This creamy Pesto Mac and Cheese pasta is a simple twist on everyone’s favorite comfort food! The pesto adds SO MUCH FLAVOR you might never go back to eating regular mac and cheese.
Make sure to try my No Boil Crockpot Mac and Cheese Recipe too!
Pesto Mac and Cheese is One Of My Favorite Easy Dinners!
Dinner is about to be your favorite meal. I mean isn’t dessert your current fave?
Well, moving forward dinner…and THIS dinner specifically…is aboutta be your favorite. Because mac and cheese meets pesto and everything is now perfect in the world.
I’m super sorry to do this to you. And your jeans. Because summer bods are made in the winter and blah blah blah…but I promise you won’t care about your bathing suit when you’re eating this. True story.
What You’ll Need
Here’s what you’ll need to make this incredibly creamy pesto mac and cheese pasta! Nothing fancy, just simple ingredients coming together to make the ultimate comfort food. Be sure to scroll down to the recipe card for specific amounts.
- Elbow macaroni – You could also use other short noodles, such as cavatappi or penne, but then it’s just a creamy, cheesy pesto pasta and not “mac” and cheese pasta.
- All-purpose flour – This will be used to help thicken the cheesy pesto sauce
- Butter – You can use unsalted or salted.
- Heavy cream – Adds creaminess
- Milk – Any kind of milk will do, but since we are using cream and butter, why not use whole milk?
- Sharp cheddar cheese
- Pesto sauce – You can use homemade pesto sauce or store bought. For a store brand pesto I like Trader Joes. For homemade, this traditional pesto sauce is good, as is this spinach pesto sauce.
- Breadcrumbs – These will be sprinkled on top to give your mac and cheese a lovely crunch on top.
- Parmesan cheese – Also sprinkled on top
- Freshly grated pepper
How to Make Creamy Pesto Mac and Cheese Pasta
It’s actually super simple as far as homemade mac and cheese recipes go. And did I mention pesto? AND CHEEEEEEESE? Here’s how to make it:
Prep your tools. Preheat the oven to 350°F. Lightly coat a 9×13 baking dish with nonstick spray. Set aside.
Cook the pasta. Boil pasta according to the directions on the package. Drain and set aside.
Grate your cheese. No pre-grated stuff this time ’round. Your mac and cheese will be way creamier. And also feel free to add more pesto if you’re feeling zesty 🙂
Make the creamy pesto sauce. While the pasta is boiling melt 1/2 cup butter in a large saucepan over medium heat. Once butter is melted, add in the flour and stir to combine for 2-3 minutes until smooth.
Slowly whisk in the heavy cream and milk, mixing until smooth. Add in the grated cheddar cheese, stirring constantly until smooth, and thick, about 7 minutes.
Add in the pesto and stir to combine.
Add the cooked pasta into the cheese sauce, and stir to coat. Honestly, you can 100% stop there. Creamy, dreamy and ready to eat.
You can sprinkle some buttery, Parmesan breadcrumbs on top and bake that situation UP. I’m not saying you have to, but you probably are gonna want to. In which case, pour the pasta into the prepared baking dish.
Top with buttery, cheesy breadcrumbs. In a small bowl mix together the remaining 3 tablespoons of butter, breadcrumbs, parmesan cheese, and black pepper. Sprinkle this on top of the pasta.
Bake for 20-25 minutes until bubbly and the breadcrumbs are toasted and golden.
Tips for Success
- Do not use pre-grated cheese. I know it is super tempting! But it is totally worth the effort to grate a block of cheese yourself. You’ll get more flavorful cheese and a creamier cheese sauce for your pasta.
- Use your food processor. Speaking of which, while there is nothing wrong with using a box grater, if you have a grater attachment for your food processor by all means use it. Let the machine do the work!
- Don’t skip the breadcrumbs. That top coat of crunchy, buttery breadcrumbs just goes so nicely with the creamy pesto pasta.
How to Store and Reheat Leftovers
Let your mac and cheese come to room temperature, then spoon it into an airtight container and store it in the fridge for up to 4 days.
To reheat, scoop the desired amount into a bowl and reheat in the microwave, stopping halfway through to stir the pasta and make sure it is heated through. You can also reheat this pasta on the stovetop by spooning the desired amount into a small pot and heating over low heat until warmed.
My husband said this is his new favorite mac and cheese…and I have to say, I agree!
Hope you try it!
More Cheesy Dinner Ideas
- Midwest Five Cheese Bake
- Carnitas Mac and Cheese
- Cauliflower Mac and Cheese
- Philly Cheesesteak Mac and Cheese
Pesto Mac and Cheese
- Prep Time: 20 minutes
- Cook Time: 20 minutes
- Total Time: 40 minutes
- Yield: serves 6
- Category: Dinner
- Method: Stovetop
- Cuisine: American
Creamy, cheesy, and SO much flavor! This is an easy and delicious weeknight meal!
- 1 pound elbow macaroni
- 1/2 cup all-purpose flour
- 1/2 cup butter, plus 3 tablespoons, divided
- 2 cups heavy cream
- 1 cup milk
- 4 cups sharp cheddar cheese, freshly grated
- 1/4 cup pesto sauce
- 1/2 cup breadcrumbs
- 1/2 cup parmesan cheese, freshly grated
- 1 teaspoon fresh grated pepper
- Preheat the oven to 350°F. Lightly coat a 9×13 baking dish with nonstick spray. Set aside.
- Boil pasta according to directions. Drain and set aside.
- While the pasta is boiling melt 1/2 cup butter in a large saucepan over medium heat. Once butter is melted, add in the flour and stir to combine for 2-3 minutes until smooth. Slowly whisk in the heavy cream and milk, mixing until smooth. Add in the grated cheddar cheese, stirring constantly until smooth, and thick, about 7 minutes. Add in the pesto and stir to combine.
- Add the cooked pasta into the cheese sauce, and stir to coat.
- Pour the pasta into the prepared baking dish.
- In a small bowl mix together the remaining 3 tablespoons of butter, breadcrumbs, parmesan cheese, and black pepper. Sprinkle this on top of the pasta.
- Bake for 20-25 minutes until bubbly and the breadcrumbs are toasted and golden.
- Serve immediately.
store airtight in the refrigerator for up to 3 days. Reheat single servings in microwave.
Keywords: creamy pesto pasta, pesto mac and cheese
14 comments on “Pesto Mac and Cheese”
Great recipe! Some modifications: I used 2 cups of heavy cream per the recipe but ran out of milk so omitted that. I used extra pesto (to taste) because my family likes pesto mac.
SO glad you liked this one! It’s such a flavor packed dinner idea!
Hi this Looks amazing! I love pesto. Can we use all milk instead of milk and heavy cream, all the stores by us are out of heavy cream?
Yes you can, it might not be a little thinner, but will still work!
One of my favourite recipes of the year. Definitely not for a health nut but the heavy cream is awesome!
It’s really one of our favorites!!
I made this tonight and OMG. SO incredible! Thanks for the recipe!
SO glad you liked it! It’s a favorite of ours too!
What kind of pesto did you use??? What about adding bacon?
You absolutely could add bacon! I think I used Classico when I photographed this recipe, but I honestly don’t have a jarred favorite. I’ve used Barilla as well and it’s good!
I made this for dinner tonight. I halved the recipe so we would not have leftovers but used almost 1/4 cup pesto (finishing a jar). I also added cooked chicken. It was good. If I make this again I think I will throw some frozen broccoli in as the pasta finishes to add veggies to the final meal. thanks for the recipe.
great idea to add the chicken and broccoli!
How much in weight is the cheese?
Definitely going to make this for my family. It sounds amazing!!!