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Creamy 3 Ingredient Mac and Cheese

Super creamy 3 Ingredient Mac and Cheese is the perfect side dish for almost any meal you want to make. In fact, I’m sure any little ones in your life would be extremely happy served just the ultra saucy macaroni and cheese on its own!

One of the best things about this side dish? From start to finish, it can be on the table in less than 20 minutes!

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Why You’ll Love This 3 Ingredient Mac and Cheese Recipe

  • It’s literally only 3 ingredients to flavor town!
  • It can come together in less than 20 minutes which is a huge bonus.
  • It’s delicious and filling for those little tummies (or adult tummies too).

Groceries Needed

  • Pasta – Pick your very favorite shape. Some shapes work better than others, but your standard elbow macaroni, rotini, shells, etc, work well. I wouldn’t use penne pasta as it’s a larger pasta shape and sometimes doesn’t hold onto the sauce as well as the smaller sizes. But you use what you have on hand!
  • Evaporated Milk – Be sure not to buy CONDENSED milk. Condensed milk is sweeter and won’t work for this pasta dish.
  • Cheese – This is where it gets fun! You can use any cheese your heart desires (almost).. well, any cheese that melts well, put it that way. I used Old Cheddar and Pepper Jack combination, but feel free to use whatever you have on hand. Keep in mind, the stronger flavored cheeses will give a stronger flavor to the dish.

Pantry Ingredients

  • Water
  • Salt & Pepper

Eazy Tip: Remember, salt, pepper, garlic, oil, and water don’t factor into the ingredient count because most people have those pantry items in their kitchen.

A spoonful of the pasta and cheese sauce.
Super saucy macaroni and cheese

How to Make This Cheesy Pasta Dish

This dish is so easy to make, you’ll love it.

  • Bring the water and salt to a boil.
  • After it boils, add the pasta and cook until al dente. Drain.
  • Add the evaporated milk and bring the heat up to almost boiling.
  • Turn down the heat to low/medium.
  • Now you add the shredded cheese(s). Add them in small batches and stir after every addition.
  • You’ll see the cheesy sauce developing while stirring. Keep doing this until all the cheese is added and melted.
  • Taste and adjust for your salt and pepper preferences.

Look for the printable recipe card below for all the specific directions to make this cheesy pasta dish perfect.

What are the Best Cheese Combinations for Mac and Cheese?

The answer would be the cheeses that you find the tastiest. But if you want to switch it up and try different cheese combinations, you could try combining any of these cheeses:

Greyer – Known for its melting qualities and is not overly strong.
Old Cheddar – Also called ‘sharp’ cheddar because it has a stronger flavor than regular or ‘mild’ cheddar.
Monterey Jack
Pepper Jack – Spiced Monterey jack cheese with flecks of hot peppers
Mozzarella – Great for super gooey macaroni and cheese dishes.
Smoked gouda – This would be nice in a small amount if you want to add a slightly smoky flavor.
Parmesan – Use this in combination with other cheeses to add a salty, slightly funky flavor to the pasta sauce.

Can I Use Whole Wheat Pasta Instead?

Sure, that wouldn’t be a problem. Just keep in mind that whole wheat pasta sometimes requires a longer cooking time in the water, so be sure to check the package directions.

EAZY TIP: Don’t add any oil or fat to the cooking water. In the past, it was recommended to do that, but now we’ve learned that the oil will coat the pasta and prevent that cheesy saucy goodness from sticking to the pasta.

How to Level Up this Mac and Cheese Recipe

Making this cheese sauce with pasta even tastier is super fun! The key would be ‘add-ins’! Take a look for a few ideas to make this dish your own:

Hot dogs – The beauty of this is that it adds more protein to the meal, and most kids LOVE hot dogs. Cut them up in bite-size pieces and add them to the pasta as it’s cooking in the water. Drain the pasta and continue with the recipe as usual.
Broccoli – Adding broccoli is a great idea because it adds extra nutrition and some fun color to the mix. Simply steam some florets and then fold them into the pasta at the end before you serve.
Spice it up! – Hot chili flakes make the mac and cheese even more interesting. If you like spicy flavors, feel free to add as much as you want. You could also go with Tabasco, sriracha, or a diced jalapeno.

Macaroni with cheese sauce in a bowl.

What Do I Serve this Pasta With?

Well, you could certainly just serve it all by itself for a kid-loving lunch or dinner! But if you wanted to use it as a side dish, you have a lot of options. I’ve served it alongside easy protein dinners like my Bacon Wrapped Tenderloin, or try this Buffalo Baked Chicken, or easy hamburgers or hot dogs.

Storing Leftovers

Simple dimple! Store any leftovers in a container with a tight-fitting lid. It will stay fine in the fridge for up to 5 days.
When reheating, you can reheat in the microwave for a few minutes or put it in a saucepan and reheat that way.

EAZY TIP: After the macaroni and cheese dish cools, the sauce may thicken a lot. So to reheat, simply add a few tablespoons of milk to loosen the sauce and make it super saucy again!

Cheesy pasta in a pink and blue bowl.

Questions Asked

All I have is processed cheese spread. Can I use that instead?

Sure! If you want to use a cheese spread (like cheese whiz for example), make the recipe as usual, but start adding the cheese after you drain the pasta. Then, add the evaporated milk (ONLY A FEW TABLESPOONS AT A TIME!) if you need to make the sauce saucier.

I only have one type of cheese on hand. Is that ok?

For sure. There’s nothing wrong with using only one type of cheese. You could even use 4 types of cheese if you had them on hand! The most important part of this mac n cheese is that you use the right amount of cheese, regardless of the type.

Why can’t I just cook the pasta in the evaporated milk from the beginning?

Well, you could, BUT, the problem with that is that the pasta will absorb a lot of the milk in the cooking process, making the sauce less saucy. Also, evaporated milk can scorch easily in the pot while boiling.

Thanks for checking out the recipes here at EazyGrub! If you’ve tried this recipe already, please leave a comment and a star rating below! Have an awesome day!

Yield: 4 servings

Creamy 3 Ingredient Mac and Cheese

Creamy mac and cheese on a blue napkin.

Super creamy, super delicious and super easy to make. Only three ingredients gets you this delicious side dish in about 20 minutes.

Prep Time 5 minutes
Cook Time 10 minutes
Additional Time 5 minutes
Total Time 5 minutes

Ingredients

  • 8 ounces Evaporated Milk *see notes below
  • 8 ounces dry pasta
  • 8 ounces cheese - use any combination of cheese you prefer. I used 5 ounces of old cheddar and 3 ounces of pepper jack.
  • Salt and pepper (as desired)

Instructions

  1. Put your pasta into a pot and add enough water to cover it by about an inch. Add a teaspoon of salt to the water.
  2. Boil the pasta for about two minutes short of what it says on the package. (See notes)
  3. Drain the water after the pasta is cooked.
  4. Put the pot back onto the heat and add the evaporated milk. Bring to a boil and then turn the heat down.
  5. Add the cheese (or cheeses) in small amounts, stirring the entire time to help melt and incorporate the cheese. Continuous stirring also helps bring out the starch in the pasta, helping to add body to the sauce.
  6. After all the cheese is added, remove it from the heat. Taste and adjust if needed for salt and pepper.
  7. Enjoy!

Notes

Be sure to use evaporated milk and not condensed milk. Condensed milk has added sugars and will ruin the flavor of this mac and cheese dish.

You may have left over evaporated milk from the can you bought. Not a problem, you can transfer the remaining milk into a container and keep it in the fridge. Use it for coffee/tea in the mornings, OR, if you have leftover mac and cheese that has thickened quite a bit after it's cooled, use the milk to loosen the sauce again when you reheat the dish in the microwave or stovetop.

Boiling the pasta two minutes shorter than what it says on the package allows it to still continue cooking in the evaporated milk as it's heating up. If you cook the pasta right until it's tender and ready, then the rest of the steps in the recipe may make the pasta overcooked.

Nutrition Information

Yield

4

Serving Size

1/2 cup

Amount Per Serving Calories 776Total Fat 45gSaturated Fat 26gTrans Fat 1gUnsaturated Fat 15gCholesterol 135mgSodium 919mgCarbohydrates 52gFiber 2gSugar 8gProtein 40g

All nutritional information is based on third party calculations and is only an estimate. Each recipe and nutritional value will vary depending on the brands used, measuring methods and portion sizes per household.

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