Cottage Cheese Mac and Cheese

This cottage cheese mac and cheese has a healthier swap for a favorite comfort food. The cottage cheese makes it creamy with more protein than traditional mac and cheese, adding a touch of tangy flavor to a classic recipe. You can make it traditionally, whole wheat or gluten-free.

This cottage mac and cheese is a great way to boost your protein and calcium intake at dinner, making it a healthier and more satisfying option than your standard mac and cheese.

The recipe is still packed with cheese, ensuring a rich, creamy texture and indulgent flavor that won’t leave anyone missing the traditional mac and cheese experience.

If cottage cheese isn’t you’re thing, I have this Gluten-free Mac and Cheese that uses a roux to thicken the sauce. And because Thanksgiving is just around the corner, this Sweet Potato Mac and Cheese is perfect because it sneaks in even more nutrition with some sweet potato.


Here’s an overview of everything you need. To get the full recipe, you need to scroll down to the recipe box.

How to make it

This is easier than a roux-based mac and cheese recipe. You cook the macaroni and blend the sauce ingredients in a blender.

Then warm up the sauce and add the cooked macaroni.

Why cottage cheese?

Cottage cheese is an excellent source of protein, calcium, phosphorus and vitamin B12.

Compared to heavy cream, it’s an ideal substitute for achieving a creamy texture without the extra fat.

There are all kinds of ways to use cottage cheese to make lightened-up, high-protein food, and I’ve got a few options if you’re looking to make more cottage cheese recipes: Healthier White Chocolate Mousse, Protein Pancakes, and Easy Pumpkin Pancakes.

Al dente pasta

To not overcook the pasta, you’ll want to cook the pasta “al dente’ meaning there’s a little bite left in the macaroni, and it’s not completely soft.

To achieve this, subtract one minute from the boiling time listed on the package or follow the al dente instructions on the package. And don’t rinse the pasta once it’s strained.

When boiling the water for the pasta, you’ll want to add a good amount of salt to the water once the water starts to boil, and then add the pasta. It enhances the flavor of the pasta.

Cheese sauce

I like freshly grated sharp cheddar cheese and Pecorino Romano cheese (or Parmesan) for the cheese sauce. If you like it even sharper, you could use extra sharp cheddar.

While pre-grated cheese offers convenience, it often contains additives like potato starch and natamycin which prevents clumping. These additives can interfere with the ability of the cheese to melt, resulting in a less-than-smooth texture.

Grating your own cheese is worth the extra step, and if you have a food processor with a specific disc for shredding – even better!

Pecorino Romano is my favorite hard cheese, and it’s perfect in this dish. It’s sharper and saltier than Parmesan and made of sheep’s milk. But like I said, grated Parmesan also works.

How do you keep it creamy?

Heat the blended cheese sauce at medium-low to medium and no higher, or it will cause the sauce to become too hot, separate and become grainy.

The starch

Cornstarch helps achieve a thicker, smoother consistency for the cheese sauce and helps prevent separation.

If you’d rather use something other than cornstarch, potato starch is nearly identical in texture and has a neutral flavor like cornstarch. It’s great for thickening sauces and can be used as a 1:1 sub.

But don’t sub in arrowroot because arrowroot in dairy-based sauces becomes slimy.

How to store

You can refrigerate this cottage cheese mac and cheese in an airtight container for up to 4 days.

I don’t recommend freezing it because you won’t be happy once you reheat it.

How to reheat

If you plan to make it ahead of time or know that you won’t eat it all at once, it’s best to keep the macaroni and the sauce separate.

Should you mix it all up, you’ll need to add some more milk to make it creamy again.

Regardless of your method, avoid overheating it, as it will become grainy and dry. Adding a bit of liquid will help maintain the creaminess.


  1. Place the mac and cheese in a saucepan or skillet over low to medium heat.
  2. Add a small amount of milk to restore creaminess.
  3. Stir frequently to prevent it from sticking to the pan.


  1. Place the mac and cheese in a microwave-safe container.
  2. Add a splash of milk or cream for moisture.
  3. Heat in short intervals, stirring between each to reheat evenly.


  1. Preheat the oven to a low-medium temperature 325 °F (163 °C).
  2. Place the mac and cheese in an oven-safe dish.
  3. Add some milk or cream, cover with foil, and heat until warm and stir.


Most cottage cheese is gluten-free, but be aware that some brands may contain wheat starch or modified food starch, which can be made from wheat. Always check the ingredients.

According to Beyond Celiac, “If a food manufactured in North America has modified food starch listed as an ingredient, but “wheat” is not listed on the label, then it is safe to eat.”

As long as you’ve checked the ingredients and the cottage cheese isn’t made with gluten-containing ingredients, then you just need to buy gluten-free pasta.

Can I use dairy-free substitutes?

This recipe just will not work using dairy-free products. Consider finding a highly-rated, dairy-free or vegan recipe for mac and cheese.

More healthy pasta sauces

I hope you’ll enjoy this cottage cheese macaroni and cheese dish. If you try, please comment and let us know what you think. Enjoy!

Cottage Cheese Mac and Cheese

Rated 5.0 by 10 readers
Cottage Cheese Mac and Cheese
  • Prep Time:
  • Cook Time:
  • Ready in:
  • Yield: 6-8 servings


  • 12 ounces (3 cups) elbow macaroni (regular, whole wheat or if you're gluten-free, use GF macaroni)
  • 1 cup (240 ml) whole milk
  • 1/2 cup (126 grams) regular full-fat cottage cheese
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons (15 grams) cornstarch
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1/8 teaspoon pepper
  • 1 cup (113 grams / 4oz) freshly grated sharp cheddar cheese
  • 1/2 cup (50 grams) grated Pecorino Romano or Parmesan cheese


  1. Cook the pasta according to the package directions for al dente. It’s important not to overcook it.
  2. While it’s cooking, prepare the cheese sauce.
  3. Place all the remaining ingredients in a blender and blend on high until totally smooth.
  4. After the pasta is done cooking, drain the water, but don’t rinse.
  5. Add the blended cheese sauce to the pot that had the macaroni, heat over medium until hot and smooth.
  6. Add the cooked macaroni and stir until coated.
  7. Let leftovers cool completely and then refrigerate in an airtight container for up to 4 days.

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24 comments on “Cottage Cheese Mac and Cheese” — Add one!

2 comments are awaiting moderation!

  • Mia
    November 29, 2023 @ 11:48 am

    This mac and cheese recipe never fails me! I’ve been making it 2x a week since you posted it. It is so rich and creamy. One of our on-repeat recipes!

    • Erin replies to Mia
      November 29, 2023 @ 9:14 pm

      I’m so glad that you’ve been enjoying it! :) Thanks for your comment.

  • Georgia
    November 27, 2023 @ 8:09 pm

    Love love love how quick and easy this was! I hate making the sauce with flour. My kids devoured this and they usually dislike cottage cheese. Thanks a million!

    • Erin replies to Georgia
      November 29, 2023 @ 9:19 pm

      I’m thrilled that you kids liked it so much! That’s great. :) Thanks so much for your feedback!

  • Pam
    November 26, 2023 @ 8:49 pm

    This recipe was straight perfection! My whole family loved it! Thanks so much. I’ll be making it every Thanksgiving from now on!

    • Erin replies to Pam
      November 27, 2023 @ 9:38 pm

      That’s so great to hear! Thanks for letting me know. :) I’m glad the mac and cheese was a hit!

  • Marco
    November 25, 2023 @ 9:05 pm

    This came out creamier than I thought I’d be. Wow! Will make this again for lunch tomorrow. And probably the next day, too. ;)

    • Erin replies to Marco
      November 27, 2023 @ 9:41 pm

      I’m happy you enjoyed it so much! Thanks for your comment. :) I hope you won’t get bored of it! :D

  • Marilyn
    November 25, 2023 @ 3:35 pm

    I made the gluten-free version for my grandkids and they were so very excited because their mother never makes the macaroni and cheese. It’ll be our little secret. Hah! We all loved it.

    • Erin replies to Marilyn
      November 29, 2023 @ 9:21 pm

      Haha, aww. That’s nice that you made them something special! I’m glad that it worked out well. :) Thanks for your feedback!

  • Jen
    November 24, 2023 @ 11:05 am

    Loved this! I love cottage cheese, so I knew I had to try this! It’s so cheesy, creamy, and I love the flavor. Will be making again for sure.

    • Erin replies to Jen
      November 27, 2023 @ 9:38 pm

      Woohoo! I’m glad that you’ll be making it again. :) Thanks so much for your feedback!

  • Lydia says
    November 23, 2023 @ 11:30 am

    I’ve already made this several times, and my kids always love it! You can’t even tell that there’s cottage cheese in it. So good, thanks!

    • Erin replies to Lydia
      November 27, 2023 @ 9:39 pm

      You’re welcome! I love that you’ve already made it several times. :) Thanks so much for your comment!

  • Paula
    November 22, 2023 @ 11:43 am

    Loved the cottage cheese addition. My mac and cheese turned out creamy and cheesy. We loved it and will make it again soon.

    • Erin replies to Paula
      November 22, 2023 @ 12:16 pm

      Yay! I’m glad to hear that! Thanks so much for your feedback and happy Thanksgiving!

  • Millie
    November 21, 2023 @ 1:28 am

    The addition of cottage cheese in the base of this mac and cheese gave it a creamy depth that I thought would be missed without using heavy cream. I was so pleasantly surprised. Thanks a million!

    • Erin replies to Millie
      November 22, 2023 @ 12:15 pm

      You’re welcome! I’m so glad that you didn’t miss the cream. :) Thanks a bunch for your feedback!

  • Vanessa
    November 18, 2023 @ 3:17 pm

    This did not disappointment! Made it for my in-laws and they asked if I was going to make it again for T-day. Thanks!

    • Erin replies to Vanessa
      November 22, 2023 @ 12:17 pm

      Oh, that’s so nice to hear! I hope they’ll get their wish. ;) Thanks for your comment and happy Thanksgiving!

  • elisa says
    November 17, 2023 @ 1:47 pm

    This came out perfectly! The right amount of cheese sauce and noodles. I can’t wait for my kid to come home and try it. Thank you.

    • Erin replies to elisa
      November 22, 2023 @ 12:19 pm

      You’re welcome! I hope that you kid enjoyed the mac and cheese, too. :) Thanks for your feedback!

  • Darby
    November 16, 2023 @ 12:15 am

    I’ll be using this recipe from now on. So much easier than a roux recipe. And super delicious. A big hit with everyone.

    • Erin replies to Darby
      November 22, 2023 @ 12:22 pm

      Ooh, that’s great to hear! Thanks so much for your feedback and happy Thanksgiving!


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