5 Healthy Ways to Add More Flavor to Basic Mac and Cheese

Make mac and cheese extra tasty without adding lots of calories or fat
5 Healthy Ways to Add Flavor to Basic Mac and Cheese


Good mac and cheese should have a rich, creamy, and flavorful cheese sauce.

Use Flavorful Cheeses


Hard cheeses like Parmesan typically add fewer calories than softer varieties like Cheddar or mozzarella because you don’t have to add as much to achieve a bold flavor. If your recipe doesn’t call for any hard cheeses, try cutting back on the amount of soft cheeses and toss in a healthy handful of grated Parmesan instead.

Add Spices

If your recipe calls for fattening ingredients like bacon, try swapping them for healthier options. You won’t miss bacon at all if you add a pinch of smoky cumin or paprika to the cheese sauce.

Add Herbs

Fresh or dried herbs also add a ton of delicious flavor to the cheese sauce, limiting the need for excess cheese, butter, or cream.

Make a Creamy Sauce


Try combining the homemade cheese sauce with puréed butternut squash or carrots. Aside from cutting back on the fat and calories, both vegetables will add a subtle sweetness to the dish without sacrificing the creaminess of the cheese sauce.

Add Some Veggies


Although we don’t condone replacing all the pasta with vegetables (because then it’s not really macaroni and cheese, is it?), adding some vegetables for flavor can be a good way to reduce the amount of carbohydrates you’re eating. Grilled corn, fire-roasted tomatoes, and small florets of roasted cauliflower are all great choices.

Kristie Collado is The Daily Meal’s Cook Editor. Follow her on Twitter @KColladoCook.