Take-out Tuesday, Lightened up Mac & Cheese

Have you ever made no boil macaroni and cheese~you know where you don’t cook the pasta first?  Well I have a great recipe for that but it’s full of fat and calories so I wanted to see if it would work in a lighter version.

lite mac and cheese thepaintedapron.com

The original recipe, No Boil Mac & Cheese calls for 4 % milk fat cottage cheese and 1 lb. of full fat sharp cheddar.  In this lightened up version, I used 4% milk fat cottage cheese and but cut the amount of cheese in half and substituted the full fat cheddar cheese for 2% cheddar.


This is so quick and easy, you won’t believe it!


Blend the cottage cheese with milk, nutmeg and mustard with an immersion blender.  You must get one if you don’t already have one, but you can use your food processor or regular blender.  The best part of an immersion blender is that it works directly in the bowl or pan you’re using, so there’s no extra machine to clean.  The blade quick disconnects and a rinse in hop soapy water and you are done!


Add the noodles and grated cheese to the milk mixture, season and stir.  Transfer to a cooking oil sprayed baking dish


This is a good time to add healthy Chia seeds if you want to use them


Stir well and bake at 350 covered for 30 minutes.  Uncover and bake for 30 minutes more or until golden

no boil mac and cheese thepaintedapron.com

Add some buttered breadcrumbs or panko when you uncover after 30 minutes if you want a crunchy topping.  You can see the little black dots of Chia, but it just looks like pepper~

lite no boil mac and cheese thepaintedapron.com

The pasta cooks perfectly and you eliminated that whole time consuming step!

mac and cheese thepaintedapron.com

I couldn’t tell any difference at all!  Except I felt a lot less guilty!  Not exactly diet food, but a step in the right direction!  I don’t know why you couldn’t swap the 4% milk fat cottage cheese for 2%, but I haven’t tried it that way.

lite mac and cheese thepaintedapron.com

My snowman plates are going away until next year at the end of this week…I sure am going to miss him winking at me!


Prep Time 10 minutes
Cook Time 1 hour
Course Side Dish
Cuisine American
Servings 6


  • 2 cups cottage cheese [4% fat]
  • 2 cups 2% milk
  • 1 tsp dijon mustard
  • dash cayenne
  • 1/2 tsp freshly grated nutmeg
  • 8 oz. 2% Sharp Cheddar grated [I like Cracker Barrel]
  • 8 oz elbow pasta uncooked [I used corkscrew macaroni]
  • 2 T chia seeds optional
  • salt and pepper to taste


  • In a food processor or blender, purée cottage cheese, milk, mustard, cayenne, nutmeg. Reserve 1/4 of the grated cheese for topping.
  • In a large bowl, combine remaining grated cheese, milk mixture and uncooked pasta.
  • Pour into prepared pan, cover tightly with foil and bake at 350 for 30 minutes.
  • Uncover pan, stir gently, sprinkle with reserved cheese. Bake, uncovered, 30 minutes more, until browned. Let cool 5 minutes before serving. 6 servings


You can make this ahead of time and just let it hang out in the refrigerator until you’re ready to bake. If you have left overs, drizzle a little milk or cream over to add some moisture for reheating.
Keyword BBQ chicken, pasta, do ahead, easy meal, one dish, cottage cheese, healthier mac & cheese, lite macaroni & cheese, mac & cheese



I will be joining these fabulous parties and blogs:

Foodie Friday

Love Bakes Good Cakes

Will Cook for Smiles

Four Seasons Blog Hop

The Gunny Sack

Miz Helen’s Country Cottage

12 Responses to “Take-out Tuesday, Lightened up Mac & Cheese”
  1. Love me some mac and cheese! We’re expecting 10″ of snow today… My snowmen are getting boxed up as soon as I see the first flake:@)

  2. Looks great Jenna! I was introduced to no bake mac and cheese while I was visiting my folks in December. Loved it and love your version with less calories! And you are so, so right about Immersion Blenders!! Couldn’t live without mine!

  3. Liz Mackie says:

    Thank you for the updated recipes. Happy Tuesday to ya!

    >________________________________ > From: the Painted Apron >To: lizzm@att.net >Sent: Tuesday, January 21, 2014 3:02 AM >Subject: [New post] Take-out Tuesday, Lightened up Mac & Cheese > > > WordPress.com >the Painted Apron posted: “Have you ever made no boil macaroni and cheese~you know where you don’t cook the pasta first? Well I have a great recipe for that but it’s full of fat and calories so I wanted to see if it would work in a lighter version. The original recipe, No B” >

  4. I love this comfort food – great thing to have a lighter option and I love the addition of chia seeds!

  5. Mary says:

    Jenna, I’ve never tried no boil mac & cheese! Love your lightened up version and I love my immersion blender!

  6. Miz Helen says:

    Jenna, I love Mac and Cheese and could sure use a lightened up version, can’t wait to give your recipe a try. Thanks so much for sharing with Full Plate Thursday and hope you have a great weekend!
    Miz Helen

  7. Kitty says:

    I love Mac and cheese, Jenna, and your lightened version sounds excellent! xo

  8. turnips 2 tangerines says:

    Wonderful Recipe!! I love Mac n Cheese any which way:) Thanks for sharing at Four Seasons Blog Hop~ Lynn

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