hands down the best mac and cheese i’ve ever made – and it’s one pot (winning)!
I was lucky enough to have everything I needed to make this recipe when it popped up on my feed a while back. Truth be told, I always have all but one of the ingredients – the cream cheese – but this makes me now want to have cream cheese on-hand at all times too!
Mac and cheese is no stranger here – I’ve made a vegan version and a yummy (all the crispy edges) sheet pan version. But I’ve never quite nailed the traditional creamy, comfort-food-level version. I think it’s the roux. That flour-fat combo is needed to create a proper sauce for this dish, but I’m not a fan of the flavor or texture.
And that’s where this recipe shines. Because the cream cheese – when melted into the rest of the ingredients – does all the work and results in a dish (IMHO) with superior taste and texture. And since I had 1/2 a block left over from this recipe I was able to test run this dish immediately!
It’s exactly what I look for in a quick-yet-comforting meal, and it’s quicker still because it’s made in one pot. You don’t even have to drain the pasta (the starch in the pasta water actually helps create the sauce)! Minimal clean up? Yes, please.
I took the additional step of topping the dish with bread crumbs and popping it in the oven because: buttered bread crumbs. But a quick taste before I baked proved it to be absolutely delicious without. But honestly? BUTTERED BREAD CRUMBS.
I’ve made this a number of times now, using whatever cheese I have on hand. And if you can get a hold of cavatappi pasta, pick up a few boxes – it’s my new go-to and seems to make everything better (like this this and THIS).
slightly adapted from The Kitchn
6 cups water
1 teaspoon kosher salt
1 pound regular or gluten-free pasta (I love cavatappi; anything you have in the pantry will work!)
12 ounces (about 1 1/2 cups) shredded cheese – either one variety or a combination (mozzarella, cheddar and Monterey Jack all work)
4 ounces cream cheese, cut into small pieces
1/4 cup (about 4 tablespoons) grated parmesan
salt and pepper
panko or gluten-free breadcrumbs and 4 tablespoons butter, for topping (optional; you’ll need anywhere from 1/2 – 1 cup breadcrumbs, depending on the size of your pot)
If you’re baking the dish pre-heat the oven to 350 degrees.
Bring the water and salt to a boil in a 5-quart pot (ovenproof if you’re baking the dish afterward). Add the pasta and cook according to package directions; do not drain.
Reduce heat to low and add the shredded cheese, cream cheese and parmesan. Stir till melted and pasta is well coated (you can add a bit of milk or water if the sauce seems too dry). Season with salt and pepper. Serve immediately or continue if baking.
Cover and bake for 30 minutes, then uncover and sprinkle with breadcrumbs and top with butter. Bake uncovered for an additional 15 – 20 minutes or till golden brown and bubbly.
This delicious recipe brought to you by Sheri Silver
More great dinner recipes can be found on Pinterest!