Creamy, Light Macaroni and Cheese: Recipe Makeover

We squashed out half the calories and three-fourths of the sat fat by using a new trick in the sauce.

Creamy, Light Mac and Cheese Recipe

Photo: Randy Mayor

Lighter Mac and Cheese

This isn't the first time we've tackled this dish, of course, but this time we wanted to retain as much cheese as possible for both flavor and that nonnegotiable gooey texture, so the real work happened with the béchamel. Instead of the traditional buttery, heavy sauce, we turned to an unlikely hero for a boost: butternut squash. Combined with nonfat milk and Greek yogurt, the squash adds a rich, nutty flavor, sneaks in some vegetable, and brilliantly mimics the color and creaminess of cheddar sauce. A trio of bold cheeses packs more flavor than a one-cheese approach, while grooved pasta ensures full sauce coverage for a saucy favorite with all kinds of comforting goodness.

The Classic: 
 908 calories per serving
963 milligrams sodium
36 grams saturated fat

The Makeover: 
 390 calories per serving
589 milligrams sodium
6.1 grams saturated fat

View Recipe: Creamy, Light Macaroni and Cheese

Light Macaroni and Cheese Essential Ingredients

Photo: Randy Mayor

Essential Ingredients

Nonfat Milk
Replaces half-and-half and whole milk in the sauce to cut a total of 5g sat fat per serving.

Cheese Trio
Parmigiano-Reggiano, pecorino Romano, and Gruyère save 336 calories worth of cheese per serving.

Cubed Butternut Squash
Subs in for butter in our creamy sauce, saving 7g saturated fat per serving.

Light Macaroni and Cheese Step One

Photo: Randy Mayor

Step 1

Boil the squash with milk, broth, and garlic to help marry the sweet and savory flavors for an intensely rich base. No roux, no clumps, no mess.

Light Macaroni and Cheese Step Two

Photo: Randy Mayor

Step 2

Puree the butternut squash mixture until smooth. Fat-free Greek yogurt adds tang, richness, and thickening power to the sweet butternut.

Light Macaroni and Cheese Step Three

Photo: Randy Mayor

Step 3

Stir the three cheeses into the pureed butternut sauce while it's still warm to ensure they all melt evenly.

Light Macaroni and Cheese Step Four

Photo: Randy Mayor

Step 4

Use a pasta shape that holds on to the sauce. We like cavatappi because of its corkscrew shape and grooved ridges; penne rigate would also work well.

View Recipe: Creamy, Light Macaroni and Cheese

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