The ultimate comfort food is a hearty, cheesy macaroni and cheese recipe. I love making easy dinners like these especially on nights where the schedule gets chaotic, or on a weekend where I know I have a big week ahead. This one pot three cheese mac and cheese with spinach is loaded with delicious fresh spinach, tossed together with a blend of cheddar, parmesan, and Trader Joe's unexpected cheddar cheese, made in just one pot. Deliciousness in under 30 minutes!
Macaroni and cheese recipe are great all year long, especially when you can incorporate seasonal veggies or different takes on the classic MAC.
I have a few different cheesy pasta recipes on the site already like my easy baked MAC, my creamy spinach pasta, or my roasted broccoli mac. It was a no brainer for me to get a one pot version on the site for you, too!
What are the ingredients for this recipe?
This recipe calls for very basic, standard ingredients when it comes to making a mac and cheese. We don't bake it, so no breadcrumbs (although optional, and we absolutely use alllllll the cheeese. Three different kinds to be exact.
- Macaroni - I opted for Trader Joe's Fusilli Corti Bucati because I love the shape, and it held on the cheese really well.
- Butter - the butter adds an additional creaminess to the overall dish.
- Half and Half -helps give the pasta a creamier texture when the cheese melts.
- Spinach - I folded in fresh baby spinach while the cheese melted into the pot.
- Parmesan cheese - the sharpness of the parmesan blends really well with the other flavors.
- Mild Cheddar Cheese - a basic, classic cheese used in mac and cheese, so of course, we had to have it here.
- Trader Joe's Unexpected Cheddar - This brings a really yummy sharpness to the overall flavor of the pasta.
- Garlic Powder - Gives the recipe added flavor.
- Pasta Water - The pasta water helps to hold on to the cheese as it melts and becomes nice and thick and creamy.
See the recipe card below for specific information about quanitites
How do I make this mac and cheese recipe?
For starters, this is all done in literally just one pot, and takes no time for the pasta to cook, mix with the cheese, and fold in the spinach.
Step 1: Fill a pot of water and bring to a boil. Salt the water and add the pasta and cook until al dente. Strain the pasta water into a colander, keeping the ½ cup of pasta water in the pot. Add back any pasta that fell out while straining. To the pot of pasta, add the butter, heavy cream, and cheese then begin to mix the pasta with the cheese, cream, and butter.
Step 2: Pour in the garlic powder then toss in the fresh spinach. Stir to combine, wilting the spinach as it mixes. Add the salt and pepper and continue to stir. Top with a little extra parmesan and serve.
HINT: Stir frequently as you fold in the cheese (shameless Schitt's Creek reference here...) into the pasta to avoid any clumping. Another quick hint is to strain the pasta water into a colander (or strainer) and leave just enough water (just about a ½ cup) in the pot to help the cheese mix into the pasta. The starch from the pasta water will help the mac and cheese become creamy and thick.
Recipe Swaps and Substitutions
The best part about making this recipe is that it is incredible versatile and can easily be adapted to fit most dietary or allergy needs. Here's a few of the suggestions I recommend for this pasta dish without compromising the overall flavor:
- Pasta - Sub for your favorite gluten free or brown rice pasta. I love Barilla's Protein pasta, or Jovial Foods for brown rice pasta. Trader Joe's also has great varieties too!
- Milk - swap in almond milk instead of half and half.
- Cheese - Use your favorite dairy-free or vegan-friendly cheese like Miyokos or Daiya.
- Butter - Miyokos has pretty solid vegan butter that melts, but you can also just leave it out.
Variety is the spice of life! Why not make this recipe your own with some of these variations to the base dish:
- Baked - Pour the mac and cheese into an oven-safe dish and top with some breadcrumbs. Bake in a 350º oven for 15-20 minutes or until it gets nice and bubbly. You can also add an extra layer of cheese on top too.
- Protein - Throw in some ground beef, ground turkey, or chicken for a boost of protein. If you don't want to add that into the dish itself, pair the mac and cheese with these irresistibly juicy chicken cutlets.
- Vegetables - You can absolutely add in more veggies other than spinach like zucchini, cauliflower, or even chopped asparagus.
What can I dow ith the leftovers? Is this freezer friendly?
All leftovers can be placed in a tightly sealed tupperware and placed directly in the fridge. It will stay for up to 4 days.
This recipe is also freeze friendly, so if you want to make this dish for another day, simply prep the dish, place into a tupperware and into the freezer it goes. When ready, you can defrost in the fridge and add to a large pot over a medium low heat, or heat in the microwave or oven!
Hungry for More?
Check out these other incredible pasta recipes!
Did you like this recipe? Share it!
If you're just as in love with this recipe as I am, please share a comment below and rate it! Better yet, share this recipe with family and friends!! Thank you for being here!!
One Pot Three Cheese Mac and Cheese with Spinach
- large pot
- colander or strainer
- wooden spoon
- measuring spoons and cups
- small bowls
- 1 pkg pasta
- 1 ½ cups mild cheddar cheese
- 1 cup Trader Joe's Unexpected Cheddar Cheese or regular sharp white cheddar
- ½ cup parmesan cheese grated
- 2 tablespoon butter salted
- ½ cup half and half
- 1 teaspoon garlic powder
- 1 cup fresh baby spinach
- ½ cup pasta water
- Fill a pot of water and bring to a boil. Salt the water and add the pasta and cook until al dente.
- Strain the pasta water into a colander, keeping the ½ cup of pasta water in the pot. Add back any pasta that fell out while straining.
- To the pot of pasta, add the butter, heavy cream, and cheese then begin to mix the pasta with the cheese, cream, and butter.
- Pour in the garlic powder then toss in the fresh spinach. Stir to combine, wilting the spinach as it mixes.
- Add the salt and pepper and continue to stir. Top with a little extra parmesan and serve.
- Top with a little extra parmesan and serve.