The Secret Ingredient to the Richest, Creamiest Mac and Cheese, According to Food Network Star Molly Yeh

Baked Mac and Cheese

Macaroni and cheese is one of those recipes that is almost impossible to mess up. If it’s pasta and cheese, chances are it’ll be delicious. But there is always a way to play with classic dishes, and maybe even improve them. And that’s exactly what we discussed with cookbook author and Food Network star Molly Yeh when we caught up with her ahead of her appearance at the annual South Beach Wine & Food Festival.

Yeh is the queen of comfort food, so mac and cheese is definitely something she makes often. Over the years, she has refined her method and swears by one ingredient to make it the best ever. “I love yogurt (in) mac and cheese. It adds such a nice flavor that cuts through the richness of the cheese, it’s also so easy to prepare,” Yeh said. Parade. Greek yogurt mac and cheese? She caught our attention. We dug a little deeper to get all the details you need to put this tip into practice in your kitchen.

Related: 5 Celebrity Mac and Cheese Recipes You Need to Try

Why should you add Greek yogurt to macaroni and cheese?

Yogurt makes your cheese sauce richer and creamier and adds a subtle flavor. Yeh likes to use Greek yogurt in her mac and cheese because it’s thicker than regular plain yogurt. Yeh is the author of a cookbook all about yogurt, so it’s safe to say she knows a thing or two about the subject. This book was published in 2018, but we also noticed that Yeh was making Greek yogurt mac and cheese as early as 2015, when she used it as a key ingredient in a gouda version with peaches (!) and prosciutto on her blog. In the blog post, Yeh mentions that she was inspired by Greek-American food writer and cookbook author Diane Kochilas, who also loves to season pasta with yogurt. Yeh’s most recent book, Home is where the eggs are, which was released in 2022, includes a mac and cheese recipe that includes yogurt. It’s a hit with fans, as evidenced by at least one rave review on Instagram.

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How much Greek yogurt should you add to mac and cheese?

Depending on the recipe, you will need to add about ½ to 1 cup of plain Greek yogurt into the cheese sauce. Molly uses about 1 cup of yogurt per 8 ounces of pasta, which is half of a typical box of dried pasta. If you’ve never tried this method before, you can start with 1/4 or 1/2 cup of yogurt and add it to taste. If you’re not in the mood to make homemade mac and cheese, yes, you can add a few spoonfuls of Greek yogurt into your boxed mac and cheese for a quick and easy upgrade.

Yeh also likes to add pasta water to her cheese sauce “to help it come together.” The starch in the pasta cooking water will add some thickening power and also help the sauce stay smooth and creamy. Just be sure to remove some of the pasta water before draining and not rinsing. The starch from the unrinsed pasta will help the cheese sauce adhere to each noodle.

Speaking of pasta, you can use any shape. Rigatoni is perfect for pairing with cheese sauce, as are small bowl-shaped orecchiettes, and classic elbow macaroni is always a solid choice. The choice of cheese is also entirely up to you. Cheddar or Gruyere are always great, or maybe add a little heat with pepper jack.

No matter what pasta and cheese you use, the “Girl Meets Farm” host recommends “eating it immediately off the heat when it’s the creamiest.” We will gladly follow this advice!

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