Creamy Broccoli Mac and Cheese


  • 8 ounces medium pasta shells
  • 2 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 shallot, minced
  • 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
  • 1 ⅓ cups whole milk
  • 1 cup half and half
  • 1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 3 cups chopped broccoli florets
  • 6 ounces extra-sharp cheddar cheese, grated


  1. Cook the pasta in a large pot of boiling salted water according to package instructions until al dente. Drain well and set aside.
  2. In a large skillet over medium-high heat, melt the butter. Add the minced garlic and shallot, and cook until fragrant, about 2 minutes.
  3. Whisk in the all-purpose flour until lightly browned, about 1 minute. Gradually whisk in the whole milk, half and half, and Dijon mustard until slightly thickened, about 3-4 minutes. Season with salt and pepper.
  4. Stir in the cooked pasta, chopped broccoli florets, and grated cheddar cheese until well combined and the cheese is melted, about 3-4 minutes.
  5. Serve the creamy broccoli mac and cheese immediately, garnished with additional black pepper if desired.

Prep Time: 15 minutes Cooking Time: 15 minutes Total Time: 30 minutes Servings: 4

Serving and Storage Tips:

  1. Serve Immediately: Creamy Broccoli Mac and Cheese is best served immediately after preparation to enjoy its rich and creamy texture at its peak. Serve it hot and freshly cooked for the best dining experience.
  2. Garnish with Fresh Herbs: Before serving, garnish the mac and cheese with freshly chopped herbs such as parsley or chives for a pop of color and added freshness. The vibrant green herbs complement the dish beautifully.
  3. Pair with a Side Salad: Balance the richness of the mac and cheese by serving it with a light side salad tossed in a tangy vinaigrette dressing. The crispness of the salad provides a refreshing contrast to the creamy pasta dish.
  4. Refrigerate Leftovers Promptly: If you have leftovers, allow the mac and cheese to cool slightly before transferring it to an airtight container. Refrigerate any unused portions promptly to maintain freshness and prevent spoilage.
  5. Reheat with Care: When reheating leftover mac and cheese, do so gently over low heat on the stovetop or in the microwave, stirring occasionally to ensure even heating. Avoid overheating, as it can cause the cheese sauce to separate or become grainy.
  6. Add a Splash of Milk: If the mac and cheese thickens upon reheating, revive it by stirring in a splash of milk or half and half to loosen the sauce and restore its creamy consistency.
  7. Customize with Additional Toppings: Add extra toppings such as crispy breadcrumbs, crumbled bacon, or diced tomatoes before serving to enhance the flavor and texture of the dish. Get creative and customize it according to your taste preferences.
  8. Portion for Meal Prep: Divide the mac and cheese into individual portions before storing to make meal prep and reheating easier. This allows for convenient grab-and-go meals throughout the week.
  9. Freeze for Future Use: While mac and cheese can be frozen, it’s best to do so before baking if possible. Transfer the unbaked mac and cheese to a freezer-safe container and freeze for up to 2-3 months. Thaw overnight in the refrigerator before baking as directed.
  10. Enjoy as Leftover Lunch: Pack leftover mac and cheese in a microwave-safe container for a delicious and satisfying lunch option. Simply reheat in the microwave at work or school for a comforting meal on the go.

By following these serving and storage tips, you can ensure that your Creamy Broccoli Mac and Cheese stays fresh, flavorful, and enjoyable for every meal.


  1. Bacon Lover’s Delight: For a savory twist, add crispy cooked bacon pieces to the mac and cheese before serving. The smoky flavor of bacon pairs perfectly with the creamy cheese sauce and broccoli.
  2. Spicy Kick: Spice up your mac and cheese by adding a dash of hot sauce or red pepper flakes to the cheese sauce. You can also stir in diced jalapeños or green chilies for an extra kick of heat.
  3. Gluten-Free Option: Substitute gluten-free pasta for the regular pasta shells to make a gluten-free version of this dish. Ensure that all other ingredients, including the flour used in the sauce, are also gluten-free.
  4. Broccoli and Cauliflower Blend: Mix chopped cauliflower florets with the broccoli to add variety and texture to the dish. The combination of broccoli and cauliflower creates a colorful and nutritious mac and cheese.
  5. Smoked Gouda Twist: Replace some or all of the cheddar cheese with smoked Gouda for a unique flavor profile. The smokiness of the Gouda cheese adds depth and complexity to the dish.
  6. Spinach and Artichoke: Add cooked chopped spinach and canned artichoke hearts to the mac and cheese for a delicious spin on the classic dish. The combination of creamy cheese sauce, tender spinach, and tangy artichokes is irresistible.
  7. Buffalo Chicken Mac and Cheese: Stir in cooked shredded chicken tossed in Buffalo sauce for a hearty and flavorful variation. Top with crumbled blue cheese or ranch dressing for an extra burst of flavor.
  8. Pesto Infusion: Mix in a few tablespoons of basil pesto to the cheese sauce for a vibrant and herbaceous twist. The aromatic flavors of basil, garlic, and Parmesan cheese complement the creamy mac and cheese beautifully.
  9. Truffle Oil Elegance: Drizzle truffle oil over the mac and cheese just before serving for a luxurious and decadent touch. The earthy aroma of truffle oil adds sophistication to this comforting dish.
  10. Sun-Dried Tomato and Feta: Stir in chopped sun-dried tomatoes and crumbled feta cheese for a Mediterranean-inspired variation. The sweet-tart flavor of the tomatoes and the tanginess of the feta cheese create a delightful flavor contrast.

Experiment with these variations to create your own unique twists on Creamy Broccoli Mac and Cheese and discover new flavors that suit your taste preferences.


  1. Can I use a different type of pasta for this recipe? Yes, you can use any type of pasta you prefer, such as elbow macaroni, penne, or fusilli. Adjust the cooking time according to the instructions on the pasta package.
  2. Can I use frozen broccoli instead of fresh broccoli? While fresh broccoli is recommended for the best texture and flavor, you can use frozen broccoli florets as a convenient alternative. Simply thaw and drain the frozen broccoli before adding it to the dish.
  3. Is it necessary to use both whole milk and half and half, or can I use one or the other? Using a combination of whole milk and half and half creates a rich and creamy sauce. However, you can use all whole milk or all half and half if preferred, though the sauce may be slightly less creamy.
  4. Can I make this dish ahead of time and bake it later? Yes, you can assemble the mac and cheese up to the point of baking, cover it tightly with plastic wrap or aluminum foil, and refrigerate it for up to 24 hours before baking. Allow it to come to room temperature before baking as directed.
  5. Can I omit the garlic and shallot from the recipe? While garlic and shallot add flavor to the dish, you can omit them if you prefer a milder taste. Alternatively, you can substitute them with onion or skip them altogether.
  6. Can I use a different type of cheese instead of cheddar? Yes, you can experiment with different types of cheese to suit your taste preferences. Gruyère, Monterey Jack, or a combination of cheeses can be used for a unique flavor profile.
  7. How do I prevent the cheese sauce from becoming grainy? To prevent the cheese sauce from becoming grainy, make sure to gradually add the cheese to the sauce and stir constantly until it is fully melted. Avoid overheating the sauce, as this can cause the cheese to separate.
  8. Can I make this dish vegetarian or vegan? Yes, you can make this dish vegetarian by omitting the bacon or using vegetarian bacon alternatives. To make it vegan, use dairy-free cheese, milk, and butter substitutes.
  9. What can I serve with creamy broccoli mac and cheese? Creamy broccoli mac and cheese pairs well with a variety of side dishes such as a simple green salad, garlic bread, roasted vegetables, or a crusty baguette.
  10. How do I store leftovers? Store leftover mac and cheese in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 3-4 days. Reheat individual portions in the microwave or on the stovetop until heated through before serving.

With our Creamy Broccoli Mac and Cheese recipe, you can enjoy the perfect blend of comfort and flavor in every bite. Whether you’re cooking for a cozy night in or entertaining guests, this dish is sure to impress with its creamy texture and delicious combination of ingredients. Try it out for your next meal and experience the irresistible comfort of homemade mac and cheese elevated with wholesome broccoli florets.

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