I’d like to blame the Toddler for this mac & cheese post. But the truth is, I’m the mac & cheese eater of the house. I often joke that my “Emergency Kit” contains a cake mix, a box of shells & cheese, and a bag of Funyuns. If by “joke” I mean that’s exactly what’s in the back corner of the bottom shelf of my pantry. Right this second.
Stove top mac & cheese is as easy as pouring yellow powder and milk over pasta. Or squeezing yellow stuffs out of a foil packet. It’s also as easy as stirring pasta water, yogurt, and grated cheese together. Our favorite stove top macaroni & cheese recipe goes a little something like this:
We use American cheese instead of cheddar for that classic “yellow” mac & cheese. It melts like a dream, which is why it’s the secret behind velvety smooth chile con quesos. Buy it in block form or get extra thick slices from the deli to shred at home but don’t buy it pre-shredded (heavenly melting experience not guaranteed if you do). And really it’s closer to 7 ounces instead of 8 – the Toddler can spot cheese from half a mile away and usually insists on at least one quality assurance sample. If American cheese completely weirds you out (it really is cheese!), try a Cheddar-Fontina split like we use here. And here. You can usually use as much as 5-6 oz cheddar or Monterrey Jack but your sauce won’t be smooth if you go any more than that. American (white or yellow) or Fontina are really good options for the other 2-3 oz.
We make our macaroni & cheese with fat-free Greek yogurt in the cheese sauce. I like that it’s thick, creamy, and loaded with protein and not fat. It makes a super creamy cheese sauce but mostly I like the extra little sharpness it adds to the dish, something otherwise lacking in the absence of cheddar cheese.
Let’s not get crazy and call a bowl of cheese and carbs “healthy.” If I’m making mac & cheese, baked or stove top, it’s usually a one dish meal. And that’s where chicken and peas come in. Lots of peas and a cup of leftover shredded chicken if we have any from a previous night.
Stove Top Macaroni & Cheese
A quick and easy creamy mac & cheese that's made with Greek yogurt.
- 8 oz macaroni pasta
- 8 oz American cheese, grated*
- 1/2 cup fat-free Greek yogurt (I use 0% Fage)
- 1 1/2 cup frozen peas, thawed
- 1 cup shredded leftover chicken (optional)
- *Most combinations are fine but use 2-3oz white or yellow american cheese to aid in smooth melting.
- Cook macaroni pasta for 8-10 minutes in salted water, until al dente.
- Reserve 1 cup pasta water before draining the pasta.
- Drain the pasta and return it to the pot.
- Add 1/4 cup pasta water, the yogurt, and 1/3 of the grated cheese and stir until the cheese has melted.
- Stir in remaining cheese, one small handful at a time to prevent clumping.
- Add additional pasta water as necessary to thin the cheese sauce.
- Stir in peas and chicken, if using, and serve warm.
- To reheat, microwave in 30 second intervals, stirring in between. If you think it needs it, add a tablespoon or two of skim milk or water. It's usually creamy enough after it's heated thoroughly but it's up to you.
Yields: 3-4 main servings
Estimated time: 30 minutes