whole wheat mac and cheese in the instant pot

Easy Stovetop Mac and Cheese {Only 5 Ingredients}

By Rachel Tiemeyer

A one pot wonder full of 100% real food ingredients. This easy stovetop mac and cheese is creamy, comforting, & much healthier than boxed mac!

whole wheat mac and cheese in bowls on white plates with steamed broccoli on the side

This post was created in partnership with Hy-Vee (Columbia)

Why I Love This Stovetop Mac and Cheese

Don’t buy anymore boxed mac and cheese, please. (Ok, I can’t swear I’ll never buy Annie’s mac again, but hear me out on this.)

For one thing, boxed Mac and Cheese is like feeding your kids cardboard mixed with paste (or something of that nutritional and taste value), right? For another thing, you can make your own delicious version from only five simple real food ingredients in about 20 minutes using just one pot. Seriously. My kids beg for this stuff.

I’ve been making this Easy Stovetop Mac and Cheese for quick homemade lunches and dinners for years. It only requires 5 main real food ingredients and takes about 20 minutes.

whole wheat mac and cheese in the instant pot

What’s In 5 Ingredient Mac and Cheese?

I use whole grain pasta, organic milk, plain Greek yogurt, Real Salt, and a moderate amount of shredded cheese (and optionally, a  squirt of dijon mustard). This mac is real (comfort and convenience) food in a bowl. Add to the plate some Oven Roasted Broccoli and Slow Cooker Cinnamon Apples, and you’ve got a down-home, well-rounded meal on the cheap!

Where to Get Your Ingredients

We suggest grabbing all your ingredients at your local Hy-Vee grocery store or using their Aisles Online to have your groceries delivered or prepared for pick up. They are always well-stocked and offer the best meat and produce around.

A Few Cooking Notes

  • You may be surprised at how this recipe works. You cook the pasta in milk. The starch from the pasta thickens the milk creating a creamy sauce as the pasta cooks. I started adding Greek yogurt at the end, which makes for an even creamier sauce and adds in extra protein. Whoever invented this cooking method was probably a mom who didn’t want to clean another dad-gum pot!
  • Make sure you have plenty of hungry mouths available when you make this, because it loses a bit of its “wow” after it gets cold. But, I did have it rewarmed the other day and it wasn’t half-bad.
  • I have tried using whole milk, 2% and even some almond milk in this recipe, and they all work great.
  • I have tested this recipe with whole wheat elbow pasta and whole wheat egg noodles, and they both have worked well. But, depending on the pasta you use, you made need a little more milk at the end.
  • You can bake the mac at the end, if you want, with some cheese on top or eat it straight from the pot. Our family likes it both ways, so I often skip the baking step.
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whole wheat mac and cheese in the instant pot

Easy Stovetop Mac and Cheese {5 Ingredients}

  • Author: Thriving Home
  • Cook Time: 25 minutes
  • Total Time: 25 minutes
  • Yield: About 4 (1 cup) servings 1x
  • Category: Side Dish
  • Method: Stove Top and Baked
  • Cuisine: American

Description

A one pot wonder full of 100% real food ingredients. This easy stovetop mac and cheese is creamy, comforting, & much healthier than boxed mac!


Ingredients

  • 2 cups whole grain elbow pasta (or any other small whole wheat pasta)
  • 3 cups milk (I used 2%)
  • 1 tsp salt, plus more to taste
  • 1/2 cup plain Greek yogurt (I used fat free)
  • 1/4 tsp Dijon mustard
  • 1 cup shredded cheddar cheese, plus a bit more for topping

Instructions

  1. Combine pasta and milk in a medium-sized pot. Bring to a simmer over medium high heat (just until bubbles start breaking the surface), stirring frequently to ensure milk does not scorch on the bottom. Stir in the salt and then reduce the heat to maintain a low simmer (do not boil!). Continue to cook and stir often for 15-20 minutes, until pasta is soft and milk is reduced and thickened.
  2. Remove from the heat. Stir in the plain Greek yogurt, Dijon mustard (optional), and shredded cheese until combined. If not creamy enough, add milk a little at a time, and gently stir. Taste and season with more salt, if needed.
  3. Cooking Note: It’s ready to eat at this point, but you can also bake it with some additional cheese on top for more cheesy goodness. To bake, place in a greased baking dish and top with a generous sprinkling of cheese. Bake at 375°F for about 10 minutes until cheese has melted.

Don’t forget we’ve already started a Hy-Vee custom shopping cart with all the 5 Ingredient Mac and Cheese to save you time…

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12 replies
  1. Bethany Haid says:

    I think you should bump this post or remind others in a re-link! We made it for dinner tonight, not while wheat, with Vermont white cheddar and BOOM! While it’s piping hot it’s as good as Panera!! It’s less good reheated the next day… we add milk … but it’s still better than Annie’s or Velveeta shells!

    Reply
  2. Kristin says:

    Is it okay to cook the pasta in the milk given that they are not supposed to drink milk til 1 year? My little one is 10 months old and I’m desperately trying to figure out meals that the whole family will love and eat

    Reply
  3. Lois says:

    This recipe is phenomenal!! We just finished this for dinner and it got a very enthusiastic “two thumbs up” from all 4 of my children and hubby! I can’t thank you enough for your recipes. We made the Whole Wheat Pumpkin Pancakes last night and again, it was also a hit!!

    Reply
    • Rachel says:

      Hi Becky, I actually wouldn’t suggest this one for a freezer meal. The sauce gets way too thick when I’ve saved it in the fridge in the past. So my gut tells me (although I haven’t actually tested it in the freezer), that this wouldn’t be the best way to make freezable mac and cheese. You could try my “Better Mac and Cheese (with Sneaky Sweet Potato)” recipe, though. It freezes well.

      Reply
  4. Kathy says:

    Looks yummy. My mom used to make home made mac and cheese before boxed varieties were available. To add a little more creaminess (and nutrition), she would whip an egg and stir it into the hot pot of m&c just before serving it.

    Reply