No Thanks
Keep In Touch With

Sign up and we'll send inspiration straight to you.

Martha Stewart takes your privacy seriously. To learn more, please read our Privacy Policy.

Lighter Macaroni and Cheese

To wit, these individual mac-and-cheese casseroles call for pungent Parmesan and extra-sharp cheddar, which means the noodles get away with less-than-usual amounts of cheese. Low-fat milk, chicken stock, and olive oil keep the sauce creamy.

  • Servings: 8
Lighter Macaroni and Cheese

Source: Martha Stewart Living, January 2006


  • 6 small vine-ripened tomatoes (3-inch) cut into 24 1/4-inch-thick slices
  • 3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons fresh thyme leaves, plus sprigs for sprinkling
  • Coarse salt and freshly ground pepper
  • 5 slices white sandwich bread, with crust
  • 2 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 1 pound elbow macaroni
  • 2 cups homemade or low-sodium store-bought chicken stock
  • 5 tablespoons all-purpose flour
  • Pinch of freshly grated nutmeg
  • Pinch of cayenne pepper
  • 2 cups low-fat (1 percent) milk
  • 8 ounces (about 2 1/4 cups) extra-sharp cheddar cheese, grated
  • 1 ounce (about 1/2 cup) Parmesan cheese, freshly grated


  1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Spread tomatoes in a single layer on 2 rimmed baking sheets. Drizzle each sheet with 1 tablespoon oil; sprinkle each with 1/2 teaspoon thyme, and season with salt and pepper. Bake until tomatoes have softened, about 20 minutes. (Leave oven on.)

  2. Process bread in a food processor until coarse crumbs form. Melt 1 tablespoon butter with remaining tablespoon oil in amedium skillet over medium heat. Add breadcrumbs, and toss to coat. Season with salt and pepper; set aside.

  3. Bring a large pot of water to a boil over high heat. Add 1 tablespoon salt and the pasta. Cook pasta until almost al dente, about 5 minutes. Drain, and run under cold water to stop cooking. Transfer to a large bowl; set aside.

  4. Whisk 1/2 cup stock into the flour in a medium bowl; set aside. Melt remaining tablespoon butter in a medium saucepan over medium heat. Stir in nutmeg, cayenne, remaining 1/2 teaspoon thyme, and 1 teaspoon salt. Add milk and remaining 1 1/2 cups stock. Whisk in flour mixture. Bring to a boil, whisking frequently. Reduce to a simmer. Cook 8 minutes, whisking frequently. Add cheeses; cook, stirring, until melted. Pour over macaroni, stirring to combine.

  5. Put eight 4 1/2-by-1 1/4-inch ramekins on a baking sheet. Put 2 tomato slices in bottom of each ramekin. Divide macaroni mixture evenly among ramekins. Top each with a tomato slice. Sprinkle with breadcrumbs and thyme sprigs. Bake until bubbling and golden brown, about 30 minutes. Serve immediately.

Reviews (41)

  • Conniehildebrand 1 Jan, 2012

    PLEASE include nutrition info....I'm a Weight Watcher.....

  • Yellowbirdy1 23 Jan, 2011

    What's up with the nutmeg? Nutmeg has a strong taste and I don't want it in my Mac and Cheese.

  • SuzieQ750 6 Jan, 2011

    I just put this into my Weight Watchers Recipe builder and it's 13 points. Not something I would call "lighter". I'm not sure what the bread is all about, I think the macaroni should be enough. You could probably do half of everything but that would still give you 4 servings.

  • karen44 5 Jan, 2010

    I completely agree about the need for nutritional information - especially for these recipes that are supposed to be "lighter." It's hard to judge how light they really are without information regarding calories/fat grams per serving.

  • Tahela 3 Dec, 2009

    how does one reduce the amount for smaller serving? there is only 2 of us. Don't like making this much up at one time.

  • swainky 12 Nov, 2009

    I agree. Nutritional information would be really helpful.

  • Julia17 12 May, 2009

    Can we get nutritional information for these online recipes, please?

  • MissLizMarie 24 Mar, 2009

    Never one to follow directions i took a few shortcuts on this recipe to accomodate with what i already had and it still turned out great. I used rye bread instead of white, didn't add cayenne or the tomatoes, and made it casserole style instead of individual ramekins. Add crushed red pepper-Delish!

  • tiffanyburns 28 Feb, 2009

    I make this with the Chicken Tenders with Creamy Mustard Sauce for one of my husband's favorite meals. We leave out the tomatoes because that just sounds gross! I also use boxed bread crumbs instead of making them. I like that this recipe tastes creamy but it's much healthier than regular macaroni and cheese! The thyme is a nice touch.

  • graceyang84 24 Feb, 2009

    Slightly bland. I think something needs to be added to give this recipe a little more bite.

  • jjeanniespets1 1 Feb, 2009

    I made this using skim milk and I have to say this recipe is delicious! I can't believe how good the cheese sauce got using skim milk and chicken stock! Amazingly good!

  • princesstiara 8 Jan, 2009

    this sounds fantastic! I am going to give it a try tonight!

  • jimsonly 3 Jan, 2009

    Mac n cheese/ Lighter? lighter than what? It would be better to skip it altogether. Only have as a treat, after your goal weight is obtained! It's not worth calories or damage to your diet!

  • Byzcook 1 Nov, 2008

    I made half a recipe which was just right for the two of us. It made two servings for dinner that night and two for a few days later. Served the second night with yellow beets roasted with garlic and shallots which made a really good rainy-day supper.

  • gracieb83 15 Oct, 2008

    This is soooo good. The chicken stock really adds somethin

  • gracieb83 15 Oct, 2008

    I'm trying this tonight. No, it's not LIGHT, but it's definitely lighter, making a few tweaks - fat free broth, whole wheat noodles, and skim milk brings it significantly under control, I'm also adding wilted swiss chard for a little more green and more veggies. I ended up with 370 cals, 21g of fat (10 saturated). Of course switching to lower fat cheese for part of it would also make a difference - but then what's the fun

  • karene 3 Oct, 2008

    it doesn't say light, it says lighter -- lighter than the first version of this same recipe that swims in melted cheese and so rich my husband wouldn't even eat it.
    This is a delicious recipe. We make it a lot. Good for pot lucks and dinner parties with kids.

  • ss2003 16 Sep, 2008

    This looks Delicious! I would love to have calorie counts and information info on these recipes. I've noticed in the Everyday Food magazine they are being added below the recipes on each page, and I LOVE that -- so much easier than hunting through the back of the magazine to see if the food is in my nutritional need range. I have to be very careful what I eat, and having nutritional information is very helpful.

  • corknut 6 Apr, 2008

    WOW! Not very light! I used the Living Cookbook software to calc. nutritional info.
    Amount Per Serving (Based on 8 servings)
    Calories 654.14
    Calories From Fat (72%) 468.74
    % Daily Value
    Total Fat 53.09g 82%
    Saturated Fat 14.62g 73%
    Cholesterol 44.78mg 15%
    Sodium 461.86mg 19%
    Carbohydrates 29.32g 10%
    Dietary Fiber 1.40g 6%
    Net Carbohydrates 27.92g
    Protein 16.17g 32%

  • maggyh 22 Mar, 2008

    do we dare ask for calorie counts or nutritional info on these recipes?

  • Pollie 7 Mar, 2008

    how long should I cook this in one bigger pan, about 9x13?

  • andreena 26 Feb, 2008

    OH yeah, LOTS of dishes to wash after!

  • andreena 26 Feb, 2008

    I made this last night. Store bought bread crums are a tasty alternative. I added bacon and it was mm mm GOOD!

  • ShellyIP 25 Feb, 2008

    Just made this for dinner, recipe was good, but wow,get ready for some dish pan hands. I washed 3 baking sheets, the food processor, a medium skillet, a large pot, a colander, a large bowl, a medium bowl, a medium sauce pan, a cheese grater, and eight ramekins. Whew!

  • cknight421 23 Feb, 2008

    I made this recipe a few days ago, let it sit in the fridge, than heated it up for lunch. It was fantastic, it was great, and it looked beautiful. I used asiago instead, and it did just fine. I also used cherry tomatoes, and cut them into thirds. The method for preparing the tomatoes and using fresh thyme gave it a real punch. We will make this again. We used to make mac and cheese out of the box, but I don't think we can go back. We also liked the idea that it was a lighter version.

  • grammababy 23 Feb, 2008

    Agree Mac 'n Cheese is comfort food ... live a little and decrease other foods. The tomato makes it a whole different dish. Grammababy

  • roserobin 22 Feb, 2008


  • KittyMary 22 Feb, 2008

    Macn'cheese is a comfort food. Using whole milk and cheese is the only way to go. How often do you eat it and portion control is another. Exercise will burn off those calories. Live alittle

  • kgrud 22 Feb, 2008

    lrt's face it - macn'cheese isn't on out 'eating plan' even with Martha's help. However, if you can stick to the portion size 490 calories can be traded off. Eat light for a couple of days or eat really light on the day you have the macn'cheese. Choices, choices.

  • anyalu 21 Feb, 2008

    Ten or eleven points seems quite high to be "light" considering most of us are aiming for about 20 points a day. This would have to be a day I'd be Craving this kind of food, and this would be a Trade-off against the Much Worse 'real thing'.

  • Dale55404 21 Feb, 2008

    Be careful. Making an already high carb dish low fat makes it even higher in carbs. Increasingly studies are showing that American's became fat from the low-fat craze that hit in the 70s. Just remember, the French eat fat and are thin. This recipe only uses low fat milk which is higher in carbs the whole milk or cream - so it's not terrible, but still know what you're getting into here......

  • janfre 21 Feb, 2008

    I feel it would be extremely helpful to have the Nutritional Facts listed with these wonderful recipes so that we could make informed decisions .


  • SueWho1946 12 Feb, 2008

    Weight Watchers would count each 4-1/2 X 1-1/4 ramekin serving as 11-1/2 points. I got this number down to 10 points by using double fiber bread instead of white sandwich bread and low fat cheddar cheese. Hope this answers Barnaby's comment.

  • TerriPayne 2 Jan, 2008

    My calorie analyzer gave slightly higher figures per serving. I use I got 545.8 kcal, 22.56 g protein, 21.54 g fat, 10.06 g sat fat, 65.46 g carbs, 44.83 mg cholesterol, 3.54 g dietary fiber, 469.98 g sodium. Lots of good vitamins and calcium, though, and while I wouldn't call it "light" it is, as proimsed, "lighter" than my family's favorite version of the same dish.

  • Taracotta 2 Jan, 2008

    According to my online recipe analyzer, this dish (using nonfat chicken stock) has 490 calories, 20.9 g of fat, 9.5 G saturated fat, 55.4 g carbs (6.3 sugar) and 20 g of protein.

  • barnaby 29 Dec, 2007

    Since I am a Weight Watcher could you supply the calorie count and the fat content with these recipes. This would help me immensely to count my points for the recipe. Thank you. I am anxious to try this Mac and Cheese.

  • traverlynn 27 Dec, 2007

    I would like to know the calorie content.

  • lumpy50 5 Dec, 2007

    Love M

  • VictoriaE 5 Dec, 2007

    Mac and cheese that doesn't come from a box - fantastic!

  • ninadelsol 11 Nov, 2007

    This is perfect for someone like me who loves mac and cheese but has trouble making smart eating choices; and it is really good too!

  • jenmcee 8 Nov, 2007

    This recipe is great. It's a great way to satisfy a craving with all the guilt!

Related Topics