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Easy Weeknight Dinners for Family (One-Pot Mac and Cheese)

The method on this One-Pot Mac and Cheese recipe is streamlined to cut down on dish washing. Add the optional spices for more flavor if you like! Double it to make more.
Course Dinner
Cuisine American
Prep Time 5 minutes
Cook Time 20 minutes
Total Time 25 minutes
Servings 4 -6
Calories 475kcal


  • 2 cups milk (I use whole milk)
  • 1 1/2 cups reduced sodium chicken or vegetable broth (or water)
  • 8 ounces elbow or mini shell pasta
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 10 ounces frozen broccoli or peas (optional)
  • 1 cup shredded cheddar cheese (feel free to double this to make it even cheesier)
  • 1 tablespoon unsalted butter
  • 1 tablespoon cream cheese
  • 1/4 teaspoon onion powder (optional)


  • Add the broth and milk to a large pot set over high heat. Bring just to a boil, then reduce to medium-high.
  • Stir in the pasta and salt, and simmer for 10-12 minutes, stirring occasionally or until the pasta is just soft. (The liquid will not be totally absorbed and that is okay—it will be by the end of the process!)
  • Meanwhile, steam or otherwise warm the broccoli or peas if using. Drain. Cut up the broccoli, if using.
  • Turn the heat off under the pasta and stir the cheese, broccoli. butter, cream cheese, and salt into the mixture. Taste and season with additional salt as needed. Serve.



  • Store in an airtight container in the fridge for 3-5 days. Warm for 30-60 seconds, or until warmed through, in the microwave.
  • The size of the pasta you use may alter the cooking time slightly. This recipe was tested with elbow pasta, so any kind that's a similar size should work the same.
  • I prefer to use steam-in-the-bag frozen broccoli to cut down on pots, but you can also steam fresh or regular frozen broccoli florets in a pot fitted with a steamer basket. 
  • This is very filling, so I usually don't make a full pound of pasta. If you'd like to, you can click the "2x" in the recipe card to adjust it up.
  • Add the optional spices to add more flavor as desired. Adults may also like to top their serving with crushed red pepper or hot sauce.
  • See the post for more easy dinner ideas.


Calories: 475kcal | Carbohydrates: 55g | Protein: 22g | Fat: 19g | Saturated Fat: 11g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 1g | Monounsaturated Fat: 5g | Trans Fat: 1g | Cholesterol: 53mg | Sodium: 584mg | Potassium: 622mg | Fiber: 4g | Sugar: 9g | Vitamin A: 1058IU | Vitamin C: 63mg | Calcium: 395mg | Iron: 2mg