Pesto Mac and Cheese


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Pesto Mac and Cheese takes your mac and cheese game to the next level! This fun twist on a traditional mac and cheese recipe is made with creamy havarti and a couple of spoonfuls of pesto for a great flavor boost! 

Get creative and add in your favorites; chicken, bacon, broccoli or any mix-ins you have in the fridge or pantry! Think of the ‘pasta-bilities!’

Pesto mac and cheese in a serving bowl with a serving spoon, garnished with basil.

A New Favorite

I’m so excited to be sharing this recipe with you today because it’s one of many recipes I’ve fallen in love with from my newest gem in my cookbook collection!

This bowl of love is from The Two Peas & Their Pod Cookbook written by my good friend Maria who blogs over at Two Peas and Their Pod.

I’ve waited so long to get my hands on a copy and it was well worth the wait! This book is filled with amazing fresh recipes that are not only easy to make, they’re family friendly! I love that most of the ingredients are things you likely have on hand (just like this mac and cheese, which is crazy easy and insanely delish)!

Two Peas & Their Pod Cookbook has easy to follow recipes with gorgeous photos that your entire family is going to love! I’ve got a big ol’ list of recipes dog eared in this book already!

Two peas & their pod cookbook with pesto mac and cheese ingredients around it.

What is Pesto?

Most people think of basil pesto but, pesto is a style of sauce, and can be made with nearly any herb or vegetable. Spinach and basil are the most common kinds of pesto, but it can also be made with sundried tomatoes, bell peppers, and even mushrooms!

How to Make Pesto Mac and Cheese

This easy pasta dish is so creamy and it’s a quick and delicious family meal.

  1. Cook pasta according to package directions.
  2. Combine butter and flour in a stockpot to make a roux (see recipe below). Whisk in milk and cook until thickened.
  3. Stir in shredded cheese until sauce is smooth and creamy.
  4. Gently fold in the pasta and enjoy!

Season with salt and pepper and serve immediately. This mac and cheese dish is delicious served with a slice of homemade garlic bread or cheesy garlic breadstick to soak up every drop of that yummy sauce.

Two images showing the steps to create the pesto mac and cheese sauce.

My Favorite Add-Ins

This recipe is super flavorful made as written but Maria also has lots of great add-in suggestions; it’s will be like a new recipe every time!

Close up of pesto mac and cheese being scooped out of serving dish.

How To Store Mac and Cheese

Pesto mac and cheese is easily stored in the fridge in a zippered bag or airtight container.

  • Freeze it the same way, use a zippered bag or airtight container. Be sure to write the date on the outside of the bag or container.
  • Thaw in the fridge overnight. Pesto mac and cheese might not be as firm because the freezing process breaks down the pasta, but it can still be refreshed by draining any liquid that may have accumulated.
  • Reheat by putting the mac and cheese in a pot and heating gently. Refresh the flavors by adding a little salt and pepper or some new add-ins and it’s a whole new recipe!

Mac and Cheese Lover Recipes

Pesto Mac and Cheese

Prep Time 5 minutes
Cook Time 15 minutes
Total Time 20 minutes
Servings 6
Author Holly Nilsson
Course Main Course
Cuisine Italian
This stovetop mac and cheese is super creamy, cheesy, and full of flavor! It is easy to make but tastes gourmet! 

Ingredients

  • 12 ounces elbow macaroni
  • 4 Tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 1/4 cup all-purpose flour
  • 2 cups whole milk at room temperature
  • 2 cups Havarti or mozzarella cheese, shredded
  • 3 Tablespoons pesto or store bought basil pesto
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper

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Instructions

  1. Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Add the pasta and cook just until al dente, about 8 minutes. Drain the pasta and set aside.
  2. In a large pot, melt the butter over medium heat. Reduce the heat to low and whisk in the flour to create a paste.

  3. Add the milk and whisk until smooth. Increase the heat to medium and continue whisking until the sauce starts to thicken, about 2 minutes.

  4. Stir in the shredded cheese and continue stirring until the cheese is melted and the sauce is smooth. Fold in the pesto.

  5. Add the pasta, stirring to combine, and cook just until the pasta is warmed through.

  6. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Serve immediately.

Recipe Notes

Recipe published with permission from Two Peas & Their Pod Cookbook.
Nutrition Information
Calories: 407, Fat: 16g, Saturated Fat: 9g, Cholesterol: 37mg, Sodium: 180mg, Potassium: 240mg, Carbohydrates: 51g, Fiber: 2g, Sugar: 6g, Protein: 13g, Vitamin A: 590%, Calcium: 175%, Iron: 1%

(Nutrition information provided is an estimate and will vary based on cooking methods and brands of ingredients used.)

Keyword Pesto Mac and Cheese
Pesto Mac and Cheese in a white bowl.
Pesto Mac and Cheese in a white bowl.
Top photo - Pesto Mac and Cheese in a white bowl. Bottom photo - Pesto sauce being made in a saucepan.

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About the author

Holly

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Holly is a wine and cheese lover, recipe creator, shopping enthusiast and self appointed foodie. Her greatest passion is creating in the kitchen and making deliciously comforting recipes for the everyday home cook!

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