milk
- ¾ cup reserved pasta water
- ⅓ cup Greek yogurt
- 1 ¼ cups sharp cheddar cheese grated, packed
- ¼ cup parmesan grated
- ⅛ teaspoon sea salt plus more to taste
- Cook your pasta as the label directs. Reserve 3/4 cup of the cooking water!
- Heat the oil and butter in a large saucepan (about 8-quart) over medium heat.
- Add shallot and cook until softened, 1-2 minutes.
- Stir in the flour and cook the mixture for about one minute while continuously stirring.
- Stir in the milk and reserved pasta water.
- Bring the heat to medium high, and cook the mixture until thick, about 2-3 minutes. Stir continuously.
- Reduce heat to medium low, and whisk in the yogurt, cheeses, and salt.
- Stir until cheese has melted, about one minute.
- Stir in the cooked pasta along with extra salt, to taste.
If you have a chance to try this recipe, please leave a star rating and a comment below letting me know how you liked it!
Shared with: Full Plate Thursday