Creamy, Cheesy, Pasta and Cheese

  • Servings : 8
  • Prep Time : 10m
  • Cook Time : 10m
  • Ready In : 20m
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Nutritional Info

This information is per serving.

  • Calories

  • Calories from Fat

  • Total Fat

  • Saturated Fat

  • Trans Fat

  • Cholesterol

  • Sodium

  • Carbohydrates

  • Dietary Fiber

  • Sugar

  • Protein

  • Serving Size:

    4 oz. (113 g) cooked weight

Americans love macaroni and cheese. There are two versions—baked and not baked. Baked versions with lots of sauce and breadcrumb topping requires more time to make and is higher in calories.

Many Americans opt for the simple, inexpensive boxed versions that do not require baking. Simply cook the pasta and add water or other liquid to a cheese sauce mix. Unless you buy organic macaroni and cheese, you also get artificial colors and flavors in just enough sauce to coat the pasta.

There are dozens of simple cheese sauce recipes you can make in less time than it takes to cook pasta for a quick meal with more sauce than boxed mac & cheese and no artificial ingredients.

This American pasta and cheese recipe falls in between boxed and baked mac & cheese. It requires one pot to cook the pasta and one pot or skillet to make the cheese sauce.

Unlike boxed versions that have food coloring for its bright yellow color, this recipe using turmeric for added color and a blend of yellow cheddar and smooth melting Monterey Jack cheeses. If you prefer, you can use only cheddar or any good melting cheese or cheese.

Any short pasta works for this recipe. Elbow macaroni is traditional and small enough to easily eat with a spoon, but you are not limited to elbow macaroni.

For a lower calorie authentic Italian pasta and cheese recipe Click here for Pasta with Butter and Cheese.

This Recipe vs. National Brands

Boxed macaronic and cheese is convenient but also comes with chemical additives and artificial colors to give it a bright yellow color. Kraft has announced it will eliminate the artificial colors, but you still get preservatives and other chemical ingredients not found in homemade mac and cheese.

Kraft Macaroni and cheese, like most prepared foods also comes loaded with sodium and if you prepare the Kraft product with margarine you also get 4.5 grams of trans fat per serving.

Most boxed macaroni and cheese have 3 serving. This recipe makes 8 1-cup servings and can be cut in half if desired. Since most people eat more than 1-cup and probably the entire box the nutritional values must be doubled or tripled. That means 1,200 calories, 13.5 grams of trans fat, and 2,130 mg of sodium. Almost a days worth of sodium.

Homemade vs. Kraft Per 1-Cup Serving
Homemade Kraft
Calories 260 400
Saturated Fat 8g 4.5g
Trans Fat 0g 4g
Sodium 165 710
Fiber 1g 1g
Protein 11g 10g

Cook’s Tip

If sauce becomes too thick, thin with about 1/4 cup (60 ml) of pasta cooking water.



  • 8 oz. (225 g) macaroni or other short pasta
  • 2 cups (480 ml) half and half
  • 1/4 teaspoon (1.25 ml) dry mustard
  • 1/4 teaspoon (1.25 ml) garlic powder
  • Pinch of cayenne pepper (optional)
  • 1/4 teaspoon (1.25 ml) turmeric
  • 1/2 teaspoon (2.5 ml) cornstarch
  • 1 to 2 tablespoons (15-30 ml) cold water (optional)
  • 3 oz. (85 g) cheddar cheese, shredded
  • 3 oz. (85 g) Monterey Jack, shredded or Swiss, Gruyere

Method of Preparation

Step 1

In a 3 or 4 qt/L sauce pan, bring at least 2 qt/L of water to a rolling boil and cook pasta per manufacturers recommended cooking time until al dente.

Step 2

Combine half and half, mustard, garlic powder, cayenne, turmeric, and corn starch in a large saucepan or skillet, and heat on medium, stirring occasionally until it comes to a simmer. Simmer 2 to 3 minutes or until slightly thickened. Reduce heat to low or medium low if necessary to maintain a low simmer.

Step 3

Stir in drained pasta to coat with sauce. Cook about 1 minute. Serve immediately.