Italian mac and cheese is creamy, full of flavor, and easy to throw together on busy nights. Make this recipe today with just 7 ingredients!
This is the ultimate weeknight dinner helper since it’s ready in just 15 minutes.
A simple list of ingredients doesn’t mean it’s lacking in flavor though! It has the perfect blend of gooey sauce and Italian seasoning for a taste that everyone will love.
If you want something a little fancier, try this baked version with lobster and a golden brown topping.
Italian Mac and Cheese
Make this meal more filling or stretch the servings to feed a crowd! Feel free to get creative with your favorite mix-ins and combinations.
Be sure to watch our video for helpful tips on making this delicious, cheesy pasta dinner!
When there are 5 minutes left on the penne, stir 2 cups of frozen peas or broccoli into the pot. Cover with a lid to bring back to a boil and strain together when done.
Or, stir in a few handfuls of fresh baby spinach after the pasta and sauce have been combined. Let it sit for a few minutes so the spinach can wilt before serving.
After draining the penne, add it back to the pan with some cooked chicken or turkey.
You can use up leftover rotisserie or shredded chicken as well since the heat from the rest of the dish will warm it through.
This mozzarella mac and cheese also tastes great with leftover ground beef, sausage, hamburger, or rinsed and drained beans. Navy, kidney, and pinto are our favorites.
Best Cheese For Macaroni and Cheese
Regardless of the type you use, shred it yourself instead of using prebagged shreds.
These contain an additive to prevent clumping that gives the shreds a waxy texture and keeps them from melting properly.
Next, pair at least one good melting variety with an aged variety for bolder flavor.
You can use all mozzarella if you’d like, but I typically mix equal parts of that and provolone.
A little Romano, Asiago, or Fontina will add some interest. Just be sure to use at least 4 ounces of mozzarella for this Italian mac and cheese.
Italian Mac and Cheese FAQ
Is mozzarella a good cheese for mac and cheese?
Absolutely! Not only does it melt down smoothly, but the flavor is mild enough to go with whatever else you mix it with.
Can you freeze macaroni and cheese?
Surprisingly, yes! Allow it to cool before transferring to a freezer-safe plastic bag or container. Store for up to 3 months and thaw in the refrigerator before reheating.
If you plan to freeze the entire batch, undercook the noodles just a bit so they don’t become mushy when thawed and reheated.
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Other Easy Italian Pasta Recipes
Italian Mac and Cheese + Video
- 4 tablespoons unsalted butter
- 1/4 cup all-purpose flour
- 2 cups whole milk, 2% is good too
- 1 pound dry mini penne pasta
- 8 ounces Italian blend shredded cheese, *see below to make your own blend
- 1/3 cup fresh grated Parmesan cheese
- 1 tablespoon dried Italian seasoning, I prefer McCormick Tuscan Style Italian Seasoning
- Bring a large pot of water to a boil, salt it, cook pasta according to package directions, to al dente. Drain pasta once it is cooked and set aside. Work on the next step while your pasta is cooking.
- Meanwhile, in a medium sauce pan over medium heat melt butter, add flour and Italian seasoning and whisk for about 2 minutes to cook out the ‘flour-y’ taste. Add milk and continue to whisk occasionally, allowing the mixture to thicken. Add cheeses and whisk until fully combined.
- Pour cheese sauce over strained pasta and stir to combine. Sauce will thickens as it sits.
- Serve and enjoy!
All nutritional information is based on third party calculations and is only an estimate. Each recipe’s nutritional value will vary depending on the ingredients used, measuring methods, and portion sizes.
Originally published September 2011, updated and republished February 2021
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