High in protein and calcium, this easy, homemade, gluten-free mac and cheese is irresistible ooey-gooey goodness!
💕 Here’s why you will love this recipe:
- It’s incredibly easy to make and irresistibly cheesy and gooey.
- It takes 15 minutes to throw together.
- It’s made using simple, wholesome ingredients.
- It is clean eating and gluten free.
- It is high in protein and calcium and a great way to sneak in legumes into your diet!
- The levels of cheese and even spice can be adjusted to suit your preference.
- You can top it with any of your favorite toppings from cheese to herbs to sour cream.
- You can enjoy it as a main meal or as a side. (I’ve listed some pairings towards the end of the post!)
Here’s the simple ingredients you need for this dish:
- Gluten Free Pasta: You can use any gluten-free pasta of your choosing. Today I’m using a chickpea rotini. Opt for shapes like spiral, rotini, elbow or penne.
- Cheese: Opt to use off-the-block cheese instead of anything pre-shredded or processed. Today I’m using freshly grated Parmesan and a deli-cut yellow American cheese (more on that below). Other good choices include sharp cheddar, white cheddar, gruyere, Gouda (smoked Gouda is also good), fontina, muenster, Romano-Pecorino, Asiago, or even goat’s cheese. Using a blend of 2-3 different cheeses is a great way to really amp up the flavors.
- Whole Milk: This makes up the base of our cheese sauce. I recommend opting for using whole milk or if you’d like to make your dish even more decadent you can use half whole milk and half natural heavy cream, just ensure that the brand you use is clean eating.
- Butter: You can use salted like me or opt to use unsalted if you prefer.
- Stone Ground Mustard: While we’re not using a large amount, a small touch really boosts the flavor of the dish.
- Cornstarch: This is what will be used to thicken our cheese sauce. If you like you can also use (sweet) rice flour. We’ll be adding room temp water to it in a 2:1 water to cornstarch ratio.
- Salt: I’m using a pink Himalayan salt but you can also use sea salt.
- Pepper: I’m using a ground white pepper for a wonderful earthy flavor but you can also use ground black pepper if you prefer.
Let’s talk a little about the Yellow American vs American Cheese/Pasteurized Cheese Product:
Now there’s a common misconception about yellow American cheese and it being processed cheese so without going too far into the matter it comes down to the ingredients and the process.
Yellow American is really, at its core a young cheddar. For today’s recipe I’m using Boar’s Head Yellow American whose listed ingredients are: Milk, Salt, Cheese Culture, Enzymes, Water, Cream, Sodium Phosphates, Paprika, and Salt.
Now on the other hand you have the more hyper-process “fake” cheese product (such as Kraft or Borden’s singles that come in individually plastic wrapped slices) that many commonly associate with American cheese. In reality these processed “cheese products” tend to contain so many other things that while they do have cheese in them, it is less than 51% and thus they cannot legally be called cheese. This is the stuff you want to avoid.
Here’s how we make this Mac and Cheese:
We’ll start with our pasta. Today I’m using a chickpea rotini made using only chickpea flour for a gluten-free dish. The added benefit to using chickpea pasta is the higher plant protein content.
We’ll cook our pasta according to the package directions in a pot of salted water. Then we’ll strain it and set it aside. Personally I like to cook mine to 1-2 minutes past recommended “al dente” but you can cook it to your preferred texture and liking.
While our pasta is cooking we’ll make our cheese sauce. To do this we’ll slowly heat our whole milk and butter until it’s almost simmering and the butter is melted (top left ^).
Then we’ll add in our cheese a handful at a time whisking until each part melts before adding in another handful (top right and middle left ^).
With our cheese melted into the milk, we’ll add in the seasonings: stone ground mustard, white pepper and salt (middle left and bottom right ^).
Finally, we’ll mix 1 tbsp cornstarch with 2 tbsp of water to make our slurry. After bringing our heat up to medium, we’ll add the slurry to our cheese sauce and whisk until the sauce begins to thicken. Taste your sauce and adjust your seasonings to suit (bottom right ^).
Note: Cornstarch needs to reach around 200F for it to thicken. Once the sauce thickens and is bubbling, stop stirring/whisking. Over stirring can cause cornstarch’s thickening ability to deactivate!
With our sauce smooth and thick and luxuriously cheesy, we’ll return our cooked, strained pasta to the pot and pour our cheese sauce over the pasta and gently fold it through until each noodle is coated.
Want to make your mac and cheese even more decadent?
To your still warm just mixed pasta and sauce, add in an egg yolk or two and mix to combine it. The egg yolk will add even more rich creaminess to your dish!
One of the reasons I love using rotini for this dish is because each groove on the spiral gets filled with our thick, cheesy sauce which means that each bite becomes comfort food heaven!
Enjoy by itself or top/pair it with any of the following:
- Steamed broccoli florets.
- Mix in some chopped fresh spinach leaves and let them wilt.
- Precooked bacon crumbles.
- Top with more cheese or breadcrumbs and quick broil the top.
- Chopped chives.
- A drizzle of BBQ sauce.
- Or pair it with some BBQ Pulled Pork.
- A sprinkle of smoked paprika or some chipotle powder to spice it up a little!
- Diced cooked chicken.
- With a bowl of Homemade Chili con Carne.
- Mix in handful of green sweet peas.
- Add in some chopped sun-dried tomatoes.
- Mix in chunks of cooked lobster or crab meat for a seafood treat.
What other options/pairings/toppings do you like to combine with your mac and cheese? Let us know in the comments below!
Gluten-Free Gooey Mac and Cheese
- 8 oz Gluten-Free pasta (such as chickpea rotini or red lentil penne, dry and uncooked)
- 2 cups Whole Milk
- 2 tbsp salted butter
- 6 oz Yellow American Cheese grated or diced
- 2 oz Parmesan cheese grated
- 1/2 tsp Himalayan salt to taste
- 1/4 tsp white pepper to taste
- 1 tsp stone ground mustard
- 1 tbsp cornstarch plus 2 tbsp water to make a slurry
- Boil the pasta according to box directions in a pot of salted water.
- In a small saucepan, add the milk and butter and bring to a low simmer (do not let it boil).
- Stir in a handful of cheese at a time, whisking until each is melted before adding another. Keep the heat at med-low.
- Add in your stone ground mustard, salt, and pepper (to taste).
- Combine your 1 tbsp cornstarch with 2 tbsp water to make a slurry. Set the heat to med and whisk in your slurry until it begins to bubble and thicken. Once it thickens, stop mixing.
- Drain your pasta and return it to the pot. Pour the cheese sauce over it and gently mix it in to evenly coat all your pasta.
- Serve immediately with any side or topping of your choice. Store any leftovers in an airtight container for 2-4 days.
- You can use any blend of hard or melting cheeses that you enjoy. Good choices include: sharp cheddar, white cheddar, Gruyere, Gouda (smoked Gouda is also good), fontina, muenster, Romano-Pecorino, Asiago or even goat's cheese.
- If using Yellow American, ensure that it isn't the processed variety.
- To add even more creamy richness, add in an egg yolk or two after you've mixed in your cheese sauce with the pasta.
- This dish is best enjoyed right away, if reheating (especially in the microwave) note that the sauce will thin itself out as the heat will result in the cornstarch losing it's thickening ability.
- This recipe will make 6 servings as a main or 8 servings as a side. The nutritional estimates are calculated as a side dish.