Today I’d like to show you how to make a healthier homemade Easy Mac copycat with microwaved pasta and a low fat cheese sauce. The base recipe will be for a chipotle cheddar mac and cheese, but I’ll leave plenty of notes for other flavor ideas and modifications.
Below you’ll find a walkthrough that covers all the finer details and ingredient notes. If you’re familiar with my recipes and staples ingredients, feel free to skip down to the printable recipe card and get mac’n!
How to Cook Pasta in the Microwave
Microwaving pasta may seem blasphemous to some, but those folks probably aren’t using this recipe anyway! I’m currently in the midst of finishing a pasta cookbook and have cooked pasta every which-a-way for the past month.
And in my opinion, there’s no noticeable difference between microwaved pasta and stovetop boiled pasta. At least not with an impasta like Banza’s chickpea pasta, which is what this copycat Easy Mac recipe calls for.
Now that we’ve established that, here are a few important notes for cooking chickpea pasta in the microwave:
- The recipe calls for 2 ounces of dry pasta. That’s about 2/3 cup dry pasta in case you don’t have a food scale.
- You’ll need a big bowl to prevent overflow. Chickpea pasta creates lots of foam as it cooks. Even with a small amount, regular sized bowls and mugs didn’t do the trick for me in testing.
- Don’t forget the salt.
- I’ve not tested doubling the recipe, but I’m guessing you’ll need a really, really big bowl to avoid overflow.
Making a Cheese Sauce for Your Easy Mac
You’ll need 3 things for the cheese sauce:
- cheddar powder
- fat free Greek yogurt
- hot sauce
If you’re unfamiliar with cheddar powder, it’s basically dehydrated cheddar cheese. I always use the comparison of powdered peanut butter. You can reconstitute it in liquids like Greek yogurt for a much lower fat creamy sauce than melted cheese on its own.
Where to Find Cheddar Powder
Like I mentioned in my recent buffalo chicken mac and cheese recipe, it’s easier to order cheddar powder online than track it down in stores. I’ve included it on my recommended ingredients Amazon list and linked it in the recipe card below.
In case you don’t have cheddar powder on hand, grated parmesan works great with something like the Italian Bomba Pepper sauce I used with my air fried cauliflower gnocchi. You could also use other cheese sauces like the queso in my chipotle beef queso mac and cheese or make your own on the stove like in my cajun mac and cheese.
As for the Greek yogurt and hot sauce, I’ve found it’s much easier to get even cheese distribution when you mix the cheddar powder with a bit of liquid rather than going straight into something like pasta. Otherwise, you’ll have to stir like crazy to get rid of cheese chunks.
Okay, let’s talk substitutes for the yogurt and/or hot sauce.
More Mac and Cheese Flavor Ideas
You can get as creative as you’d like here. I’ll get you started with a handful of ideas, but you’ll quickly see just about anything will work as add-ins with the cheddar powder.
Hot Sauce Substitutes
- Frank’s RedHot Buffalo Sauce
- Sriracha or Chili Garlic Sauce
- Italian Bomba Pepper Sauce (Trader Joe’s) or roasted pepper spreads
- Worcestershire or other umami-boosting sauces
Greek Yogurt Substitutes
- Fat Free or Reduced Fat Cream Cheese, softened
- Light Mayo
- Heavy Cream or Half and Half
- Any Type of Yogurt (you could try dairy free + nutritional yeast for vegan Easy Mac)
I can’t wait to see what you come up with. Be sure to leave a comment or tag me on Instagram with your creations! Okay, that’s it. You’ll find the printable recipe card below.
- 2 oz (2/3 C) Banza Pasta Elbows
- Pinch of Salt
- 1 C Water
For the Cheese Sauce (additional flavor notes below)
- 2 Tbsp (14g) Cheddar Powder
- 2 Tbsp (28g) Fat Free Greek Yogurt*
- 1 Tbsp (15g) Chipotle Cholula Hot Sauce*
- Add the pasta and salt to a LARGE bowl (I used 1.5-quart glass bowl) and fully submerge in water. Microwave for 3 minutes (1000w microwave) or until the pasta is cooked to your liking.
- While the pasta cooks, mix the cheddar powder, yogurt, and hot sauce together.
- Stir the cooked pasta before draining the excess water.
- Fold the pasta and sauce together and dig in!
*You can experiment with other sauces like buffalo, sriracha, roasted pepper blends, etc. Cream cheese and other creamy spreads should work fine in place of Greek yogurt. You could also try melting finely grated cheese straight in. I've included more notes for ingredient substitutions in the post above.
Each serving has 4 WW SmartPoints (blue plan).
Nutrition Information:Yield: 2 Servings Serving Size: 1 Serving
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 140Total Fat: 4gCarbohydrates: 19gProtein: 10g