Creamy (Whole-Wheat) Mac and Cheese

Making macaroni and cheese from scratch is almost as easy as the boxed stuff. In fact, I had a reader tell me that she and her husband decided to race against each other – one making homemade mac and cheese and the other making it out of a box – and it took them the same amount of time!

And as an added bonus the homemade version tastes SO MUCH better (at least in my opinion). To be honest, I can’t even hardly eat the boxed stuff anymore because the taste of the powdered cheese just doesn’t cut it for me like it did in the old days.

I’ve shared a mac and cheese recipe on the blog before, but recently discovered a different way to make it (below).

One night I was actually making Fettuccine Alfredo as a side dish, but I didn’t have any fettuccine on hand so I used macaroni noodles instead. My younger daughter said “Oh mommy, thank you for making macaroni and cheese.” (one of her favorites), and I said “Well, this isn’t exactly ‘macaroni’ babe.”

But that gave me an idea. Instead of starting with a roux (butter and flour) to make macaroni maybe I could alter my Alfredo recipe and use less cream and lots more cheese for a new, creamy version of macaroni and cheese. And voila! Here you have it below…

creamy mac and cheese recipe - 100 Days of Real Food

Creamy (Whole-Wheat) Mac and Cheese

Making mac and cheese from scratch is almost as easy as the boxed stuff
4.4 from 31 votes
Prep Time: 10 mins
Cook Time: 5 mins
Total Time: 15 mins
Print Recipe
Servings: 4 people

Ingredients
  

  • 1 ½ cups whole-wheat macaroni cooked according to package directions
  • 2 tablespoons butter
  • 1/3 cup heavy cream plus an extra tablespoon, divided
  • 1 ¼ cups cheese freshly grated (mild cheddar, sharp cheddar, Monterey Jack or even better – a combination of different cheeses is highly recommended including a little Parmesan cheese if you have it)
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • pepper to taste (this dish is great with pepper on top)

Instructions
 

  • In the pot you used to boil the noodles, melt the butter over medium-low heat. Stir in the 1/3 cup of cream until well combined.
  • Turn the heat down to low and add the noodles, cheese, salt and pepper and cook while stirring until the the cheese melts. Stir in the last tablespoon of cream at the end. Season with black pepper and serve immediately.

Notes

We recommend organic ingredients when feasible.
Nutrition Facts
Nutrition Facts
Creamy (Whole-Wheat) Mac and Cheese
Amount Per Serving
Calories 444 Calories from Fat 225
% Daily Value*
Fat 25g38%
Saturated Fat 16g100%
Cholesterol 79mg26%
Sodium 426mg19%
Potassium 162mg5%
Carbohydrates 40g13%
Sugar 1g1%
Protein 17g34%
Vitamin A 820IU16%
Calcium 289mg29%
Iron 2.1mg12%
* Percent Daily Values are based on a 2000 calorie diet.
Tried this recipe?Let us know how it was!

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226 thoughts on “Creamy (Whole-Wheat) Mac and Cheese”

  1. 5 stars
    Up until now, the kids have either preferred the stuff out of the blue box. They love this stuff! Very creamy and delicious!

  2. 5 stars
    I have been making this for a couple of years now, and my kids (and their parents) absolutely love it!! I use some White American from the deli, some Parmesan, and some cheddar. It’s always amazing.

  3. And a little bit of prepared mustard. That is how we made it growing up – sharp cheese, mustard, and a bit of minced onion added to the hot pasta.

  4. This sounds easy and wonderful! Curious – have you ever frozen your cream and then tried to use it for this type of recipe?

  5. Can you clarify in the recipe that the 1.5 cups refers to dry macaroni? I had to read the comments to find that. The description in the recipe says cooked.

  6. 5 stars
    My family doesn’t usually eat whole wheat pasta so I wasn’t sure how this would go over. None of us even noticed any difference! And this is the best homemade mac n cheese recipe I’ve tried, period! And bonus – SUPER easy!!

  7. I tried this tonight! I doubles the recipe thinking one and a half cups was nothing.. But three made A LOT! I did use whole wheat noodles. I was out of butter, so I put a tiny bit of oil instead. I probably could have skipped it all together, and I’m wondering how delicious this is with the butter! Even without it was great. I used crumbled feta, Monterey Jack, and grated some sharp white cheddar. I didn’t measure any of those, just did it to my liking. This was so much better than any roux method I have tried. I cut up a few pieces of grilled chicken, threw it in, and boom!

  8. 4 stars
    This was so yummy! Used milk since I didn’t have any cream on hand and it still turned out great and the kids loved it! Thanks so much for an easy healthy recipe. The kiddos had a blast helping make it.

  9. Quick question; I make this all the time, but this weekend, I am making it for a crowd. Do you think you can make it in advance, load in a casserole dish and then warm in the oven, or will that ruin it?

    1. Michelle did it turn out? I am going to make for a large crowd this weekend too. about 40 people and i am using for a side dish. Let me know if you get this because I plan on making tomorrow. Thanks!!!

      1. Yes it turned out great:) i used a variety of cheeses too cheddar, parmesean, and it was perfect! I made the day before and then refrigerated them when i baked them the next day they were perfect!

  10. We are under going a kitchen remodel so are without a stove or oven, (or sink or counters). I made this dish all in the microwave since my 6 year old daughter burst into tears the other night saying she wanted mac and cheese. It came out delicious, very creamy and very easy. To add more heft, I added some sliced kielbasa for the men in the family. Would make this again. Thank you!

  11. I was not so lucky…tasted great, but came out a gooey mess! I even tried adding more cream as I mixed the noodles and cheese. Where did I go wrong? Not creamy at all. Help?

    1. It is likely that your pasta was slightly under done; al dente maybe. Pasta continues to absorb liquid so cooking the noodles a little longer to make them softer would help.

  12. This Mac and Cheese was absolutely delicious and SUPER easy to make and much healthier than my previous recipe. I used a combination of Asiago and Parmesan and Cheddar Cheese and it was such a hit with my children and my husband! I doubled the recipe and had leftovers for my husband to take to work for lunch the following day. I kept it warm in the crock pot for a couple hours and it still tasted yummy!!

  13. I made this just now. I used pepper jack, medium cheddar and sharp cheddar and a sprinkle of Parmesan on top. It’s decent. It’s not a replication of the boxed stuff. Which might not be a bad thing. Hubby loves it even with the whole grain noodles.

  14. Can you make the sauce separately (without mixing in the noodles) and then freeze it? I do this with another recipe.

    1. Amy Taylor (comment moderator)

      Hi there. You can freeze it but it changes the texture of the sauce somewhat.

  15. 5 stars
    Thank you for the great recipe. I tried this recipe several times with different types of cheeses – my husband and I enjoyed them all but for my 6 and 4 year olds, they didn’t like it until I used all white american cheese. I asked the person at the deli counter to give me a large chunk of white american and shredded it at home. When my daughter tried it, she first said “It tastes better than I thought it would” and after a few bites she said it was the “best mac and cheese ever” and it was “perfect”. Thank you for a mac and cheese recipe I can feed my children that is not out of the box, which by the way was previously my daughter’s “favorite” mac and cheese.

  16. All I can say is YUM! Made this tonight and my hubby loved it! I may try adding bacon to it next time, but it was delicious as is. And very easy!! I’ll be making this often.

  17. 5 stars
    Have you ever tried subbing the cream for whole milk ( I always have milk but not always cream)? I tried but the cheese clumped up and didn’t stick to the noodles. Any tips? Thanks! Love this recipe?

  18. Assistant to 100 Days (Amy)

    Hello Jane. We don’t count calories. Our focus is simply on getting real food into people’s lives and helping them get rid of the processed stuff. Once that happens a lot of other things regarding eating habits often just fall into place. However, there are online tools like My Fitness Pal that can calculate nutrition and calorie details for you. ~Amy

  19. Made this last night and added some uncured thick bacon similar to Applegate’s brand…SO GOOD! Tasted like something out of a fancy restaurant :)

  20. Tried it to the recipe stated, the cheese was too thick. Used 1 tbsp of sour cream and milk to thin it down. Pretty darn good:)

  21. Would this freeze well? The cream we get us a little expensive, so I try to batch cook with it & freeze extras. Thanks for sharing the recipe.

      1. Assistant to 100 Days (Amy)

        Hey Jane. We do not track calories here…on purpose. We just want people focusing on getting rid of processed foods and replacing them with the good stuff that is real, whole, and fresh. :) If you want calorie details, there are tools online like My Fitness Pal and others, that can do that for you. ~Amy

    1. Assistant to 100 Days (Amy)

      Hello Ashley. Other readers have used regular milk, almond milk, coconut milk, and even yogurt. ~Amy

  22. I use Coconut Milk and Rice flour Macaroni and also add a finely chopped onion, a teaspoon Mustard Powder and a half Teaspoon Smoked Paprika . . . Every time we have from basic Family gatherings to big fancy dinner parties, people rave about it and it is always finished first.

    1. Assistant to 100 Days (Amy)

      Hi Rachel. It will be a stringy mac and cheese but I’ve made it with mozzarella before. ~Amy

  23. You can also skip the butter and cream. I use only cheese and a little bit salt and my kids love it. I only tried to make boxed mac and cheese once and my kids did not like it at all. I also use whole wheat rice noodles sometimes and they like it that way as well. :)

  24. Is it possible to make this recipe ahead? I want to make it for a birthday party. I plan to make it earlier in the day and keep it warm in a crock pot. Has anyone tried this? Will the sauce curdle?

  25. Thank you!! I’ve tried so many different homemade Mac and cheese recipes and my boys NEVER liked them! I served this tonight and it was a huge hit. Finally, a win for Mom in the mac and cheese department !

  26. 5 stars
    My husband and I love this recipe! We use a mixture of sharp cheddar and Dubliner cheese and add garlic pepper for a more adult taste. It’s delicious!

  27. This was awesome! My toddler loved my mom’s baked mac n cheese which I’m pretty sure uses Velveeta (yuck!). This was perfect! And I really don’t mind that it used such heavy ingredients. It’s hard to get my toddler to slow down long enough to eat so he needs calorie dense, whole foods. Thanks!!

  28. I love this recipe and make it all of the time. I usually cut back on the cream and butter to make it a tad lighter. I actually am using your recipe on my dinner meal plan this week- I link to your recipe on my blog. Anyway, I think it’s great that you are raising awareness regarding processed foods. Our blog supports your efforts. We strive to raise a similar awareness regarding organic infant formula, and other health issues related to babies. Check it out if you get a chance…
    -Elleigh
    http://www.littleworldorganics.com

  29. What brand of heavy cream do you use? I have been using Horizon which has carrageenan in it. Which is bad for you right?

  30. 5 stars
    This was so delicious!!! I didn’t have any elbow macaroni so I used penne, still amazing. Sooooo easy! I loved that it only uses one pot. Not much clean up!

  31. 4 stars
    This was a hit with my super picky 8 YO. Made it on Saturday and she requested it again tonight! Finally I can move away from the box. I made the granola bars too & LOVE them!

  32. 4 stars
    I don’t know what I did wrong, but I needed more heavy cream – and it still didn’t stay creamy. It was good and the kids didn’t complain that it wasn’t box mac and cheese – so overall – it was a win!!! But, I actually thought it was too cheesy (oh my, I must have a fever)!

  33. 5 stars
    This was so delicious!

    I do love mac n cheese, but I like it to stay creamy (straight from the pot onto the table) as I really dont like thickened sauce.

    This recipe did the trick! We had it with your over yummy tomato bisque soup and salad.

    Thank you!

    Christy

  34. Any idea how to make it dairy free? I could probably try goat cheese? Also, was looking for the recipe where you have peas and carrots mixed in :)

  35. 3 stars
    What did I do wrong with this? It tasted delicious (to me…my kids both took one bite and refused more). I think the main issue they had was the stringiness of the cheese. When I put the cheese into the milk/butter mixture, it turned into one semi-melted giant stringy cheese blob. It took turning up the heat and basically “cutting in” the cheese ball with the pasta. Once I had it as mixed in as it was going to get, the stringiness was still crazy!

    1. 4 stars
      I had the same issue tonight. It tasted good but I was worried my 3 year old would chock on the cheese. From now on I will stick to the other recipe with the roux…that one turned out great!

  36. 5 stars
    Loved this but found no reason to shred the cheese- just cut it in cubes. Also used light butter and 2% milk. Threw in some fresh organic baby spinach for some green…Yum!

  37. 5 stars
    I MADE THIS TONIGHT WITH VEGGIE PASTA ADDED THE PROSCIUTTO AND OMG ITS WAS SOOO GOOD!! ALONG SIDE GRILLED EGGPLANT YUM!! THANKS FOR ANOTHER GREAT RECIPE!

  38. TIP: My kids loved this so much that I increase all the ingredients respectively to use up a 2-lb block of cabot cheddar, since I shred it all at once in the food processor. It was a huge pot of sauce! Then I divided it into freezer bags and froze them. That way, when they want mac and cheese (even for lunch) I thaw the sauce in hot water while the noodles cook. Drain the noodles, cut the corner of the bag and squeeze the sauce right into the pot, stir, add the splash of heavy cream (ESSENTIAL!) and serve – VOILA – as simple as Velveeta Shells!!! Makes life just a little simpler!! They also like a package of tuna mixed in!!

    1. Hi Amy! I just made a 1/2 batch to test and love this super easy recipe…and have been looking for a real cheese recipe to batch and freeze the sauce. I also buy cabot in 2-lb blocks, but not sure how that translates into cups shredded. Since you’ve already been down that road, can you share your proportions? Also can you add your cups frozen sauce to pasta ratio? THANK YOU!!!

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