Super Creamy Macaroni and Cheese is the perfect homemade holiday side dish with no processed cheese, ready on the stovetop in 30 minutes!
This easy Side Dish Recipe is perfect for your holiday feast alongside classics like Garlic Mashed Potatoes, Green Bean Casserole, and fluffy, Easy Dinner Rolls.
Super Creamy Macaroni and Cheese without any processed or American cheese is the homemade macaroni dish you can feel great about feeding to your family. Finding the right mixture of ingredients has always been a battle when it comes to working without processed ingredients, and this favorite recipe finally gets it right without compromising the creaminess.
You want to feed your family the delicious, comforting food you loved as a kid, but you know that those pre-packaged favorites are full of sodium and preservatives. You’re left scratching your head wondering how to turn all those foods into the perfect food memory without the actual ingredients used.
This recipe is the result of many trials to replicate that creamy, full flavored macaroni and cheese that your mom probably served piping hot from the microwave. We found something that has all the flavor and creaminess you’d expect but without the use of the easy melting processed cheese products. Best of all, this homemade Mac and Cheese recipe is ready on the stovetop in just 30 minutes start to finish.
Try serving this Creamy Stovetop Macaroni and Cheese at your next cookout or potluck with other classic BBQ sides like Coleslaw, Baked Beans, and Cornbread.
How to Make Super Creamy Macaroni and Cheese
- In a blender add the cottage cheese, half and half, dry mustard, cayenne, nutmeg and salt and pepper together until the mixture is completely smooth.
- In a large pot (the one you drained the pasta in, don’t rinse the pan before adding the ingredients), add the unsalted butter, cheddar cheese, milk and cooked pasta.
- Stir together until the butter is fully melted, then add in the cottage cheese mixture.
- On a very low heat simmer the pasta a few minutes until it is as thick and creamy as you like, then serve immediately.
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Frequently Asked Questions
Whole milk and half and half are hugely important here. The milk is carrying this Super Creamy Macaroni and Cheese on it’s back and absorbing the starch of the pasta as well as the minimal amounts of spices that are added. The important thing to keep a note of when it comes to keeping this recipe creamy is FAT. I know how much you would love it if I could tell you all that this recipe is a healthier creamy option. I can’t because science won’t allow me to keep the creaminess with natural products unless fat comes into play. So no low-fat products here, if you use them it will alter the texture.
If you are sodium sensitive feel free to halve or omit the salt, I am going for rich, indulgent Super Creamy Macaroni and Cheese and that means a full bodied flavor. I have had clients who were averse to salt have me make this for them and the natural sodium in the dairy was plenty for them.
You can replace the elbow noodles with gluten free macaroni noodles to make this Macaroni and Cheese recipe friendly for a gluten-free diet. You’ll want to cook the gluten free noodles until just al dente before following the rest of the macaroni directions.
Mustard powder has natural compounds that helps to emulsify the ingredients in high fat recipes. This means it makes the oils in the cheese become creamy instead of greasy when it melts, which is why dry mustard is the perfect addition to Macaroni and Cheese sauce. It also has a very subtle acidic flavor that gives a tangy balance to the rich and creamy dish without being noticeable, and the bright yellow color enhances the cheesy macaroni.
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Key Ingredients in Super Creamy Macaroni and Cheese
- Cheese: A whole pound of sharp cheddar cheese is melted into the creamy sauce to give your Creamy Stovetop Macaroni its rich, cheesy flavor. Purchase good quality blocks of cheddar cheese and grate it yourself. Pre-shredded cheeses often have additives like cellulose to keep it from clumping, which can make a creamy sauce like this taste grainy.
- Dairy: There’s another unexpected type of cheese snuck into this dish: cottage cheese. By blending the cottage cheese with half and half, you’ll have the base of your Super Creamy Macaroni and Cheese sauce with just the right balance of mild and creamy to go along with the sharp cheddar. Unsalted butter and whole milk also help make the delicious pasta dish super creamy. Use full fat ingredients for the best flavor and texture.
- Pasta: Classic elbow macaroni noodles are perfect for holding onto all that creamy cheese sauce. Cook the pasta noodles three minutes less than the package instructions, because you will finish cooking the pasta with cheese sauce on the stove.
- Seasonings: Your guests won’t know what surprising seasonings you’ve added to your Super Creamy Macaroni and Cheese in addition to salt and white pepper. A pinch of nutmeg and cayenne pepper will add a subtle layer of flavor that brings out the sweet and tangy flavors of the other ingredients. Finally, a teaspoon dry mustard helps to bring your homemade cheese sauce together.
Variations on Super Creamy Macaroni and Cheese
- Cheese: Swap all or half of the grated cheddar for your favorite shredded cheese like Monterey Jack, Pepper Jack, Gouda, Colby Jack, Gruyere, Swiss, or Fontina. You can also sprinkle in small amounts of stronger flavored gourmet cheeses like blue cheese, Parmesan, or smoked gouda. We suggest to use real cheese instead of processed products like Velveeta Cheese or American cheese, although you can certainly use a mixture of anything that you’d enjoy!
- Meat: Take the flavor to the next level by mixing in crumbled bacon, Italian sausage, lump crab, diced grilled chicken, or ground taco or hamburger beef.
- Vegetables: Stir in cooked green peas, wilted spinach, diced red bell pepper, sun dried tomatoes, or sautéed mushrooms for a yummy side dish that adds nutrition and color to your plate.
- Pasta: Instead of elbow macaroni, use your favorite short pasta noodles like penne, rigatoni, fusilli, rotini, or farfalle bowtie noodles.
- Baked Macaroni and Cheese: If the idea of a slightly less creamy, but amazing golden crust option sounds good to you, add it all to a casserole dish, cover with an additional half cup of cheddar cheese and bake for 15-18 minutes.
- Crunchy Topping: For an extra crunchy topping, serve Super Creamy Macaroni and Cheese in a baking dish with a toasted bread crumb topping. In a pan with 2 tablespoons melted butter, toast regular or panko bread crumbs until fragrant and browned and sprinkle over finished Macaroni & Cheese.
- Seasonings: Kick up the flavor by adding in your favorite spices or seasonings like garlic powder, paprika, red pepper flakes, basil, oregano, thyme, onion powder, truffle powder, or hot sauce.
Tools Used to Make Super Creamy Macaroni and Cheese
Blendtec Blender: This blender can be used for everything, and it is a total workhorse. Everything is creamy coming out of it. If you have a blender that gives you super creamy smoothies then skip this, if you have one that leaves things a bit grainy, then let the blender keep working longer until you get your ingredients as creamy as possible.
What to Serve with Super Creamy Macaroni and Cheese
How to Store Super Creamy Macaroni and Cheese
- Serve: Do not leave Macaroni & Cheese at room temperature for longer than 2 hours before refrigerating.
- Store: Store in an airtight container for up to 4 days. Reheat gently on the stove, adding additional milk if needed to loosen the homemade cheese sauce.
- Freeze: Freeze Super Creamy Macaroni and Cheese in an airtight freezer safe plastic bag for up to 2 months. Defrost in the refrigerator overnight before reheating.
- 1 cup cottage cheese (not lowfat)
- 1 cup half and half
- 1 teaspoon dry mustard
- 1 pinch cayenne
- 1 pinch nutmeg
- 1 teaspoon Kosher salt
- 1/4 teaspoon white pepper
- 4 tablespoons butter
- 1 cup whole milk (not 2%, 1% or skim)
- 1 pound sharp cheddar , do not buy pre-grated, the additive will make pasta grainy
- 1 pound elbow pasta , cooked three minutes shy of the directions on the box but don’t rinse the pasta or the pan
- parsley for garnish , optional
- In a blender add the cottage cheese, half and half, dry mustard, cayenne, nutmeg and salt and pepper together until the mixture is completely smooth (even if you think it is smooth, give it an extra 15 seconds, you want it smooth or your pasta will taste grainy).
- In a large pot (the one you drained the pasta in, don’t rinse the pan before adding the ingredients), add the butter, cheddar cheese, milk and pasta.
- Stir together until the butter is fully melted, then add in the cottage cheese mixture.
- On a very low heat simmer the pasta a few minutes (I would say no more than 5) until it is as thick and creamy as you like, then serve immediately.
- Leftovers won’t be as creamy since the pasta will soak up liquids as it sits.
Photos used in a previous version of this post.
“In a large pot (the one you drained the pasta in, don’t rinse the pan before adding the ingredients), add the butter, cheddar cheese, milk and pasta.”
I don’t understand this statement. Are you saying that when you drain the cooked pasta in the large pot you then leave the drained liquid in the pot and continue?
Sorry for the confusion James. You drain the liquid from the pot. Without washing the pot, add the butter, cheddar cheese, milk and pasta.
Looks good I would like to try it
Would love to see more cheese and hamburger recipes
Wasn’t what I expected. Won’t be making it again
So sorry you didn’t enjoy it! Hopefully there’s something else you’d try and enjoy!
My toddlers and husband loved it. I steamed broccoli florets in the microwave and it made the best mix-in. I can’t believe something so delicious is so fast to prepare. Thank you for another favorite!
The cottage cheese you’re calling for is it the creamed cottage cheese or the the uncreamed and what % butter butter fat.
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