15 Minute Mac and Cheese


Everyone loves Mac and Cheese and even better when it’s ready in minutes!

This easy recipe is made on the stovetop with elbow macaroni in a quick creamy cheese sauce. Simply perfect.

pot full of 15 Minute Mac and Cheese with bowls full beside it

A Quick Meal or Snack

  • This easy, homemade 15-minute mac and cheese takes the same amount of time a box does.
  • The texture is rich and creamy and the flavor is deliciously cheesy.
  • Hearty and economical this meal satisfies kids and grown-ups alike.
  • Dress it up, add in sausage, chicken, or broccoli. It’s easy to make your own.

Serve with Homemade Garlic Bread and Tossed Salad. It’s time to eat!

ingredients to make 15 Minute Mac and Cheese

Ingredients

PASTA: Elbow macaroni is the traditional pasta for mac and cheese, but any short pasta will do. Shells are another great shape that the thick sauce will cling to. For best results, avoid rinsing the pasta so it’s a little starchy—that helps the sauce stick to it.

CHEESE SAUCE: Choose sharp cheddar (orange or white!) for that bold signature flavor that makes mac and cheese so famous.

Variations

  • My kids love mac and cheese mixed with bacon or broccoli and topped with crunchy breadcrumbs.
  • For a fancy entrée, stir in chunks of crab meat, lobster, even smoked salmon.
  • Add a sprinkle of extra cheese and place it under the broiler for a crispy, browned topping.

process of adding ingredients to pot to make 15 Minute Mac and Cheese

How to Make Mac & Cheese in 15 Minutes

While mac and cheese can be, in the Crockpot, or baked in the oven, this version is a quick stovetop meal.

  1. Melt butter in a saucepan & whisk in flour per the recipe below (this is called a roux).
  2. Whisk in liquid a bit at a time until smooth. Add seasonings.
  3. Remove from heat, stir in cheese until smooth. Stir in the cooked elbow macaroni.

Tips for Perfection

  • Allow the flour and butter to cook for at least one minute before adding liquid. This gets rid of any starchy flavor.
  • Shred your own cheese, packaged shredded cheeses have additives so they don’t melt as well.
  • Use sharp cheddar for a cheesy flavor. Milder cheeses won’t make for a cheesy sauce.
  • Add the cheese after removing the sauce from the heat. Overheating it can cause a grainy sauce or cause the cheese to separate.

bowls of 15 Minute Mac and Cheese

Leftover Macaroni and Cheese

Leftover macaroni and cheese can be reheated!

Store it covered in the refrigerator and it will last up to 5 days! Add a splash of milk (or cream) and heat over medium-low heat until warmed.

close up of 15 Minute Mac and Cheese in the pot

More Mac & Cheese Faves

Did you make this 15 Minute Mac & Cheese? Be sure to leave a rating and a comment below! 

15 Minute Mac and Cheese

Cheesy and creamy, this mac & cheese is cooked on the stovetop in just 15 minutes!

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  • Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Add pasta and cook according to package directions. Drain well, do not rinse.

  • While pasta is cooking, melt butter in a saucepan. Whisk in flour and cook for 1-2 minutes.

  • Add milk and broth a small amount at a time, whisking smooth after each addition.

  • Add dry mustard, salt, pepper, onion powder, and hot sauce. Continue to cook over medium heat and allow to come to a boil. Boil 1 minute while whisking. Remove from heat, add cheeses, and whisk until smooth. Stir in pasta. Season with additional salt & pepper to taste.

  • It is important you are using bold or sharp cheeses in this recipe or it won’t have enough flavor.
    Do not use pre-shredded cheeses, they don’t melt smoothly.
  • To make this recipe quick, shred cheese while you’re waiting for the water to boil. Make the sauce while the pasta is boiling.
  • Allow the flour and butter to cook for at least one minute before adding liquid. This gets rid of any starchy flavor.
  • Shred your own cheese, packaged shredded cheeses have additives so they don’t melt as well.
  • Use sharp cheddar for a cheesy flavor. Milder cheeses won’t make for a cheesy sauce.
  • Add the cheese after removing the sauce from the heat. Overheating it can cause a grainy sauce or cause the cheese to separate.

Calories: 754, Carbohydrates: 74g, Protein: 33g, Fat: 36g, Saturated Fat: 22g, Polyunsaturated Fat: 2g, Monounsaturated Fat: 10g, Trans Fat: 1g, Cholesterol: 101mg, Sodium: 1482mg, Potassium: 412mg, Fiber: 3g, Sugar: 6g, Vitamin A: 1137IU, Vitamin C: 4mg, Calcium: 658mg, Iron: 2mg

(Nutrition information provided is an estimate and will vary based on cooking methods and brands of ingredients used.)

Keyword 15 minute mac & cheese, best mac and cheese, mac and cheese, macaroni and cheese

Course Dinner, Pasta

Cuisine American

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bowls of 15 Minute Mac and Cheese with writing
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Farmers Market Salad – Spend With Pennies


This colorful Farmers Market Salad is fresh twist on a tortellini salad and perfect as a side or main dish!

Tender tortellini is cooked and cooled and then tossed with a variety of fresh veggies and cheese in a quick homemade dressing. SO EASY!!

Farmers Market Salad in a white bowl

Cheesy Tortellini Salad

We are absolutely in love with this salad!

  • It is packed with tasty ingredients
  • The fresh dressing is homemade and takes just a minute to make.
  • Swap out the veggies below for your faves or even leftover roasted or grilled vegetables.
  • This dish can be made ahead of time and keeps for days.
  • It’s great as a side dish or hearty enough as a main dish.

Ingredients

PASTA We prefer cheese tortellini as this salad is served chilled!

VEGGIES Colorful additions make this tortellini salad both beautiful and delicious! We’ve used our favorite tex-mex inspired veggies making sure to vary colors and textures.

DRESSING I prefer a homemade dressing (which takes just minutes to prep) but if you like, use a vinaigrette like cilantro-lime or something Tex-Mex inspired. A creamy ranch would work too.

Tortellini Salad ingredients on a baking sheet

How to Make Farmers Market Salad

Farmers Market Salad may be quick and easy, but it’s an impressive salad!

  1. Cook tortellini al dente. Rinse, drain, and cool.
  2. Combine all ingredients, including cooled tortellini.
  3. Place dressing in a jar and shake well. Toss with tortellini mixture.

Refrigerate at least an hour before serving. Add avocado right before serving.

Kitchen Tip

For pasta salads, always add a bit more dressing than you think you’ll need. As it chills (which helps the flavors to blend), the pasta will absorb some of the dressing.

Tortellini Salad ingredients in a glass bowl

Tips for Tortellini Salad

  • Cook pasta al dente (firm) as it will soften slightly in the dressing.
  • Dress the salad generously as it will absorb the dressing as it sits.
  • Refrigerate the salad before serving to allow the flavors to blend.
  • This a great make-ahead salad! Put the finished salad in a serving bowl and cover it with plastic wrap.
  • For a dressing short cut, use pre-packaged jarred pesto with olive oil or another favorite vinaigrette.

Favorite Cold Salads

Did you make this Farmers Market Salad? Be sure to leave a rating and a comment below! 

Farmers Market Salad

Farmers Market Salad is full of fresh, colorful veggies & cheesy tortellini, tossed in a cilantro-lime vinaigrette!

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  • Cook tortellini al dente (firm) according to package directions. Drain and rinse under cool water.

  • Combine cooled tortellini in a large bowl with all ingredients except avocado and dressing.

  • Combine dressing ingredients in a small bowl, toss into the tortellini mixture. Refrigerate at least 1 hour before serving, tossing occasionally.

  • Add avocado just before serving.

Cook pasta al dente (firm) as it will soften slightly in the dressing.
Dress the salad generously as it will absorb dressing as it sits.
Refrigerate the salad before serving to allow the flavors to blend. 
This a great make-ahead salad! Put the finished salad in a serving bowl and cover it with plastic wrap.
For a dressing short cut, use pre-packaged jarred pesto with olive oil or another favorite vinaigrette. 

Calories: 426, Carbohydrates: 28g, Protein: 12g, Fat: 31g, Saturated Fat: 20g, Cholesterol: 31mg, Sodium: 490mg, Potassium: 260mg, Fiber: 4g, Sugar: 5g, Vitamin A: 1849IU, Vitamin C: 24mg, Calcium: 207mg, Iron: 2mg

(Nutrition information provided is an estimate and will vary based on cooking methods and brands of ingredients used.)

Keyword best tortellini salad, Farmers Market Salad, how to make tortellini salad, tortellini salad, tortellini salad recipe

Course Pasta, Salad, Side Dish

Cuisine American

Tortellini Salad in a bowl and Tortellini Salad ingredients on a baking sheet with a title
Tortellini Salad in a white bowl with a title
Tortellini Salad in a serving bowl with writing
Tortellini Salad in a bowl with a spoon and writing



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Taco Quinoa Bowl – Spend With Pennies


This Taco Quinoa Bowl is chock full of goodness with ground chicken, beans, and veggies!

Colorful, crunchy, and healthy, this quinoa bowl recipe will is the perfect lunch or dinner! It’s easy to make ahead of time and can keep for a few days. Set out a variety of toppings so everyone can build their own healthy creation!

close up of Taco Quinoa Bowl

Taco Quinoa Bowl

  • This nutritious recipe not only tastes great but it’s also fun to make and eat.
  • A healthy dose of protein-laden quinoa makes it filling.
  • Use any ground meat or even leftover taco meat.
  • Great to make ahead, serve warm or chilled.
  • Add your own favorite toppings to make this fresh favorite.

ingredients to make Taco Quinoa Bowl

Ingredients

LEAN CHICKEN Ground chicken is used in this recipe, but ground turkey or beef could be used as well!

VEGGIES Poblano peppers, diced red bell peppers, and southwest corn are seasoned in taco mix.

QUINOA Everything is scooped over quinoa that’s been cooked in chicken broth and topped with sliced green onions.

Variations

Try our Mexican seasoning recipe and use it in so many other dishes! Taco quinoa bowls are a great way to use up leftover meat like beef, turkey, or ground turkey, and for a fully vegetarian version, switch out the meat for black beans.

Add-Ins & Toppings 

  • VEGGIES Diced avocados, black olives, shredded lettuce, or jalapenos.
  • CHEESE Shredded cheddar cheese, crumbled cotija cheese, or Monterey Jack.
  • SAUCES Try salsa, sour cream, or guacamole!

top view of Taco Quinoa Bowl

How To Make Taco Quinoa Bowl

Customizable quinoa bowls are easy to put together.

  1. Simmer rinsed quinoa with broth & one whole green onion
  2. Brown chicken & onion. Add corn, taco seasoning, & water. Simmer until thickened.
  3. Remove whole green onion from quinoa & divide among 4 bowls.
  4. Top with chicken mixture & desired toppings.

Storage

Taco quinoa bowls will keep in the refrigerator for 4 days. Store them in separate serving containers and they’ll be the perfect grab-and-go meals for any time. Quinoa can be made in advance and even frozen in quart-sized zippered bags whenever you want a quick lunch or light dinner!

Mexican-Inspired Faves

Did you make this Taco Quinoa Bowl? Be sure to leave a rating and a comment below! 

Taco Quinoa Bowl

Taco Quinoa Bowls are loaded with chicken, seasoned veggies, and quinoa! Top with salsa, sour cream, or guacamole.

Follow Spend with Pennies on Pinterest

  • Rinse quinoa until water is clear. Combine quinoa, broth and one whole green onion in a sauce pan. Bring to a boil, reduce heat and simmer covered 25 minutes.

  • Meanwhile, brown ground chicken and onion in pan until no pink remains. Add taco seasoning and ½ cup water. Simmer until thickened.

  • Divide quinoa over four bowls (discard whole onion). Top with seasoned chicken, corn, and sliced green onion. Add toppings as desired.

Nutrition information does not include toppings below.
Topping suggestions:
Diced tomatoes, diced bell peppers, olives, shredded cabbage, salsa, sour cream, cheddar cheese, jalapenos.

Calories: 401, Carbohydrates: 42g, Protein: 29g, Fat: 13g, Saturated Fat: 3g, Trans Fat: 1g, Cholesterol: 98mg, Sodium: 664mg, Potassium: 1065mg, Fiber: 4g, Sugar: 1g, Vitamin A: 187IU, Vitamin C: 12mg, Calcium: 47mg, Iron: 4mg

(Nutrition information provided is an estimate and will vary based on cooking methods and brands of ingredients used.)

Keyword how to make a Quinoa Bowl, Quinoa Bowl, Quinoa Bowl recipe, Taco Quinoa Bowl

Course Dinner, Entree, Lunch, Main Course

Cuisine American, Mexican

plated Taco Quinoa Bowl with writing
top view close up of Taco Quinoa Bowl with writing
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