Check out these four hacks to make creamy mac and cheese in a healthier way, with options for everyone from kids to vegans to those who are gluten-free.

Jessica Ball, M.S., R.D.
Updated September 18, 2019

Pictured: Jalapeño Popper Mac & Cheese Bites

We don't know who invented mac and cheese, but they were seriously onto something. We have the secrets to how to make creamy mac and cheese that tastes delicious and is healthier than the traditional version. Here we share four healthy hacks to boost the nutrition of your beloved mac. You can even make mac and cheese without milk or cheese—shout out to all the vegans out there!

Pictured: Classic Mac & Cheese

Use Whole Wheat Pasta

One easy way to boost the nutrition of your mac and cheese (or any pasta for that matter) is to use whole wheat pasta. This gives you close to double the fiber content of most traditional refined white pasta. Making sure you get enough fiber can help you lose weight and reduce your risk for chronic diseases, like diabetes and certain types of cancer. Fiber also feeds the good bacteria in your gut and keeps you regular.

Pictured: Quick Stovetop Mac & Cheese with Broccoli Rabe

Add Veggies

Another easy way to power up your mac and cheese is to include vegetables. There are numerous opportunities to do this, from hearty root veggies like beets to leafy greens like spinach. Vegetables are another great way to add fiber, vitamins and nutrients to your meal, and their benefits don't stop there. Adding vegetables to foods you already eat, like mac and cheese, is a great easy way to get your five servings a day. Have kids or picky eaters at home? They won't even notice a difference in this Quick Stovetop Butternut Squash Mac and Cheese.

Pictured: Cauliflower Mac & Cheese

Carb Swap

Looking to cut carbs? Swapping out traditional pasta for an alternative like cauliflower makes your mac lower in calories and carbs and also higher in fiber and nutrients. Our Cauliflower Mac & Cheese is also a great option for enjoying this creamy, cheesy classic if you are gluten-free. But don't let the carb swapping stop there. Cauliflower can also be used to make a delicious, lighter cheese sauce, like this Cheesy Chipotle-Cauliflower Mac.

Pictured: Vegan Mac & Cheese

Ditch the Dairy

You may think that if you are vegan, your indulgence in mac and "cheese" is over. Well, think again. A hearty blend of vegetables, legumes and nutritional yeast can make the cheesiest non-cheese sauce you have ever had. Even if you are not a vegan, using low-fat dairy or a dairy alternative is another good way to cut calories and saturated fat. We even have a Vegan Chili Mac that is the stuff of dreams.

Related: Watch our video series Veganize It to learn to make more vegan comfort foods.

Bottom Line

Mac and cheese may sound like a decadent treat, but it doesn't have to disrupt a healthy eating pattern. These four hacks can help you make a creamy mac and cheese that tastes delicious and packs a nutritional punch as well. From adding veggies to making vegan mac and cheese, the possibilities are endless. Browse all of our Healthy Macaroni & Cheese Recipes, then take a load off with your new favorite healthy comfort food.

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