5-ingredient mac and cheese

Whole Wheat 5-Ingredient Mac and Cheese Recipe

By Rachel Tiemeyer

A healthy and comforting one pot wonder! You will amaze your kids with this creamy mac and cheese all while skipping the processed, boxed stuff!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 15-20 minutes using just one pot. Seriously. My kids beg for this stuff.

I’ve been making 5-Ingredient Mac and Cheese for quick homemade lunches and dinners for years. I use whole grain pasta, organic milk, 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!

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. 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 only made this recipe with the 51% whole wheat elbow pasta, so I can’t vouch for how much liquid you might need if you use shells or 100% whole wheat instead.
  • You can bake the mac at the end 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.

5-Ingredient Mac and Cheese Recipe

  • Author: Thriving Home
  • Prep Time: 15 minutes
  • Cook Time: 10 minutes
  • Total Time: 25 minutes
  • Yield: 4 side dish servings 1x
  • Category: Side Dish
  • Method: Stove Top and Baked
  • Cuisine: American


A healthy and comforting one pot wonder! You will amaze your kids with this creamy mac and cheese all while skipping the processed, boxed stuff!


  • 2 cups whole grain elbow pasta
  • 3 cups milk
  • 1/2 cup Greek yogurt (fat-free works fine)
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1/4 tsp dijon mustard
  • 1 cup shredded cheddar, plus a bit more for topping


  1. Combine pasta and milk in a medium-sized pot. Bring to simmer, then reduce heat and cook for 15-20 minutes, until pasta is soft and milk is reduced and thickened. Stir frequently to ensure milk does not boil.
  2. Turn heat off, add Greek yogurt, salt, Dijon mustard (optional), and cheese. Stir to combine. If not creamy enough, add milk a little at a time, and gently stir.
  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.
  4. To bake, place in a greased baking dish and top with a generous sprinkling of cheese. Bake at 375 degrees for about 10 minutes until cheese has melted.

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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!

  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

  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!!

    • 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.

  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.