Baby Mac and Cheese Recipe Ideas

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Written by Shandra Williams

Updated on

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Pasta is one of the dishes you may introduce to babies at 6 months old. However, ensure the baby has no allergies to common allergens like gluten/wheat and eggs, as most pasta dishes contain these ingredients (source: FDA).

Cheese may be a part of a baby’s diet as early as 6 months old, opting for those that are pasteurized, full-fat, low-sodium cheese varieties like mild cheddar, cottage, and cream cheese. (source: NHS)  

At 12 months old and above you may introduce cow’s milk and fortified soy-based drinks to your child to help meet their increasing calcium requirements, making sure this is an addition to their diet and not to replace breastmilk or infant formula. (source: Dietary Guidelines for Americans).

Since mac and cheese is a favorite in many households, here are some tasty ideas to try for baby and the rest of the family:

One Pot Mac N Cheese

creamy mac and cheese in pan

After a busy workday, you wouldn’t want to whip up something complicated and stressful for your baby and family’s meal. Try this one-pot mac and cheese for minimal ingredient preparation and cleanup.

2 cupsmacaroni noodles
3 – 4 cupsmilk or liquid, of your choice
1 ½ cup mild cheddar cheese, grated
1 tablespoonunsalted butter
1 teaspoongarlic powder

Instructions:

1. In a sauce pot or instant pot, add pasta and liquid. Cook for 5-8 minutes or until al dente. Stir constantly to avoid clumping the pasta and to release its starches.

2. Once cooked, mix in the grated cheese, butter, and garlic powder. Add liquid to achieve the consistency of your choice.

3. Serve.

Notes:

  • Jazz up this recipe with the addition of your favorite vegetables, just add chopped vegetables of your choice together with the noodles.
  • You can use any pasta shape of your choice, but be cautious of potential choking hazards, especially with smaller pasta sizes (source: CDC).

Green Mac N Cheese

Some of the most nutrient-dense vegetables are green leafy vegetables, most likely why the color green is associated with being healthy. Try this green mac and cheese recipe for that extra nutrient boost in your meals.

2 cupsmacaroni noodles
3 – 4 cupsmilk or liquid, of your choice
1 ½ cupmild cheddar cheese, grated
1 tablespoonunsalted butter
1 teaspoongarlic powder
1 cupbroccoli, chopped
1 cupspinach

Instructions:

1. In a sauce pot or instant pot with boiling water, blanch broccoli until tender remove from the pan and set aside. In the same pot blanch spinach until wilted. Place blanched broccoli and spinach in a food processor and pulse to finely chop vegetables.

2. Throw out blanching water, then in the same pot, add pasta and liquid. Cook for 5-8 minutes or until al dente. Stir constantly to avoid clumping the pasta and to release its starches.

3. Once cooked, mix in the vegetables grated cheese, butter, and garlic powder. Add more liquid to achieve the consistency of your choice.

Notes:

  • Broccoli is loaded with fiber, vitamins, and minerals that can support heart health, boost the immune system, and disease prevention (source: WebMD)
  • Spinach is a dark green leafy vegetable rich in nutrients that support the body’s immune system, wound healing, good vision, and many more. (source: WebMD) Just make sure to blanch spinach before adding it to dishes as it tends to have an earthy soil taste.

Cauli “Mac” N Cheese Cups

cauli mac and cheese in a pad

A low-calorie, low-carbohydrate, gluten-free mac and cheese recipe.

1 head / 4 cupscauliflower, chopped
1 tablespoonunsalted butter
1 tablespoonall-purpose flour, gluten-free
1 cup milk/liquid of your choice
2 cupssharp cheddar cheese
½ teaspoongarlic powder

Instructions:

1. Steam cauliflower until tender. Set aside.

2. In a sauce pot, melt butter then sprinkle in flour. Stir to cook the flour with the butter, making a thickener called a roux.

3. Pour in milk slowly while continuously whisking to combine.

4. Add in the cheese and garlic powder. Stir to melt the cheese.

5. Place steamed cauliflower into the pot with cheese sauce. Stir to coat the cauliflower.

6. Scoop “mac” and cheese into a muffin pan lined with paper liners. Bake in a 350F preheated oven until set.

Notes:

  • You may also serve the dish as is without forming it into cups
  • Cauliflower is a great source of fiber, antioxidants, vitamins, and minerals which may be beneficial for heart health, disease prevention, and reducing inflammation. It is a low-carbohydrate alternative to rice and pasta. (source: APOCP, Pharmacological Research Journal)

Vegan Butternut Squash Mac N Cheese

butternut squash mac and cheese in a plate

Another delicious take on the crowd’s favorite mac and cheese, but made vegan and dairy-free for those families adopting a vegan lifestyle or ones who are lactose intolerant.

2 cupsbutternut squash, peeled and chopped
1 tablespoon  garlic, minced
1 tablespoon olive oil
Salt and pepper to taste
1 cup cashew nuts
2 cups water/homemade vegetable stock
2 cupspasta, of your choice, cooked al dente

Instructions:

1. In a bowl, toss together squash, garlic, olive oil, and salt and pepper.

2. Place on a baking sheet and roast squash in a 350F preheated oven for 20-25 minutes. Remove the tray from the oven then add in cashews, place back in the oven and continue to cook for 8-10 minutes. Set aside to cool slightly.

3. Place roasted squash and toasted cashews in a blender pitcher, and pour in the liquid. Soak in liquid for 20-30 minutes to soften the nuts and squash. Blend until smooth and creamy.

4. Toss cooked pasta with prepared sauce. Serve. 

Notes:

  • For a creamier pasta sauce, you may use plant-based milk of your choice like soy, almond, oat, and the like.
  • Seasoning options: lemon juice, garlic powder, onion powder, paprika, or cayenne powder.
  • The butternut squash is rich in beta and alpha-carotene which in turn becomes Vitamin A, with a great function in supporting our immune system and eyesight protection, it is also a good source of fiber that supports healthy digestion.  (source: WebMD)

Mac N Cheese Zucchini Boats

This mac and cheese recipe is perfect as hand-held or on-the-go snacks for baby-led weaning babies

4 pcszucchini, cut in half lengthwise
2 cupsmacaroni noodles
3 – 4 cups milk or liquid, of your choice
2 cups mild cheddar cheese, grated
1 tablespoonunsalted butter
1 teaspoongarlic powder

Instructions:

1. Score zucchini halves, then scoop out the flesh with a spoon. Finely chop zucchini meat and set aside. Place zucchini halves on a baking sheet, and roast in a preheated 375F oven for 10-15 minutes or until tender.

2. In a sauce pot or instant pot, add pasta, chopped zucchini, and liquid. Cook for 5-8 minutes or until al dente. Stir constantly to avoid clumping the pasta and to release its starches.

3. Once cooked, mix in the grated cheddar cheese, butter, and garlic powder. Add more or less liquid to achieve the consistency of your choice.

4. Scoop mac n cheese onto roasted zucchini, and place inside the oven until mac n cheese is browned on top. Slice then serve. 

Notes:

  • You may sprinkle bread crumbs on top to give it a crunchy crust when baked.
  • Zucchinis are a great source of antioxidants, vitamin A, potassium, iron, zinc, and B vitamins, making them a great addition to this pasta dish. (source: NutritionData)

Making Mac and Cheese Using Baby Formula

The introduction of cow’s milk to a baby’s diet should start at 12 months of age. Before that, it’s best to stick to breast milk and/or infant formula. This is because the protein and mineral content of cow’s milk may not be properly digested by your baby. (source: CDC)

However, dairy products like yogurt, cheese, and butter can still be incorporated in small amounts once the baby starts complementary feeding at 6 months of age. (source: healthychildren.org)

When making mac and cheese recipes, you may use infant formula milk in place of liquids but keep in mind the dos and don’ts when preparing the formula; to mix in the correct concentration, make sure you use clean water, and do not let the formula sit in room temperature for over an hour. (source: WebMD, FDA)

With that said, it is not generally recommended to mix formula milk into a baby’s food.

Mac and cheese is one of the dishes that is widely accepted by all ages, preparing this for your baby and the whole family will give you a stress-free preparation, no need to make separate dishes, plus it is versatile and can easily be tweaked to your liking.