Mascarpone is a superstar ingredient for macaroni and cheese, allowing you to make a lusciously thick and creamy sauce without a roux. This is the easiest one pot stovetop mac and cheese recipe I’ve ever made, and so tasty and adaptable.
So I have a new favorite way to make mac and cheese, and it’s a one pot recipe too! It’s easy enough to pull together for dinner on a hectic evening (And I don’t say that lightly… I have a 5 and a 3 year old so I know hectic evenings!) without any compromise on taste.
It’s adaptable too! I am giving you a base recipe which you can follow for a quick and easy dinner solution, or you can lean into the extra luxurious texture mascarpone brings to the table, give it some upgrades, and make something that feels gourmet.
Why use mascarpone in mac and cheese?
Mascarpone cheese is really thick, so it can make the kind of substantial sauce you expect from mac and cheese. This means you don’t need to make a roux, you can simply melt the mascarpone into the pasta with some milk to thin it out, and add the cheese from there.
Mascarpone has an extremely high fat content, which means it is SO creamy and luscious. It also has a slight sweetness about it that I like too. Some mac and cheese leans more to the tangy side, but this has a slightly different background flavor that is quite nice, though the final flavor will depend on the cheeses you choose. You’ll get more of a sweet mascarpone vibe if you use mild cheeses, and if you go for the strong stuff you will overpower that but still benefit from the texture.
How to make this in one pot
I’ve done one pot mac and cheese recipes before, the kind where you cook the macaroni in the milk to form a starchy milky base to add the cheese to. With that method, the pot needs to be watched closely throughout, and it doesn’t keep as well because all the starch in the sauce compromises the texture once it cools down.
This mascarpone mac and cheese has no such issues! We cook the macaroni as normal. Drain it, put it back in the pan, and then make the sauce around it. It is amazingly simple.
If you’ve come to this recipe for the quick and easy dinner solution, here are some simple ways to round it to a fuller, healthier meal:
- Add peas or frozen veggies, though if you do this I encourage you to reduce the pasta by a similar volume so that the sauce still stretches far enough.
- Mix a few handfuls of spinach at the end, until they just wilt.
If you’ve come to this recipe wanting something more interesting and gourmet, here are some ideas for you:
- Drizzle in a little truffle oil.
- Add some toasted herby breadcrumbs.
- Top with roasted wild mushrooms or roasted broccoli.
- Try adding blue cheese if you enjoy the flavor, or any other cheeses you love.
- Top it with slow roasted cherry tomatoes (try making the tomatoes from this recipe)
More recipes with mascarpone
Mascarpone Mac & Cheese
- 210 g (2 cups) dry macaroni
- 160 g (1.5 cups) cheddar cheese, grated
- 50 g (0.5 cups) parmesan or other Italian hard cheese*, grated
- 0.5 tsp dijon mustard
- ⅛ tsp smoked paprika
- 6 Tbsp mascarpone
- 250 ml (1 cups) whole milk, you might not use all of it
- Boil your macaroni according to package instructions, draining it just before it's ready (it will continue to cook as you make the sauce in the pan, so it's worth draining a little early so it doesn't get overcooked). Return the drained macaroni to the same pan.
- Add the mascarpone, and melt it through over very low heat.
- Add some of the milk – just a few tablespoons initially – and mix through until you have a fairly loose sauce. You want it to be a little runny at this stage. Set the remaining milk aside.
- Add the mustard and smoked paprika and mix through.
- Finally, add the cheese. It's best to add it in 2-3 batches. Stir through, allowing it to melt in and create a sauce. Continue adding splashes of milk if it starts to feel too thick or dry, it often will because it's still on the heat so liquid is evaporating a little.
- Once the cheese is all melted and the sauce is thick and creamy, remove from the heat and serve immediately.