I admit I grew up eating mostly boxed mac-n-cheese (the infamous Canadian Kraft Dinner) and it’s what I used to crave when I wanted mac-n-cheese. It’s not readily available in the UK, so when the craving struck I always had to make my own from scratch. I did what most people do and made a typical roux based white sauce with some shredded cheese whisked into it. It definitely it makes a pretty decent mac-n-cheese, but it’s also super fattening. I tried using low fat margarine and milk, but it made the sauce chalky and unpleasant, so rather than live with that I made the full fat version, Just not very often and in small batches.
When I moved back to the US I tried making the boxed version again, but after a full fat, super rich homemade version it’s just not what I want anymore. I tried making the pre-made cheese in a foil package stuff too, but regardless of the brand I think it tastes over seasoned with salt and has a faint odd aftertaste like spoilt milk. SOOOO…
In order to keep having good satisfying homemade mac-n-cheese with out a box mix or compromising on a decent amount of creaminess, I started to experiment. Eventually I tried using my cream cheese based pasta sauce. I switched out the parmesan for cheddar and I found that it made a pretty good sauce for mac-n-cheese. Then I read about a similar recipe that used evaporated milk. I tried using it instead of my usual half-n-half (single cream) and I liked the results. Then it occurred to me I could just make the whole sauce in the microwave, so I tried it and it worked!
Now, this sauce takes me less than 5 minutes to make and wahla, easy fast creamy lower in fat (no, it’s not healthy, but it’s healthier) cheese sauce that’s perfect for a no-bake mac-n-cheese!
- 1/2 lb macaroni noodles
- 6 TBSP/3 oz cream cheese (I use neufchatel cheese)
- 1/2 cup/4 fl oz evaporated milk (I use 2%)
- 6 oz/1½ cups shredded medium cheddar or colby jack (full or reduced fat)
- Prepare the macaroni noodles according to the package directions, drain but don’t rinse. Return the cooked noodles to the pot (off the heat).
- While the macaroni noodles are cooking, put the evaporated milk and the cream cheese into a microwaveable jug. Cook at full power for 90 seconds, watch carefully and don’t let the mixture boil over.
- Remove it from the microwave and whisk until smooth. If the mixture isn’t hot enough to whisk smooth, cook it for 20 to 30 seconds more. Always watching carefully and not letting it boil over.
- When it’s smooth, whisk in the shredded cheese. It won’t all melt in, so just whisk until all the cheese is covered.
- Cook in the microwave for 30 seconds on full power, then whisk until you have a smooth cheese sauce. Set aside at room temperature until needed.
- Pour the cheese sauce over the prepared macaroni noodles, stir gently with a spoon until all the noodles are coated in the sauce.
- Serve immediately.
Makes 2 to 4 Servings (2 main or 4 side) – Easily Doubled
- Keeps in the fridge in an airtight container for up to 4 days… good eaten cold!
- Yes, you can make this in a pot on the stove if you don’t have a microwave.
- You can make the sauce ahead of time and keep it in the fridge for up to 4 days.
- This sauce works well with pasta shells. It’s also great over other stuff too, like veggies or chips. Although you may have to thin it out a little with extra milk because it is so thick.
- I think that medium cheedar is best for this, but I also like colby jack. I find that a sharp cheddar makes the sauce grainy and gives it an unpleasant mouthfeel.
- If evaporated milk is not something you use a lot of, you can freeze it in 1 tablespoon cubes (all ice cube trays are different so do measure) and use 8 of the cubes (8 TBSP = 4 fl oz), just microwave the frozen milk cubes until melted, then add the cream cheese.