The ultimate makeover: Macaroni cheese

The ultimate makeover: Macaroni cheese

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(20 ratings)

Prep: 30 mins Cook: 35 mins


Serves 4
A lighter version of this favourite comfort food dish, that doesn't compromise on flavour

Nutrition and extra info

  • Vegetarian


  • kcal503
  • fat19g
  • saturates11g
  • carbs62g
  • sugars14g
  • fibre3g
  • protein26g
  • salt1.15g
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  • 550ml semi-skimmed milk
  • 25g cornflour
  • 1 heaped tsp English mustard powder
  • 1 large garlic clove, finely chopped
  • generous pinch crushed dried chillies



    Part of the capsicum family, chillies come in scores of varieties and colours (from green…

  • 140g extra mature cheddar, such as Davidstow or Denhay
  • 25g parmesan



    Parmesan is a straw-coloured hard cheese with a natural yellow rind and rich, fruity flavour. It…

  • 25g fresh breadcrumbs
  • 450g/1lb mix of tomatoes, such as cherry and vine tomatoes



    A member of the nightshade family (along with aubergines, peppers and chillies), tomatoes are in…

  • 1 bunch spring onions, ends trimmed
    Spring onions

    Spring onion

    sp-ring un-yun

    Also known as scallions or green onions, spring onions are in fact very young onions, harvested…

  • 200g macaroni
  • 150ml buttermilk
    Buttermilk pancake mixture in bowl with whisk



    There are two types of buttermilk. Traditional buttermilk is a thin, cloudy, slightly tart but…


  1. Mix 3 tbsp of milk with the cornflour and mustard, set aside. Heat the rest of the milk with the garlic until just coming to boil. Remove from the heat, sprinkle in the crushed chillies and leave to infuse.

  2. Get everything else ready. Coarsely grate both cheeses, keeping them separate. Mix a handful of the cheddar into the breadcrumbs with a grinding of pepper. Thickly slice the medium tomatoes and halve the cherry. Finely slice the spring onions. Heat oven to 190C/fan 170C/gas 5.

  3. Bring a pan of water up to the boil, tip in the macaroni, give it a stir so it doesn’t stick, then cook for 6 mins, stirring occasionally. Stir in the spring onions and cook for another 2 mins. Meanwhile, make the sauce. Stir the cornflour mix into the warm milk. Return the pan to the heat, then bring to the boil, stirring, until thickened and smooth. Remove from the heat and stir in the Parmesan, most of the remaining cheddar and some pepper to taste. Stir in the buttermilk.

  4. Tip the macaroni into a colander, drain, then hold under a very hot tap to keep it all separate. Drain well, then stir into the sauce. Pour into an ovenproof dish, about 30 x 20 x 5.5cm deep. Lay the tomatoes over the top then scatter over the cheesy breadcrumbs, the rest of the cheese and a grating of pepper. Bake for about 15 mins until starting to bubble around the edges. Grill for about 5 mins until the top is crisp and well browned. Let sit for a few mins to settle before serving.

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Comments, questions and tips

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21st Jan, 2019
Not enough macaroni to sauce in my opinion
13th Jan, 2019
I can see why some people haven't liked this recipe as it is less voluptuous than you would expect a cheese sauce to be, but it's lower calorie so to be expected. I added a handful more cheese to my version and I think it's necessary to use a very strong, good quality cheese. If I make it again I will also use a little more cornflour (maybe half again!?) to thicken it. I didn't use the buttermilk.
20th Jan, 2013
Lacked flavour apart from garlic and sauce disappointing. Used oatmeal instead of breadcrumbs with seeds. That was good
8th Jan, 2013
Haven't made this yet but reading it through the obvious thing she hasn't done is to use wholewheat pasta.
4th Jul, 2013
Cannot get wholewheat macroni easily that it probably why it was not in recipe! Sauce looks too runny too! Will stick to my own version of macroni cheese I think as it uses less milk and pureed sweetpotato in the sauce which makes it so creamy.
19th Oct, 2012
3.05 but more effort daughter liked it
19th Aug, 2012
Forgot to add- I use a little over half (approx 18g) of cornflour to help thicken the sauce.
18th Aug, 2012
Have made this countless times for my husband and myself it's so tasty . I leave out the buttermilk and just add the same quantity in milk instead. Also add a little more mustard (2tsp) for more depth. It's a firm favourite.
23rd May, 2012
Made this for a veggie friend and she loved it. There was quite alot of prep, and I thought the cheese sauce turned out runnier after cooking, so would let it thicken more before baking next time - or maybe add more cheese!
3rd Mar, 2012
Very tasty but I think next time I would reduce the amount of buttermilk as it made the sauce too sloppy for my liking. Had to add extra cheese to thicken which defeats the object of a lower calorie meal. Will make again though.


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