Homemade Mac and Cheese Yum (1)
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  • Food: Mac and Cheese
  • Writer: Lizzie Green
  • Content-Type: Food Blog

With less than ten ingredients, this creamy homemade mac & cheese recipe is incredibly simple to prepare. To make it more vibrant, I add dollops of pesto and peas.

I didn’t know I had never posted a simple homemade mac and cheese dish until I started considering what to post this fall. My sister and I ate mac and cheese straight out of the box as kids.

And even though I no longer eat the too yellow, powdered kind of mac and cheese, I do occasionally have some delicious homemade mac and cheese. I really needed to post a recipe here.

The Two Peas & Their Pod Cookbook was recently released, which is fortunate for me. I’ve known Maria of Two Peas and Their Pod for years, so I’m beyond thrilled about the release of her book!

It is packed with wholesome, simple, and family-friendly recipes as well as advice on meal planning, grocery shopping, and cooking with children.

Even while the book isn’t vegetarian, it does have a whole section dedicated to main dishes that are vegetarian as well as veggie sides, salads, and soups.

You’ll want to purchase this book for Maria’s incredible collection of cookie and dessert recipes, including Key Lime Bars, Peanut Butter Pie with Cookie Crust, Deep Dish Brownie Cookies, and more.

Homemade Mac & Cheese (1)
Food: Homemade Mac & Cheese (Source: Delish)

I had mac and cheese on the brain when I first acquired the book, and the Pesto Havarti Homemade Mac & Cheese dish looked so creamy and delectable that I couldn’t help but attempt it.

Making Mac and Cheese

It takes 20 minutes to complete Maria’s homemade mac & cheese dish from start to finish.

Make a pot of pesto in advance or, in a hurry, use store-bought pesto to make assembly extremely rapid. It comes together quickly once the pesto has been prepared:

  1. Pasta should be cooked first. It should be just al dente; my elbow macaroni just needed five minutes!
  2. Make the cheese sauce next. To make a roux, melt butter in a skillet and stir in flour. Add the milk after whisking a homogeneous paste to make. The milk should thicken after about two minutes of whisking. Add the cheese and stir until it melts completely.
  3. Put the spaghetti in! Add the pasta and any other vegetables you’re using (I added peas!) and stir until the pasta is thoroughly heated.
  4. Serve. Place the pesto, basil, and red pepper flakes on top of the creamy spaghetti before plating. Yum!

Before you start cooking, here’s a tip: stay away from pre-shredded cheese, which is frequently covered in starchy anti-caking chemicals. The best oozy, creamy texture will result from grating the cheese by hand.

Simple Mac and Cheese Substitutions

  • Modify the cheese. Although Maria’s recipe asks for only Havarti cheese, I prefer to use a combination of Havarti and sharp white cheddar for a more robust flavor. Here, gouda would also be delectable.
    add vegetables. Maria describes how this mac and cheese recipe is a perfect model for all kinds of vegetables in the book. I added cooked peas to mine, but you could also add steamed broccoli, asparagus, or sautéed spinach.
  • Modify the pesto. It was fantastic to make my mac & cheese with spinach and pepita pesto. Of course, any type of pesto you choose would be great, such as traditional basil pesto, kale pesto, and more! For some of my favorite modifications, see this page. You may even completely omit the pesto!
  • Make it tarter. Add 1 teaspoon of Dijon mustard or 1/2 teaspoon of dried mustard powder to the cheese sauce.
  • Use the pasta shape that you prefer. Although cavatappi, orecchiette, farfalle, or small shells would all work well, I chose to use traditional elbow pasta.
  • Make mac and cheese in the oven. After the stovetop mac has done cooking, transfer it to a baking dish and sprinkle it with grated Parmesan cheese and panko bread crumbs. 3 minutes of broiling time will make the bread crumbs golden brown.

What to serve with macaroni and cheese

This recipe for homemade macaroni and cheese works well as both a main dish and a side dish.

Serve it with your preferred protein or a straightforward vegetable side dish like lemon green beans, roasted beets, cauliflower, tomatoes, broccoli, or asparagus. It would also go well with some crusty bread and a cup of tomato soup. Enjoy!

Mac and Cheese

5 minutes to prepare
15 minutes for cooking
Twenty minutes in total
Serves: 6

The most popular comfort dish for everyone! This recipe for Pesto Havarti Macaroni and Cheese was adapted from Maria Lichty’s Two Peas & Their Pod Cookbook.


  • 3 cups (12 ounces) elbow macaroni
  • 4 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 1 ⁄4 cup all-purpose flour
  • 2 cups whole milk, at room temp (I used almond milk)
  • 1 cup shredded Havarti cheese
  • 1 cup shredded sharp white cheddar cheese
  • 1/2 teaspoon sea salt, more to taste
  • freshly ground black pepper
  • generous scoops of Pesto

optional mix-ins:

  • 1 cup frozen peas, thawed
  • 1/2 cup fresh basil
  • pinches of red pepper flakes


Homemade Mac & Cheese Easy (1)
Food: Homemade Mac & Cheese (Source: Delish)
  1. A large saucepan of salted water should be brought to a boil. In accordance with the instructions on the package, add the pasta and cook it just until al dente. Pasta is drained and placed aside.
  2. Melt the butter in a large pot over medium heat. Stir in the flour to make a paste while the heat is reduced to low. Whisk until smooth after adding the milk. For about 2 minutes after turning the heat to medium, mix the sauce. Once the cheese has melted and the sauce is smooth, whisk in the shredded cheese and 1/2 teaspoon sea salt.
  3. Just when the pasta is thoroughly heated, add the spaghetti and stir to incorporate. according to taste. If using, stir in the peas. Garnish with large amounts of pesto, fresh basil, and red pepper flakes.


Another entertaining change is to bake the mac and cheese in a casserole with a crunchy top:

Simply transfer the prepared macaroni and cheese to a baking sheet, cover with panko bread crumbs, sprinkle with Parmesan cheese, and broil for three minutes, or until the bread crumbs are golden brown.