RECIPES:
Jan 2, 2023

Stovetop Broccoli Cheddar Mac and Cheese

Prep Time: 5 mins
Cook Time: 25 mins
This easy and kid-friendly meal is a great recipe the whole family will love.

jump toRECIPE

With a fair amount of broccoli boiled alongside the pasta in the water, this macaroni and cheese recipe is a great way to sneak in some vegetables! This recipe started as a “clean out the fridge meal” made with a few simple ingredients I typically keep on hand. 

While the sauce may seem extra thick, pasta cooking water is added to thin the sauce while keeping it creamy. Plus, as mac and cheese sits, the sauce has a tendency to thicken and absorb into the pasta. The salty, starchy water that the pasta is cooked in adds flavor and helps to create a silky sauce that binds to the noodles. While I use one pot to cook the pasta and another to create the sauce simultaneously, this can be done in one pot for less cleanup!

Stovetop Broccoli Cheddar Mac and Cheese

sliced broccoli for Broccoli Cheddar Mac and Cheese

Key Ingredients in This Recipe 

  • Shallots – Sautéing shallots in butter before creating the roux adds flavor to the base of the mac and cheese recipe. 
  • Roux – Roux is a mixture of fat (typically butter) and flour cooked together to thicken sauces and soups. Cooking the flour in the fat ensures that it’s lump free to blend seamlessly and cooks off the texture of the flour. After it’s cooked, milk is added (and it becomes a béchamel). 
  • Milk – The béchamel sauce made with whole milk makes a creamy sauce to perfectly carry the cheese and combine with the pasta. 
  • Pasta – While I use shells in this mac and cheese recipe, you can use any favorite noodle shape like fusilli, elbow, penne, cavatappi or farfalle. Be aware cooking times can vary depending on the shape you use!
  • Broccoli – Roughly chopping the heads of broccoli allows for quicker cooking time and more broccoli in each bite. 
  • Cheddar cheese – I recommend using sharp Cheddar in this recipe. If you use mild Cheddar the flavor will cook out and the mac and cheese will be lacking in that cheesy flavor. Either yellow or white Cheddar can be used!

How to Make Broccoli Cheddar Mac and Cheese

boiling Broccoli and pasta for Broccoli cheddar mac and cheese
Step 1: Cook the pasta.

Heat a large pot of salted water to a boil over medium-high heat. Add the pasta and broccoli and cook until the noodles are al dente and the broccoli is tender, about 8 minutes.

Step 2: Drain and return to pot. 

Reserve 1 cup (240g) of the pasta cooking water. Drain the pasta and broccoli and return to the pot.

draining Broccoli cheddar mac and cheese
saute the shallots
Step 3: Sauté shallots.

While the pasta cooks, heat a large saucepan over medium heat, add the oil and heat through. Add the butter and allow to melt, then add the shallots and sauté until tender, about 4 minutes.

Step 4: Make roux. 

Add the flour and cook, stirring constantly until the mixture is a pale golden color, about 1 minute. Whisk in the milk and bring to a simmer over medium-low heat. Continue to cook until thickened slightly, about 6 minutes.

milk and cheese for Broccoli cheddar mac and cheese
Step 5: Add cheese. 

Stir in the cheese until it’s melted into the sauce. Add the cayenne, paprika and season to taste with salt and pepper.

Step 6: Add cheese sauce to pasta. 

Pour the sauce over the noodles and stir to combine. Add the pasta cooking water, a little at a time to thin the sauce until creamy.

add the cheese sauce in Broccoli cheddar mac and cheese
Step 7: Serve. 

Ladle into warmed pasta bowls and serve.

Tips and Tricks for This Recipe 

Swaps and substitutions 
  • Try adding some cauliflower for additional hidden vegetables. 
  • Other semi-hard cheeses like Colby or Monterey Jack can be used instead of Cheddar based on availability. Pepper Jack adds a bit more heat. 
  • Shallots can be swapped with ¼ cup (13g) diced yellow onion if desired. 
  • Try adding protein! Cooked bacon, pancetta or chicken would all be great. 
Tips for the Best Mac and Cheese
  1. Avoid pre-shredded cheese. I recommend buying a block of cheese and shredding it yourself. Bags of shredded cheese (while convenient) can contain additives that keep the shredded cheese separated in the bag but can hinder melting and can create a gritty sauce. 
  2. Save the pasta water! It really does make a difference! The starchy cooking water is not the same as using regular water. 

Other Recipes to Try 

If you enjoy this easy broccoli Cheddar mac and cheese recipe, give these comfort foods a try and follow me on Instagram for more updates: 

Stovetop Broccoli Cheddar Mac and Cheese

Print Pin
Prep Time 5 mins
Cook Time 25 mins
Serves 4

Ingredients:

  • ½ pound shell pasta, or other pasta shape of choice
  • 3 cups roughly chopped broccoli
  • 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • 2 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 1 medium shallot, diced
  • ¼ cup all-purpose flour
  • cups whole milk
  • 2 cups shredded sharp Cheddar cheese
  • ¼ teaspoon cayenne
  • 1 teaspoon paprika
  • Kosher salt, as needed
  • Freshly ground black pepper, as needed

Instructions:

  • Heat a large pot of salted water to a boil over medium-high heat. Add the pasta and broccoli and cook until the noodles are al dente and the broccoli is tender, about 8 minutes.
  • Reserve 1 cup (240g) of the pasta cooking water. Drain the pasta and broccoli and return to the pot.
  • While the pasta cooks, heat a large saucepan over medium heat, add the oil and heat through. Add the butter and allow to melt, then add the shallots and sauté until tender, about 4 minutes.
  • Add the flour and cook, stirring constantly until the mixture is a pale golden color, about 1 minute. Whisk in the milk and bring to a simmer over medium-low heat. Continue to cook until thickened slightly, about 6 minutes.
  • Stir in the cheese until it’s melted into the sauce. Add the cayenne, paprika and season to taste with salt and pepper.
  • Pour the sauce over the noodles and stir to combine. Add the pasta cooking water, a little at a time to thin the sauce until creamy.
  • Ladle into warmed pasta bowls and serve.

DID YOU MAKE THIS?

TAG ME ON INSTAGRAM TO BE FEATURED ON MY STORIES! @cookingwithcocktailrings

Rate + Review

WHAT DID YOU THINK OF THIS RECIPE?

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Recipe Rating