Smoky gouda and rustic white cheddar cheese are the stars in this easy but elegant white mac and cheese recipe.
My kids, most notably my middle son, absolutely love and adore macaroni and cheese. My middle son enjoys it so much, he will often make an entire box of Kraft mac and cheese just for himself (for one meal)!
Another thing my kids love and adore is our regular charcuterie boards for dinner. Their favorite cheeses that they have enjoyed have been gouda (their number one favorite that MUST be present on every charcuterie board we assemble now) and any variety of cheddar cheese (white or yellow, they don’t care, they just love it).
Well, one day, while enjoying some leftovers from our previous evening’s charcuterie board meal, my oldest son asked if mac and cheese could be made with gouda. To which I was like, yeah, why not.
And this recipe was born.
Other Names for This White Mac and Cheese
Other names we (mostly my children) have called this mac and cheese are “Unyellow Mac and Cheese” and “Fancy Mac and Cheese.” It could also be dubbed “three cheese macaroni and cheese” because there are three kinds of cheese in it.
White Mac and Cheese Cheeses
The cheeses that I chose for this white mac and cheese recipe are threefold:
- Number one of course is gouda cheese because that’s what my oldest son loves and wanted in a mac and cheese recipe. Plus, it’s very gouda (pun swiped from someone else and very much intended and true).
- Next is white cheddar cheese because I wanted to reduce the gouda flavor a bit so that it wasn’t overpowering. I decided on white cheddar cheese because when combining gouda and yellow cheddar cheese, it gets a weird yellowish color–not as pretty as regular mac and cheese, and too pale to look normal cheesy. Plus, making the mac and cheese a white mac and cheese makes it more fancy or elegant (reminds me of a bride, in her fancy white dress). If you don’t have white cheddar or can’t find it, regular cheddar will do.
- Lastly is cream cheese because this thickens the sauce just a bit (without making a roux) while adding a light boost of flavor.
White Mac and Cheese Sauce
So, the sauce. It can be added two ways. One is to mix it separately from the noodles in another pan. Whisk it up good while heating it then pour it into the prepared and drained noodles. Some claim that this method makes the sauce smoother (which I guess it can). But, not wanting to waste more dishes than is necessary, I typically do NOT do it this way (as reflected in my instructions). I personally have never had issues with getting smooth sauce using my method.
The second way is my way. After cooking and draining the noodles, I simply add all of the sauce ingredients to the same pot with the noodles and mix as it melts. The cream cheese might need a slight bit of “squishing,” but for the most part the sauce smooths out very nicely. And you save yourself dishes.
Smoked or Not Smoked White Mac and Cheese
Both gouda cheese and white cheddar cheese come in several different varieties. One of those is smoked–there is a smoked gouda cheese and there is a smoked white cheddar cheese. Which version you choose totally depends on your and your family’s tastes. For our family, we always opt for the smoked cheeses because we just love the added flavor dimension.
Noodles for the White Mac and Cheese
This is where the controversy comes in among the Trim Healthy Mama crowd. The Dreamfields pasta brand covers their pasta with a fiber coating which makes you basically poop out all but 5 net carbs worth per serving (meaning that on THM and technically on some keto or low carb diets, one serving works). However, there was controversy a few years back about these claims so Dreamfields withdrew them.
That said, MANY people successfully lose weight while enjoying Dreamfields pasta at a rate of about once per week. Most people report that it does NOT negatively affect their blood sugar levels (when combined with a protein of course) but for some (especially those prone to or enduring diabetes) it does negatively impact blood sugar levels (spikes it).
So, what to do? Well, my family (thus far, it might change as hubby and I get older), Dreamfields has not at all affected mine or my hubby’s weight loss journeys and it has not negatively impacted our blood sugar levels. So, we choose to use Dreamfields elbow macaroni pasta in this recipe.
However, if you are uncomfortable with using Dreamfields or whatever diet you are on is anti-Dreamfields, then totally enjoy the sauce from this recipe mixed in with prepared spaghetti squash (I enjoy this myself on occasion–it’s SO good plus, there’s your veggie!), zucchini noodles (i.e. “zoodles”), shirataki noodles, Palmini noodles, cooked cauliflower chunks, or any other noodle substitute you are comfortable with using.
What to Serve with White Mac and Cheese
The cheese in this recipe has a decent amount of protein in it by itself, so if you are doing Trim Healthy Mama, you should be good in that department. However, it may not hurt to eat it with more protein. You can add cooked and crumbled turkey bacon to it, cooked and chunked crab meat, cooked shrimp (deveined and tails removed), or even shredded cooked chicken breast. Alternatively, you can make the white mac and cheese the side dish and serve it alongside a lean protein such as something with chicken breast (you probably want to avoid a cheesy chicken dish or a not-so-lean meat selection because with all the cheese in this mac and cheese that fatty meat could be getting you into calorie abuse).
Some sides that go well with the mac and cheese when serving it as the main dish include a leafy green side salad or some air fried greens (maybe broccoli, asparagus, or brussels sprouts).
White Mac and Cheese
- 13.25 ounces
(1 package) Dreamfields elbow macaroni pasta noodles OR equivlent spaghetti squash, zoodles, Palmini noodles, shirataki noodles, or cauliflower chunks
- 1½ cups plain unsweetened almond or cashew milk
- ½ cup heavy whipping cream
- 2½ cups (10 ounces) gouda cheese, shredded (smoked or not)
- 1½ cups (6 ounces) white cheddar cheese, shredded (smoked or not; yellow cheddar works too)
- 4 ounces (½ package) ⅓ fat cream cheese or Neufchâtel cheese
- ¼ cup unsalted butter
- 1 teaspoon mustard powder
- ½ teaspoon mineral salt (more or less to taste)
- ¼ teaspoon
ground white pepper(more or less to taste; regular black pepper works too)
- 1 pinch ground nutmeg (optional, but does add subtle flavor)
- In a large saucepot over medium-high heat, bring some water to a hard-rolling boil. Add the noodles and allow to cook until al dente. Drain and keep them in the pot. If using something other than the pasta, see notes below.
- Turn the heat to medium-low. Add the milk and cream to the noodles. Heat until hot, stirring frequently to keep the noodles from burning or sticking to the bottom.
- Add the cheeses (gouda, cheddar, and cream cheese) and the butter then stir frequently (don't forget to scrape along the bottom of the pan to prevent sticking) until all the cheeses and butter have thoroughly melted.
- Mix in the remaining ingredients.
- OPTIONAL: If you like baked mac and cheese, toss the completed mac and cheese into a casserole dish and bake at 400° F for 10 or more minutes (whenever it's crispy to your liking).