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A Healthy Mac & Cheese That Doesn’t Taste Like Cardboard

spoon picking up macaroni and cheese

After reviewing the Flat Belly Diet! Family Cookbook yesterdayand raving about the tasty yet healthy mac and cheese, you didn’t think that we would tease you and not share the recipe with you, right?! Of course not! Our moms taught us well; we love to share. So behold the recipe for a mac and cheese that you can feel good about serving yourself and your fam (note: it doesn’t come out of a box)!

Crunchy Crust “Mac and Cheese”

4 oz multi-grain macaroni
4 tbsp olive oil, divided
3 tbsp Panko bread crumbs
2 tbsp flour
1/2 tsp paprika
1/2 tsp salt
1/8 tsp black pepper
2 c fat-free milk
1/2 c shredded, reduced-fat Cheddar cheese

1. Preheat the oven to 350°F. Coat an 8-inch x 8-inch baking dish with vegetable spray.

2. Bring a pot of water to a boil, and cook the macaroni according to package directions. Drain, rinse with cold water and drain again. Set aside. Combine the bread crumbs and 2 teaspoons oil in a small bowl. Stir with a fork to evenly coat the crumbs with oil.

3. Add the remaining 3 tablespoons plus 1 teaspoon oil to a large saucepan. Set over medium-high heat. Whisk in the flour, paprika, salt and pepper until smooth. Add the milk, whisking constantly. Cook, whisking, for about 5 minutes, or until thickened. Remove from the heat. Stir in the cheese until it melts. Stir in the macaroni. Pour into the baking dish. Top evenly with the crumbs.

4. Bake for 15 minutes or until bubbling and golden. Allow to sit for 10 minutes before serving.

5. Eat it up, nom!

Each 1-cup serving of this comfort food has 328 calories and a good amount of healthy fats. The entire recipe takes just an hour from prep to dinner time and the entire recipe serves four. When I made it, I doubled the recipe for leftovers (loved it for lunches!) and used a 9-inch by 13-inch pan. Worked wonderfully. Hooray for healthy comfort food! —Jenn

FTC disclosure: We often receive products from companies to review. All thoughts and opinions are always entirely our own. Unless otherwise stated, we have received no compensation for our review and the content is purely editorial. Affiliate links may be included. If you purchase something through one of those links we may receive a small commission. Thanks for your support!


  1. Laura says:

    ok, my kids (not to mention their mom) looove mac and cheese, and when Daddy is traveling we like to have more fun with dinner…you can guarantee that next week when my husband is in Brazil this is on the menu! mmmmm

  2. leslie says:

    Oh wow, to think all this time the Mac N Cheese I felt so guilty making was actually healthy! This is the only Mn’C recipe I’ve ever used, no idea what an unhealthy one (other than using Kraft) would look like.

  3. Tracey says:

    I tried a healthy mac n’ cheese recipe that substituted some of the cream with cauliflower puree — fully expecting it to taste bad — but it was actually pretty good. Just a bit lighter than the real recipe.

  4. Amy says:

    I really wanted to like this….but I didn’t. I wish that olive oil is good substitute for butter, but in my opinion, it isn’t.

  5. Sarah says:

    i love mac n cheese! will def. give this slimmer one a try:)

  6. Candace says:

    It’s so nice to find a healthy mac n cheese alternative. My family loves it. This looks delicious!

  7. Stacie says:

    My problem is, I dont like the flour roux. And it doesnt matter who makes it, it always just tastes thick and pasty to me. I believe if I try this recipe out (which I am going to, since we are working on a low sodium diet right now, and I can eliminate the salt), I will also reduce the flour to about 1tbs, and see how that works.

  8. Suzanne says:

    Is 4 oz. of macaroni correct? The recipe states it makes enough for four one cup servings. Thanks!

    1. Jenn says:

      Hi Suzanne,

      It is, but note that it’s 4 ounces of dried macaroni. It gets a lot bigger when cooked! 🙂

      —FBG Jenn

  9. T says:

    I’m always on the lookout for healthy comfort foods. Along the way, I’ve found many that are amazing and many that leave very much to be desired. This one falls into the second category. I made this exactly like the recipe said and all it tasted like was flour. I had to throw it out. Huge disappointment.

  10. Melanie Poteat says:

    Who makes only 4oz of macaroni? Most packages are 12 or 16 ounces?

  11. yvonne says:

    I make a healthy mac and cheese also. Instead of 2% cheddar I use the 2% velveeta. Melts nicely and covers up the flour (rue) taste. Also use 1/2 cup Italian seasoned breadcrumbs for the top (more flavor)

  12. Janine Grossman says:

    The measuremets seem off, but I loved the idea of this. I used about 8 oz of whole wheat rotini, 1 cup almond milk, vermont cheddar, a little goat cheese and 1 tbsp of flour. I made the rue in a skillet and just added all the ingredients and popped the skillet in the oven. It came out pretty good! I could have used a little more cheese though 🙂 but who couldn’t use a little more cheese?!? 😉

  13. Irene says:

    I would use 8 0z mac, the 4 oz. wasn’t enough, I also used creamy Boursin Garlic & Herbs to the recipe. I would also toast he Panko in a 350 oven for about 10 or 15 minutes to give the final presentation a golden look. Instead of AP flour, I used Wondra flour. We also gave it a splash of Red Hot, just before serving. It was delicious.

  14. Tina says:

    Too much olive oil 🙁

  15. Scw says:

    How many servings does this make?

  16. Scw says:

    How many servings does this make?

  17. Jennifer says:

    The reason people are tasting the flour is because you should cook the flour and oil for a few minutes until they have some color. It keeps it from tasting like wallpaper paste.

  18. Chelsea says:

    I LOVE this recipe. When I mix the olive oil and four together I also add smoked paprika, onion powder, garlic powder, a smidge of salt, and pepper. I use all different kinds of cheese each time and it’s always delicious! I eyeball the ratios of ingredients, adding til it looks right. I make enough seasoned panko bread crumb mix to cover the top completely. So good!!!

  19. Paola says:

    This looks amazing! Definitely will have to try this!

  20. Greg says:

    Cauliflower can also make a good replacement for the pasta if trying to cut carbs. Thanks for posting!

  21. It must be healthy, but I really love olive oil, I hope it is as good as they say for the heart, otherwise I will be in trouble. Excellent post. Great blog, congratulations!

  22. Thank you, thank you Jenn! I was looking for a delicious healthy recipe to make on girls trip. This is the one. Who doesn’t love homemade mac and cheese–now without the guilt.


  23. The cheese is lovely

  24. Carol Schott says:

    I made the HEALTHY MACARONI & CHEESE for dinner tonight. It didn’t look anything like the picture and wasn’t creamy or cheesy. It might help if I knew what brand products you used.

  25. Trendy says:

    It looks very delicious i will try it soon thanks for sharing this recipe i want know can i use mozzarella cheese with cheddar? i like this post thanks for sharing

  26. Box35100 says:

    This is a very nice blog ,i really love pasta but i had no idea how make it healthy ,thanks a lot for this great idea, as soon as possible i will try it.

  27. Ole says:

    Not even remotely healthy!

    Macaroni, Flour, Bread Crumbs, Milk! You clearly have no clue, what healthy is!

  28. Lucrecia Norman says:

    What is the nutritional information for this recipe? Do you know how many Weight Watchers points a serving would be for this mac and cheese recipe?

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