This One Pot Mac and Cheese Recipe is the perfect easy, less-mess vegetarian dinner! Made with sharp cheddar, Monterey jack, and asiago cheese!
Let’s be honest…we all eat boxed mac and cheese. It may be packed with ingredients we don’t actually know but it tastes so good and it’s so easy to make. Don’t we all wish there were a homemade mac and cheese recipe that was just as easy?
Say hello to this one pot mac and cheese recipe! It’s just as easy as boxed mac and cheese, less mess, takes a total of 15 minutes, AND it tastes better!
This simple ingredient list comes together to make the cheesiest, creamiest mac and cheese ever!
- Medium Pasta Shells – shells are a classic but use other noodles if preferred. Try macaroni noodles, rotini, penne, bowties, etc.
- Vegetable Broth and Skim Milk – cooks the pasta and acts as a base for the cheese sauce. Veggie broth adds flavor while skim milk gives the sauce a bit of a creamy base for the cheeses.
- Unsalted Butter – adds warmth and flavor depth.
- Salt and Black Pepper – brings out flavors and adds a slight kick of heat.
- Asiago Cheese, Monterey Jack Cheese, and Sharp Cheddar Cheese – shred your own cheese! Pre-shredded cheeses contain an anti-caking agent that can result in a gritty texture when melted.
- Garlic and Herb Breadcrumbs and Extra Cheese – optional for baked mac and cheese!
How to make
This mac and cheese is, you guessed it, made in one pot which is one of my very favorite things in life. The fewer dishes I have to do, the better. It also takes just 15 minutes to make! Yep, that’s it!
- Place uncooked pasta shells, veggie stock, milk, and butter into a large stockpot then bring the mixture to a simmer over medium/medium-low heat. Simmer until the pasta is cooked al dente.
- Lower the heat to the lowest setting then stir in salt, pepper, and cheeses. Stir until the cheese is completely melted then remove from heat and serve!
- Optional: Spoon the mac and cheese into four individual oven safe ramekins and top with additional cheese and garlic and herb breadcrumbs. Broil on the top rack for 1-2 minutes or until the cheese is melty and browned.
What is the best cheese combination for mac and cheese?
I love the combination of sharp cheddar, Monterey jack, and asiago cheese in this recipe.
The sharp cheddar gives it that classic mac and cheese flavor and color, the Monterey jack is more mild and melts really well, and the asiago adds a slight nuttiness.
If cheddar, Monterey jack, or asiago aren’t your thing, you could also use gruyere, gouda, brie, mozzarella, provolone, or even Swiss! You really can’t go wrong!
Can you use water instead of milk for mac and cheese?
In theory, yes but the milk helps make the mac and cheese creamier.
Water would likely result in a runnier sauce and the final result would have less flavor.
How do you fix runny mac and cheese?
If your mac and cheese is too liquidy, there are a couple of things you can do:
- Bring it back to a simmer. If your mac and cheese is too watery bring it to a low simmer until enough moisture evaporates and it’s reached your desired consistency.
- Add more cheese. Adding more cheese will also help thicken the sauce! I would add equal amounts of each so as not to throw off the flavor!
What can i add to my mac and cheese to make it better?
I think this one-pot mac and cheese recipe is pretty darn good as-is but if you want to switch things up, here are some ideas!
- Add meat. Try adding grilled chicken, shrimp, or even ground beef.
- Make it smoky. Top it off with some crushed bacon for a crunchy, smoky finish.
- Add veggies. Try peas, spinach, or broccoli!
- Spice it up. Add some hot sauce or check out my jalapeño popper mac and cheese!
What to serve with mac and cheese
I love to serve this mac and cheese as a main dish with a veggie-heavy side or as a side dish with a protein as an entree!
How to store
Leftover mac and cheese will last in an airtight container in the fridge for 2-3 days. I don’t recommend freezing it because the texture of the cheese and pasta will be affected.
To reheat, microwave or warm on the stove with a splash of milk or broth!
One Pot Mac and Cheese Recipe
Equipment for this recipe
- 1 (16 oz) box medium pasta shells uncooked
- 3 cups vegetable broth
- 2 cups skim milk
- 2 tablespoons unsalted butter
- 1 teaspoon salt more or less to taste
- 1/4 teaspoon black pepper more or less to taste
- 2 oz shredded asiago about 1/2 cup
- 2 oz shredded Monterey jack cheese about 1/2 cup that’s been loosely packed, don’t buy pre-shredded!
- 4 oz shredded Sharp Cheddar Cheese about 1 cup that’s been loosely packed, don’t buy pre-shredded!
Baked Ramekin Option (optional)
- Garlic & Herb Breadcrumbs for topping
- Extra Monterey/Cheddar shredded, for topping
- Place shells, vegetable stock, milk, and butter in a large stockpot.
- Over medium/medium low heat, bring the mixture to a low simmer (this will take a few minutes), stirring regularly.
- Once simmering, simmer for about 7-10 minutes or until shells are al dente. Stir constantly. You may need to adjust your heat to keep it at a low simmer.
- Once the shells are al dente, lower the heat to the lowest setting and stir in salt, pepper, and the three cheeses.
- Stir until the cheese has completely melted.
- Taste and re-season, if necessary.
- Remove from heat and serve immediately!
Baked Ramekin Option (optional)
- Spoon finished mac and cheese into 4 individual oven safe ramekins.
- Sprinkle with more Monterey/Cheddar cheese.
- Top with garlic and herb breadcrumbs.
- Broil on top rack for 1-2 minutes, watching carefully, until cheese is melty and the top has slightly browned.
*Note: Nutrition information is estimated and varies based on products used.