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Lighter Three-Cheese Mac

  • prep: 20 mins
    total time: 45 mins
  • servings: 6




  • Salt and pepper
  • 1/2 pound short tubular pasta, such as cavatappi
  • 2 cups broccoli, cut into florets, stalks peeled and thinly sliced
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 small yellow onion, minced
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground mustard
  • 5 tablespoons all-purpose flour
  • 5 ounces Neufchatel cheese
  • 3 cups 1% milk
  • 1 1/4 cups grated extra-sharp cheddar cheese (5 ounces)
  • 1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese (2 ounces)
  • 1/4 cup panko breadcrumbs, toasted

Cook's Note

Recipe Makeover!
A serving of mac and cheese can pack up to 800 calories and 40 grams of fat. We whittled those numbers way down by subbing 1% milk for whole and creamy Neufchatel for higher-fat cheeses. Broccoli adds substance and vitamins.


  1. Step 1

    Preheat oven to 350 degrees. In a large pot of boiling salted water, cook pasta 3 minutes less than package instructions. Add broccoli and cook 3 minutes more. Drain.

  2. Step 2

    Meanwhile, heat oil in a large pan over medium-high. Add onion, 1/2 teaspoon salt, and ground mustard. Saute until onion is translucent, about 4 minutes. Add flour and cook, stirring, 1 minute. Add Neufchatel, 1 tablespoon at a time, stirring until incorporated. Gradually whisk in milk, then bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer, about 3 minutes, stirring constantly. Stir in cheddar and Parmesan, then add pasta and broccoli. Season with salt and pepper.

  3. Step 3

    Transfer to an 8-inch square baking dish and bake until bubbling in center, about 25 minutes. Sprinkle with panko, and serve.

Martha Stewart Living, March 2013



Reviews (10)

  • MirToniR 20 Aug, 2014

    Great recipe! Only a couple of minor changes to the ingredients - fat free milk for 1% milk and cream cheese for Neufchatel cheese (was not able to find it this time) Turned out so creamy and delicious! Really liked the addition of the broccoli too. Would definitely make again!

  • cedens 10 Apr, 2013

    This was great! I swapped the broccoli for kale as it was what I had(followed same instructions) and it was fantastic!

  • frankpaul 25 Mar, 2013

    Made this for dinner last night and it was amazing! I used Barilla Cellentani for the pasta, Camembert cheese instead of Neufchatel and a grated Parmesan Romano blend instead of just technically it was 4 cheese...delicious, will make this again! Might also roast some tomatoes next time and serve them on the side.

  • TheCookie 21 Mar, 2013

    I love Sarah, but she really needs a professional to do her hair. She's cute and a pro-style will bring out the best.

  • JennVincent 18 Mar, 2013

    This dish was a hit chez moi, including with my 14-month-old. A few adjustments: I steamed the broccoli, I used a bit of cream cheese instead of elusive Neufch√Ętel and whole wheat bowtie pasta instead of the white stuff, and I added some chopped roasted red pepper for an additional colour and nutrient punch.

  • ladyjane333 18 Mar, 2013

    You have lightened it how many calories and grams of fat are in your version of this mac and cheese?

  • mommyveg 18 Mar, 2013

    Sarah, when are you going to do a VEGAN mac and cheese? We're waiting for it! Show us how easy it is to avoid animal products (cholesterol, cruelty, etc). Thanks!

  • Gemmylil 18 Mar, 2013

    Can't wait to try this recipe! My Mac and cheese always comes out dry. I mean it, every time!

  • teachernanburger 18 Mar, 2013

    Oops! I see that you already show how many servings per recipe!

  • teachernanburger 18 Mar, 2013

    I love your recipes, Sarah! I've tried a lot of them and they're all so delicious and easy to make! Can't wait to try the mac and cheese too!

    Just wondering - would you ever consider putting the nutrition information on the recipes? Also, how many people each recipe serves? That would be SO helpful!

    Thanks again - for your spunky, fun videos. It makes my day when I see one of your recipe videos in my inbox!