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Feb 26, 2008 09:48 AM

Mac & Cheese Disaster!

Ok, so I am something of a mac & cheese fiend and am always up for making this at home. Fortunately, my BF is more health conscious than I am so we are trying to find a recipe that is more low-fat than your typical recipe. We made the recipe from Cooks Illustrated a few months ago and it was delicious. It was NOT low-fat. The new issue of Cooking Light has a recipe that has ham and peas in it and we thought we would try it out. It called for skim milk and reduced fat cheddar and swiss. When I brought the milk mixture to a simmer, I added all the cheese, as instructed. The cheese never melted! It turned into this nasty curd-y mess. Any idea what went wrong? I trying to up the heat, I tried to beat the cheese mixture with beaters, I tried adding flour to thicken it and nothing worked. We were left with this hot milk with nasty cheese bits in it. We bailed and added tomato sauce to the already cooked elbows, pancetta and peas. Was is simply a matter of low-fat means no melting? Any recommendations on how to do it right? Anyone want to share a "low-fat" recipe for mac & cheese? Thanks!

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  1. Did you use pre-shredded light cheese? Most pre-shredded cheeses have an anti-caking agent added which tends to prevent thorough melting. Another possibility is that the mixture was too hot when you added the cheese. It's best to add in small amounts over very low heat or even off heat.

    Cook's Illustrated also has a low fat version, which they came out with in 2007.

    3 Replies
    1. re: PinkPika

      Thanks, I shredded the cheese myself, but you are right, I definitely tried to solve the problem by jacking up the heat.

      1. re: Lowren710

        reduced and low-fat cheeses are notorious for their sub-par melting properties - cabot & tillamook are your best bets.

        and as already suggested, you may have exacerbated the problem by cranking up the heat. the melting should be done slowly and gently, or there's a good chance the cheese will seize up or curdle.

        good luck with your next attempt - let us know how it turns out.

        1. re: goodhealthgourmet

          I second Cabot. I've had no problems melting their 75% low fat cheddar at lower temps.

    2. I, like you, have a mac n cheese weakness. BF, like yours, is mr. healthy eater. (And I am, usually, too). So, I make all my mac n cheeses with low fat options. I am speaking for "baked" mac, not stovetop ... I like it crusty! (Met my BF when he was 36 and he never had anything BUT the blue kraft, now he rarely even buys it ;))

      I find that the pre-shredded kraft works (even the FF cheddar version works OK, which I typically mix with a 2% version - usually a mexican blend, always top with 2% or better because it melts better). Always use skim milk, or FF condensed if it's the bahamian version. 2% block kraft melts almost better (more gooey, which I love) than the full fat.

      I once made, and very much enjoyed (but keep forgetting to make again!) a "tofu 'tuna' casserole" from Vegetarian times. It was excellent, even to the meat-eating boyfriend - and mac-and-cheesey enough to satisfy my desires. Here's the recipe: .

      1. for lowfat mac and cheese, i like to use non-fact cottage cheese blended until smooth along with a few wedges of laughing cow lite swiss cheese. add a little milk, flour, pureed onion, and finely chopped parsley and you have a great, cheesy, white mac and cheese.

        5 Replies
        1. re: soypower

          i would love a recipe with amts and what not if your up to it =]]

          1. re: sunkissedbabe43

            gosh, i'm so bad about writing recipes, but this one sounds a lot like the method that i use...just substitute the 2 cups reduced fat cheddar cheese with 4 - 5 wedges of laughing cow lite swiss.

            1. re: soypower

              Ho! You forgot to link the site for the recipe.

              1. re: yayadave

                eek. sorry about that. :o)


                also, you'll want to heat up the milk, add the margarine and melt the cheese wedges in it before adding to the rest of the ingredients.

                1. re: soypower

                  actually, this recipe seems a lot closer to what i make...


                  again, substitute the cheddar cheese w/ laughing cow swiss light.

        2. i know "ick" but velveeta makes 2%, and it's known for making super creamy mac'n'cheese.

          trader joe's also has a low fat, higher fiber and protein soy cheese blend (in a purple bag) of mozzarella, cheddar, and jack (yummy w/ egg whites too) that melts great!

          1. Here's my version of a light Mac and Cheese, with grown-up taste. It uses lots of cottage cheese and buttermilk, plus a little sharp (real) chedder cheese and parm. And - no need to cook the mac before baking!


            2 Replies
            1. re: firecooked

              nice recipe! i love the buttermilk idea. i just might have to try a gluten-free version...

              1. re: goodhealthgourmet

                Let me know how that turns out. My FIL is on a gluten-free diet, and I would like to try it for him.