Learn to cook perfectly creamy stovetop mac and cheese—then try 9 delicious ways to change it up for future meals. From veggie-packed to rich and spicy, these easy dinners will be your family’s new favorites. You can use our basic formula, or select from the variations below.
Basic Mac and Cheese Formula
• Cook 1 box Barilla Elbows according to package directions.
• In a large saucepan melt 1/4 cup butter over medium heat; stir in 1/4 cup flour and 1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper, then 3 cups milk; cook until slightly thickened and bubbly. Stir in 16 ounces shredded American cheese and pasta; stir to coat.
• Turn heat to low and cook 2 to 3 minutes, stirring frequently; let stand 10 minutes and serve.
Variations on the Basic Formula
Use shredded white cheddar for the cheese and add 2 cups lightly steamed bite-size broccoli florets before serving.
For a mild veggie option, simply stir 2 cups steamed cauliflower florets into finished Basic Mac and Cheese before serving.
Stir 2 cups cooked and drained black beans, 1 cup sweet corn kernels, 1 teaspoon cumin and 1/2 teaspoon chili powder into the finished dish. Drizzle with salsa or hot sauce.
Serve Basic Mac and Cheese alongside your family’s favorite chili recipe. Top with sliced jalapeños or crushed red pepper, if desired.
Stir frozen peas into finished Basic Mac and Cheese, warm through, and serve up a dish that big and little kids alike will love.
For a slightly sweet sauce version with Vitamin A and fiber, stir 2 cups roasted or steamed butternut squash cubes into finished Basic Mac and Cheese before serving.
To boost the comfort-food quality of this childhood classic, stir diced cooked ham into finished Basic Mac and Cheese just before serving.
For a savory, sweet variation, stir in 2 cups frozen and thawed sweet corn kernels to the prepared Basic Mac and Cheese. For a spicy finish, top with pickled jalapeño peppers.
Boost fiber and add hearty flavor by adding 2 cups of white cannellini beans and a sprinkle of crushed dried rosemary to the Basic Mac and Cheese.