Don’t be scared, dairy lovers- this recipe can be made with real dairy products too. It’s a great way to avoid the preservatives of boxed macaroni!
I love macaroni and cheese and I am entirely unapologetic about it. It’s simple, it’s tasty, it can be dressed up any number of ways or just left alone. If I had to name my ultimate comfort foods, it would top the list. There’s just one little problem… I have a lactose intolerance. Anything more than a couple of bites of dairy leaves me with an upset stomach and a fibromyalgia flare. When I went completely dairy-free last summer (long overdue), I thought my mac n cheese days were over. Since then I have found a great cheese substitute and I have branched out my cooking skills. This week I finally mastered cheese sauce!
The real beauty of this, in my opinion, is that it does not take any longer than a boxed mac n cheese mix. I start my cheese sauce when I put the noodles in to boil, and they are done at the same time!
One box of Elbow noodles (they hold the most cheese!)
4Tbs Butter- this is the only dairy in my version, I haven’t found a dairy-free butter that cooks as well as the real stuff. If you know of something I should try, please share!
4Tbs White Flour
8oz shredded cheddar “cheese”- Galaxy Nutrition rice shreds gave me the best texture. If using real cheese, you may want to shred your own. Packaged shredded cheeses have coatings or preservatives that can affect your final texture.
1-2 cups whole “milk”- thicker, creamier milk means thicker, creamier sauce, so if you have a choice use whole!
1. Boil your noodles in a large pot. They’ll keep cooking while you make your cheese sauce.
2. The base of this recipe is a béchamel sauce. I was intimidated by this sauce for years because it has a fancy French name, but it is so easy! Just melt your butter over low heat, and then whisk in your flour until it has a smooth, creamy texture.
3. Add your cheese and whisk. It won’t look much like a sauce at this point, it will get very thick and try to stick to your whisk. This is okay!
4. Start adding your milk slowly, about 1/4 cup at a time, whisking as you go. Keep adding until you get the sauce to the consistency you want. I like mine to stay thick and cheesy!
5. When your noodles are cooked, drain them, and stir in your cheese sauce. You’re done! Enjoy the fruits of your labor now, or dress it up with some bacon, hamburger, and onion- we’re after comfort food, not health food.
The first time I made this, I was a little upset that the cheese sauce wasn’t orange like the macaroni of my childhood. In fact it was almost white! I thought that more color meant more cheese flavor. I was so wrong. If your kids look for that orange color, though, add a little pureed carrot before you add your milk. It will give it great color and a little more nutrition, too.