Main Dishes

August 9, 2022

Easy Skillet Mac and Cheese

All you need is 15 minutes and a few simple ingredients to make this easy and healthy Skillet Mac and Cheese! This recipe is cheesy and creamy without any flour, cornstarch, or roux, and it's naturally gluten free and low sodium too. It's the best!

If you're a fan of boxed mac and cheese, then boy do I have the recipe for you!

I personally hated mac and cheese growing up because I couldn't get over the powdered cheese part.

But when I was pregnant I wanted cheese and pasta, so I decided to write my own mac and cheese recipe that tasted good AND was good for me.

(None of that blue box stuff.)

And guess what - I did it!

This easy skillet mac and cheese takes a total time of 15 minutes and it's made with real ingredients.

Even if you don't have much experience in the kitchen, it's one of those easy recipes you can't really mess up.

You'll definitely add to your "favorite meals" list!


Why you'll love this recipe

  • Homemade cheese sauce: no powdered cheese here! Only real cheese.
  • Plant based pasta: by using chickpea pasta, it keeps this recipe gluten free and adds fiber and protein to the dish.
  • Easy to make: it's ready in 15 minutes start to finish in one skillet! This recipe is also a "no roux mac and cheese," so there's no flour mixture needed!
  • Simple ingredients: I bet you have *almost* everything in your kitchen right now.
  • Kid friendly: every ingredient is nourishing and delicious, so you can feel confident serving it to your kids!
  • Customizable: you can switch up the type of pasta, make it vegan, or add extra garnishes like homemade breadcrumbs or your favorite seasonings.
  • Healthy: my recipe has 25% fewer calories, 82% less sodium, 60% less fat, and 70% more protein per serving than boxed mac and cheese! It's also naturally gluten free and vegan.

Ingredients for homemade mac and cheese


Ingredients you'll need

  • Banza pasta: my favorite brand of gluten free and plant based pasta. When cooked right, you literally can't tell it's gluten free! I love the shells, but you can also use the elbow macaroni or any other shape you like. You can also use regular pasta too!
  • Country Crock 8% butter: I love this specific butter because it's half as many calories as regular soft butter and it's fortified with extra calcium.
  • Unsweetened almond milk: adds that creamy texture you love but without the saturated fat or extra calories from heavy cream or whole milk. If you want to use regular milk, I recommend 1% milk.
  • Reduced fat shredded Mexican cheese: I always use this four-cheese mixture for my cheese sauces because there's so much more flavor from all the different cheeses and it has less saturated fat. It's a mix of cheddar, monterey jack, quesadilla, and asadero cheese.
  • Nutritional yeast: gives an extra savory cheesy flavor without adding too much cheese (IMO there is such a thing!). You can substitute it for more cheese, though, if you want.
  • Seasonings: how you take good mac n cheese and make it the best mac n cheese! I use red chili flakes and everything but the bagel seasoning for this recipe.

Substitutions and variations

This recipe works with any pasta you have, as long as it's 8 ounces of pasta.

Swap out the Mexican cheese blend for other types of cheese like sharp cheddar cheese, white cheddar cheese, or even monterey jack cheese. Use dairy free cheese if you want to make this recipe vegan.

Add half a cup panko bread crumbs on top and broil in the oven until the breadcrumb mixture is crispy.

To create a complete meal, add your favorite protein and a side dish of green vegetables.

Uncooked pasta shells


How to make skillet mac and cheese

Because this is skillet mac and cheese, you'll need a large skillet to cook the pasta and have room to toss the pasta in the creamy sauce.

I use an 11 inch skillet, but you can also use a cast iron skillet, especially if you want to quick broil your mac and cheese in the oven.

Here's how to make the best homemade macaroni and cheese:

Step 1: start by boiling your pasta according to package directions until al dente.

(Pro tip: place a wooden spoon over the skillet to prevent any of the starchy water from boiling over!)

Step 2: while the pasta cooks, get out your other ingredients.

Step 3: reserve some of the pasta water for the sauce, then drain the cooked pasta but don't rinse it. This will dry out the gluten free pasta and prevent the cheese sauce from truly incorporating with the pasta.

Mac and cheese in a skillet

Step 4: add the pasta back to the skillet and mix in the remaining ingredients. It'll take a little bit for everything to melt, but if you add it all when the pasta is hot, the pasta will do all the work.

Yes, you read that right. If you've ever wondered how to thicken mac and cheese without flour or cornstarch, this is how! There's no need to mix flour with melted butter to get that perfect mac and cheese - all you need is hot pasta and a bit of nutritional yeast!

(Pro tip: even though the burner will be off, the stove top will still be hot, so stirring your mac and cheese over that hot burner is a great way to make everything melt faster.)

Step 5: garnish with your chili flakes and everything seasoning. Serve yourself a small bowl (or eat the entire pan!) and enjoy!

Step 6: store in an airtight container for up to 5 days in the fridge.


More cheese recipes to try

BEST Oven Baked Mac and Cheese

Cheesy Funeral Potatoes

White Cheddar Cheesy Scalloped Potatoes

Caprese Grilled Cheese Melts

Easy Carne Asada Quesadillas

A plate of mac and cheese


The next time you need a quick meal, I hope you choose this 15 minute mac and cheese! It's got great flavor, it's a great addition to any main dish, and it's the ultimate comfort food.

And, if you love this skillet version of homemade mac and cheese, you should try my oven baked mac and cheese! My family ate the entire pan in one sitting.

Be sure to leave a star rating and review if you try this recipe so other readers know how you like it! You can also share a picture and tag me on Instagram. I love seeing my recipes in your home.

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Easy Skillet Mac and Cheese

All you need is 15 minutes and a few simple ingredients to make this easy and healthy Skillet Mac and Cheese! This recipe is cheesy and creamy without any flour, cornstarch, or roux, and it's naturally gluten free and low sodium too. It's the best!

Author:

Brooke Harmer

Prep:

5

min

cook:

15

min

total:

20

min

servings:

4

Ingredients

  • 8 oz Banza shell noodles*
  • 1/2 C reserved pasta water
  • 1 Tbsp Country Crock 8% butter
  • ⅓ C almond milk
  • 1/2 C reduced fat shredded Mexican cheese
  • 1/4 C nutritional yeast
  • 1 tsp Everything But The Bagel seasoning
  • 1/2 tsp chili flakes (optional)

Instructions

  1. In a large skillet, cook the pasta according to package instructions. When finished, reserve 1/2 cup pasta water and drain the pasta, but DON'T rinse.
  2. Add the pasta back to the skillet and stir in the butter, milk, cheese, nutritional yeast, and seasonings. Slowly add in the pasta water to thin the sauce to the desired consistency. You don't have to use all of it.
  3. Season with salt to taste, divide into four portions, and enjoy!

Notes

*This is the pasta I used, but you can use any pasta you like, including regular pasta! Just make sure to use 8 ounces.

Nutritional facts are a calculated estimate of 1/4 of the mac and cheese, including seasonings.

Nutrition

Serving: 1/4 skillet / Calories: 268 / Fat: 4.3g / Saturated fat: 2.2g / Carbohydrates: 37.5g / Fiber: 6g / Sugar: 1g / Protein: 17g