Stovetop Mac and Cheese-Light Version

If you like mac and cheese, you are going to be so excited, (What am I saying? If you like mac and cheese, who doesn't like mac and cheese, silly me!) because this version is so delicious, a snap to make and has about half the calories of the classic version. I'm looking out for you guys!!

Stovetop Mac and Cheese-Light Version

Mac and cheese is high up on the list of comfort foods for me. When I was a kid, we used to beg my mom to make the Kraft kind with the orange cheese sauce and every now and then we'd wear her down and she'd give in, just like when we got her to cave into Cookie Crisp cereal and Fluffernutter sandwiches. Now, I'm thanking her for not letting us gorge on all that horrible artificial stuff! And while it may be tempting to give in to your kids on the boxed mac and cheese, this version is so quick and easy, it doesn't take much more time than the instant kind and it's not only tastier, but so much healthier too!

The recipe makes 5 servings which is a nice substantial portion, coming in at only 360 calories and 10 grams of fat as compared to the classic version which has 650 calories and 40 grams of fat.

The secret is to use low-fat cheddar, 2% milk,  low-fat evaporated milk and cornstarch to thicken it, rather than butter and flour.


This means that even on a low cal plan you can still indulge now and then and not feel deprived. My family inhaled this and I know I will be making it regularly.

You start by boiling up your macaroni, which only takes about 5 minutes. Then you make a very simple cheese sauce and toss it with the pasta. The whole thing takes about 10 minutes, not much more than the boxed kind.  It's cheesy, creamy and definitely kid (and adult) friendly. Stand back as people cheer!!

Stovetop Mac and Cheese-Light Version

Makes 5 servings

Prep Time: About 15-20 minutes


  • 1 box macaroni

  • 2 1/2 teaspoons salt

  • 1 12 oz can 2% evaporated milk

  • 3/4 cup 2% milk

  • 1/4 teaspoon dry mustard

  • 1/8 teaspoon garlic powder

  • 2 teaspoons cornstarch

  • 8 oz 50% light cheddar cheese, grated (try to get Cabot Light and grate it yourself, don't buy it pre-grated--it won't melt as well)

The Recipe

1.  Fill a large pot with water and 2 teaspoons salt. Bring to a boil and add macaroni. Cook for about 5 minutes, until pasta is cooked and tender, stirring once in a while. Drain in colander and set aside.

2.  In the same pot, add the evaporated milk, 1/2 cup of the 2% milk, the dry mustard, the garlic powder, and the remaining 1/2 teaspoon of salt. Bring to a boil and then lower heat to a simmer.

3.  In a small bowl, whisk together the cornstarch and the remaining 1/4 cup milk and then whisk the mixture into the pot. Let sauce cook for about 2 more minutes, until thickened, whisking constantly.

4.  Remove from heat and gradually stir in cheese, until melted and smooth. Stir in the macaroni and let it sit for about 5 minutes to thicken a bit more.

5.  Dish reheats well in the microwave or oven and keeps in an airtight container in the refrigerator for 3-5 days.


Note:  Barely adapted from The Best Light Recipe by the Editors of Cook's Illustrated.

Print Friendly and PDF