Reduced-Fat Baked Macaroni and Cheese
Could we keep all the cheesy flavor and creamy texture but lose a significant amount of fat and calories?
Why This Recipe Works
When it comes to comfort foods, mac and cheese sits squarely at the top of the list. There's nothing quite like tender, bite-size pasta coated in a warm, gooey, cheesy sauce and baked with a crunchy topping of buttery bread crumbs. But with over 700 calories and a whopping 40 grams of fat per serving, the standard homemade mac and cheese is less than comforting to our waistlines. Could we keep all the cheesy flavor and creamy texture but lose a significant amount of fat and calories? It all came down to the right selection of milk and cheese. After a number of tests, we hit on low-fat evaporated milk, which gave us a richer, more velvety texture than skim, 1 percent, or 2 percent low-fat milk. Thickening the sauce with cornstarch, instead of the usual roux (a combination of butter and flour), also helped to keep our numbers in check. For the key ingredient, the cheese, we tried different varieties, ultimately landing on a good amount of shredded reduced-fat cheddar, which melted into a smooth coating for our pasta and allowed us to pack in big cheese flavor without a ton of fat. Panko bread crumbs, tossed with just a pat of butter, gave our mac and cheese a golden, crispy crown.