Monday, March 12, 2012

The Extra Creamy Cheesiest

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So as you can tell, I've been on a "make it homemade" kick with all my recipes. From homemade strawberry ice cream, new soup attempts in Big Blue Mama, and even homemade pizza dough and cheesy bread I am really enjoying the art of cooking lately.  One day I decided to tackle one of the most loved dishes in all of childhood, the boxed mac and cheese.  I had this feeling I could make a tastier version without having to run to the store, and using things I already had on hand in my pantry.  I wanted to keep it mom friendly though, and tried to mimic the steps from the box, so it would feel familiar and easy to whip up at a moments notice.  This is what I came up with.
Cheesy cheesy goodness.  Your kids will beg for this one
Now doesn't that just scream ooey gooey deliciousness?  What kid wouldn't want a big ol' bowl of this golden cheesy goodness? Plus you can make a big pot with only FIVE ingredients. (full printable recipe at end of post)
A few ingredients you probably already have on hand
So there are only a few common ingredients to make this delectable comfort food.  
Noodles (any kind will do, but shells are great for holding a lot of sauce), 1 can evaporated milk, 
1 can cheddar cheese soup, 1-2 cups of shredded cheese, butter, and salt and pepper to taste (or Johny's seasoning salt).

After cooking and draining your noodles, add them back to the same pot.  
Add your butter and stir it around til the warm noodles melt it.  (Just like you would on the box)

I'm assuming you know how to boil water, cook noodles, drain, then add 4 TBSP butter ;)

Next stir in 1 can of cheddar cheese soup (this would be like adding the cheese packet here)
Add some cheddar cheese soup to the party
Next you will want to add about half the can of evaporated milk and stir until combined.  
(This is like adding the milk on the box) Now we're starting to look like something yummy is about to happen!
Get in my belleh!  (Ok not yet, but SOON)
When combined, then it's time to add the grated cheese.  This is really at your own discretion, but between 1-2 cups of cheese works great. (You can leave the burner on medium low or low to help melt things together) Start with one cup and mix in, if you need more, add a little at a time.  
(This is where we add real cheese to so called mac and CHEESE, what a concept!!)
Any medium/mild cheddar will work, I used Tillamook cheese (popular on the NW coast)
The reason you keep some of the evaporated milk back is that after the cheese melts, if its a tad on the thick side, add a touch more milk and stir until you have your desired consistency.  This is a good time to taste and season.  The KEY here is seasoning.  I normally would use Johnny's Seasoning salt, which has salt, pepper, paprika, garlic and onion powder in it, BUT then my kids will see the little black specks of pepper as "POISON" and deem the dish inedible.  So I use a sea salt grinder and give it a couple cranks. It's all white and therefore kid approved. Taste and check the levels here.  Add a bit of extra seasoning to taste. 

Now we are done!  Serve it up to the small fry and watch them beg for more.  It's ooey gooey comfort food that I think is as easy to make as a box mix, but has a ton more flavor and appeal, and you can customize it to your family's tastes.

Enjoy!  Here is the printable recipe:

Easy Extra Creamy Mac & Cheese

Ingredients:
1 16oz box pasta (shells, macaroni, bow tie) I used 3/4 or 12 oz for this recipe
4 Tablespoons butter
1 can cheddar cheese soup(10 3/4 oz)
1 can evaporated milk (12 oz)
1-2 cups grated cheddar cheese
Salt and pepper to taste or seasoned salt (like Johnny's)

Directions:
Cook and drain noodles.  Add back to warm pot, stir in butter, cheese soup,
and half the can of evaporated milk.  Stir until combined. 
Add 1 cup of cheese to start with, add more until desired cheesiness.
Keep the burner on low to help melt things together.
If it gets too thick, add some reserve evaporated milk to thin down
Add salt and pepper to taste

Serve warm as side or main dish.  Enjoy!

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103 comments:

Anonymous said...

I must have this.

Kari said...

I am sooo going to make this! There are so many yummy mac & cheese recipes out there, but my youngest won't eat any that aren't yellow :) This looks perfect! (and oh, so yummy!)

pat looper said...

sounds really good.

Anonymous said...

Use evaporated milk, not condensed milk. I'm the idiot that used sweetned condensed milk before I caught myself. My mac and cheese now has a very interesting taste.

Jenn said...

Oh my (@Anonymous) - that must of been some thick and creamy (candied) mac and cheese. So sorry. Now I'm trying to picture what that would taste like. Ug. lol

Anonymous said...

I'm kinda confused as to why this is posted as an alternative to the processed boxed stuff, but the soup ingredients are just as processed!!

Anonymous said...

Can't help think what a sodium overload this is with the cheese soup in it. Besides that it does look really cheesy and easy.

Jenn said...

Yes, this recipe is not listed as low salt or low fat. I wasn't trying to make it a healthy alternative to the box version. I wanted to make a version with real shredded cheese in it that used common on hand ingredients. I was frustrated when all the mac and cheese recipes I tried on line (whether for the crock pot or baking) they all seemed to turn out bland and flavorless. (Wall paper paste comes to mind) While doing some experimenting I came across the idea of using the cheddar cheese soup. Instantly it was the "magic" factor that turned the whole thing into a creamy (and kid approved) creation. If you are worried about sodium overload or cooking with canned soups, then probably an extra creamy cheesy mac and cheese is not the recipe you are looking for. :)

Tricia Rosetty said...

Can you give ounce measurements for your can ingredients?

Anonymous said...

Looks great! Headed to the grocery store now and trying tonight! I'm curious if I should use seasoning salt or salt and pepper? The recipe calls for salt and pepper but the picture shows seasoning salt. Thanks for posting this and for the clarification!

Jenn said...

Sure Tricia. The Cheddar cheese soup is Campbells 10 3/4 oz can and the evaporated milk is 12 oz.

@ Anonymous I would prefer to use Johnny seasoning salt, as it gives a nice flavor to everything, but my girls freak if they see black peppers or spices, so that's why I only used reg salt in the picture tutorial. But yes! Season it with seasoning salt if you have it. I've had a few people spice it up with some dashes of hot sauce to for the older crowd. :)

Amber Dawn Kennard said...

Looks delish will have to try this, my bf LOVES mac-n-cheese. Glad to see a fellow Washingtonian on here ;)

Brenda said...

I made this for dinner tonight and it turned out great! My husband's eyes lit up with his first bite. Thanks for posting. :-)

Jeanette DePuy said...

Thanks Jenn! Super cheesy and homemade tasting! Found Healthy Request Campbell's Cheese Soup and used that. Sriracha is excellent on top for spicy lovers :)))))) Thank you for sharing!!

Southern Pregnant Belle said...

I tried this last night and couldnt have been happier. Mac N' Cheese is one of my favorite comfort foods but since I've been pregnant, I haven't been able to eat it because it all ends up tasting like soap to me. I figured I would try and make this one and if I couldn't eat it my hubby would enjoy it. But I guess I dont have that problem with this recipe. It turned out amazing! Thanks :-)

divahound said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
MacCheese Chick said...

Hi Jenn, I'd love to try and post about your recipe for my mac & cheese blog (linking back to it, of course) - can you let me know if that is okay with you?

Jenn said...

Sure MacCheese Chick. Thanks for the link back and the asking! :)

Melissa said...

Sent the hubby to the store today to pick up the ingredients for this. I can't wait to try it. I too have tried many a mac & cheese recipe & come away sad & unhappy. Sure, some are creamy, but not CHEESY. I just hope I do this right & it tastes good, or I'll cry!!

Josi said...

Great recipe! A little sprinkle of nutmeg is really brings out the flavor in mac and cheese! Gotta love comfort food!

Anonymous said...

Loved this and will make again.

Anonymous said...

Hey there! Can the shredded cheese be pre shredded? Or does it need to be purchased as a block of cheese and shredded by me? Looks like a delicious recipe, and I can't wait to try it! :)

Jenn said...

Sure, you can use pre-shredded cheese. The flavor of the cheese will effect the flavor of the noodles. So use a good quality pre shredded cheese and you should be fine. We use the Tillamook cheese because it has a warm, mild flavor that melts easily. Let me know how it goes for you!

Red Momma said...

Made this last night for dinner, delicious! My kiddo loves mac n cheese to begin with, but I've never seen him eat it so fast! It's so creamy and I don't think I'll buy the boxed version again! Took some for lunch today, reheated it'sjust as creamy, unlike many of the boxed versions.

Jenn said...

So glad you liked it! Thanks for writing back. My kids (and especially my picky middle child) love it and now it's one of her favorites to request. She says, can you make your special macaroni and cheese that I like. :) We've had it for left overs the next day and it does heat up better than the box kind. Sometimes I will add a few drops of water or milk and stir it around before reheating.

Anonymous said...

I made this for dinner tonight, and it was fabulous! I didn't shred my own cheese, and I used some zesty garlic and herb seasoning instead of salt and pepper, or even seasoned salt. It turned out to be super delicious, and I agree with the above comment- I don't think I'll be buying the boxed mac and cheese anymore; I have so much more left over than I would from a box of Kraft or Velveeta... and it's so much creamier! Great, quick, easy recipe! Well worth trying!

Stacy said...

Anyone know of a vegetarian-friendly canned cheese soup? This one has chicken stock.

Sweet Curiosity said...

Hello! Just wanted to also say THANK YOU! This IS yummy & quick - I too, used Healthy Request Campbell's Cheese Soup - and my whole group loved it! We are a very busy family and sometimes don't all get home til nearly 8 pm so finding fast recipes that are GOOD is much appreciated! We made broiled chicken tenderloins and a bagged Caesar salad to go with it! Yum! THANKS♥

Sweet Curiosity said...

Hello! I wanted to say THANK YOU! This IS very quick AND tastes great! I also used Healthy Request Campbell's Cheese Soup; Our whole gang LOVED it. I doubled the recipe; there were no leftovers!! (6 of us) We are a very busy family; sometimes not all getting home til nearly 8pm, so finding quick but tasty recipes is much appreciated!

Jenn said...

Thanks so much! Glad you guys like it. :)

Red said...

I found this on Pinterest recently, and I had to try it right away. We love mac and cheese but no matter what recipe I use, or what kind of cheese etc. the homemade versions I've tried over the years always have a gritty texture to them. This one however is absolutely PERFECT! Thank you SO much for sharing this! I love that it's just as fast and easy to make as the boxed mac and cheese but it tastes so much better and the texture is absolutely perfect!

Misty Blue said...

Trying this tonight, found it on Pinterest! Thanks so much, I'm excited to make it for the hubby.

Anonymous said...

Loved it! It was great!

Jenni said...

This looks delicious! I'm going to cook it this week. While going through chemo I loved to eat "comfort foods" I wish I had this recipe then. Thank you.

Katharine Moore said...

Any way to alter this so there is no soup and using regular milk? Trying to avoid processed foods...

Anonymous said...

Comforting to hear that my kids aren't the only ones who won't eat anything they see pepper on! Thanks for posting this...looks great & I can't wait to try.

Anonymous said...

This was by far the best Mac n cheese I have ever had its so yummy !!!! (i added two cups of shredded cheddar just a note) !! This is my new go to recipe my 4 year old loved it and my hubby did too !!!! DON'T HESITATE TO MAKe IT IS SO GOOD

JoAnna said...

I tried this. Mine came out much lighter in color, and my boyfriend thought I was nuts adding shredded cheese on top of the cheddar cheese soup...

I used the Heart Healthy cheddar cheese soup though and it had a different taste and texture (wasn't really creamy, just...bland). Would that have anything to do with the lighter color or different texture?

I'll see if I can convince him to let me use the regular stuff next time, because I would LOVE to have the recipe I use end up like this...but it didn't happen. Other than using Heart Healthy cheese soup as opposed to the regular, I didn't alter the recipe in any other way.

Danielle said...

@Katharine Moore, it won't have quite the same flavor, but if you cook the noodles, then melt in about 1/4 c. butter, 1 c. shredded swiss, and 1/4 c. cream (plus salt and pepper to taste), it is about as creamy as you could imagine! Embrace the fat, and ditch the processed ingredients. :)

Cathy said...

This looks good .. my mom always added a little dry mustard to spice up her mac and cheese. Upped the flavour without changing the colour :)

masuebee said...

Add the 4 cheese Mexican mix or Taco mix or Italian mix cheeses for a kicker. Doesn't change the flavor that much, but a little.
Also try different flavors of Mrs Dash's seasonings. They're strong so careful. Reduces the salt content a little that way.

RaspberryT said...

I just made this. It is really good. Very simple, easy, and quick to make. Thank you for sharing your recipe. I found your recipe from Pinterest. I love that place. I have found so many good things from there, like this delicious Mac & Cheese. Thank you again!

Anonymous said...

Am i able to make this in the crockpot?

Anonymous said...

I add baby food carrots & squash to mine so that my 18 year old picky eater- who is convinced that any vegie that isn't a french fry is going to kill him- will get some veggies in him now and then. Match the baby food color to the color of the food and they never know it's there. It also adds a bit to the creamy texture and adds a richness to the flavor which you can explain away by telling them it's from the real cheese in it.

Natosha Zachary said...

I love this recipe! The only thing I changed was the addition of some bacon drippings (Southerner born and bred). So yummy! Thanks!

Diana G. said...

Any recommendations for making this gluten-free? Obviously I can easily substitute the pasta for rice noodles, but it's the cheddar soup that has me stumped.

Jenn said...

I just saw a recipe on pinterest for a homemade mix you can make instead of using the canned soup. Also it is gluten free. Here is the link: http://www.onegoodthingbyjillee.com/2012/03/soup-or-sauce-sos-mix.html

I have not tried this myself and you might have to add extra cheese to pump up the cheese flavor, but give it a try and let me know.

Anonymous said...

just wondering, can you use regular milk instead or will the flavor and smoothness change?

Jenn said...

Not sure. I know evaporated milk can be reconstituted back up to "regular" milk by adding water. So adding just regular milk to the recipe might take away some of the creaminess. Another posted suggested using heavy cream of half and half, that might work. If you try it let me know. :)

Natosha Zachary said...

This is my family's favorite recipe now. Thank you so much. Do you mind if I post the recipe on my blog with a link to you?

www.southerngrrrlz.blogspot.com

Jenn said...

Sure Natosha! Thanks for asking and the link back. :)

Anonymous said...

For those who don't like canned soups and willing to put some time into this, this could be amazing with homemade cheddar cheese soup. either way, this receipe is so going on my thanksgiving list. no kraft at my thanksgiving, and extra happy kids. I bet leftover turkey would be a great addition second day.

Carrie S. said...

This was really creamy and good! I halved the recipe but still used the whole can of cheese soup. Seasoning salt would have been a good addition but I didn't have any on hand, so just used good ole salt and pepper :-)

AllisonR said...

OMG this was good!! Beats the boxed stuff any day! This is going in the book. =) thanks!

Laura said...

I made this tonight and it was absolutely delicious!! Thank you for sharing the recipe!

kaida said...

Never tried canned soup before, I will have to try it at least once. I make a very good partseI
home version using white sauce with flour and milk, then adding grated cheese to the sauce. Mix it together with cooked noodles. The flavor trick is using sharp or extra sharp cheddar cheese, other wise it tastes bland to us.

Niesha said...

Thank you so much for sharing this recipe. It is just right for a chilly winter meal!

Anonymous said...

Made this tonight and it was absolutely delicious! This is the best recipe for homemade mac and cheese that I've found online!

Anonymous said...

I just made this for dinner tonight and it was wonderful! I've tried so many different mac & cheese recipes I was about to give up on finding a good one. This one is GREAT!!! Thank you so much for this.

jen flores said...

I ask cause I never made hommade MAC n cheese...a friend gave me a recipe it says condensed milk ....yet allll recipes I see say evaporated ....she claims she uses the condensed?

Jenn said...

@ Jen Flores. No not condensed milk. Condensed milk is sweetened and super thick. You want evaporated milk. Hope that helps.

Anonymous said...

Can I use low fat milk instead ?

Jenn said...

@ anonymous: You can use low fat milk if you want, but the evaporated milk is much more dense, thus makes is more creamy. I've heard you have to add water to evaporated milk to bring it back up and get it to be like "normal" milk.

Stephanie said...

I made the mistake of using condensed milk, rather than evaporated milk...boy, did it make a difference. I won't be making that mistake again!

Jenn said...

oh no Stephanie, I think I read one other person used the sweetened condensed milk on accident too. Did it taste like cheese candyz? Ug. So sorry. Did you try it again with the evaporated? Do you guys think I should I put a special warning in the original post about evaporated?

Anonymous said...

Would it stay creamy in the crockpot on just the "keep warm" setting for a few hours for something likw a church dinner

Anonymous said...

Would this be ok in a crock pot for a few hours for a potluck without drying out

Jenn said...

@anonymous I have not tried it in a crock pot yet but I would think if it was set on "warm" or very "low" it would stay creamy for a while. Maybe keep some extra evaporated milk (or regular milk) close by and add some in/stir it just before you serve. Let me know if you try it. :)

Debra said...

This looks good. I don't buy canned soup anymore, but I do have a recipe for 'Cream of ???' soup that I keep on hand just for when these soups are called for. I would use this, and pump up the cheddar to compensate.

Jenn said...

I saw that cream of ?? soup mix on pinterest and have not tried it yet. Let me know if you make it that way how it turns out. :)

dawn said...

Thanks for this great recipe.. I
was looking for something online
using the same ingredients as
your recipe.. Had them all on
hand.. Will make it again..Had lots
of leftovers to send home with my son. Thanks so much.. Enjoy your
blog! Dawn in ND. e

Jenn said...

So glad you liked it Dawn! :)

Healthy Habit said...

I make mac and cheese from scratch all the time, but I though I would try this. It was not bad at all, my kids loved it. It is definitely creamier than my homemade version, but cannot say that it is any quicker because I do not use canned food. To avoid the canned soup, melt 3T butter/margarine, then add 3T flour and mix for 1 minute. Add 1c warm milk and stir constantly until thick. Then add 4 ounces (1c)shredded cheddar cheese. Instead of the evaporated canned milk, add 2/3c powdered milk and 3/4c water. I ended up adding a little skim milk to thin it because it was thick. I also added dry mustard, onion powder, and pepper. You could also puree 1 yellow squash into the mix before you add the cooked noodles to add a little veggie. Shhhhh...the little ones (and the big ones) will never know they are gulping down some veggie! This would also thin down the thickness as well. But I will say, the canned version will go with my kid to college...definitely do-able!

Anonymous said...

Do you use mild or sharper cheddar cheese

Anonymous said...

Could I use S.O.S Sauce Mix (alternative to canned soups) and just add extra cheese?

Thanks
Stacy

Jenn said...

I used mild/medium cheddar. I am interested in trying one of those can soup alternatives dry mixes and see how it turns out, but haven't just yet. If one of you guys do let me know. :)

Jenn

Amy said...

Thanks for this recipe! I love mac n'cheese, but try not to make it too much. Question, can I use regular milk instead of evaporated milk?

Katie said...

I used lots of mustard and paprika to season. Yum! I just need to use more noodles next time, mine was a bit soupy. And I think I will try baking it with panko flakes.

Kelly said...

We love this recipe! I used fat free evaporated milk, the healthy cheddar soup, and 2% shredded cheese. Thanks for the recipe! We like to add parmesan cheese and hot sauce too.

Kat S. said...

This looks so delicious and easy to make! I hope you wouldn't mind if I share this recipe on my blog, Dorm Food Concoctions. It seems like the perfect recipe for college students.

Jenn said...

Sure Kat S. This would rock the college life. Just have them buy a package of shredded cheese instead of grating it themselves. :)

Sara Cart said...

I'm just curious because I rarely use canned milk of any kind. Would this be okay if I used goat milk or regular milk?

I'm new to cooking and am really trying to learn the differences.

Jenn said...

Hi Sara.

I did some research and it turns out canned or evaporated milk has 60% of the water content removed (which makes it shelf stable). It is creamier than normal milk. For example if you wanted to make regular milk you would have to add back in the water to get a regular glass of milk. By using the canned milk, you get a creamier mac n cheese. I tried many mac and cheese recipes online before discovering this one and using regular milk - but they have never turned out as creamy when I used the canned. Wacky but true.

Staci said...

I'm pretty sure I'm correct on this, but I just wanted to be sure before I tried this recipe...When you make this, are you using the entire box of noodles? I'm assuming that's why everyone has said they've had a lot of left-overs! I'm only cooking for two and just wanted to prepare myself! Thanks!

Jenn said...

Well, my girls eat like birds, so I used about 3/4 of a box of noodles for this recipe. I also tend to have some evaporated milk left over. If you make the whole box then add a bit more cheese and all of the can of evaporated milk. By the way, f you still needs some extra liquid at the end (I haven't made it with a full box) feel free to add a dash of regular milk until desired consistency.

Stephanie said...

So, I'm trying to find recipes for a soon to be first time mommy. I want to stock her up on already made meals frozen and ready to go. Can I freeze this or will it ruin it?

Sharyn Friedman said...

This has become a staple in my house (my son is making it right now). I can't see why you could not freeze it. I would probably tell the person who is defrosting it to add some liquid to help with consistency. But I would imagine it could freeze. Otherwise, a box of noodles, a can of soup and the (already) shredded cheese and a can of evaporated milk and pretty much anyone could make this "fresh" and not worry about the freezer....so if new mommy is too tired, than perhaps new daddy could make this. It's really easy and so tasty.

Jenn said...

Ha ha.. I have the best readers! Thanks Sharyn for the answer. My husband joked "man, it never lasts long enough to get to the freezer". We have used it for leftovers and lunches, but have not tested the freezer theory in person. It does mix up quick though.

Anonymous said...

The best mac n cheese ive ever made! THANK YOU

Anonymous said...

Delicious! The perfect consistancy, it turned out awesome! Thank you for the amazing recipe!

Anne from Pintesting said...

I can't wait to try this recipe! Just as a thought to get around your kids aversion to seasoning "poison" specs, have you considered using white pepper? This might end up on my blog post - it looks so good!

Katarina Ritter said...

About how many people does this serve?

Christine Alcott said...

This was really delicious! It was just as fast as boxed mac, but infinitely better. I have been craving super creamy mac and cheese, and this did it for me. I have NEVER liked any homemade mac I have made before this. My picky 6 year old even said, "I think I like this better than the other stuff"!!!!

Jenn said...

So glad you liked it Christine! Coming from your six-year-old that is high praise indeed!! That made me smile!

Anonymous said...

We made this x9 for a 120-person party last Halloween and it got rave reviews - people are asking if we'll be serving it again this year and, of course, we will be! Thank you for sharing it!

Jenn said...

I am so happy anonymous that your party version of the recipe turned out and everyone not only loved it, but requested it this year! This comment made my day. Thanks for sharing it.

hilla143 said...

I am making this tonight! I pinned it two years ago!

Lisa said...

Made this tonight and only thing I did different was after mixing it all up placed in casserole dish sprinkled with season bread crumbs and put in oven at 400 for less then 10 min. It came out fantastic. Will definitely be making again.

Jenn said...

Ooo glad you like it Lisa! I was wondering if it would turn out good baked as well, thank you so much for the feedback. I was thinking it might make a good side for the kids for Thanksgiving this year.

Anonymous said...

This was AMAZING! I have tried other mac recipes, but none were very satisfying. This was comfort food at its best, and so easy to make!

Jenn said...

Thank you so much! I too tried a bunch of recipes on line and they all did not give me that creamy thing I was looking for

Anonymous said...

I make mac & cheese with condensed milk ��

Cassie said...

Thanks for the recipe! Shared with my readers and pointed them here for directions.

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