With two veggies right in the sauce, this Hidden Veggie Mac and Cheese is a favorite fast kids dinner. (Try having the kids make it with you and watch the veggies disappear in the blender when you make the sauce!)

Hidden veggie mac and cheese in two white bowls.

Hidden Veggie Mac and Cheese

I love the convenience of boxed mac and cheese and also how easy it is to make from scratch with extra vegetables. Both are great options to use as easy kids meals (or meals for the entire family). This one comes together in less than 30 minutes, uses two veggies in the mix, and has a seriously easy cooking method.

The sauce is easy to blend up and I love to have the kids do it with me so they know what they’re eating. I never want to lie or trick the kids because we don’t want to break their trust, and it can build up their food confidence if we default to being honest. And this recipe is a great way to normalize using veggies to add creaminess to a favorite pasta recipe!

You can make this healthy mac and cheese recipe with any type of pasta you like, though I love using elbows or small shells.

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Ingredients You Need

Below is a look at the ingredients needed to make this pasta recipe for kids so you know what to have on hand and ready to go.

Ingredients for hidden veggie mac and cheese on countertop.
  • Cauliflower florets: You can use fresh or frozen cauliflower florets. If starting with a whole head of cauliflower, cut it up so it’s easy to measure.
  • Sweet potato: I usually peel a fresh sweet potato here, but you can also use cubed frozen. This adds a hint of creaminess and a pleasant flavor to the cheese sauce.
  • Milk: I cook and bake with whole milk, which also helps the sauce be creamy and delicious. If you typically have a lower-fat milk in the house, that’s also fine.
  • Yellow or white cheddar cheese: The vegetables in this sauce make it light orange in color, so you can make it more vivid with yellow or orange cheese, or lighter with white cheese.
  • Butter: I use unsalted butter in my cooking so that’s what I use here. Salted butter is also fine, you just may not need to add salt later.
  • Pasta: You can use any type of pasta your family prefers in this recipe.

Step-by-Step Instructions

Here’s a preview of how to make this recipe so you know what to expect from the process. Scroll down to the end of this post for the full recipe, including the amounts and timing.

how to make hidden veggie mac and cheese in grid of images.
  1. Prep your veggies.
  2. Cook the veggies until just soft and transfer to a blender.
  3. Add the milk, cheese, and butter to the blender with the veggies.
  4. Puree until completely smooth.
  5. Meanwhile, bring the water back to a boil and cook the pasta according to package directions. Drain and return to the pot.
  6. Stir in the cheese sauce, season to taste with salt, and serve warm.
how to make hidden veggie mac and cheese in grid of images (1).

How to Store

Store any leftovers in an airtight container and heat for 30-60 seconds in the microwave to warm.

You can also make the sauce ahead of time and store it in a jar in the fridge for up to 5 days, or add to a freezer container and freeze for a future week.

Hidden veggie mac and cheese in white bowl.

Best Tips for Success

  • To make this for 6-8 people, simply double all the amounts using a full pound of pasta. You can also add more cheese if you’d like.
  • Use the type of pasta your family prefers, whether whole wheat, gluten-free, bean-based, or traditional.
  • Try serving the cheese sauce as a dipping sauce for other cooked veggies, like my Roasted Frozen Broccoli.
  • Use orange cheese for the most vivid orange color.
  • Use dairy-free cheese and vegan butter if needed.

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Hidden veggie mac and cheese in two white bowls.

Hidden Veggie Mac and Cheese

With two veggies right in the sauce, this Hidden Veggie Mac and Cheese is a favorite kids dinner. (Try having the kids make it with you and watch the veggies disappear!)
5 from 18 votes
Prep Time 10 minutes
Cook Time 20 minutes
Total Time 30 minutes
Cuisine American
Course Dinner
Calories 152kcal
Servings 4

Ingredients

  • ½ cup cauliflower florets
  • ½ cup sweet potato (peeled and cubed)
  • ½ cup milk
  • ¾ cup grated yellow or white cheddar cheese
  • 2 tablespoons butter
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • ¼ teaspoon garlic powder (optional)
  • 8 ounces pasta

Instructions

  • Bring a large pot of water to a boil over medium-high heat.
  • Add the cauliflower and sweet potato and cook for about 10 minutes or until soft when poked with a fork. Use a large slotted spoon to transfer the veggies to a blender, draining off all the liquid.
  • Add the milk, cheese, butter, salt, and garlic powder, if using, to the blender with the veggies and puree until completely smooth.
  • Meanwhile, bring the water back to a boil and cook the pasta according to package directions. Drain and return to the pot.
  • Stir in the cheese sauce, season to taste with additional salt, if needed, and serve warm.

Notes

  • Serve any leftovers in an airtight container and heat for 30-60 seconds in the microwave to warm. If the pasta has firmed up, sprinkle with a little milk, then stir once warmed through. Or make the sauce up to 5 days in the fridge and warm briefly before stirring into cooked pasta. 
  • You can also freeze the sauce in a freezer container or ice cube tray and thaw or warm for future use.
  • To make this for 6-8 people, simply double all the amounts using a full pound of pasta. You can also add more cheese if you’d like.
  • Try serving the cheese sauce as a dipping sauce for other cooked veggies, like my Roasted Frozen Broccoli.
  • Use orange cheese for the most vivid orange color.
  • Use dairy-free cheese and vegan butter if needed.
  • This is delicious paired with cooked mild Italian sausage or Baked Chicken Tenders.
  • Use the type of pasta your family prefers, whether whole wheat, gluten-free, bean-based, or traditional.

Nutrition

Calories: 152kcal, Carbohydrates: 8g, Protein: 7g, Fat: 11g, Saturated Fat: 7g, Polyunsaturated Fat: 1g, Monounsaturated Fat: 3g, Trans Fat: 1g, Cholesterol: 32mg, Sodium: 464mg, Potassium: 359mg, Fiber: 2g, Sugar: 4g, Vitamin A: 4299IU, Vitamin C: 11mg, Calcium: 201mg, Iron: 1mg
Tried this recipe?Rate in the comments and tag @yummytoddlerfood on IG!

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Comments

  1. 5 stars
    This was delicious! My kids who rarely deviate from their box mac and cheese really enjoyed this! Thankfully I doubled the sauce for freezer leftovers.

  2. 5 stars
    This was so easy to make and my 10 month old loved it she already love mac and cheese so was awesome to find a recipe with veggies

  3. 5 stars
    My issue with mac & cheese is that my son doesn’t finish a whole recipe and so then I save leftovers, but the cheese gets grainy when reheated/not smooth, and he won’t eat it like that. How can I fix this?

    1. With this one, it smooths out for me when I add a little milk to the bowl with the leftovers, the stir it together once warm. Or, you can store the sauce separately in the fridge or freezer and stir it in to warm pasta later.

    1. It could be fine but the color would be a little odd with orange and green blended together potentially.