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Lighter Creamy Mac & Cheese

posted by Julie Evink on January 3, 2014

Lighter Creamy Mac & Cheese ~ Creamy homemade Mac & Cheese lightened up but stacked with cheesiness!

Lighter Creamy Mac & Cheese ~ Creamy homemade Mac & Cheese lightened up but stacked with cheesiness!

We are officialy on the 3rd day of 2014. How’s that resolution holding up? Did you make one?

I’m not big on the resolution situation. I’m not going to lie. Sure, I promise myself to get back on the bandwagon to eat a wee bit more healthy than I have the last week or so, but really that’s just a normal thing for me. I indulge a little more than I should and I have to reign myself back in and get control again.

Please tell me I’m not the only one like this? The problem is that I don’t like to eat food that tastes like it’s a little bit better for me than the full-fat version. I’m thinking you are nodding your head in agreement about right now!

Lighter Creamy Mac & Cheese ~ Creamy homemade Mac & Cheese lightened up but stacked with cheesiness!That’s when we enter in the amazing Lightened Up Mac & Cheese. I’m still dreaming of it. Want to know why? It’s a bit lighter than the full fat version because it doesn’t have cream and uses chicken broth instead, but it’s still ooey, gooey and cheesy! 

Plus it has garlic in it. And I’m saying you can taste the garlic. It’s not just some random ingredient. Is this scaring you off? Don’t let it! It’s pure amazingness! Just get a breath mint after you it it!

If you are trying to stay on the “healthier” eating bandwagon this New Year then this is the perfect dish for you. I promise you won’t even know you are eating better, my hubby sure didn’t!


Lightened Up Mac & Cheese

Preparation 25 minutes Cook Time 5 minutes Serves 8 servings     adjust servings


  • 3 c. shell macaroni
  • 2 Tbsp canola oil
  • 3 garlic cloves, crushed
  • 2 1/4 c. unsalted chicken stock, divided
  • 1/2 c. skim milk
  • 8 Tbsp all-purpose flour
  • 4 oz 1/3-less-fat cream cheese
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/4 tsp ground black pepper
  • 3/4 c. extra-sharp cheddar cheese, shredded


  1. Preheat broiler to high.
  2. Cook pasta according to directions ommitting any salt and fat called for in directions. Drain and set aside.
  3. Meanwhile heat skillet over medium heat. Add canola oil to pan, swirling to coat pan. Add garlic to pan and cook about 3 minutes until garlic is fragrant, but do not brown garlic. Stir frequently. Stir in 1 c. chicken stock and bring to a boil. Boil for 1 minutes.
  4. In a mixing bowl combine the rest of the stock, milk and flour. Whisk until flour is dissolved. Add milk mixture to the garlic mixture in skillet. Stir with whisk and bring to a boil. Bowl for about 3 minutes or until mixture thickens. Remove from heat and add cream cheese, salt and pepper stirring until cream cheese is melted and mixture is smooth.
  5. Add cheese mixture to pasta in saucepan stirring until coated. Let stand 5 minutes. Pour mixture into 2 quart baking dish coating with cooking spray. Sprinkle cheddar cheese on top. Broil for 3-5 minutes or until cheese is melted and just starting brown. Let stand 5 minutes before serving.


Nutrition Facts
Serving Size
Amount Per ServingAs Served
Calories 315kcal Calories from fat 117
% Daily Value
Total Fat 13g20%
Saturated Fat 5g25%
Transfat 0g
Cholesterol 27mg9%
Sodium 296mg12%
Carbohydrate 38g13%
Dietary Fiber 2g8%
Sugars 2g
Protein 11g

Percent Daily Values are based on a 2,000 calorie diet. Your daily values may be higher or lower depending on your calorie needs:

Total FatLess than65g
Sat FatLess than25g
CholesterolLess than300mg
SodiumLess than2,400mg
Total Carbohydrate300g
Dietary Fiber25g

Adapted from: Cooking Light

Looking for more lighter recipes?

 Skinny Coffee Cake Muffins ~ Amazing muffins that are a little on the lighter side and taste like the "real" thing!

Skinny Coffee Cake Muffins

Shrimp Penne with Garlic Sauce ~ Amazing and easy plus it's lightened up!

Shrimp Penne with Garlic Sauce

Cilantro Mesquite BBQ Chicken Taquitos ~ Baked Taquitos filled with Mesquite Chicken, BBQ Sauce, Pepper Jack Cheese, and Cilantro. Baked until crisp and topped with Sea Salt!

Cilantro Mesquite BBQ Chicken Taquitos

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  • Stephanie @ PlainChicken

    Definitely giving this a try!

  • Zainab @ Blahnik Baker

    You are definitely not alone. I am not big on resolutions either. I indulge a bit and cut back. It’s all about balancing. And I do not give up on taste which is why this Mac and Cheese is making me drool!! Love that it is lighter and still tastes so indulgent! Pinned.

    • Julie Evink

      YES! So true, but I need to work the on the indulging a “little” bit 🙂

  • Kate@Diethood

    Bring on the garlic – this sounds SO GOOD!! I love my mac ‘n cheese, but a lighter version of it will allow me to have at least one more serving! 😉

  • Natasha

    mac and cheese,my fav!!

    I would love it if you would share these on my weekly link party – Serenity Saturday at

    Natasha @ Serenity You

  • LB

    This should be Boil not Bowl, right? 🙂
    “Bowl for about 3 minutes or until mixture thickens.”

    This looks really good! I will have to make it soon 🙂

  • Heather @ French Press

    holy YUM Julie – why haven’t I added garlic to my mac and cheese before …duh

    • Julie Evink

      Epic huh?! I don’t know why I didn’t try it before! But I love me some garlic!

  • Chrissy

    Looks yummy! I love your baking dish! Beautiful!

  • Julie @ This Gal Cooks

    Great Mac n cheese recipe, Julie! I’ve done Mac n cheese with cream cheese before. It definitely kicks up the creamy factor! Thanks for sharing!

  • Anne ~ Uni Homemaker

    I am a sucker for mac & cheese and I love the “skinny” version of this. I won’t feel as guilty having seconds. 😉 Thanks for sharing Julie and Happy New Year!

  • Trish - Mom On Timeout

    Looks amazing Julie! Loving how creamy it is 🙂 Pinned!

  • Jen @ Yummy Healthy Easy

    Oh. Em. Gee. This looks fantastic!! Wow, Julie. You’ve really outdone yourself. Pinned!

  • Cathy@LemonTreeDwelling

    I love how you lightened this up! I’ve never actually made mac & cheese fully from scratch…might be time to change that!

    • Julie Evink

      YES! Start with this recipe….especially if you like some garlic flavor. It was awesome!

  • Stephanie @ Macaroni and Cheesecake

    I am all about lightened up comfort food and this mac & cheese looks incredible!

  • Lisa @ Cooking with Curls

    Wow, that Mac & Cheese looks so creamy and delicious ! Thank you so much for sharing with us at Best of the Weekend. 🙂

  • hillary

    i added spinach and used coconut milk instead of skim! yumm

    • Julie Evink

      Great ways to alter the recipe Hillary!

  • Alison

    I have a question. Is it really only 3 cups of pasta? Doesnt seem like very much. I am actually making it as we speak (waiting for water to boil) and I wanted to ask before I make it! A little last minute, I know :/

  • Jenn

    My goodness. . . I am dying to try this.

  • Jen and Emily @ Layers of Happiness

    This looks awesome! Sometimes lighten up recipes can get a little iffy on the taste/texture – but this mac and cheese looks like all the comfort and flavor you could ever ask for! Totally going to try this asap!! Pinned 🙂

  • Sally

    Really looks yummy :)))

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