Mac and cheese is a beloved dish in households across the country. It’s the ultimate comfort food that satisfies our cravings for something warm, cheesy, and filling. However, traditional mac and cheese is not always the most diet friendly option, as it can be high in calories and low in nutritional value. That’s where high protein mac and cheese comes in!
High protein mac and cheese is a great way to enjoy your favorite comfort food while also getting the extra protein your body needs, especially if you have an active lifestyle or are trying to retain muscle while losing weight.
I’m going to be frank with you – This is not your typical gooey mac and cheese recipe. This type of mac and cheese recipe uses ingredients that are high in protein, such as greek yogurt, chicken tenderloin (or chicken breast), Parmesan cheese, Laughing cow light cheese and a little bit of shredded cheddar! None of these cheeses are very high in fat so you aren’t going to have super melty mac & cheese but this should satisfy the craving!
The amount of protein in high protein mac and cheese can vary depending on the ingredients used, I was able to get this to 41.6 g protein . In comparison, traditional mac and cheese usually only contains about 10 grams of protein per serving.
To make high protein mac and cheese, you can use different types of pasta such as whole wheat, bean-based, or chickpea pasta. These types of pasta have more protein than regular pasta and are also higher in fiber. In this recipe I used regular macaroni elbows because that’s what I had in my pantry. I would definitely try this with Barilla Protein+ Pasta next time!
High protein mac and cheese is a great option for picky eaters or for those who want to upgrade their traditional mac and cheese to the next level. With the right type of pasta, cheese, and additional protein, you can create a dish that satisfies your cravings and meets your nutritional needs.
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WHY MAKE THE BEST HIGH PROTEIN MAC AND CHEESE
- This is an easy recipe the whole family will love
- High-protein mac & cheese is great for meal prep
- It’s ridiculously tasty without all the extra calories
- The Parmesan cheese adds a richer flavor profile than the traditional recipe
INGREDIENTS YOU’LL NEED FOR HIGH PROTEIN MAC AND CHEESE
Chicken Tenderloin ( I use 16oz of raw chicken tenderloin & cook it on the side, if you have leftover rotisserie chicken use that!)
Greek Yogurt (you can sub this for cottage cheese just make sure to blend it first)
Laughing Cow Light Cheese (Some supermarkets have this refrigerated others have it on a shelf, If you can’t find this look for any light spreadable cheese wedge)
Fat Free Shredded Cheddar
HOW TO MAKE GREAT TASTING HIGH PROTEIN MAC AND CHEESE
Check out the recipe card below for full ingredient measurements, cooking time and instructions.
If you aren’t using cooked chicken you’ll want to cook chicken before starting. I like to season chicken tenderloin with salt and pepper, cook it in a large skillet and shred it.
Preheat the oven to 400F.
In a large pot add in water and salt. Bring to a rumbling boil.
Add in macaroni elbows and stir occasionally. Cook for 8 minutes or until the pasta is al dente, Strain pasta and move into a large mixing bowl.
Add in chicken tenderloin, greek yogurt, half the laughing cow cheese, half the parmesan cheese, djon mustard, paprika, salt, pepper and garlic powder.
Transfer mixture to a large baking sheet, top with the remaining laughing cow cheese, parmesan cheese and 1 serving of fat free shredded cheddar. (If you can’t stand fat free, you can use full fat sharp cheddar cheese. It’ll barely make a dent in the calories per serving)
If you do not like a crispier crust on your mac and cheese mix everything together in a skillet and heat until just melted together, you may need to split the mixture into two batches to fit it all into a skillet.
For the best result bake for 20-25 minutes at 400F.
Once out of the oven I like to pour everything back into my large mixing bowl so I can evenly portion each serving into meal prep containers.
CAN I STORE THIS IN THE FRIDGE?
Portion out servings into 5 airtight containers. These will result in meal prep sized lunches. I find this to be an easy way to trick my brain into thinking I’m not eating diet food for lunch which results in me staying fuller longer and makes me less likely to binge.
These can be stored in the fridge up to 5 days, Before reheating I recommend adding a tiny amount of almond milk (or whole milk if that’s your thing) before reheating. I find that the longer I let mac and cheese sit the drier it will be when I try to reheat it.
Alternatively you can also freeze this meal for up to 1 month. If you decide to go the freezer route definitely use a little milk when reheating.
WHATS THE CALORIES / MACROS?
This meal sized portion comes in at 432 calories per serving. The recipe makes 5 equal servings.
The macros per meal are: 54 g carbs, 6 g fat, 42 g protein.
Each meal should weigh around half a pound which is more than enough volume to keep anyone full! (this will vary based on how your meal cooked)
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HIGH PROTEIN MAC AND CHEESECourse: Lunch, DinnerCuisine: AmericanDifficulty: Easy
High Protein Mac and Cheese will leave you satisfied for hours, with 42g of protein per serving this is sure to become a staple in your diet.
12oz Macaroni Elbows (340g)
16 oz Chicken Tenderloin (453g) (or 12 oz cooked chicken)
1 Cup Greek Yogurt (224g)
8 Wedges Laughing Cow Light Cheese
1/4 Cup Fat Free Shredded Cheddar (28g)
1/2 cup Parmesan Cheese (56g)
1/2 tbsp Djon Mustard (8g)
1/2 tsp Paprika
1/2 tsp Salt
1/2 tsp Black Pepper
1/2 tsp Garlic Powder
- If starting with raw chicken cook to your liking. If using precooked skip this step. (I cook chicken in a skillet over medium high heat, 4-5 minutes each side then shred.) DO NOT OVERCOOK YOUR CHICKEN!
- Preheat the oven to 400F.
- In a large pot add in water and salt. Bring to a rumbling boil.
- Add in macaroni elbows, stir occasionally. Cook for 6-8 minutes, strain pasta and move into a large mixing bowl.
- Add in chicken, greek yogurt, half of the laughing cow cheese (4 wedges), half the parmesan cheese (1/4th cup), djon mustard, paprika, salt, pepper and garlic powder.
- Transfer mixture to a large baking sheet, top with the remaining laughing cow cheese, parmesan cheese and shredded cheddar. (or mix everything together in a skillet and heat until just melted if you don’t want that “crispy crust”)
- Bake for 15-20 minutes at 400F.
- Once out of the oven pour everything back into the large mixing bowl, evenly portion into 5 meal prep containers.
- Slightly undercook your chicken, it’ll help it retain moisture in the oven later
- Move quickly once the macaroni elbows are boiled & strained. It will be hard to mix in the cheese if the mac cools!