fbpx

Best easy Baked Mac and cheese recipe – no flour

Jump to Recipe

Baked Mac and cheese recipe without flour – Mac and cheese lovers, get ready for a mouthwatering adventure that’s not only incredibly creamy and delicious but also tailored to various dietary preferences and cooking methods. We’re diving into the world of easy Mac and Cheese Casserole without flour, and trust me, you’re going to want to make this homemade sensation. This easy homemade mac and cheese is the best easy baked macaroni full of cheesy flavors that’s ideal for family gatherings. We’re talking the best baked mac and cheese without flour!

Imagine a favorite side dish that brings together tender pasta enveloped in a velvety, cheese-infused sauce. It’s comfort food at its finest, but with a twist – there’s no flour involved! That’s right, this simple baked mac recipe is not only flourless but also incredibly versatile.

Whether you’re craving classic comfort, following a vegan lifestyle, or looking for time-saving solutions with an Instant Pot or Air Fryer, we’ve got you covered. And let’s not forget the slow-cooked magic of a crockpot version.

So, get ready to embark on a culinary journey that’s not just about mac and cheese; it’s about celebrating options, flavors, and creativity in the kitchen. Whether you’re enjoying it as a side dish, a main course, or bringing it to a potluck, this Mac and Cheese Casserole is bound to steal the show. Let’s dive in and explore the possibilities of this flourless delight!

Equipment needed to make creamy baked Mac and Cheese without flour

Equipment:

For all methods, you’ll need a saucepan for preparing the cheese sauce.

Oven Method: You’ll need an oven and a baking dish.

Air Fryer Method: An oven-safe air fryer container.

Crockpot Method: A slow cooker (crockpot).

Instant Pot Method: An Instant Pot.

Baked Mac and cheese recipe without flour simple ingredients

Elbow Macaroni: These classic pasta shapes are the heart of your mac and cheese, providing a delightful bite and surface for the main dish cheese sauce to cling to. Alternatively, you can use whole wheat pasta or elbow pasta of your choice to make this a great recipe the whole family will love. 

Milk: Whether you choose dairy milk or a plant-based alternative, it serves as the creamy foundation of your cheese sauce, creating a luscious and velvety texture. For an extra thick creamy sauce, you can use half milk and half heavy cream or vegan soy cream. 

Cheddar Cheese: Shredded cheddar cheese, or its vegan counterpart, brings the rich, sharp, and savory flavor that makes mac and cheese so irresistible. You can use a sharp cheddar cheese or mild cheddar, or substitute with your preferred kind of cheese like Monterey Jack or your favorite vegan cheddar to mace the best macaroni cheese casserole. 

Mozzarella Cheese: Shredded mozzarella cheese (or vegan mozzarella) adds a gooey, stretchy quality to your dish, enhancing that cheesy, melty goodness.

Parmesan Cheese: Grated Parmesan cheese (or vegan Parmesan) contributes a salty and nutty complexity to the cheese sauce, elevating its flavor profile.

Dry ingredients

Breadcrumbs: These crumbs, when toasted to golden perfection, create a delightful crispy topping that contrasts beautifully with the creamy mac and cheese underneath. I like to use gluten-free breadcrumbs, but almond flour is another great option if you need a gluten-free alternative for this easy recipe..

Butter: unsalted butter, or its vegan counterpart, adds richness and a buttery note to the sauce, enhancing its overall creaminess. Alternatively, you can substitute with avocado oil to make a delicious mac and cheese that’s full of rich flavors. 

Cornstarch (or Arrowroot Powder): Cornstarch (or arrowroot powder for a gluten-free option) acts as a thickening agent, ensuring that your cheese sauce achieves the desired consistency.

Flavoring and seasoning ingredients

Salt and Black Pepper: These seasonings are your flavor enhancers, adding depth and balance to the dish. Adjust to your taste preference.

Paprika (Optional): Paprika is an optional addition that imparts a subtle smokiness and color to your Southern mac and cheese, enhancing its visual appeal and flavor.

Cooking Spray or Oil: Greasing your baking dish ensures that your mac and cheese doesn’t stick and allows for easy serving.

With these ingredients, you’ll create a delightful mac and cheese dish that’s not only incredibly delicious but also customizable to your dietary preferences, whether you’re a fan of classic dairy or opt for plant-based and gluten-free options. Enjoy indulging in this comforting and versatile favorite!

Baked Mac and cheese without flour recipe

Here’s a versatile Baked Mac and Cheese recipe that includes both the regular ingredients and vegan substitutes, along with instructions for baking in the oven, using an air fryer, making it in a crockpot, and preparing it in an Instant Pot. Use your favorite cheese to make the best mac casserole dish. 

Gluten free Mac and cheese Ingredients:

  • 2 cups (200 grams) elbow macaroni, regular or gluten free
  • 2 cups (480 ml) milk (use dairy milk or a plant-based alternative)
  • 2 cups (200 grams) shredded cheddar cheese (or vegan cheddar cheese)
  • 1 cup (100 grams) shredded mozzarella cheese (or vegan mozzarella cheese)
  • 1/2 cup (50 grams) grated Parmesan cheese (or vegan Parmesan)
  • 1/4 cup (30 grams) breadcrumbs (for topping)
  • 2 tablespoons (28 grams) butter (or vegan butter)
  • 2 tablespoons (16 grams) cornstarch (or arrowroot powder for a gluten-free option)
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt (adjust to taste)
  • 1/4 teaspoon black pepper
  • 1-2 teaspoon paprika (optional, for flavor)
  • Cooking spray or oil for greasing

How to make Mac and cheese without flour Instructions:

Choose the cooking method that suits you best: Oven, Air Fryer, Crockpot, or Instant Pot.

Oven Method:

1. Preheat your oven to 350°F (175°C). Grease a baking dish with cooking spray or oil.

2. Cook the elbow macaroni according to package instructions until al dente. Drain and set aside.

3. In a saucepan over medium heat, melt the butter (or vegan butter). Stir in the cornstarch (or arrowroot powder) until well combined to create a roux.

4. Gradually whisk in the milk of your choice. Continue whisking until the mixture thickens, about 5-7 minutes.

5. Reduce heat to low, then add the shredded cheddar and mozzarella cheese (or vegan alternatives), stirring until the cheese melts and the sauce is smooth. Season with salt, black pepper, and paprika.

6. Combine the cooked macaroni and the cheese sauce in the greased baking dish. Mix well.

7. In a small bowl, combine the breadcrumbs with the grated Parmesan (or vegan Parmesan). Sprinkle this mixture evenly over the macaroni.

8. Bake in the preheated oven for 20-25 minutes, or until the top is golden brown and the cheese is bubbling.

Air fryer Mac and cheese

Air Fryer Method:

1. Follow steps 1 to 5 from the oven method to prepare the macaroni and cheese sauce.

2. In an oven-safe air fryer container, combine the cooked macaroni and cheese sauce. Mix well.

3. Sprinkle the breadcrumb-Parmesan mixture over the top.

4. Air fry at 350°F (175°C) for about 10-12 minutes, or until the top is crispy and golden brown.

Crock pot gluten free Mac and cheese

Crockpot Method:

1. Cook the elbow macaroni according to package instructions until al dente. Drain and set aside.

2. In a saucepan over medium heat, melt the butter (or vegan butter). Stir in the cornstarch (or arrowroot powder) until well combined to create a roux.

3. Gradually whisk in the milk of your choice. Continue whisking until the mixture thickens, about 5-7 minutes.

4. Reduce heat to low, then add the shredded cheddar and mozzarella cheese (or vegan alternatives), stirring until the cheese melts and the sauce is smooth. Season with salt, black pepper, and paprika.

5. In your crockpot, combine the cooked macaroni and the cheese sauce. Mix well.

6. In a small bowl, combine the breadcrumbs with the grated Parmesan (or vegan Parmesan). Sprinkle this mixture evenly over the macaroni.

7. Cover the crockpot and cook on low for 2-3 hours or until the mac and cheese is heated through and the top is crispy.

Instant pot mac and cheese without flour recipe

Instant Pot Method:

1. Cook the elbow macaroni in your Instant Pot using the “Sauté” function according to package instructions until al dente. Drain and set aside.

2. In the Instant Pot, melt the butter (or vegan butter) using the “Sauté” function. Stir in the cornstarch (or arrowroot powder) until well combined to create a roux.

3. Gradually whisk in the milk of your choice. Continue whisking until the mixture thickens, about 5-7 minutes.

4. Reduce the heat by switching off the “Sauté” function, then add the shredded cheddar and mozzarella cheese (or vegan alternatives), stirring until the cheese melts and the sauce is smooth. Season with salt, black pepper, and paprika.

5. Combine the cooked macaroni and the cheese sauce in the Instant Pot. Mix well.

6. In a small bowl, combine the breadcrumbs with the grated Parmesan (or vegan Parmesan). Sprinkle this mixture evenly over the macaroni.

7. Set your Instant Pot to “Keep Warm” mode, cover with a glass lid (or use the Instant Pot lid without sealing), and let it sit for about 10-15 minutes to allow the top to become crispy.

Enjoy your Baked Mac and Cheese in the style that suits you best, whether it’s baked in the oven, air fried, slow-cooked, or prepared in an Instant Pot. It’s a versatile and satisfying dish for all mac and cheese lovers! 

Simple Mac and cheese recipe without flour and milk: best substitutes

Vegan Mac and cheese casserole

Creamy Plant-Based Gluten-Free Mac and Cheese Casserole: A Vegan Delight

When it comes to comfort food, few dishes evoke the same warm and fuzzy feelings as mac and cheese. But what if you’re on a vegan or gluten-free journey? Well, we’ve got you covered! Our Creamy Plant-Based Gluten-Free Mac and Cheese Casserole is here to show that you can indulge in this classic favorite without compromising your dietary preferences. Let’s dive into what makes this dish so fantastic:

1. Elbow Macaroni (Gluten-Free): These gluten-free elbow macaroni noodles are the heart of our dish, providing that classic mac and cheese texture without the gluten. They hold onto the creamy sauce beautifully.

2. Plant-Based Milk: Whether you opt for almond, soy, or oat milk, the plant-based milk in this recipe serves as the foundation of our creamy sauce. It’s the dairy-free magic that binds everything together.

3. Vegan Cheddar Cheese: The shredded vegan cheddar cheese adds a rich, cheesy flavor that’s remarkably close to the real deal. It’s our star ingredient for achieving that classic mac and cheese taste.

4. Vegan Mozzarella Cheese: The shredded vegan mozzarella cheese contributes to the creaminess and melt-in-your-mouth goodness. It ensures your vegan mac and cheese is gooey and irresistible.

5. Vegan Parmesan Cheese: Grated vegan Parmesan cheese brings a savory, umami depth to the dish. It’s the secret ingredient that elevates the flavor profile.

6. Gluten-Free Breadcrumbs: These gluten-free breadcrumbs create a delectable, crispy topping that provides a delightful contrast to the creamy mac and cheese underneath.

7. Vegan Butter: The vegan butter adds a rich, buttery flavor and helps create the roux, the base for the creamy sauce.

Dry ingredients

8. Cornstarch (or Arrowroot Powder): Cornstarch, or its gluten-free counterpart, arrowroot powder, acts as a thickening agent for the sauce, ensuring that it’s lusciously creamy.

9. Salt and Black Pepper: These seasonings enhance the flavors, while the optional paprika adds a hint of smokiness and depth.

This plant-based and gluten-free mac and cheese casserole is proof that dietary preferences don’t have to stand in the way of savoring a comforting classic. Whether you’re vegan, gluten-sensitive, or simply seeking a flavorful twist on a beloved dish, this recipe combines wholesome ingredients to deliver a creamy, cheesy, and satisfying experience. Plus, it’s versatile enough to suit your unique tastes, making it a perfect addition to your recipe collection. Dive in and savor the creamy delight of guilt-free mac and cheese! 

How to thicken Mac and cheese without flour

Thickening mac and cheese without using flour is entirely possible, and there are several alternative methods you can explore. Here are some ways to achieve that creamy and thick consistency without flour:

1. Cornstarch or Arrowroot Powder: These gluten-free alternatives work similarly to flour as a thickening agent. Mix a small amount (start with 1-2 tablespoons) of cornstarch or arrowroot powder with a cold liquid (e.g., water or non-dairy milk) to create a slurry. Stir this slurry into your mac and cheese sauce and cook until it thickens.

2. Mashed Potatoes: Cook and mash some potatoes separately, then blend them into the cheese sauce. Potatoes can add creaminess and thickness without the need for flour.

3. Cashews: Soak raw cashews in hot water for about 30 minutes, then blend them with water to create a creamy cashew milk. This can be used as a base for your cheese sauce and will naturally thicken as it heats.

4. Nutritional Yeast: Nutritional yeast not only adds a cheesy flavor but can also help thicken your sauce. Start with a few tablespoons and adjust to taste.

5. Silken Tofu: Silken tofu can be blended with your other sauce ingredients to create a creamy texture and thicken the sauce.

More ways to thicken mac and cheese without flour

6. Dairy-Free Yogurt: Opt for plain dairy-free yogurt (such as almond or soy) and mix it into your sauce for creaminess and thickness.

7. Pureed Vegetables: Puree cooked vegetables like cauliflower, butternut squash, or sweet potatoes and mix them into your sauce. These vegetables can add thickness and nutrients to your mac and cheese.

8. Dietary Flours (e.g., Chickpea Flour): If you’re open to alternative flours, consider using chickpea flour or other gluten-free flours. They can be used to thicken sauces without the gluten content.

Remember to start with a small amount of your chosen thickening agent and gradually add more as needed until you reach your desired consistency. The key is to adjust based on your personal preferences and dietary requirements. Enjoy your creamy and thick mac and cheese!

Tips and tricks for making the best easy creamy Mac and cheese

Creating the best easy and creamy mac and cheese requires attention to detail and a few tricks up your sleeve. Here are some tips and tricks to help you achieve mac and cheese perfection:

1. Choose the Right Pasta: Opt for elbow macaroni or other small pasta shapes with plenty of nooks and crannies to hold the creamy sauce.

2. Use High-Quality Cheese: Start with good-quality cheese for the best flavor. Sharp cheddar is a classic choice, but feel free to mix in other cheeses like mozzarella, Gruyère, or Parmesan for depth of flavor.

3. Grate Your Own Cheese: Pre-shredded cheese often contains anti-caking agents that can affect the sauce’s texture. Grate your cheese from a block for creamier results.

4. Create a Cheese Sauce Base: Melt butter (or a dairy-free alternative) in a saucepan, then whisk in your thickening agent, whether it’s cornstarch, arrowroot powder, or another alternative.

5. Use Evaporated Milk: Some recipes call for evaporated milk instead of regular milk for a creamier texture. It has less water content, so it results in a richer sauce.

6. Low and Slow: Heat your milk or milk alternative gradually over low heat. Avoid boiling, as this can cause the sauce to curdle.

7. Add Cheese Gradually: Add the grated cheese in batches, stirring until fully melted before adding more. This prevents clumping and ensures a smooth sauce.

Extra tips

8. Season Well: Don’t forget to season your sauce with salt, black pepper, and any desired spices (like paprika or mustard powder) for extra flavor.

9. Experiment with Mix-Ins: Customize your mac and cheese with mix-ins like crispy bacon, sautéed onions, or cooked vegetables for added flavor and texture.

10. Don’t Overcook the Pasta: Cook the pasta until it’s al dente (still slightly firm to the bite) as it will continue cooking in the sauce. Overcooked pasta can become mushy.

11. Use Pasta Water: Before draining the pasta, save a cup of pasta cooking water. You can use this starchy water to adjust the consistency of your sauce if needed.

12. Combine Pasta and Sauce Off Heat: Mix the cooked pasta and cheese sauce together off the heat. This prevents the sauce from overheating and potentially curdling.

13. Let It Rest: Allow your mac and cheese to rest for a few minutes before serving. This gives the sauce a chance to thicken slightly and cling to the pasta.

14. Optional Toppings: Consider adding a breadcrumb or crushed potato chip topping for a crispy contrast to the creamy mac and cheese.

15. Reheat Carefully: When reheating leftovers, add a splash of milk or cream to maintain creaminess, and reheat on low heat to prevent the sauce from breaking.

Remember, practice makes perfect. Don’t be afraid to experiment and adjust the recipe to suit your taste preferences. With these tips, you’ll be on your way to making the best creamy mac and cheese every time.

Tips for making the best vegan mac and cheese casserole

Making the best vegan and gluten-free mac and cheese requires some creativity and the right techniques to achieve creamy, flavorful results. Here are some tips to help you create a delicious vegan and gluten-free mac and cheese:

1. Choose the Right Pasta: Look for gluten-free pasta varieties made from rice, corn, quinoa, or chickpeas. Select a shape that holds sauce well, such as elbow macaroni or penne.

2. Make a Vegan Cheese Sauce:

Nut-Based Cheese: Consider making a vegan cheese sauce with ingredients like cashews, almonds, or nutritional yeast for a creamy, cheesy flavor.

Dairy-Free Milk: Use unsweetened dairy-free milk like almond, soy, or oat milk as the base of your sauce.

Vegan Cheese: Opt for dairy-free shredded or sliced cheese alternatives, such as vegan cheddar, mozzarella, or pepper jack. You can also use nutritional yeast for added cheesy flavor.

3. Creamy Vegan Butter: Use vegan butter or margarine to create a roux (butter and flour mixture) for the sauce.

4. Gluten-Free Thickening Agents: Instead of traditional flour, use gluten-free thickening agents like cornstarch or arrowroot powder to achieve the desired consistency for your sauce.

5. Season Well: Don’t skimp on seasonings. Add salt, black pepper, garlic powder, and a pinch of paprika or mustard powder for depth of flavor.

6. Blend for Smoothness: If you’re using cashews or other nuts in your cheese sauce, blend them well to ensure a smooth and creamy texture.

Extra tips for making the best creamy plant based Mac and Cheese

7. Mix Ins: Enhance your mac and cheese with sautéed vegetables like spinach, mushrooms, or roasted red peppers. You can also add in cooked vegan bacon bits or sautéed onions for extra flavor and texture.

8. Taste and Adjust: Taste your sauce as you go and adjust the seasonings to suit your preferences.

9. Cook Pasta Correctly: Follow the package instructions for cooking gluten-free pasta, but be careful not to overcook it, as it can become mushy.

10. Combine Carefully: Mix the cooked pasta and cheese sauce gently to prevent breakage or sticking. If needed, add a bit of reserved pasta cooking water to adjust the consistency.

11. Bake with Toppings: For a classic baked mac and cheese experience, transfer the mixture to a baking dish, top with gluten-free breadcrumbs or crushed potato chips, and bake until golden and bubbly.

12. Reheat with Liquid: When reheating leftovers, add a splash of dairy-free milk or vegetable broth to maintain creaminess.

13. Explore Alternative Ingredients: Don’t hesitate to experiment with ingredients like roasted butternut squash, sweet potatoes, or cauliflower as a base for your sauce. These can add creaminess and flavor to your vegan mac and cheese.

14. Vegan Cheese Brands: There are various vegan cheese brands on the market, so try different ones to discover your favorite for making vegan mac and cheese.

Remember that practice makes perfect, and adjusting ingredients and seasonings to your liking is encouraged. With these tips, you’ll be well on your way to enjoying a delicious vegan and gluten-free mac and cheese that satisfies your cravings.

Best pasta for gluten free Mac and cheese

When making gluten-free mac and cheese, it’s important to choose a pasta that not only holds its shape but also absorbs the creamy sauce well. Here are some of the best pasta options for gluten-free mac and cheese:

1. Elbow Macaroni: Elbow macaroni is the classic choice for mac and cheese. It’s readily available in gluten-free versions and provides the perfect nooks and crannies to trap the cheesy sauce.

2. Penne: Penne pasta works well for a slightly different texture. Its cylindrical shape allows for a good sauce-to-pasta ratio, and the ridges help hold the sauce.

3. Rotini: Rotini’s spiral shape makes it an excellent choice for gluten-free mac and cheese. The twists and turns hold onto the sauce effectively.

4. Shells: Gluten-free shell pasta, also known as conchiglie, is great for capturing pockets of creamy sauce. It’s a fun and playful option.

5. Fusilli: Fusilli pasta’s spiral shape offers both visual appeal and a great texture for mac and cheese. It holds onto the sauce nicely.

6. Cavatappi: Cavatappi pasta has a corkscrew or helical shape, making it another good choice for mac and cheese. It captures the cheese sauce in its crevices.

More great gluten-free pastas for gluten-free Mac and Cheese

7. Gluten-Free Macaroni Shapes: Some brands offer gluten-free macaroni in various shapes beyond traditional elbows, like hearts or stars. These can add a unique touch to your mac and cheese.

8. Brown Rice Pasta: Made from brown rice flour, this gluten-free pasta has a texture and taste similar to traditional pasta. It works well for mac and cheese.

9. Quinoa Pasta: Quinoa pasta is rich in protein and has a pleasant nutty flavor. It holds up nicely in mac and cheese recipes.

10. Chickpea Pasta: Chickpea pasta is protein-packed and gluten-free. It has a slightly different texture and taste, which can add variety to your mac and cheese.

When selecting gluten-free pasta, read the labels carefully to ensure it’s certified gluten-free if you have celiac disease or a severe gluten sensitivity. Cooking times may vary, so follow the package instructions to achieve the desired texture. Ultimately, the best pasta for gluten-free mac and cheese is the one that you enjoy the most, so feel free to experiment with different shapes and brands to find your favorite.

Mac and cheese dinner ideas and variations

Mac and cheese is a versatile dish that can be customized in various ways to suit your taste preferences. Here are some mac and cheese dinner ideas and variations to inspire your next meal:

Classic Mac and Cheese: Start with a creamy cheese sauce made from cheddar, mozzarella, and Parmesan. Toss it with elbow macaroni for a comforting classic.

Baked Mac and Cheese: Transfer your mac and cheese to a baking dish, top it with breadcrumbs and a sprinkle of Parmesan, and bake until golden and crispy for an extra layer of flavor and texture.

Buffalo Mac and Cheese: Add some buffalo sauce and diced cooked cauliflower florets for a spicy twist on mac and cheese.

Truffle Mac and Cheese: Drizzle truffle oil over your mac and cheese for a luxurious, earthy flavor. Top with fresh herbs like parsley or chives.

Vegan Bacon Mac and Cheese: Crisp up some vegan bacon bits and mix them into your mac and cheese for a savory, smoky kick.

Vegan Mac and Cheese: Make a creamy vegan cheese sauce using cashews, nutritional yeast, and plant-based milk. Toss it with gluten-free pasta for a dairy-free and gluten-free option.

Pesto Mac and Cheese: Mix in pesto sauce made with basil, pine nuts, garlic, and olive oil for a vibrant, herbaceous mac and cheese.

Broccoli and Cheese Mac: Steam or roast broccoli florets and add them to your mac and cheese for a boost of nutrition and color.

Tomato and Spinach Mac and Cheese: Sauté cherry tomatoes and spinach, then stir them into your mac and cheese for a fresh and vibrant dish.

Mexican Mac and Cheese: Add taco seasoning, black beans, diced tomatoes, and jalapeños for a spicy and hearty mac and cheese.

Even more delicious Dairy Free Mac And Cheese variations

BBQ Mac and Cheese: Top your mac and cheese with tender grilled peppers and drizzle with barbecue sauce for a fusion of flavors.

Mac and Cheese with Caramelized Onions: Sauté onions until caramelized and mix them into your mac and cheese for a sweet and savory combination.

Mushroom and Gruyère Mac and Cheese: Sauté mushrooms until golden brown and mix them with Gruyère cheese for a rich and earthy mac and cheese.

Spinach and Artichoke Mac and Cheese: Incorporate sautéed spinach and chopped artichoke hearts for a creamy, tangy twist on mac and cheese.

Greek Mac and Cheese: Add crumbled feta cheese, Kalamata olives, diced tomatoes, and fresh oregano for a Mediterranean-inspired mac and cheese.

Cauliflower Mac and Cheese: Blend cooked cauliflower into the cheese sauce for a lighter, veggie-packed version of mac and cheese.

Kimchi Mac and Cheese: Incorporate chopped kimchi for a spicy and tangy kick that adds depth of flavor.

Indian-inspired Mac and Cheese: Add garam masala, turmeric, and coconut milk to the cheese sauce for a fusion of Indian and comfort food flavors.

Mac and Cheese Stuffed Bell Peppers: Fill hollowed-out bell peppers with mac and cheese, bake until tender, and enjoy a unique twist on stuffed peppers.

These mac and cheese variations offer a wide range of flavors and textures to suit various tastes and occasions. Get creative in the kitchen and customize your mac and cheese to make it uniquely yours!

How to add protein to Mac and cheese: protein mac and cheese recipe

If you’re looking to add more protein to your vegan mac and cheese, there are several ingredients and methods you can use to achieve a protein-packed and delicious dish. Here are some ideas:

1. Plant-Based Proteins:

Tofu: Crumble or cube firm tofu and mix it into the cheese sauce for added protein.

Tempeh: Crumbled or diced tempeh works well in mac and cheese and provides a nutty flavor and protein.

Seitan: Sliced or crumbled seitan is a protein-rich option that can be incorporated into your mac and cheese.

Plant-Based Sausage: Use vegan sausage, such as soy or pea protein-based options, and crumble or slice it into your mac and cheese.

2. Nutritional Yeast: Nutritional yeast not only adds a cheesy flavor but also boosts the protein content of your mac and cheese. It’s a staple in many vegan cheese sauce recipes.

3. Plant-Based Milk: Choose plant-based milk options that are fortified with protein, such as soy milk or pea milk. These can enhance the protein content of the cheese sauce.

4. Beans and Legumes: Add cooked and drained beans like chickpeas, black beans, or lentils to your mac and cheese for a protein boost and extra texture.

5. Hemp Seeds: Sprinkle hemp seeds over your mac and cheese before serving. They are rich in protein and healthy fats.

6. Cashews: Blend soaked and drained cashews into your cheese sauce for creaminess and protein.

Even more delicious ways to add protein

7. Protein Pasta: Opt for pasta made from legume flour (e.g., chickpea pasta, red lentil pasta) or quinoa pasta, which naturally contains more protein than traditional wheat pasta.

8. Plant-Based Protein Powders: Some vegan protein powders can be incorporated into your cheese sauce for added protein. Be mindful of the flavor and choose a neutral or compatible flavor.

9. Edamame: Add cooked edamame beans to your mac and cheese for a protein-packed and colorful twist.

10. Roasted or Sautéed Veggies: Enhance the protein content by adding roasted or sautéed vegetables like mushrooms, spinach, or bell peppers.

11. Vegan Cheese: Select vegan cheese options that are protein-fortified. Some brands offer varieties that contain added pea protein or other plant-based protein sources.

12. Chick’n or Plant-Based Bacon: Use vegan chicken strips or plant-based bacon crumbles for a protein and flavor boost.

Remember to balance the flavors and textures to create a harmonious dish. Experiment with these ingredients and methods to find your favorite way to enjoy a protein-rich vegan mac and cheese.

Are you looking for some delicious side dishes? You might like some of these:

What to eat with Mac and cheese

Dinner ideas with mac and cheese as a side: Mac and cheese is a classic comfort food that pairs well with a variety of side dishes and accompaniments. Here are some delicious options to enjoy with mac and cheese:

1. Green Salad: A simple green salad with fresh lettuce, tomatoes, cucumbers, and your favorite dressing provides a refreshing contrast to the richness of mac and cheese.

2. Roasted Vegetables: Roasted broccoli, cauliflower, Brussels sprouts, or carrots complement the creamy mac and cheese with their earthy flavors and crispy textures.

3. Fried vegan Chicken: A crispy piece of fried vegan Buffalo chicken or tofu can add a savory and protein-rich element to your meal.

4. Bread or Garlic Bread: Serve mac and cheese with slices of warm crusty bread or garlic bread for a delightful combination of textures and flavors.

5. Coleslaw: Creamy coleslaw with cabbage and carrots provides a sweet and crunchy side that balances the richness of mac and cheese.

6. Tomato Soup: A bowl of tomato soup is a classic pairing that offers a comforting and slightly acidic contrast to the cheesy pasta.

7. Grilled Cheese Sandwich: Make a grilled cheese sandwich with your favorite bread and vegan cheese for a double dose of cheesy goodness.

8. Vegan Hot Dogs or Veggie Dogs: Serve mac and cheese alongside vegan hot dogs or veggie dogs for a fun and indulgent meal.

9. Pickles: The tangy and crunchy bite of pickles, whether dill or bread-and-butter, can cut through the richness of mac and cheese.

10. Sautéed Spinach: A side of sautéed spinach with garlic and olive oil adds a healthy touch and a burst of green to your plate.

More delicious serving ideas

11. Baked Beans: Sweet and smoky baked beans complement the savory and cheesy flavors of mac and cheese.

12. Cornbread: Enjoy mac and cheese with a slice of cornbread for a delightful Southern-inspired meal.

13. Mashed Potatoes: If you’re looking for ultimate comfort food, pair mac and cheese with creamy mashed potatoes.

14. Mixed Vegetables: A medley of steamed or sautéed mixed vegetables, such as carrots, peas, and green beans, can add color and nutrition to your plate.

15. Buffalo Cauliflower: Spice up your meal with buffalo cauliflower bites for a flavorful and tangy side.

16. Fruit Salad: A light and refreshing fruit salad with a mix of seasonal fruits offers a sweet contrast to mac and cheese.

17. Garlic Spinach: Sauté spinach with garlic and olive oil for a quick and healthy side dish.

18. Avocado Slices: Creamy avocado slices provide a creamy and nutritious element to your meal.

19. Corn on the Cob: Enjoy mac and cheese with corn on the cob for a classic and comforting combination.

20. Chili: A bowl of hearty chili pairs well with mac and cheese, offering a satisfying and filling meal.

These side dish ideas can elevate your mac and cheese experience, offering a variety of flavors and textures to suit your taste preferences. Mix and match to create a memorable and satisfying meal.

How to reheat Mac and cheese

Best way to reheat mac and cheese

Reheating mac and cheese while maintaining its creamy texture can be a bit tricky, but here are some methods to achieve the best results:

1. Microwave Method:

   – Place your mac and cheese in a microwave-safe dish.

   – Cover it with a microwave-safe lid or microwave-safe plastic wrap, leaving a small vent for steam to escape.

   – Heat in the microwave in 30-second intervals, stirring between each interval to distribute the heat evenly.

   – Continue until it reaches your desired temperature. Be cautious not to overheat, as it can cause the cheese sauce to become grainy.

2. Stovetop Method:

   – Transfer the mac and cheese to a saucepan or skillet.

   – Add a splash of milk or cream to the pan to help revive the creamy texture.

   – Heat over low to medium-low heat, stirring constantly. The added liquid will help maintain the creaminess as it warms up.

3. Oven Method:

   – Preheat your oven to around 350°F (175°C).

   – Place the mac and cheese in an oven-safe dish.

   – If it’s a bit dry, you can drizzle some milk or cream over the top to add moisture.

   – Cover the dish with aluminum foil.

   – Bake for about 20-30 minutes or until heated through, removing the foil for the last 10 minutes to allow the top to crisp up if desired.

Reheating mac and cheese in air fryer

4. Air Fryer Method:

   – Preheat your air fryer to 350°F (175°C).

   – Place small portions of mac and cheese in the air fryer basket to avoid overcrowding.

   – Reheat for about 3-5 minutes, checking for your desired temperature and creaminess.

5. Double Boiler Method:

   – If you have a double boiler, you can use it to gently reheat mac and cheese.

   – Place water in the bottom pot and bring it to a simmer.

   – Place the mac and cheese in the top pot and stir occasionally until warmed through.

Remember to keep an eye on the mac and cheese during reheating to prevent it from overcooking or drying out. If it starts to get too thick or dry, you can always add a bit more milk or cream to restore the creamy consistency. Reheating times may vary depending on the quantity and thickness of your mac and cheese, so adjust as needed.

Gluten Free Mac and cheese FAQs

Is mac and cheese gluten-free by default?

No, traditional mac and cheese recipes typically use wheat-based pasta, which contains gluten. To make mac and cheese gluten-free, you need to use gluten-free pasta.

What is the best gluten-free pasta for mac and cheese?

There are several excellent gluten-free pasta brands available, including ones made from rice, corn, quinoa, chickpea flour, and more. The best one for your mac and cheese depends on your taste preferences and dietary needs.

Can I use gluten-free flour to thicken the cheese sauce?

Yes, you can use gluten-free flours like rice flour, cornstarch, or tapioca starch to thicken the cheese sauce in mac and cheese.

Is there gluten in cheese?

Cheese is naturally gluten-free. However, some flavored or processed cheeses may contain gluten-containing additives or seasonings. Always check the label for gluten-free certification or ingredients.

Gluten-free Macaroni FAQs

Are breadcrumbs on top of mac and cheese gluten-free?

Regular breadcrumbs contain gluten, but you can easily find gluten-free breadcrumbs in stores or make your own using gluten-free bread. Use these for a gluten-free topping on baked mac and cheese.

Can I make a creamy cheese sauce without flour?

Yes, you can make a creamy cheese sauce without flour. Use alternative thickeners like cornstarch, arrowroot powder, or potato starch for a gluten-free option.

Can I use vegetable-based pasta in gluten-free mac and cheese?

Absolutely! Many vegetable-based pastas like zucchini noodles, sweet potato noodles, or cauliflower-based pasta can be used in gluten-free mac and cheese recipes.

What are some gluten-free cheese options?

Most natural cheeses, such as cheddar, Swiss, mozzarella, and Parmesan, are naturally gluten-free. However, always check the label, especially for processed or flavored cheeses.

How can I make gluten-free breadcrumbs for topping my mac and cheese?

To make gluten-free breadcrumbs, toast gluten-free bread slices until crisp, then blend them into breadcrumbs using a food processor or blender.

How to make cheese sauce without flour for pasta 

How to make cheese sauce without flour for pasta step-by-step

You can make a creamy cheese sauce for pasta without using flour or cornstarch by using alternative thickeners. Here’s a simple recipe for a gluten-free and flour-free cheese sauce:

Pasta cheese sauce without flour Ingredients:
One cup (240 ml) milk (dairy or plant-based)
1 1/2 cups (about 170 grams) shredded cheese of your choice (e.g., cheddar, mozzarella, or a blend)
A tablespoon (14 grams) butter (or dairy-free butter for a vegan option)
1/2 teaspoon mustard (optional, for flavor)
Salt and pepper to taste

How to make cheese sauce without flour or cornstarch Instructions:

1. Melt the Butter: In a saucepan over medium-low heat, melt the butter.

2. Add Milk: Pour in the milk and whisk it with the melted butter until well combined.

3. Heat Gently: Continue to heat the mixture gently, stirring frequently, but do not let it come to a boil. You want it to be hot but not boiling.

4. Add Cheese: Gradually add the shredded cheese while continuing to stir. Stir until the cheese is fully melted and the sauce is smooth. This may take a few minutes. 

5. Season: If desired, add a pinch of salt, a dash of pepper, and the optional mustard for extra flavor. Taste and adjust the seasonings to your preference.

6. Serve: Pour the cheese sauce over your cooked pasta or vegetables while it’s still warm. Stir to coat everything evenly, and serve immediately.

This method creates a creamy and delicious cheese sauce without the need for flour or cornstarch. It’s perfect for those who prefer a gluten-free or grain-free option. You can also customize the sauce by adding herbs, spices, or other seasonings to suit your taste.

Macaroni and Cheese Nutritional FAQs

Is baked mac and cheese healthy 

Traditional baked mac and cheese is often considered a comfort food rather than a health food. It tends to be rich in calories, saturated fat, and sodium, which can contribute to an unhealthy diet if consumed excessively. However, whether mac and cheese is considered “healthy” or not depends on various factors:

1. Ingredients: The healthiness of baked mac and cheese can be influenced by the ingredients used. For a healthier version, you can choose whole-grain or gluten-free pasta, use reduced-fat or plant-based cheese, and incorporate vegetables or lean protein sources.

2. Portion Size: Like many dishes, portion size matters. Eating mac and cheese in moderation and as part of a balanced diet is key to managing its impact on your health.

3. Additions: What you serve with mac and cheese matters too. Pairing it with a side salad or vegetables can boost the overall nutritional value of your meal.

4. Homemade vs. Store-Bought: Homemade mac and cheese allows you to control the ingredients and make healthier choices. Store-bought or restaurant versions may contain more saturated fat, sodium, and additives.

5. Dietary Preferences: For those with dietary preferences or restrictions (e.g., vegan, gluten-free), there are healthier alternatives available that align with those preferences.

6. Health Goals: The definition of “healthy” varies from person to person based on their individual health goals and dietary needs. Some may consider a balanced mac and cheese recipe with whole grains and lean protein to be a healthier choice within their dietary context.

Storing Mac and Cheese

How to store and reheat Mac and cheese

Storing, freezing, and reheating mac and cheese can help you enjoy this delicious dish over multiple meals. Here’s how to do it:

Storing Mac and Cheese:
1. Refrigeration: If you plan to eat your mac and cheese within a few days, store it in an airtight container in the refrigerator. Properly stored, it can stay fresh for 3-5 days.

Freezing Mac and Cheese guide

How to freeze Mac and Cheese

Freezing Mac and Cheese:
1. Cooling: Allow the mac and cheese to cool to room temperature before freezing. This helps prevent ice crystals from forming inside the dish.

2. Portioning: Consider portioning the mac and cheese into individual servings or the size you’re likely to use at once. This makes reheating more convenient.

3. Airtight Containers: Place the mac and cheese in airtight containers or freezer-safe bags. Remove as much air as possible to prevent freezer burn.

4. Labeling: Don’t forget to label the containers with the date so you can keep track of how long it’s been in the freezer.

5. Freezing Time: Mac and cheese can be frozen for 1-2 months without significant loss of quality.

Reheating Mac and Cheese FAQs

How to reheat Mac and Cheese

Reheating Mac and Cheese:
1. From the Refrigerator: To reheat mac and cheese from the refrigerator, you can use the microwave or stovetop.
   – Microwave: Place a portion in a microwave-safe dish and heat in 30-second intervals, stirring between each interval, until heated through.
   – Stovetop: Heat in a saucepan over low to medium heat, stirring frequently until warmed.

2. From the Freezer: When reheating mac and cheese from the freezer, it’s best to thaw it first:
   – Refrigerator: Transfer the frozen mac and cheese to the refrigerator and let it thaw overnight.
   – Quick-Thaw: If you’re in a hurry, you can use the defrost function on your microwave to thaw it more quickly.

3. Microwave or Stovetop: Once thawed, follow the reheating instructions as mentioned above for mac and cheese from the refrigerator.

Remember that the texture of reheated mac and cheese may be slightly different from when it’s freshly made, but it should still be delicious. If it seems a bit dry after reheating, you can add a splash of milk or cream to restore creaminess.

By following these storage and reheating tips, you can enjoy your mac and cheese even on busy days or when you’re craving a comforting meal from the freezer.

More recipes you might enjoy

DID YOU MAKE THIS EASY MAC AND CHEESE RECIPE?

Please leave us a review in the comments below and let us know how it turned out 🙂

Delicious Easy Mac and Cheese recipe

Imagine a favorite side dish that brings together tender pasta enveloped in a velvety, cheese-infused sauce. It’s comfort food at its finest, but with a twist – there’s no flour involved! That’s right, this simple baked mac recipe is not only flourless but also incredibly versatile.
Whether you’re craving classic comfort, following a vegan lifestyle, or looking for time-saving solutions with an Instant Pot or Air Fryer, we’ve got you covered. And let’s not forget the slow-cooked magic of a crockpot version.
Course Dinner
Cuisine American
Keyword dinner
Prep Time 8 minutes
Cook Time 25 minutes
Servings 4 people
Calories 350kcal
Author Simone – Munchyesta.com

Ingredients

  • 2 cups (200g) elbow macaroni
  • 2 cups (480ml) milk (use dairy milk or a plant-based alternative)
  • 2 cups (200g) shredded cheddar cheese (or vegan cheddar cheese)
  • 1 cup (100g) shredded mozzarella cheese (or vegan mozzarella cheese)
  • 1/2 cup (50g) grated Parmesan cheese (or vegan Parmesan)
  • 1/4 cup (30g) breadcrumbs (for topping)
  • 2 tablespoons (28g) butter (or vegan butter or vegetable oil)
  • 2 tablespoons (16g) cornstarch (or arrowroot powder for a gluten-free option)
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt adjust to taste
  • 1/4 teaspoon black pepper
  • 1-2 teaspoons paprika optional, for flavor
  • Cooking spray or oil for greasing

Instructions

Choose the cooking method that suits you best: Oven, Air Fryer, Crockpot, or Instant Pot.

    Oven Method:

    • Preheat your oven to 350°F (175°C). Grease a baking dish with cooking spray or oil.
    • Cook the elbow macaroni according to package instructions until al dente. Drain and set aside.
    • In a saucepan over medium heat, melt the butter (or vegan butter). Stir in the cornstarch (or arrowroot powder) until well combined to create a roux.
    • Gradually whisk in the milk of your choice. Continue whisking until the mixture thickens, about 5-7 minutes.
    • Reduce heat to low, then add the shredded cheddar and mozzarella cheese (or vegan alternatives), stirring until the cheese melts and the sauce is smooth. Season with salt, black pepper, and paprika.
    • Combine the cooked macaroni and the cheese sauce in the greased baking dish. Mix well.
    • In a small bowl, combine the breadcrumbs with the grated Parmesan (or vegan Parmesan). Sprinkle this mixture evenly over the macaroni.
    • Bake in the preheated oven for 20-25 minutes, or until the top is golden brown and the cheese is bubbling.

    Air Fryer Method:

    • Follow steps 1 to 5 from the oven method to prepare the macaroni and cheese sauce.
    • In an oven-safe air fryer container, combine the cooked macaroni and cheese sauce. Mix well.
    • Sprinkle the breadcrumb-Parmesan mixture over the top.
    • Air fry at 350°F (175°C) for about 10-12 minutes, or until the top is crispy and golden brown.

    Crockpot Method:

    • Cook the elbow macaroni according to package instructions until al dente. Drain and set aside.
    • In a saucepan over medium heat, melt the butter (or vegan butter). Stir in the cornstarch (or arrowroot powder) until well combined to create a roux.
    • Gradually whisk in the milk of your choice. Continue whisking until the mixture thickens, about 5-7 minutes.
    • Reduce heat to low, then add the shredded cheddar and mozzarella cheese (or vegan alternatives), stirring until the cheese melts and the sauce is smooth. Season with salt, black pepper, and paprika.
    • In your crockpot, combine the cooked macaroni and the cheese sauce. Mix well.
    • In a small bowl, combine the breadcrumbs with the grated Parmesan (or vegan Parmesan). Sprinkle this mixture evenly over the macaroni.
    • Cover the crockpot and cook on low for 2-3 hours or until the mac and cheese is heated through and the top is crispy.

    Instant Pot Method:

    • Cook the elbow macaroni in your Instant Pot using the “Sauté” function according to package instructions until al dente. Drain and set aside.
    • In the Instant Pot, melt the butter (or vegan butter) using the “Sauté” function. Stir in the cornstarch (or arrowroot powder) until well combined to create a roux.
    • Gradually whisk in the milk of your choice. Continue whisking until the mixture thickens, about 5-7 minutes.
    • Reduce the heat by switching off the “Sauté” function, then add the shredded cheddar and mozzarella cheese (or vegan alternatives), stirring until the cheese melts and the sauce is smooth. Season with salt, black pepper, and paprika.
    • Combine the cooked macaroni and the cheese sauce in the Instant Pot. Mix well.
    • In a small bowl, combine the breadcrumbs with the grated Parmesan (or vegan Parmesan). Sprinkle this mixture evenly over the macaroni.
    • Set your Instant Pot to “Keep Warm” mode, cover with a glass lid (or use the Instant Pot lid without sealing), and let it sit for about 10-15 minutes to allow the top to become crispy.
    • Enjoy your Baked Mac and Cheese in the style that suits you best, whether it’s baked in the oven, air fried, slow-cooked, or prepared in an Instant Pot. It’s a versatile and satisfying dish for all mac and cheese lovers!

    Leave a Comment

    Recipe Rating




    Skip to content