Velveeta Shells And Cheese
A box of store-bought Velveeta shells and cheese is a great pantry staple and an easy shortcut for quick lunches or sides, but you truly can’t beat the rich taste and creamy texture of these homemade shells and cheese! When you’ve got a few extra minutes to spare, a pot of shell mac and cheese comes together on the stovetop with very little effort. As a vegetarian main course or as a hearty side, everyone at the table will love this simple, comforting dish!
With three different types of cheese in the homemade sauce, a hint of garlic in the background, and plenty of toasted breadcrumbs on top, the mac and cheese shells recipe is so much better than its boxed counterpart! Jazz it up with leftover taco meat, rotisserie chicken, or diced ham add vegetables like peas and carrots, broccoli, or diced tomatoes or mix in fresh herbs like thyme, chives, or basil for a sophisticated touch. Take the base and make it your own!
Macaroni And Cheese Jumbo Stuffed Shells
Are you ready for this? Macaroni and Cheese Stuffed Jumbo Shells. Yes! Thats cheese covered pasta stuffed into BIGGER PASTA and covered with even MORE CHEESE! Basically, comfort food stuffed into a bigger comfort food. I dont know what it is, but I love stuffing food into a similar food. Like making an apple pie milkshake that tastes like apple pie AND has a mini apple pie on top. Or making a pizza flavored mozzarella cheese dip for mozzarella sticks. Mac and Cheese is my soul food. If Im sick or feeling down, macaroni and cheese is what I turn to. But I wanted to make something a bit fancier than just homemade mac and cheese and I was hoping to make little single-serve mac and cheese bites that arent made in a cupcake pan. And, I think I did it! How awesome would these be as single serve appetizers at a party where guests can simply just grab a shell and eat it as an appetizer? Grab a shell, a fork, a plate. Or just use your fingers! Boom. Good to go! Ready for the recipe? Heres the ingredients youll need:
Ingredients For Shell Mac And Cheese
This is a quick overview of the ingredients that you’ll need for a homemade pot of shells and cheese. As always, specific measurements and complete cooking instructions are included in the printable recipe box at the bottom of the post.
- Medium shell pasta: the shells that give this dish its name! Each bite has little pockets and ridges that hold onto the cheesy sauce. Of course, you can substitute with other short pasta shapes like elbows, farfalle or rotini.
- Salted butter: for the base of the sauce and the breadcrumb topping.
- Panko breadcrumbs: toasted with butter, this crunchy topping adds texture to the dish and gives it that “baked mac and cheese” touch — without actually turning on the oven!
- All-purpose flour: to thicken the sauce.
- Whole milk: the creamy base of the sauce. Feel free to substitute with half-and-half for an even richer taste and texture.
- Kosher salt and ground black pepper: enhance the other flavors in the dish.
- Extra-sharp cheddar cheese, Velveeta cheese and Parmesan cheese: three different types of cheese give you the best of all worlds — the flavor of cheddar, the sharp bite and salty taste of the Parmesan, and the creamy, melty texture of the Velveeta.
- Sour cream: that little something “extra” that makes the sauce even smoother, creamier, and more flavorful.
- Ground mustard, garlic powder and ground nutmeg: for more flavor.
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Copycat Panera Shells And Cheese Recipe Secrets
There are a ton of recipes on the internet claiming to be the creamiest of macaroni and cheese. The fact is the tried and true method of making a roux and adding milk is always the way to go. You can have a creamy macaroni and cheese recipe without Velveeta. The success of this recipe depends on your attention to the small details. Make sure you whisk the flour into the butter so there are no lumps. You also want to ensure that you pull the pan off of the heat and allow your cheese to slowly melt. If youve ever made any kind of cream sauce before, youve likely had your sauce break at some point. This is what happens when the fats separate and you get a gritty sauce. It usually happens from over heating and not allowing your cheese to slowly melt. This is my number one tip for making this Copycat Panera Shells and Cheese recipe.
I also like to add plenty of black pepper. This is preference. If youre not a pepper fan feel free to omit it.
You can use any short cut of pasta, but I highly recommend medium shells. The shells hold the cheese in and its just a really good thing texture wise.
PIN FOR LATER!
- 2tbsp.Reduced Fat Cream Cheese
How To Make Mac & Cheese From Scratch
These days I still enjoy a helping of that blue box pasta but my taste buds are a little more elevated and I prefer to make it from scratch. Its so easy, why wouldnt you? Some are a little frightened of the sauce I sure was! But the steps are so easy that once youve made it a couple of times youll never doubt yourself again.
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Can I Freeze Macaroni And Cheese
I get asked that a lot and my answer is always no. As the pasta and cheese sauce sit, it will thicken and when you thaw it and bake it, the creamy consistency is just gone. Its thick and gloppy. Plus if you freeze it and its still a bit warm, water crystals will form and then thaw into your dish and could make it separate when you bake it. Besides, its so fast to make, theres not really a reason to freeze your macaroni and cheese.
Why Add Hot Sauce
I add just a little bit of hot sauce to my shells and cheese to add flavor but not really any heat. The hot sauce is completely optional. Many people add dry mustard which has a similar effect on the flavor. It just gives it a nice little zing of flavor on the back end. In the end, the cheese sauce is all about tasting and adjusting it to your liking. And really, whos complaining about repeatedly tasting cheese sauce? No one.
Nutritional values are estimates only. See our full nutrition disclaimer here.The equipment section above contains affiliate links to products we use and love. As an Amazon Associate I earn from qualifying purchases.
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What To Serve With Homemade Shells And Cheese
Homemade Velveeta shells and cheese is a hearty, delicious and satisfying dish on its own. Serve it as a lunch or dinner entrée and your family will be thrilled! Just add a house salad, tomato salad, or Caesar salad, roasted broccoli, Southern-style green beans, or collard greens on the side. We also love a basket of flaky biscuits, blueberry muffins, apple bread, cornbread or corn sticks on the table to round out the meal.
Baked Macaroni And Cheese
Baked macaroni and cheese doesnt have to be complicated with layers of ingredients to be the soul-warming food you crave. This homemade baked macaroni and cheese is my most favorite and has pleased crowds, small families, kids and picky eaters alikegive it a try and youll see why.
Sometimes you buy that glowing yellow macaroni in the box. Your kids like it, but it glows like the kryptonite they used in the old Christoper Reeve Superman movies.
Thats not normal people.
And I hate to break it to you, but theres nothing real in that box either.
I hate feeding it to my kids and I dare say that you hate it too. But I can also guess you dont know many other alternatives. Sure, you can get a box of Velveeta and melt that over some noodles. That works too, but that stuff doesnt even need to be refrigerated. Its mystery cheese.
So if youre looking for the real deal, the old school baked macaroni and cheese the way your grandma might have made itthis is it.
And just so you know, aside from the baking, this easy macaroni and cheese took 15 minutes and only two pans to make. One for boiling the pasta and a good enameled cast iron pan for the sauce and the baking cuts down on dishes. So yes, even you can make this on a week night.
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What’s In Shells And Cheese
- Pasta Shells – Pasta shells are perfect for trapping all that cheesy goodness from your Homemade Shells and Cheese Sauce. However, if you’d like to use macaroni pasta, feel free to sub that in.
- Unsalted Butter
- All-Purpose Flour
- Heavy Whipping Cream and Half-and-Half – Heavy whipping cream and half-and-half have a high enough fat content to protect your cheese sauce from getting grainy and/or breaking. Well, this in combination with the American cheese. Do not be tempted to sub in other dairy options here.
- Cheddar Cheese – Just standard Cheddar cheese is all you need — nothing too fancy. Just grab yourself a block of Cheddar, and grate it yourself for best results.
- American Cheese – We used Kraft Singles for this Shells and Cheese recipe.
- Seasoning – The only seasoning you’ll need is Kosher salt, ground mustard powder, and hot sauce. The hot sauce will not make your Shells and Cheese spicy, but if you are sensitive to cayenne pepper, you can feel free to leave it out altogether.
How To Make Broccoli Shells And Cheese Step By Step Photos
Shred one 8oz. block of cheddar. Just be aware that sharp cheddar tends to break, or become lumpy, in cheese sauces a little bit easier than medium or mild cheddar. So, if youre new to cheese sauces, start with a medium or mild cheddar.
Allow 1/2 lb. frozen broccoli florets to thaw. Once they are thawed enough to cut, chop them into smaller, bite-sized florets. Set them aside until ready to use .
Bring a large pot of water to a boil for the pasta. Once boiling, add 8oz. pasta shells and continue to boil until the shells are tender. Drain the shells in a colander.
While the pasta is cooking, prepare the cheese sauce. Finely dice 1/2 of a small onion . Add the diced onion to a saucepot with 3 Tbsp butter. Cook the onion in the butter over medium heat until the onions are soft and transparent.
Then add 3 Tbsp all-purpose flour. Whisk and cook the flour with the butter and onions for about 2 minutes. This will slightly cook the flour and prevent the sauce from having a floury or glue-like flavor. This paste-like flour and butter mixture is called a roux and is what will thicken the cheese sauce.
Whisk in 2.5 cups whole milk until there are no lumps. Also, add some freshly cracked pepper . Continue to cook and stir the milk until it comes up to a simmer, at which point it will begin to thicken.
When the sauce is thick enough to coat the back of a spoon, it is time to add the cheese.
Once all the cheddar is melted in, stir in 1/4 cup grated Parmesan.
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Best Ever Macaroni Cheese Recipe
This perfect baked macaroni cheese recipe comes with a creamy cheese sauce, a hint of mustard and uses leftover French stick for its crunchy topping
- 50g baguette, cut into small chunks
- 2 tbsp butter, plus 1 tbsp melted
- 350g spiral or other short pasta
- 1 garlic clove, finely chopped
- 1 tsp English mustard powder
- 3 tbsp plain flour
- 250g vegetarian mature cheddar, grated
- 50g parmesan , grated
Tips For The Best Macaroni And Cheese Youll Ever Eat
Feel like you may still need some help? If you have time, jump over to this post for the juicy details: 18 Secrets to the Richest, Creamiest Mac and Cheese Youll Ever Eat or focus on these tips:
Never stop stirring your milk once it hits the pan. If your skillet is too hot or you walk away and for a minute you could scorch the white sauce and it will curdle. It doesnt really hurt the taste, but it will look sort of clumpy. Some readers have called it grainy. It only takes 5 minutes. Just hang out and stir until that sauce is thick enough to coat the back of your spoon.
Use good cheese in your baked macaroni and cheese. That means avoiding bagged, pre-shredded cheeses because they contain cellulose that can in some cases cause your cheese not to melt as it should. -And speaking of cheese, you have so many options! My favorite is sharp cheddar and Swiss.
Do taste as you go. Taste your cheese sauce before you add your pasta. Is it bland? That can be because of the cheese you used or even the kind of salt you seasoned with. If it doesnt have enough flavor, add a pinch more salt, stir it in and taste it again until it suits you.
-Feel free to add more pasta if you want to. Some people say that this recipe doesnt have enough noodles in it, but Ive never had that problem. And yes, you should cook your pasta before adding it to the cheese sauce.
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Easy Baked Macaroni And Cheese
The key to this baked macaroni and cheese is the rich and velvety cheese sauce made with sharp cheddar and smooth cream cheese. Topped with breadcrumbs and baked for a wonderfully crisp and textured finish, this is comfort food at its best.
If youve been in a dinner rut lately, you likely need a boost of motivation with a simple strategy. Heres what I do and youre welcome to borrow it: prepare a new-to-you dinner recipe just once a week. When Im bored in the kitchen, I use this easy and manageable one-night-a-week commitment to keep dinnertime creative, interesting, and satisfying.
The latest and greatest dinner recipe in my kitchen is baked macaroni and cheese. Its certainly nothing new and unique, but it makes a terrific meat-free meal alongside something healthier like fresh salad or steamed green beans.
How Can I Dress Up My Macaroni And Cheese
This baked macaroni and cheese may be the most versatile dish ever. Add in some red pepper for kick, any cheeses you like , add veggies like broccoli and chopped chicken and its a one-dish meal even. Or BACON. Hello. Yeah. Make some garlic bread crumbs for the top if you want some crunch and throw those on. Its really endless.
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Sweet Chili Mac And Cheese Shells
Sweet Chili Mac And Cheese Shells with broccoli is meatless comfort food at its finest with a spicy cheese sauce to warm you up on those brisk, chilly days.
My favorite part about being a food blogger isnt about working from home, receiving products to try, or even the photography. Its making a recipe that I cannot wait to share with you.
Dont get me wrong Im excited about every recipe I share with you .
But this Sweet Chili Mac and Cheese Shells recipe is one of those omg so amazing why is nobody else eating this with me right now?! meals.
Youd think it would be the opposite, that I would want to hoard all the delicious food for myself, but nope my first thought is sharing it with someone. Which is ironic considering how selfish I can be with food.
I should probably also add a disclaimer that anything with sweet chili sauce means I will automatically love it. If I ever marry someone who hates it, we may have some marital issues.
This Sweet Chili Mac and Cheese is meatless comfort food with everything you want when its too cold to roll out of bed in the mornings.
A little bit of spice, lots of cheese, and some broccoli to round it all out.
I talked a little bit about pasta shapes on my butternut squash penne alfredo post, but isnt it funny how the type of pasta used can change our perspective?
You know, the cheesy Velveeta shells every mom made from the box ?
When my friends mom asked us what we wanted for lunch, our answer was often cheesy shells.
Find Tons Of Other Dreamy Cheesy Meals In Ree’s Bestselling Cookbooks
And stir together until its all melted. Go ahead and turn off the heat.
Now its time for seasoning! Add about 1/2 teaspoon salt, 1/2 teaspoon seasoned salt If youre sensitive to salt, start really low and work your way upand remember that the cheese imparts quite a bit of salt to the mix.
BUTand this is importantbe careful not to UNDERSALT the mac & cheese. It really needs ample salt to put the flavor over the top.
*I also use paprika, cayenne pepper, even ground thyme every now and then. Play with different ground spices and see what you like best.
And finally, add plenty of black pepper, of the Black Dust variety. Honestly, I love freshly ground pepperbut not in homemade Mac & Cheese. For me, it has to be the powdery stuff.
Now THATs what Im talkin about.
And guess what? You can just steam some fresh broccoli and spoon some of this over the top. Kids from all over the land will show up at your doorstep.
Did you know a single serving of broccoli is positively loaded with Vitamin C?
Now just dump in the drained, not-fully-cooked macaroni!
And stir the mixture together.
I use a little less than the full amount of cooked macaroni, because I love it extra creamy and coated. Just add it according to how you like it.
Now, you can either dish it up as it is right now, which makes for an ultra-creamy love fest
OR you can pour the macaroni into a buttered baking dish. This is a 2-quart dish, but a 9 x 13 pan would work just fine.
Kinda like this.
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