Broccoli Cheddar Mac and Cheese is an easy weeknight meal that the whole family will love!
This recipe makes a great one pot meal, and you can add an additional protein on top like seared chicken breast!
WHY YOU’LL LOVE THIS RECIPE
- Quick and easy to make!
- Family-friendly weeknight meal, even the kids will love it!
- I mean it’s Mac and Cheese… What’s not to love?!
KEYS TO MAKING CREAMY MAC AND CHEESE
- Slightly undercook the noodles–I like to take the noodles out about 1-2 minutes before they hit al dente. This allows them to soften more when you add them to the hot cheese sauce without overcooking them.
- Use heavy cream or whole milk in the sauce. This isn’t 100% necessary, but in order to achieve that creamy rich sauce this helps. Skip the low fat options.
HOW DO I AVOID CLUMPS IN MY CREAM SAUCE?
There are a few important tips to prevent clumps in your mac and cheese.
You will want to add the cream slowly, and whisk the sauce constantly as the cream is added and as the sauce simmers to thicken. Try to avoid overheating the sauce so that it doesn’t “break”. A broken sauce is generally caused by the separation of sauces into two components. This can sometimes happen when you overheat the sauce or by keeping it on the stove to stay warm for too long. This is why it’s important to remove the sauce from the heat and allow the residual heat of the simmered milk to melt the cheese.
WHAT ARE SOME GOOD PROTEIN OPTIONS TO ADD?
This Broccoli Cheddar Mac and Cheese is great with chicken mixed in (which is how I made it for dinner)! Simply add pre-cooked shredded or chopped chicken to the creamy noodles and stir well. I think shrimp would taste pretty good as well!
WHAT TYPES OF CHEESE SHOULD I USE?
- I always recommend starting with a base of sharp cheddar. It melts well and has fantastic flavor. I also recommend using mozzarella cheese, that creates those strings of melty cheese that we all love.
- From there, it’s really personal preference, but my favorite combination is sharp cheddar, mozzarella, and smoked gouda. This combo is very creamy and has a classic flavor that appeals to both kids and adults. With that being said, there are plenty of other options depending on your mood or personal tastes or what you have in the fridge.
- NEVER use pre-shredded cheeses. Many of them have a starch coating on them that inhibits melting and can prevent your sauce from becoming creamy.
HOW DO I STORE THIS MAC AND CHEESE?
Leftovers can be stored in an air-tight container in the refrigerator for about 3ish days and reheated when ready to serve. To re-heat, add each serving to the oven, microwave, or stovetop until warmed through.
More Pasta Recipes!
- The Ultimate Baked Mac and Cheese
- Cajun Pasta with with Chicken and Sausage
- Pasta Alla Vodka with Bacon
- Cajun Shrimp Pasta
- Chicken Bacon Ranch Pasta
- Marsala Pasta with Italian Sausage
Questions about this Broccoli Cheddar Mac and Cheese? Did you make this recipe? Let me know in the comments below! Tag me #chefelizabethreese on Instagram, I’d love to see your creations!
Broccoli Cheddar Mac and Cheese
- 1 Box (lb) Short Cut Pasta (I like to use Pipe Rigate for this recipe)
- 3 Tablespoons Unsalted Butter
- 3 Tablespoons All purpose Flour
- 3 Cups Heavy Whipping Cream
- 2 Cups Broccoli Florets (Steamed)
- 2 Cups Freshly Sharp Cheddar Cheese
- ½ Cup Freshly Shredded Mozzarella Cheese
- ¼ Cup Freshly Shredded Smoked Gouda
- Kosher and Black Pepper, as needed
- 1 Teaspoon Smoked Paprika
- 1 Teaspoon Garlic Powder
- ½ Teaspoon Onion Powder
- ½ Teaspoon Fresh Chopped Parsley
- ½ Teaspoon Dry Mustard
- Bring a large pot of water to a boil with a pinch of salt and add your favorite short-cut pasta and cook according to packaging.Once cooked, drain, cool and set aside.
- In a large skillet, melt the 3 tablespoons of butter over medium heat. When it starts to foam and bubble, add the 3 tablespoons of flour and immediately whisk so that it forms a roux (paste). Allow this to cook for about 1 minute to get the “raw” flour taste out.
- Slowly add in the heavy cream while whisking constantly to remove any large lumps. Continue to whisk until smooth and thick. Increase the heat to medium-high to allow the sauce to thicken, about 4-5 minutes (be sure to watch or it will overflow and burn). Season the sauce with kosher salt, black pepper, garlic powder, Onion Powder, smoked paprika and dry mustard while it thickens.
- Once your sauce is thick enough to coat the back of a spoon, lower your heat back down to medium/ low ish, and add in the cheddar cheese, mozzarella and smoked gouda. Continue to whisk and taste to adjust seasoning if necessary. Remove from the heat.
- Add in the cooled pasta and cooked broccoli florets and stir together until combined. Add more spices and additional cheese on top if necessary. Enjoy!