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One Pot Mac & Cheese

One Pot Mac & Cheese 2

There hasn’t been much cooking going on this week – much of the past 10 days has been divvied between visits at two separate hospitals, driving between said hospitals, and queuing at their parkade exits. (Everyone is fine! Or will be. Don’t worry.) What I was supposed to be doing for the past 10 days was finishing up a book manuscript that’s due in Two! Weeks! Fortunately there has been enough to distract me from almost certain panic.

chunky pasta shapes

One silver lining: I’ve been using up all those containers of frozen this and that, most of it unlabeled, that I’ve squirreled away in the freezer. The other day I actually found, without effort, enough space to put a loaf of bread in the freezer, which around here constitutes a small miracle.

Some nights it has been a game of dinnertime Russian roulette, we’ve hit a couple drive thrus, and one day, having been present for the arrival of extra cheesy hospital food mac & cheese at lunchtime when I happened to be starving, the craving for that soft diner-style mac & cheese was still firmly planted at 5:00, so I decided to give a new mac & cheese method a go – another formula that doesn’t require the making of cheese sauce from scratch.

wooden spoon on pasta pot

This version takes approximately two minutes longer than it takes to cook pasta – about as much time as it takes to add butter, milk and a cheese packet – and it’s done. No need to bother with baking. (Did you know if you set a wooden spoon on top of a pot of boiling pasta/potatoes, it won’t boil over?)

One Pot Mac & Cheese 3

This mac & cheese method is pretty brilliant; as you boil the pasta, you blitz grated cheese, milk, and a couple spoonfuls of flour in the food processor.

One Pot Mac & Cheese 4

One Pot Mac & Cheese 5

This cheesy mulch gets poured over the freshly cooked, drained pasta, and the lot is returned to the stovetop and stirred. As the cheese melts, the mixture comes to a boil (quickly, since the pasta starts out so hot) and the sauce thickens right there in the pot, on account of those spoonfuls of flour you added. It thickens and gets all saucy and coats the pasta, all at once. Brilliant, no?

One Pot Mac & Cheese 6

One pot mac & cheese

And that’s it, your from-scratch mac & cheese is finished. This, I think, should be sent out as a PSA to all parents of kids who love pasta with cheese – which is, I think, all of them.

(Tired grown-ups, too.)

One Pot Mac & Cheese 2
One Pot Mac & Cheese 2

One Pot Mac & Cheese

Recipe link

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February 10, 2013

Adapted from the Dairy Farmers of Canada, via Family Bites.

  • Makes: Serves 4-6.


1/2 lb macaroni or other small pasta

3 cups grated old cheddar cheese (or use Gouda, or a combination)

1 1/2 cups milk

2 Tbsp. all-purpose flour

1 tsp. grainy mustard (optional)

1/4 tsp. each salt and pepper


1In a large pot of boiling water, cook the pasta according to the package directions, or until tender but slightly firm to bite (not mushy).

2While the pasta cooks, combine the cheese, milk, flour, mustard (if you’re using it), salt and pepper in a blender or food processor, and pulse until well blended.

3When the pasta is ready, drain it well and return it to the pot. Add the cheese mixture and stir over medium heat for a few minutes, until it bubbles and turns in to cheese sauce. (Letting it bubble will ensure it reaches its maximum thickening potential, and will get rid of any floury texture.) Serve immediately.

Makes: Serves 4-6.

About Julie

34 comments on “One Pot Mac & Cheese

  1. Misty
    February 10, 2013 at 10:59 pm

    Yes, I do want this right now!

  2. Janice
    February 10, 2013 at 11:19 pm

    YUMMMMMMM! I will certainly be trying this out. Looking forward to seeing you tomorrow night.

  3. Mardi (eat. live. travel. write.)
    February 11, 2013 at 4:24 am

    Looks amazing. And like it will be on my menu sometime this week :)

  4. Heather
    February 11, 2013 at 9:34 am

    Have been feeling guilty about serving KD for one lunch per weekend, but my picky two-year-old likes it, and I can only handle one mealtime battle a day. Will have to try this. I think I would probably microwave some frozen spinach and throw it in the food processor too for stealth veggies.

  5. Erica B.
    February 11, 2013 at 11:07 am

    We make cheese sauce from scratch at least once a week for the kids. I’m definitely going to try this! Thank you! 😀

  6. Morgan
    February 11, 2013 at 11:29 am

    Making this for lunch today! Looks delicious :)

  7. Elaine
    February 11, 2013 at 3:48 pm

    Let’s go back to how a pot won’t boil over if you put a wooden spoon over it. What the what?!

    • Julie
      February 11, 2013 at 10:47 pm

      Elaine – I know!! I’m not sure where I picked this up – I think from my aunt. Anyway, I have no idea why it would work, but it apparently does! And I’ve never had a pot boil over with a wooden spoon on it. What will they think of next??

  8. Amy
    February 11, 2013 at 4:38 pm

    Why didn’t I think of that?! YUM!

  9. Carolyn
    February 11, 2013 at 5:49 pm

    Brilliant idea. I’m glad I’m not the only one with freezer space issues. Your comments earlier this year about making things using what we have on hand resonated big time with me, so we’ve been (mostly) eating out of the freezer and pantry (with the exception of fresh fruits, veggies and dairy). I’m slowly making space in the freezer (like losing weight, it’s a lot easier to fill it up than to eat through it).

  10. bev
    February 11, 2013 at 7:56 pm

    I am so very impressed – I’m always looking for easy mac and cheese for quick suppers!! You are the BEST!!

  11. Melanie
    February 11, 2013 at 8:16 pm

    I’ve been waiting all of my life for this… for real. Love, love, love.

  12. Ginette
    February 11, 2013 at 8:21 pm

    ooohh can’t wait to try this one! I also cringe inside every time I serve up KD to my toddlers (even though it’s the organic kind) with the powder cheese sauce. I’ve been trying to find a quick and easy homemade replacement that will fool them, I mean, that they will like as much as the box stuff. This might be it!

  13. Mia
    February 11, 2013 at 9:46 pm

    I read the recipe in the morning and immediately knew what I was going to do with the leftover cooked pasta from Sunday when I got home from work. I blended the ingredients in the food proessor, threw them into a pot to simmer and then added the cold pasta until heated through. The whole family went ballistic!!! Soooooooo darn gooooooooood and I didn’t have to stand over the stove, whisking a roux. I had dinner on the table, with turkey sausages and a cherry tomato salad, within 40 minutes on a Monday night…awesome. Thank you, Julie!

    • Julie
      February 11, 2013 at 10:45 pm

      So glad everyone is loving this!!

  14. Sue V (London, ON)
    February 12, 2013 at 10:27 am

    This was awesome Julie! So easy, fast and delicious. You rock!

  15. Lana
    February 12, 2013 at 1:17 pm

    This is so cool! I just made it for the kids for lunch, and it worked like a charm. Not a single complaint that it wasn’t “real” mac&cheese ie KD.

    I just invested in a Vitamix, so I didn’t even have to shred the cheese – just added chunks to the blender. And the clean-up was easy, too.

  16. Amy
    February 12, 2013 at 10:55 pm

    Must be something about Mac & Cheese and hospitals LOL. Made this for my boyfriend and I tonight after coming home from yet another visit to Emergency to get him Anti-biotics. Anyway, it was super delicious :) I def want to try the mix of Gouda with cheddar next time. Yummm

  17. Andrea
    February 13, 2013 at 9:01 am

    I made this yesterday for lunch and it was so easy and so good! Thank you! I have enjoyed several of your recipes now and I always love your stories!

  18. Avery
    February 13, 2013 at 3:28 pm

    That wooden spoon trick has never worked for me… maybe I had too much water in there to begin with? I keep trying it with an optimistic persistence, though. The Mac n’ cheese looks like it would definitely work for me, though… : D

  19. Cory Lievers
    February 13, 2013 at 5:39 pm

    yum yum yum yum yum yum yum yum yum yum yum yum

  20. Sarah
    February 20, 2013 at 7:08 pm

    Yummy! I hate having to clean my food processor, so my trick (also includes veggies) is to sauté onions/carrots/peppers/whatever in lots of butter or olive oil, then sprinkle the flour over top (it coats the veggies and means zero lumps!) While the pasta cooks I chop veggies and heat the milk in the microwave. Then do a quick sauté in the hot pot while the pasta drains in the sink. Hot milk over veggies/butter/flour turns into a smooth white sauce in about 1 minute. Cheese can be added right away.

    I’m sure that purists avoid the extra veggies in their mac and cheese, but my mom’s “cheddar baked macaroni” always had lots of onions and celery, so this is pure comfort for me.

  21. christine
    March 10, 2013 at 6:36 pm

    I made this for my sister who I was helping thru a particularly rough round of chemo. This was all that was appealing to her and I was so grateful to find something she wanted to eat! Thanks as always Julie.

    • Julie
      March 10, 2013 at 9:40 pm

      Christine, I’m so sorry to hear it. I’m glad you were able to enjoy some homemade mac & cheese together.

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  23. Elizabeth
    November 29, 2015 at 3:35 pm

    Thanks for a quick dinner! Delicious!

  24. Morgan Chapman
    May 4, 2016 at 3:59 pm

    I just wanted to write to say how much I LOVE this recipe! Whenever I have leftover cheese from a get together that is a bit dried out or sweaty…..I stick it in a plastic bag in my freezer. When I have enough, I make this recipe. My blender manages to chop up even fairly large bits of cheese with all the milk in there, and the sauce is always a little different depending on the kinds of cheese I have collected. It is a great way to use up cheese that might have been wasted otherwise!

    Thank you again for this awesome recipe – I have passed it on to so many friends!

    • Julie
      May 6, 2016 at 9:06 am

      Aw, that’s the best! You totally made my day! :)

  25. Tracey Hewison
    November 6, 2017 at 4:13 pm

    I love how simple this recipe is and how quickly it comes together. (and the fact that it’s NOT Kraft dinner!) I used all ‘old cheddar’ but I found the sauce to be a blt bland still, so I added more pepper and salt at the end, which helped considerably. I think next time I will try to find a more ‘piquant’ cheddar (extra old!) and perhaps a third of gouda and see how that turns out. I’m sure it will be delicious. (we prefer stronger flavours but I would imagine most children would love the recipe just ‘as is’ :-) ) Thanks for sharing!

    • Julie
      November 11, 2017 at 11:19 pm

      Oh yes… I love extra old cheddar, it has a far more intense flavour! Gouda would be great too!

  26. Laurel
    April 9, 2018 at 5:46 pm

    I saved this recipe awhile ago and just made it tonight, mad at myself for not making it sooner! Delicious!

    • Julie
      April 11, 2018 at 9:29 am

      So easy, right??

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