This easy gluten free mac and cheese is made on the stovetop, and takes 20 minutes or less. Make this crowd-pleasing gf meal in 1 of 3 ways.
What makes this recipe, with 3 varieties, special?
This recipe is a 3-in-1, so the ingredient list might seem intimidating. But let me show you the way, and you’ll probably be able to commit your favorite variety of the recipe to memory. Then, it will really be yours.
Baked gf macaroni and cheese is more like a casserole, and it calls for eggs. You can easily make that whole recipe ahead of time, freeze or refrigerate it, and then bake it when you’re ready.
But these 3 recipe varieties are all egg-free. The cheese sauces must be made right before serving, but you can boil the pasta ahead of time, toss it with some olive oil, then cover it and keep it at room temperature for hours (or even a day, when the weather isn’t steamy).
The first variety, pictured above, is the roux-based macaroni and cheese. It calls for a few more ingredients, but it makes a just-right balance of creamy and cheesy.
The second variety, called queso-style, is pulled from our recipe for gluten free cheese sauce. It makes a thick, rich sauce that’s the easiest way to make the cheesiest sauce.
The third variety, called “almost-instant,” calls for cheddar cheese powder. It’s a specialty ingredient that you probably don’t already have, but it tastes like The Box and it’s the only type of gf mac and cheese that my non-gooey-cheese eating gluten free son loves.
Roux-based gf mac & cheese
The original way I made stovetop gf macaroni and cheese was always using a roux, which is just a cooked mixture of butter and a simple flour blend. The roux thickens the sauce and creates a creamy texture without just adding more cheese.
After making the roux, simply add the milks and the cheese with a bit of seasoning. Mix in the prepared gluten free pasta, and dinner’s ready.
There are ways to make this even easier by tweaking the method to cook the dried pasta in the same saucepan first, but you have to use more liquids and the overall method isn’t any easier. In fact, I think it’s more complicated and confusing.
This is perfect for a weeknight, or a Friday night when you’re just.plain.tired. It’s also convenient for the holiday table since, well, it doesn’t use the oven.
Queso-style gf mac & cheese
The gluten free cheese sauce that we use for queso is perfect for making macaroni and cheese. We discussed that method in that recipe, too.
All it calls for is some freshly shredded cheese tossed in a bit of starch to help thicken the sauce (but without a roux), some milk, and some Kraft deli-style cheese slices.
Those Kraft slices aren’t the “processed cheese” we all know, but rather they’re real cheese. If you can’t find the right cheese slices, I bet you could use an equal amount, by weight, of Velveeta instead.
I promise it’s easy to make a roux-based sauce. Once you master the technique, you’ll begin to see how useful it is for recipes like gluten free turkey gravy.
But if you don’t feel comfortable trying to make a roux-based sauce, this queso-style sauce is perfect for you. You can modify the type of shredded cheese to your family’s tastes.
There are different flavors of the Kraft deli-style cheese, too. I like American best in this recipe, but it’s really just a matter of taste.
Almost-instant gf mac & cheese
My gluten free son, the one whose needs led to the creation of this site, doesn’t really like most mac and cheese—especially the stovetop kind. But he really likes this third type, made with dehydrated cheese.
This type of gf macaroni and cheese happens to be the absolute easiest kind, too. Simply whisk together the milk and the powdered cheese until it’s very smooth, add butter, and cook.
The milk rehydrates the cheese, and the butter helps the sauce coat the gluten free macaroni. It will be the easiest thing you do all day, and I would even let my teenagers make it for themselves.
This recipe tastes like I remember the Kraft box of mac and cheese. Kraft itself now makes its own box of gluten free mac and cheese, but I haven’t tried it. If you have, let us know how it went!
My new favorite gluten free macaroni
If you use my new favorite gluten free macaroni, which you see in the image above, you can refrigerate the boiled pasta before adding it to the cheese sauce of your choice. The brand is Rummo, and their gluten free pasta is a cut above.
Amazon does carry some Rummo brand gluten free pasta (that’s an affiliate link), but they don’t often carry the elbow macaroni. I’ve hunted it down, but from sources I consider too expensive for me to share.
I also regularly use Barilla gluten free elbow pasta (and all other shapes), and they’re great, too. But Rummo actually cooks al dente and isn’t hard even when it’s cold. That’s just a gluten free miracle.
Ingredients and substitutions
I have never tried to make this mac and cheese recipe (or any, really) myself dairy free. But I think it’s worth trying for 2 of the 3 methods.
Here are the substitutions I would try, dairy ingredient by dairy ingredient:
- For the milk: unsweetened almond milk
- For the shredded cheese: Violife brand or Miyoko’s Kitchen brand blocks, shredded
- For the sliced cheese: Daiya sliced American-style cheese
- For the butter: Miyoko’s Kitchen or Melt brand vegan butter
The dehydrated cheese, “almost instant” recipe can’t be made dairy free. For the cheddar cheese powder in the third variety, I really like Hoosier Hill Farm brand (that’s an Amazon affiliate link, but please shop around.)
In place of the gum-free gluten free flour blend in the roux-based recipe, or the cornstarch in variety #2, you can use an equal amount of superfine sweet white rice flour.