This Halloween mac and cheese is ultra creamy, made with natural ingredients and has a secret ingredient that makes it green (but you can’t taste it at all!). With a gluten-free option.
This recipe is based on my Gluten-free Mac and Cheese. If you’re not gluten-free – don’t worry! Today’s recipe just has a gluten-free option and can be made with whatever pasta you’d like.
- Elbow macaroni – use whatever fits your diet! Gluten-free, whole wheat, or grain-free. For grain-free, I love the cassava noodles from Jovial. You can use whatever shape you like.
- Fresh baby spinach – I don’t recommend frozen or regular, fully-mature spinach. More on that below!
- Milk – whole milk was used in the photos, but you can use whatever type you’d like. I think coconut milk would be terrible, but if you like that in mac and cheese, then you can use it here. I normally use cashew milk as I shouldn’t have so much dairy, and it tastes great!
- Flour – you can use all-purpose flour, whole wheat flour, a gluten-free baking mix that’s meant as a 1:1 sub for all-purpose flour, or cassava flour. I’ve made this recipe with Otto’s Cassava Flour, and it worked great.
- Granulated garlic – this is important! It helps cover up the spinach taste. I added just enough so that the spinach taste is covered up.
If you like the taste of spinach, you can reduce it to 1/4 teaspoon. 3/4 teaspoon is quite a bit, so if you don’t like garlic and don’t want to taste the spinach, you probably don’t want to make this recipe (unless you add some other seasoning and spices).
- White cheddar cheese – make sure to use white cheddar! If you use the usual orange stuff, then the mac and cheese won’t have the nice green color we’re looking for. Green from the spinach + bright orange from cheddar mixed together doesn’t seem like it’d be a very appealing color.
- Freshly grated Pecorino Romano or Parmesan – I always use Pecorino Romano over Parmesan. I just prefer it. But feel free to use Parmesan or whatever hard cheese you’d like!
- Unsalted butter
How to make this green mac and cheese
You can use a regular blender for this recipe. That’s what was used for the photos.
But if you use a high-speed blender, you can get the spinach puree 100% smooth, without any specks of spinach.
A small food processor would probably work. I say a small one because the volume of the spinach and milk, which is what you blend together, fprobably isn’t large enough to blend properly in a large food processor bowl.
So you blend up the spinach and a part of the milk and then set that aside.
Then on the stove over medium heat, you mix together the butter, flour, granulated garlic and pepper.
Then you add the spinach mixture. It’s a lovely bright green color!
When you add the cheese, it makes it less vibrant, but it’s still nice and green.
Then you add your cooked macaroni and can dig in!
Does it taste at all like spinach?
Nope! I wanted the spinach to be undetectable to the kids you’re likely serving this to. And to me. ;)
The first time I tried to turn my gluten-free mac and cheese into this Halloween mac and cheese, I followed the recipe and just added in some pureed spinach. I could taste the spinach, which I didn’t like, so I added more cheese and tripled the granulated garlic.
I added just enough extra to cover up the spinach taste, so I don’t recommend reducing either of the ingredients.
I wanted to make sure other people with different brands of cheese had the same experience, so I asked my photographer. She said:
“I couldn’t taste the spinach in the mac and cheese at all. I told my husband I was making a Halloween-themed green mac and cheese last week and he said, “Oh, that’s cool.” Then I told him it was colored with spinach, and he screwed up his nose because he has the palate of a toddler. But when I served it for dinner, I asked him if he could taste the spinach, and he said no, not at all. That it just tastes like mac and cheese. Not sure if it matters, but I used Tillamook Sharp White Cheddar and Frigo Parmesan.”
So there you have it! Approved by two adults with the palates of toddlers. I’m the other one. 🙈
I used baby spinach because it’s sweeter and milder than regular spinach. I thought that would be preferable for a recipe in which I don’t want to taste the spinach.
Baby spinach is also more tender than regular spinach, which I also figured would be better when blending.
If you like the taste of spinach and have a high-speed blender, then I think regular spinach would be okay.
I say high-speed blender because I’m not so sure how well it’d blend in a regular blender. But if you remove the stems, I think it’d be fine in a regular blender.
But, as always – since I haven’t tried it, I can’t say for sure.
How to reheat it
If you plan to make it in advance, it’s best to keep the macaroni and the cheese sauce separate until it’s time to serve it.
Then you can warm up both, separately, in the microwave, and then once they’re really hot, stir them together.
If you mixed everything together and have leftovers, you can just put it in the fridge and then warm it up in the microwave or stovetop.
Does it freeze well?
Nope. Cooked pasta rarely does.
I haven’t actually tried it with this recipe, but I have frozen mac and cheese in the past, and it’s a bit mushy and weird when thawing. So I wouldn’t do this unless the option is to freeze the mac and cheese or throw it away.
More Halloween recipes
If you’re looking for Halloween treat recipes, I’ve got options!
- Halloween Cake with Eyeballs
- Chocolate Orange Halloween Cake
- Witch Finger Cookies
- Healthy Monster Mouths
- Gluten-free Mummy Hand Pies
- Spider Cupcakes for Halloween
I hope your family enjoys this Halloween mac and cheese! If you make it, please let us know what you think! And if you’re on Instagram, snap a pic and tag #texanerin so I can be sure to see it. Enjoy!
Halloween Mac and Cheese
- Prep Time:
- Cook Time:
- Ready in:
- Yield: 8 side servings
- 12 ounces (3 cups) elbow macaroni1
- 4 cups (100 grams) fresh baby spinach
- 2 cups (473ml) milk2, divided
- 1/4 cup (56 grams) unsalted butter
- 3 tablespoons (23 grams) all-purpose, whole wheat or gluten-free3 flour
- 3/4 teaspoon granulated garlic
- 1/8 teaspoon black pepper
- 2 2/3 cups (10.5oz / 300 grams) freshly shredded white4 cheddar cheese
- 2/3 cup (2.3oz / 66 grams) freshly grated Pecorino Romano or Parmesan5
- salt to taste
- Cook the pasta according to the package directions for al dente (don’t forget to salt the water!). It’s important not to overcook it. Do NOT rinse when done cooking - just drain the water.
- While it’s cooking, rinse the spinach and place in a blender. Add ½ cup of the milk. Blend until no chunks of spinach remain, but don’t blend longer than needed or the bright green color might be affected. You might need to push the spinach down occasionally, depending on your blender. If ½ cup of milk isn’t enough for your blender to get things moving, then use another ¼ cup (or whatever you need - but remember to subtract this amount of milk from what you add to the pan later).
- Prepare the cheese sauce. In a medium saucepan over medium heat, melt the butter. Stir in the flour, pepper and granulated garlic until combined.
- While constantly stirring, gradually add the REMAINING milk (so, 1 ½ cups if you used ½ cup in the blender) and the spinach mixture.
- Once the mixture starts boiling, turn down the heat to low and let simmer for 1 minute while stirring constantly.
- Gradually add the cheese and stir until totally combined. Taste and add salt, if desired.
- Add the pasta and stir until totally coated.
- Serve immediately. Let leftovers cool completely and then refrigerate in an airtight container for up to 4 days. If you want to make it in advance, it’s best to keep the macaroni and the cheese sauce separate until rewarming to serve.
- You can use gluten-free, whole wheat or regular macaroni. Just follow the directions on the package.
- I recommend whole milk over 2%, but you can use whatever you prefer. I actually usually use unsweetened cashew milk to cut down on the amount of dairy.
- I've used Bob's Red Mill 1-to-1 Gluten-free Flour and King Arthur Gluten-free Measure for Measure Flour with the same results as regular all-purpose flour.
- The recipe calls for white cheddar so that you get the nice green color! I don't recommend using yellow or orange cheddar for color reasons.
- I much prefer Pecorino Romano over Parmesan. Give it a try if you haven't!