“Three Cheese Mac and Cheese”…sounds kinda repetitive doesn’t it? The thought crossed my mind, but then I asked myself, how could you ever say no to a recipe title that uses the word “cheese” twice? So I left it, because two cheeses in one title = a winning meal. Because cheese is bae. And so is mac and cheese. And so are one pot meals.
I know…I need to stop with the one pot pastas. I need to STAAHHPPP. Someone come break into my house when I’m not home and remove both of my large pots so I have no ability to make any more one pot pasta dishes. Three one pot pasta posts in one month? That’s almost one a week! I’m clearly going through a phase. My pregnant mind is shouting three words at me: Carbs, easy meals, and carbs. Did I mention carbs? They make my soul happy.
If you add together carbs and easy meals, you are left with one pot pasta, my friends. And it is a wonderful thing. This miiiiggghhhttt be my favorite one pot pasta out of the several I’ve posted in the past. I mean…it’s mac and cheese, so it’s kind of unfair to the other contestants. I don’t care how fancy and frilly your food gets, and I don’t care if you use filet and lobster to create some delicious feast, it’s just straight up hard to beat mac and cheese. It’s comfort food at its finest! Cheesy, creamy, carby happiness.
So, I do have a beef with one pot mac and cheese. I’ve made it several times in the past following other peoples’ recipes, and I just can’t seem to find a recipe that doesn’t call for simmering the pasta in milk, adding cheese at the end, and calling it a day. But the problem is, that’s not mac and cheese, and milk + cheese isn’t mac and cheese sauce. It tastes great and works great right at first, but once it sets for several minutes and cools down, weird things happen and the sauce gets funky texturally.
I wanted desperately to find a way to make one pot mac and cheese without sacrificing the roux (a mixture of flour and melted butter), which is mandatory to make that delicious creamy, cheesy, smooth sauce. Fret not, internet friends. We found a way. By “we” I mean myself and my sidekicks, Boone and Blitz, who happily ate any cheese shreds that fell on the floor throughout the testing and creation of said one pot mac and cheese.
So here’s the trick: we still make a roux, but we add it to the simmering pasta and milk during the last five minutes of cooking, stir it together, and the sauce thickens beautifully as the pasta finishes cooking. Then we add our cheese, and the world is a perfect place in that moment.
Let’s talk in a little bit more detail about how this adding-roux step works. It’s super simple. In a microwave safe bowl, you melt your butter and then whisk in your flour. Once you have a nice, smooth, uniform roux, you’re going to pull out a few cups of your hot milk and whisk it into your roux, then stir that mixture back into your big pasta pot. This makes it so that the roux incorporates nice and smoothly.
There is one important note I have about this mac and cheese: it seems waaayyyy saucy at first. But, first of all, when is that ever a bad thing? And second of all, it thickens as it cools for about five to ten minutes, and a bit more sauce absorbs into the pasta. It ends up being the perfect amount, in my humble sauce-loving opinion. You can look at the pictures and see how saucy it is after cooling for about ten minutes.
Y’all. I never say y’all, but certain situations warrant it, and this is one of those situations. This week is quite possibly my favorite week of the entire school year. You know how every school has a “Teacher Appreciation Day”? The school that I work at bumps it up another notch and does an entire Teacher Appreciation WEEK. That’s right…all week. You know what that means? I’ll tell you.
It means a metric ton of free food. Yesterday, we had a huge breakfast provided, including things like biscuits and gravy, breakfast casserole, donuts, pastries, fruit, etc…it was amazing. Today, tomorrow, Thursday, AND Friday, we have lunch provided. Today we have an American food themed buffet, tomorrow we have Chick Fil A catering, Thursday we have a baked potato bar, and Friday is a cookout with hotdogs and all that stuff.
AND wait, there’s more. Since this is the last week before the play, we have rehearsals that go until 8 pm, so a different parent is signed up every night to bring dinner. So…let me just lay this out for ya…I am responsible for feeding myself breakfast (which is super easy because I just make smoothies and drink them on my way to work), but then every other meal for the entire week is provided for me. WHAT IS THIS LIFE. Dreams do come true.
It’s such a good week. I’m getting so spoiled, and next week is going to come around, and I’m going to feel helpless and have forgotten how to cook for myself…
So since I knew that all my food was being provided this week, I knew that my blog food from the weekend (like this heavenly mac and cheese) would just sit in my fridge uneaten – unless I ate it for breakfast…which would be weird – so I dropped the entire load off at my sister-in-law’s house. She just had a new baby, so they could use some food anyway so they don’t have to worry about cooking. It’s a win-win!
Have a happy Tuesday!Print
One Pot Three Cheese Mac and Cheese
This one pot meal takes no time to throw together and is so creamy, cheesy, and addicting!
- Prep Time: 15 mins
- Cook Time: 20 mins
- Total Time: 35 minutes
- Yield: 10 servings 1x
- 9 cups milk (I used 2%, but whole milk would work as well)
- 1 pound short pasta (I used shells, but any short pasta like macaroni or rotini would work)
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- 3 cups cheese (I used an even mixture of cheddar, mozzarella, and Parmesan)
- 3 tablespoons butter
- 3 tablespoons flour
- 1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
- Add your milk, olive oil, and pasta to a large, heavy bottomed pot (Dutch ovens work great) and bring to a simmer over medium high heat
- You don’t want your milk to boil, so keep a close eye on it to make sure it’s just simmering
- Meanwhile, melt your butter in a microwave safe bowl and whisk in your flour to form a roux (it should be a paste)
- Once you have brought the milk and pasta to a simmer, simmer for 10 minutes, stirring often
- After 10 minutes, add several cups of your hot milk (it’s okay if some pasta sneaks in there, too) to the bowl of roux and whisk to combine. It will be very thick. Add this mixture back into your pasta and milk, and stir to combine
- Simmer for 5 more minutes until the pasta is al dente and the sauce has thickened (it will thicken much more after you add the cheese and after it cools for a few minutes)
- Remove the pot from the heat and let it sit and cool for about 5 minutes
- Add your cheese and nutmeg, and stir to combine
- Let it cool for a few more minutes before serving
This will seem too saucy at first, but once you add the cheese and it cools for several minutes, it becomes the perfect amount of sauce to pasta (at least in my opinion 😉).
You can use any combination of cheese that you want as long as it ends up being 3 cups. You can use all cheddar, you can switch up the mixture, you can do whatever here!
- Serving Size: 1 cup
- Calories: 385
- Sugar: 13 g
- Sodium: 325 mg
- Fat: 14 g
- Carbohydrates: 47 g
- Fiber: 2 g
- Protein: 19 g
- Cholesterol: 38 mg
If you make this or any of my other recipes, be sure to Instagram it and hashtag #thegarlicdiaries!
In the mood for more mac and cheese goodness? Check these out:
Light Turkey Chili Mac and Cheese
This looks delicious cloud, however there are are only two of us in this house and this is way too much food, can you break t down??
Annie Chesson says
Hey Barbara! This recipe would still be just as yummy if you halved all the ingredients (or even quartered them!). You could half it and have leftovers for a few days :).