This low-fat mac and cheese is ultra creamy and cheesy but lighter than traditional mac and cheese recipes. This easy recipe is ready in less than 20 minutes!
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Mac and cheese -- otherwise known as comfort in a bowl! What can I say about it that hasn't already been said? That it's an American classic for a reason? That almost everyone of all ages likes it? That it will warm you up and satisfy you in a way only it can?
The list of things we love about this dish is long, but thankfully the ingredient list and instruction are not! With only a handful of easy-to-find ingredients and a simple, yet effective recipe, this recipe is a keeper.
Oh, and did we even talk about the lightened up profile of this recipe? With just minimal butter, Greek yogurt, and 2% milk, this recipe is smooth and creamy. By using sharp cheddar cheese, we can use less cheese and still have all the flavor.
The kind of flavor that may have you waxing on about your love for mac and cheese as well... or, at the very least adding it to your regular dinner rotation. Enjoy, friends!
Let's chat macaroni and cheese!
- Rich and creamy - what is mac and cheese without a velvety cheese sauce? (Not much, if you ask me!) We achieve such a sauce in this recipe thanks to a roux -- a mixture of flour and butter, toasted together over low heat. Once we whisk milk into the roux and bring the simmer to a mixture, the sauce thickens up and create a great base for the cheese and Greek yogurt. Does all of this sound complicated and intimidating? Please don't let it be! Roux are actually much easier than you think (and my illustrated instructions below should also help!).
- Quick - ok, so maybe this sauce isn't as quick as, say, Kraft Mac and Cheese, but it's pretty dang close! WIth this recipe you can get homemade mac and cheese on the table in less than 20 minutes!
- Approachable - the definition of American comfort food, this mac and cheese with yogurt recipe is about as approachable as they get. Just boil the pasta, follow the simple directions to make the sauce, and dinner is served!
- Family-friendly - this recipe is welcome at almost any gathering, but especially at those with family and friends. Kids and adults of all ages love this recipe and even health-conscious adults can get behind this recipe, thanks to the Greek yogurt and higher protein content!
- Shredded sharp cheddar cheese - you can purchase pre-shredded cheese or shred your own
- Plain Greek yogurt - 2% and whole milk are best but 0% yogurt also works
- Milk - 1 or 2% milk
- All-purpose flour
- Unsalted butter
- Pasta - almost any small shaped pasta can work in place of the macaroni; penne pasta, orecchiette, small shells, cavatappi, farfalle, and fusilli are all great in this recipe.
- Cheese - experiment with different cheeses to make this recipe your own. White cheddar and asiago; gruyere; Mexican shredded cheese blend; Italian shredded cheese blends will all be delicious.
How to make Greek yogurt macaroni and cheese:
- Boil the pasta in heavily salted pasta water, according to the package directions. Drain.
- Return the empty pan to medium-low to medium heat. Add the butter and melt.
- Whisk the flour into the melted butter. Cook for 1-2 minutes, whisking continually, or until the flour is golden brown and smells nutty.
- Whisk the milk into the toasted flour. Cook for 2-4 minutes, whisking as it cooks, or until the sauce has thickened and no chunks of flour remain.
- Reduce the heat to low. Whisk in the Greek yogurt, cheddar cheese, and salt until smooth.
- Gently stir the pasta into the cheese sauce until covered. Serve hot!
- Salt the macaroni water adequately. Properly salted water makes the world of a difference in the mac and cheese flavor. Add 2-3 teaspoons of salt for 2 quarts of water.
- Don't rinse the macaroni. There is no need to rinse the macaroni after draining it. Just let it rest in the colander until mixing it into the Greek yogurt cheese sauce.
- Doubling the recipe. You can very easily double this recipe. Just multiply all the ingredients by two and follow the recipe as directed.
- Roux tips. When making the roux, don't step away from the stove top, whisk it constantly, and pour the milk into the flour mixture as soon as it starts to smell nutty and turn a light golden brown.
- Mix-ins. What's macaroni and cheese without an occasional mix-in? This recipe is incredible with any of your favorite oomph-boosters, like: green peas, chicken sausage, hot dogs, tuna, broccoli, bacon, pancetta, green chiles, lobster, and more!
The best way to thicken a homemade mac and cheese sauce is by making a roux. If making a box of mac and cheese, you can thicken the sauce by adding a tablespoon or two of plain Greek yogurt.
Though you can add Greek yogurt to your mac and cheese, it cannot replace the milk. Used on its own, the sauce would be too thick -- in fact, we wouldn't be able to make the sauce, as it relies on a liquid. So, still use the amount of directed milk so the sauce is spreadable and smooth and then stir in the Greek yogurt with the cheese.
No, you cannot use Greek yogurt instead of butter in mac and cheese. The roux also needs the butter to toast up the flour and bind the sauce together, so it cannot be omitted from the recipe.
Yes, you certainly can freeze the macaroni and cheese leftovers in a freezer-safe container for up to 3 months.
For a more complete vegetarian meal, serve this homemade mac and cheese with air fryer brussels sprouts, a green salad, roasted broccoli, or sliced fresh tomatoes.
Leftovers keep refrigerated in an airtight container for 4-5 days. See my notes above for how to freeze them.
This recipe is naturally vegetarian and processed sugar-free. To make this recipe gluten-free, substitute a 1-to-1 gluten-free flour for the all-purpose flour and a gluten-free pasta (like brown rice pasta or Banza) for the traditional pasta.
Tools needed to make this recipe:
More pasta recipes:
- Healthy Mac and Cheese
- Instant Pot Kraft Mac and Cheese
- Taco Mac and Cheese
- Tuna Mac and Cheese
- Smoked Gouda Mac and Cheese
- No Boil Pasta Bake with Turkey
- Lemon Ricotta Pasta with Peas
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This low-fat Mac and cheese is ultra creamy and cheesy but lighter than traditional mac and cheese recipes. This family-favorite recipe is ready in less than 20 minutes!
- 8 oz. uncooked macaroni (or other small shape pasta)
- 1 tablespoon unsalted butter
- 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
- 1 ¼ cup 1% or 2% milk
- 1 ¼ cup shredded sharp cheddar cheese
- ¼ teaspoon salt
- ½ cup plain Greek yogurt (I use 2% or whole milk*)
- Boil the pasta in heavily salted pasta water, according to the package directions. Drain and set aside.
- Return the empty pan to low to medium-low heat. Add the butter and melt. Whisk the flour into the melted butter. Cook for 1-2 minutes, whisking continually, or until the flour is golden brown and smells nutty.
- Whisk the milk into the toasted flour. Cook for 2-3 minutes, whisking as it cooks, or until the sauce has thickened and no chunks of flour remain.
- Reduce the heat to low (if not aready on low). Whisk in the Greek yogurt, cheddar cheese, and salt until smooth and creamy.
- Gently stir the pasta into the cheese sauce until covered. Serve hot!
*0% plain Greek yogurt can also be used, but 2% or whole milk provide the best flavor and texture.
- Leftover mac and cheese keeps refrigerated in an airtight container for 4-5 days. See my notes above for how to freeze them. It can be frozen in a freezer-safe container for up to 3 months.
- This recipe is delicious with any of your favorite mix-ins: green peas, chicken sausage, hot dogs, tuna, broccoli, bacon, pancetta, green chiles, lobster, and more!
Serving Size⅙ of the recipe
Amount Per Serving Calories 218Total Fat 11gSaturated Fat 6gTrans Fat 0gUnsaturated Fat 4gCholesterol 33mgSodium 273mgCarbohydrates 18gFiber 1gSugar 4gProtein 11g
This nutrition breakdown is just an estimate of the nutritional value of this recipe and cannot be taken as facts. The owners of Mae's Menu are not nutritionists or dietitians and therefore cannot be held accountable for this nutrition estimate. Please contact your nutritionist or medical professional for a nutritional breakdown of this food. Furthermore, this food is not intended to prevent, diagnose, cure, or treat any disease.