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Protein Mac and Cheese

This Protein Mac and Cheese will leave your entire family questioning why you ever pulled out a box in the past. Who doesn’t love a good old fashioned Mac and Cheese but how about a Mac and Cheese with 19 grams of protein per serving and easy ways to make that even higher? You could easily add additional protein to this recipe like ham, sausage, hot dogs, Air Fryer Blackened Chicken or my Macro Friendly Chili.

Why you'll love this recipe

  • This recipe is so quick you can whip it up last minute when a craving strikes.
  • Dare I say better than box? 
  • Each serving has 19 grams of protein and is delicious combined with Air Fryer Blackened Salmon.
  • Both kids and adults will love this protein Mac and Cheese.
  • Easily switch up the noodles to add even more protein or add vegetables. 
  • Our favorite way to use up any leftover is combining with my favorite chili.
high protein mac and cheese

What noodles should I use?

You can use any noodles and any shapes. Use elbows or cellentani or even some fun animal shapes for your kids. I have seem some really great pasta shapes are TJ Maxx over the years which could really make this protein mac and cheese special. We always use Barilla or De Cecco for ease of finding anywhere. Use Banza or Barilla Protein + for added protein.

Does this store well as leftovers?

Like any macaroni, in my opinion, it is best when eaten right away! We usually use the leftovers mixed with chili for Chili Mac or added with Air Fryer Blackened Chicken to add protein to a really delicious protein mac and cheese.

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Ingredients and Substitutes:

These are the main ingredients and substitutions. See recipe card below for full ingredients list and instructions for protein mac and cheese. 

Cellentani Pasta Noodles: I like using cellentani noodles because they’re so fun! You can use elbows or any shapes you’d like. I would also suggest using Barilla Protein + for added protein. You can substitute with your favorite gluten free noodles as well. 

Butter: I would not skip the butter it adds tons of flavor to this dish. Use salted or unsalted. 

Flour: I am using all-purpose flour but you can substitute with gluten free flour as well. This has not be tested with almond or coconut flour. 

Whole Milk: this recipe calls for whole milk. As a mom of two growing toddlers we always have whole milk on hand. You can use lower fat % milk or unflavored almond milk. The milk helps the sauce get creamy and the higher the fat the creamier and more flavorful.

Cheddar Cheese: this recipe uses two kinds of cheddar cheese. Medium Cheddar and refused fat Sharp Cheddar. Reduced fat cheese do not melt as well as full fat so the combination of the two reduced the fat in the recipe while also keeping it night and melted. 

Garlic Powder: for some added flavor this recipe adds garlic powder. You can omit if you’d like or even add other spices like nutmeg or cayenne for heat. 

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How to make protein mac and cheese:

Step 1: Cook the noodles​

Cook your pasta noodles according to package prior to the below steps and drain.

Step 2: Make the base

Melt butter in a pan over medium heat. Add flour and stir until combined into a thick paste. Stir and cook the paste for 1 minute. Slowly add milk and continually whisk. Add salt and garlic. Simmer and whisk until everything is well combined and the sauce begins to thicken. Approx. 3 mins.

Step 2: Make the cheese sauce

Once the sauce has thickened, slowly add the cheese and mix until all the cheese has melted and a cheese sauce has formed. Add pasta and mix together. Enjoy your protein mac and cheese.

Serving size tip for tracking:

Weigh your pan prior to cooking the mac and cheese. That way you can weigh you pan filled with the protein mac and cheese and divide by the number of servings for the total weight per serving. 

What to serve this mac and cheese with

This protein mac and cheese is great alone but even better with added protein and veggies. Add peas or broccoli or some Air Fryer Blackened Chicken

high protein mac and cheese

If you like this recipe be sure to check out some of our other easy meals!

Yield

6 Servings ~ 190 grams

MyFitnessPal

“ohsnapmacros – Protein Mac and Cheese”

5 from 5 Reviews

Ingredients

Adjust Servings
12 oz. Cellentani Pasta Noodles (Barilla)
2 tbsp. salted butter
2 tbsp. all-purpose flour
1.5 cup whole milk
1 cup (85g) Medium Cheddar Cheese shreds at room temp
1 cup (85g) Reduced Fat Sharp Cheese - shredded, at room temp
Pinch of salt - add more later if needed
1/2 tsp. garlic powder

Nutritional Information

407 Calories
16 Fat (grams)
48 Carbs (grams)
19 Protein (grams)
2 Dietary Fiber
307 Sodium (mg)

Directions

1.

Cook your pasta noodles according to package prior to the below steps.
Mark as complete
2.

Melt butter in a pan over medium heat. Add flour and stir until combined into a thick paste. Stir and cook the paste for 1 minute. Slowly add milk and continually whisk. Add salt and garlic. Simmer and whisk until everything is well combined and the sauce begins to thicken. Approx. 3 mins.
Mark as complete
3.

Once the sauce has thickened, slowly add the cheese and mix until all the cheese has melted and a cheese sauce has formed. Add pasta and mix together. Enjoy!
Mark as complete

Notes

5 Comments

  • Suz

    Very good and way more healthy than velveeta!

  • Kande Smith

    This is delicious and was super easy to make. Please note, this is coming from someone who does not cook and has never made a gravy or cheese sauce. I was so nervous, but instructions were perfect and it came out great!!

  • Aimee

    What brand of cheese do you use?

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