Mac and cheese can be considered one of the easiest recipes that are easy to prepare without any hassle.
The main ingredients required for this recipe are just pasta, milk or cream, butter, cheddar cheese (or any other cheese), salt, and pepper.
This food has been loved by kids and adults alike due to its rich taste, and, on top of that, this particular recipe is pretty versatile in terms of ingredients.
The pasta can be substituted with any other kind you have handy at home or if you want a change but still use pasta, try using bow tie pasta or rotini instead of elbow macaroni.
That being said, many people often wonder how to thicken mac and cheese.
The thickening issue comes when you want to make a creamy gravy-like sauce for your pasta dish without using any milk or cream.
In this article, you’ll learn about the easiest way to thicken mac and cheese.
In fact, you’ll also learn how to make a thicker sauce without having to use any other ingredients than what was already listed above in this recipe.
Common Mistakes When Making Mac and Cheese?
The most common mistakes people make when they try to prepare this particular recipe include the following:
Not cooking macaroni long enough – This is a very simple mistake that can be avoided by simply boiling your pasta in plenty of salted water and then draining it once it’s cooked.
That way, you’ll know whether your pasta is cooked or not.
Not stirring mac and cheese after adding flour – This particular mistake is made to avoid clumping, but the fact of the matter is that you shouldn’t be tempted to mix your pasta too much (if at all) with a spoon or spatula as this will make it pasty instead of creamy.
Not using enough cheese – Many recipes will tell you to end up with 1/2 pound of cheddar cheese for 4 cups of macaroni.
Still, a pound is actually sufficient and will give you the right flavor if your stove isn’t very hot (but nevertheless still keeps the dish creamy).
Not waiting long enough for the cheese to melt – If you are using a crockpot, then it will take 4 to 6 hours for your dish to turn outright, but if you use the stovetop method (which is more convenient), then you’ll need around 30 minutes.
Using too much flour – This mistake should be avoided at all costs, especially if you do not intend to make a roux to thicken your dish.
Alternatively, you can use cornstarch instead of flour.
How to Thicken Mac and Cheese?
Mac and cheese are usually served with a tomato sauce and crumbled or cubed bacon which gives the dish a salty and smoky flavor, but sometimes you might want to make your mac and cheese more creamy for it to have that gravy-like quality.
The good thing is that doing so isn’t very hard at all. So how do you thicken mac and cheese?
1 – Using Cornstarch
If you want to make your mac and cheese thicker, the easiest way to do so is by using cornstarch.
All you have to do is add a quarter cup of flour (or corn starch) directly into your pan when the pasta is done cooking.
If using corn starch, you’ll need to add a quarter cup of cold water.
Make sure that you mix the corn starch (or flour) into the cheese using a whisk rather than using your hands or a spoon because if you do so, it will start turning pasty and clump up.
After that is done, let your pasta rest for about 5 minutes so that the cheese will be able to set and thicken, but make sure not to overcook your pasta while doing so.
Finally, serve your macaroni with a spoonful of tomato sauce and some crumbled bacon on top.
You can also add more cheese if you like as well.
2 – Using Ricotta Cheese
Another way to thicken mac and cheese without using a roux or corn starch is by using ricotta cheese.
If you are making your own, then all you’ll need is 1-2 cups of milk, 2 tbsp of butter, salt to taste, and some vegetable oil for greasing the pan.
However, if buying store-bought, you’ll need to use 1-2 cups of ricotta cheese as a substitution for the milk and butter combination.
Add the cheese into the boiling pasta once it is done cooking, and then let it simmer on low heat until most of the water evaporates while still stirring occasionally, but not too much to avoid pasting your mac and cheese.
3 – Using a Roux
While it is possible to thicken mac and cheese using cornstarch or ricotta, then the most traditional option (if you are really into making that southern style of Mac and Cheese) will use a roux (like in gravy).
You’ll only need 1 tbsp of butter for this method, and make sure to whisk it together with a quarter cup of flour so that it doesn’t clump up.
Make sure that you add the butter first and then the flour, but make sure not to burn the flour or ruin your dish.
After that, let your macarons sit for a bit allowing for the cheese to set and thicken.
4 – Let it Simmer
If you want to thicken your mac and cheese even further, you’ll need to simmer it over low heat for at least 15 minutes instead of using a roux or cornstarch.
The longer that you cook it, the thicker it will get in the end.
After letting the macarons sit for around 5 minutes before serving, you can then top it with some crumbled bacon and cheese and serve it alongside a plate of tomato sauce.
5 – Use Egg Yolk
Lastly, you can also thicken your mac and cheese by using egg yolks.
All you need to do is beat up to one or two egg yolks using a fork and then add the mixture into your macaroni, but make sure that you don’t overbeat the eggs or have scrambled eggs instead.
Let your mac and cheese simmer for about 15 minutes after adding the egg mixture, and then serve it afterward alongside a plate of tomato sauce, crumbled bacon, and cheese.
Mac and cheese is a dish that can be eaten and enjoyed by everyone.
It’s simple to make and tastes delicious when combined with the right ingredients but to make it thick, you’ll need something to add to your noodles before serving.
There are plenty of ways to thicken mac and cheese, but the main thing to remember when doing so is that you need to make sure not to burn any of the ingredients.
So whichever way you decide on using it, just make sure that it’s clean and simple, and then your macaroni will be thick enough to change its shape once in your mouth.
- Using Cornstarch
- Using Ricotta Cheese
- Using a Roux
- Let it Simmer
- Use Egg Yolk