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High Calorie and Protein Mac and Cheese (80g protein per serving)

Indulge in one of my favorite mac and cheese recipes, that uses 3 delicious cheeses. It’s creamy, savory and rich but on top of that, it’s very high protein and calories, making it perfect for a weight gain diet.

High protein and high calorie mac and cheese in a baking dish.

Ingredients

Macaroni: Use your favorite type of macaroni, I like to use elbow macaroni for this recipe. For a healthier alternative, you can use whole-grain pasta.

Butter: If possible, use grass-fed butter as it is richer in omega-3 fatty acids and vitamin K2 compared to regular butter.

All-Purpose Flour: This ingredient is essential for thickening the cheese sauce. It is sometimes referred to as plain flour.

Milk: The liquid base of your cheese sauce, milk helps achieve the creamy texture that defines this dish. Whole milk is recommended for the creamiest result and most calories, but low-fat can be used if preferred.

Cheddar: Use your favorite type of cheddar, whether it’s a mature cheddar for a stronger flavor or an orange cheddar for a milder taste and vibrant color.

Gouda: Adds a smooth, creamy texture and a slightly sweet, buttery flavor.

Parmesan: It brings a salty, savory element to the cheese sauce, enhancing the overall flavor profile.

Panko Breadcrumbs: These Japanese breadcrumbs are larger and more airy than traditional breadcrumbs, creating a crisper topping. If unavailable, regular breadcrumbs can be used as a substitute.

Elbow macaroni, butter, all-purpose flour, whole milk, cheddar cheese, gouda cheese, parmesan cheese, sea salt, and panko breadcrumbs portioned on a table.

Expert Tips

Cooking the Pasta: Cook your pasta just shy of al dente since it will continue to cook in the oven. This prevents the macaroni from becoming too soft during the baking process, ensuring it retains its texture in the final dish.

Protein Add-Ins: Add cooked chicken or turkey to the dish by cutting the meat into bite-sized pieces and folding it into the cheese sauce when you mix it with the pasta.

Incorporating Greens: To add a nutritional boost, stir in some spinach or kale after combining the macaroni with the cheese sauce. The greens will wilt slightly from the heat of the pasta and sauce, making them tender and a seamless addition to the dish.

Baked mac and cheese in a baking tray.

Flavor Enhancements: This mac and cheese recipe is versatile, and you can easily adjust its flavors to keep it exciting when having it in your dinner rotation. A teaspoon of white truffle oil can add a luxurious depth. Alternatively, a tablespoon of Dijon mustard introduces a tangy complexity that complements the creamy cheese. For a subtle smokiness, sprinkle in some paprika. These additions can be stirred into the cheese sauce before combining with the pasta, allowing the flavors to meld into the sauce.

Step by Step Instructions

Prepare the Pasta:

1) Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Cook the macaroni one minute less than the package instructions for al dente. Drain in a colander, rinse with cold water until cool, and set aside in the large pot covered with a lid.

Pasta in a pot on a kitchen table.

Preheat the Oven:

2) Preheat the oven to 350°F (180°C).

Make the Mac and Cheese:

3) In a separate large pot, melt butter over medium heat. Stir in the flour and cook for 2 minutes, continuously stirring with a wooden spoon or silicone spatula.

Flour and butter in a large pot.
A roux cooking in a large pot.

4) Gradually add milk, about one-third at a time, stirring constantly to prevent the sauce from burning. After adding half the milk, switch to a whisk for easier mixing.

Adding milk into a roux in a pot.
White sauce (bechamel sauce) in a pot with a wooden spoon.

5) Bring the mixture to a light simmer, then reduce the heat to very low. Gradually whisk in the cheddar, gouda, and parmesan cheeses until smooth and creamy. Taste and season with sea salt.

6) Stir the cooked macaroni into the cheese sauce, ensuring each piece is well coated.

Adding cheese into the white sauce.
High calorie and protein mac and cheese in a pot.

Bake (Optional):

7) Transfer the macaroni and cheese mixture to an ovenproof dish. Evenly sprinkle the panko breadcrumbs over the top.

8) Bake in the preheated oven for 25 to 30 minutes or until the top is golden brown and crispy.

Mac and cheese in a baking dish sprinkled with panko breadcrumbs.
Freshly baked mac and cheese on a table.

Storage and Leftovers

Refrigerator: Allow the high-protein mac and cheese to cool to room temperature, then transfer it into an airtight container and place it in the refrigerator. It will stay good for up to 4 days.

Freezing: For longer storage, you can freeze the mac and cheese. Place it in a freezer-safe container and it will keep well for up to 3 months. Thaw in the refrigerator overnight before reheating.

Reheating: To reheat, place the desired amount of mac and cheese in a microwave-safe dish. Cover with a microwave-safe lid or plastic wrap to trap steam and prevent drying out. Heat on medium power for about 2 minutes, then stir. Continue heating in 30 to 60 second intervals, stirring in between, until heated throughout.

A spoon of mac and cheese.

FAQs

Can I make this recipe non-baked?

Yes, you can enjoy this mac and cheese without baking it. Simply skip the step of transferring the macaroni and cheese mixture to an ovenproof dish and topping it with panko breadcrumbs. Serve it right after mixing the pasta with the cheese sauce for a creamy, stove-top version.

Can I just use cheddar in this recipe?

Absolutely, you can use only cheddar cheese if you prefer. For the best flavor, use a medium-sharp cheddar, as it provides a good balance of creaminess and tangy sharpness that complements the dish well.

How do I prevent the sauce from burning at the bottom of the pot?

To prevent the sauce from burning, cook it over gentle heat and be patient. Use a silicone spatula or a wooden spoon to stir the sauce continuously, especially scraping the bottom of the pot. This action helps prevent the flour from settling and burning.

How do I handle a burnt bottom in the pot while making cheese sauce?

If you find that the bottom of your pot has burned while cooking the cheese sauce, do not scrape the bottom. You can still use the sauce that’s above the burnt layer. Carefully pour out the cheese sauce into another pot and continue to make the mac and cheese.

More Recipes You May Like:

After being retested, this recipe was updated again on the 21st of May, 2024.

High protein and high calorie mac and cheese in a baking dish.

High Calorie and Protein Mac and Cheese

Indulge in one of my favorite mac and cheese recipes, that uses 3 delicious cheeses. It's creamy, savory and rich but on top of that, it's very high protein and high in calories, making it perfect for a weight gain diet.
No ratings yet
Prep Time 10 minutes
Cook Time 50 minutes
Total Time 1 hour
Course Main Course
Cuisine American
Servings 4
Calories 1676 kcal

Equipment

  • Large Pot
  • 1 Baking Dish ,optional

Ingredients
 
 

  • 1.1 lbs Elbow macaroni
  • 1 stick Butter
  • cup All purpose flour
  • 4 ¼ cups Whole Milk
  • 2 cups Cheddar freshly grated
  • 2 cups Gouda freshly grated
  • 1 cup Parmesan freshly grated
  • Sea Salt
  • ½ cup Panko breadcrumbs

Instructions
 

Cook the Pasta:

  • Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Cook the macaroni one minute less than the package instructions for al dente. Drain in a colander, rinse with cold water until cool, and set aside in the large pot covered with a lid.

Preheat the Oven:

  • Preheat the oven to 350°F (180°C).

Make the Cheese Sauce:

  • In a separate large pot, melt butter over medium heat. Stir in the flour and cook for 2 minutes, continuously stirring with a wooden spoon or silicone spatula.
  • Gradually add milk, about one-third at a time, stirring constantly to prevent the sauce from burning. After adding half the milk, switch to a whisk for easier mixing.
  • Bring the mixture to a light simmer, then reduce the heat to very low. Gradually whisk in the cheddar, gouda, and parmesan cheeses until smooth and creamy. Taste and season with sea salt.

Combine Pasta and Sauce:

  • Stir the cooked macaroni into the cheese sauce, ensuring each piece is well coated.

Bake (Optional):

  • Transfer the macaroni and cheese mixture to an ovenproof dish. Evenly sprinkle the panko breadcrumbs over the top.
  • Bake in the preheated oven for 25 to 30 minutes, or until the top is golden brown and crispy.

Notes

Tip to Avoid Burning: To prevent the sauce from burning, cook it over gentle heat and be patient. Use a silicone spatula or a wooden spoon to stir the sauce continuously, especially scraping the bottom of the pot. This action helps prevent the flour from settling and burning.
Adding additional protein: If you want to add additional protein like chicken or tofu, mix it into the cheese sauce with the pasta over medium-low heat. Once the protein is hot throughout, it’s ready to serve.

Nutrition

Calories: 1676kcalCarbohydrates: 131gProtein: 80gFat: 92gSaturated Fat: 56gPolyunsaturated Fat: 4gMonounsaturated Fat: 23gTrans Fat: 1gCholesterol: 300mgSodium: 1903mgPotassium: 920mgFiber: 5gSugar: 19gVitamin A: 2553IUCalcium: 1892mgIron: 4mg
The nutritional information provided is calculated using a Nutrition API, which totals the nutrition content of all the ingredients and divides it by the number of servings. These values are approximate and can vary depending on the preparation and origin etc.
Tried this recipe?Let us know how it was!

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