Are you a mac and cheese lover searching for a quick, easy, and healthier version of this classic comfort food?
You’ve found it!
My 3-ingredient macaroni & cheese recipe will be ready in under 10 minutes, and it’s just as creamy, gooey, oozey, and delicious as one you’d spend hours slaving over.
Psst… this is even easier than Kraft mac and cheese, which uses 4 ingredients!
Why I love this recipe
And why you’ll love it too…
- It all comes together in one pan, which means less washing up (even less if you eat it out of the pan… no, mum I don’t do that…).
- All the ingredients are easy to find, and you might already have them in your kitchen. They can all be shelf stable too, so you can keep them on hand for emergencies.
- It’s a great base for customizing, so you can make it slightly different each time, which means you’ll never get bored!
Unsweetened almond milk: This might surprise you, but I tried it one day because I didn’t have any regular milk, and the results were delicious. It’s healthier and lighter than regular ol’ milk. And it adds a subtle nutty flavor and a creamy texture to your mac and cheese. Make sure you’ve got the plain unsweetened kind.
Macaroni: You can’t have macaroni cheese without macaroni
Shredded cheese (your choice): Feel free to get creative with the cheese selection, whether it’s a Mexican blend, cheddar, or mild mozzarella. The cheese is the star of this dish, so don’t be afraid to add a little extra if you love it cheesy (I always do).
In a medium-sized saucepan, bring your unsweetened almond milk to a boil over medium-high heat.
Add the macaroni to the boiling almond milk, and reduce the heat to medium so the almond doesn’t boil over.
Cook the pasta for 6-8 minutes or until al dente (everyone likes their pasta a little differently).
Remove the saucepan from heat and stir in your shredded cheese until you’ve got a smooth sauce.
Season the macaroni and cheese with salt and pepper to taste and let the whole thing sit for a couple of minutes to allow the sauce to thicken.
Give it one final stir, and it’s ready to eat!
Top tip – don’t use too much almond milk.
Stick to the 2 cups of almond milk I recommend in the recipe to make sure the starch in your ‘pasta water’ is concentrated enough.
This natural starch acts as an emulsifier, blending the sauce ingredients together and creating that extra creamy, velvety texture we all know and love in our mac and cheese.
If you don’t have enough starch, the sauce will be watery and the cheese will be greasy.
If almond milk isn’t your jam or you’re looking to switch things up, here are some alternatives.
- Regular milk: Traditional cow’s milk is an obvious choice for mac and cheese, but you need to be careful not to scorch it during the cooking process.
- Other dairy-free milks: If you’re looking for a different dairy-free option, consider using soy milk, oat milk, or cashew milk. These plant-based milks also offer a creamy texture and can contribute their own unique flavor profiles to the dish.
- Water + evaporated milk: For a creative and shelf-stable option, try using a combination of water and evaporated milk. This mixture creates a concentrated, rich base for your mac and cheese and it’s got loads of emulsifying power. For even more flavor, consider swapping the water for chicken stock.
What’s the best cheese for mac and cheese?
The beauty of mac and cheese lies in its versatility, especially when it comes to selecting the perfect cheese.
There is no single “best” cheese for mac and cheese, it just needs to melt well. And you need to find the balance between flavor, creaminess, and meltability.
Classic choices like sharp cheddar provide a bold, tangy taste that pairs wonderfully with the rich sauce. While Gruyère offers a nutty, slightly sweet flavor and exceptional melting properties.
For a milder option, Monterey Jack delivers a smooth, creamy texture. Or add a touch of sophistication with buttery, earthy fontina.
For something more flavorful, use smoked gouda or Mexican cheese.
And don’t be afraid to combine two or more cheeses. I find mozzarella too mild on it’s own but it’s super gooey – which makes it perfect for mixing with salty Parmesan.
Pro tip: never use pre-shredded cheese, it’s coated in powder which will affect how it melts into the sauce.
This mac and cheese is tasty on its own. But if you’re willing to ditch the ‘3-ingredient’ title, there’s so much you can do with it.
- Spicy kick: Add a drizzle of sriracha or a pinch of red pepper flakes to give your mac and cheese a fiery twist. You can also mix in diced jalapeños, or even mustard powder.
- Veggie delight: Give the dish some color with fresh or frozen vegetables like broccoli, peas, spinach, or diced bell peppers. Simply add the vegetables in to cook with the pasta.
- Protein-packed: Make your mac and cheese more satisfying by mixing in meats like diced ham, crumbled bacon, cooked ground beef, shredded chicken, or even tuna.
- Italian twist: Stir in some sun-dried tomatoes, sliced olives, fresh basil, and a sprinkle of Italian seasoning for a Mediterranean-inspired mac and cheese.
- Add butter: This simple addition will make your meal more decadent and add a big dollop of creaminess. If you’re after something not quite as rich as butter, check out my guide to butter alternatives for mac and cheese. I test a ton of different options.
- Add lobster: Take your mac to the next level by making it Lobster Mac And Cheese. Who knew 4 ingredient lobster mac could be so good?!
Whether you’re hosting a casual dinner or serving up a weeknight meal, here are four delicious dish suggestions to complement your creamy mac and cheese:
- Green salad: A crisp, refreshing green salad with a light vinaigrette will add a touch of brightness and contrast to the creamy mac and cheese.
- BBQ ribs: The smoky, savory flavors of barbecue ribs make for a mouthwatering companion to the mac and cheese.
- Burgers: Load you macaroni and cheese on top of a juicy burger to really wow your guests.
- Garlic bread: Serve warm, buttery garlic bread alongside your mac and cheese for a comforting meal that will put a smile on everyone’s faces.
And if you’re still struggling with side dishes, check out my article on delicious dishes to serve with mac and cheese. There’s something in there for everyone!
To store leftovers, transfer cooled mac and cheese to an airtight container and refrigerate for up to 3-4 days.
I don’t recommend freezing the macaroni because the texture of the sauce will go all weird.
The best way to reheat mac and cheese is on the stovetop over low heat, adding a splash of milk to help loosen the sauce and restore its creaminess.
Stir frequently to prevent sticking.
If you’re looking for creative ways to repurpose your mac and cheese leftovers, consider using them as a filling for a grilled cheese sandwich, a topping for a loaded baked potato, or even mixing them into a frittata!
Here’s a similar recipe to mine, but in video form! Also delicious…
3-Ingredient Macaroni & Cheese
- 2 cups unsweetened almond milk
- 1 cup macaroni or similar
- 1/2 cup shredded cheese your choice
- Bring almond milk to a boil; add pasta and stir. Reduce heat to a gentle boil as the almond milk froths up and boils over quickly. Cook for around 8 minutes or until al dente.
- Stir in shredded cheese and season with salt and pepper. Let sit for a couple of minutes for cheese to melt (it gets thicker as it sits), stir again and enjoy!