A classic comfort food with a veggie-loaded twist! This Spinach Mac and Cheese recipe comes together quickly, is packed with fresh or frozen spinach, is easy to make in about 15 minutes, and tastes perfectly cheesy.
I’m going to start right off the bat by saying that I totally get if you aren’t sure about green mac and cheese. But hear me out.
Back when I was a brand new blogger, plenty of my early readers were not sure about spinach in muffins. But I did it anyway and I won MANY hearts (and tastebuds) over and made veggie-loaded believers out of them with my oh-so popular Green Smoothie Muffins. So, I want you to trust me here because I think this Spinach Mac and Cheese is the lunch or dinner version of those beloved muffins.
Because while Spinach Mac and Cheese is oh-so-green in color, it has the familiar flavor and texture of good ‘ol homemade mac and cheese. There are no leaves of wilted spinach in the mix, as the spinach has been combined into the cheese sauce to make the spinach texture and flavor literally blend in. Plus, it is easy to make (almost as easy and time friendly as boxed) in about 15 minutes, so it is a great option for when you want something simple, delicious, and that gets some veggies in. Bonus: you can make it with either fresh or frozen spinach! A cozy, one pot recipe that is vegetarian, can easily be gluten free and helps your family see that green veggies can be tasty…..what more could you want?
Do you have some spinach leftover after making this mac and cheese and want to make sure it doesn’t go to waste? Be sure to check out my tips and tricks for storing spinach so it stays fresh all week!
This recipe is based on our favorite Butternut Squash Mac and Cheese and is now one of our go-to easy lunches and dinner recipes.
What kind of pasta should I use for this green mac and cheese?
You can make this with any kind of pasta you want—whole wheat, gluten free, or bean-based. Just make sure to cook according to the package instructions.
My family really doesn’t like spinach. How can I make this work for them?
Do you have a child or any family member that might be iffy about to trying green mac and cheese? Start with half (or even less) of the amount of spinach and then work your way up to using more.
Can I make this mac and cheese ahead of time?
Absolutely. Just reheat and eat. I find the microwave heats it up perfectly.
Can I use kale instead of spinach?
I love that spinach is delicate and just blends so easily into the cheese sauce of this recipe. Kale is a much more fibrous veggie and, while it can be used in place of spinach, might give the green mac and cheese a different, maybe grittier, texture.
- Want to add more veggies? Frozen broccoli, peas, and green beans are all easy additions. Just add them to the pasta during the last minute of cook time, drain, and add to the sauce with the pasta.
- Adjust the amount of spinach to fit your needs. Start with half the amount of spinach and then work your way up to using more if you feel that will be best for you and/or your family. Or, add more spinach if you are super jazzed about really green mac and cheese.
- Add more cheese. If you like a super cheesy mac and cheese, toss in more grated cheddar to make this veggie-loaded meal something you will love a little extra.
- Make it gluten free with your favorite small gluten free pasta.
More spinach recipes you are going to love
- Peanut Butter Banana Spinach Smoothie
- Baked Spinach Artichoke Pasta
- Blender Banana Spinach Pancakes
- Feta and Spinach Scones
- Healthier Hamburger Helper (with veggies!)
- Healthy Chocolate Muffins (with veggies!)
- Green Smoothie Muffins
- Easy Lentil Veggie Quesadillas
Did you try this veggie-loaded mac and cheese recipe and now you’re hungry for more?
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15-Minute Spinach Mac and Cheese
- 8 ounces small shaped pasta ½ pound. I used whole wheat.
- 1 cup milk
- 3 ounces frozen chopped spinach defrosted and squeezed out, can sub 2 cups fresh spinach
- 1 tablespoon unsalted butter
- 2 tablespoons flour
- 1 cup grated white cheddar cheese
- ¼ teaspoon garlic powder
- ½ teaspoon salt or to taste
- Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Add pasta and cook according to package directions. Once cooked, drain cooked pasta in a colander and set aside.
- While pasta is cooking, add milk and spinach to a blender and blend until milk is green and spinach is totally pureed.
- Place the empty pot back on the stove. Add the butter to the pot and melt over medium heat. Once melted, add in the flour and cook for 30 seconds, while stirring.
- Grab a whisk and slowly pour the milk/spinach mixture into the pot while whisking to prevent lumps.
- Bring the pot up to a simmer to thicken, then stir in the grated cheese, garlic powder, and salt.
- Turn off the heat. Add the cooked pasta to the pot and stir until pasta is fully coated with the sauce. Taste and add more salt or cheese as needed.
- Enjoy warm or let leftovers cool and store in an air-tight container in your fridge for up to 4 days.
The nutritional information is provided as an estimate only and may vary based on the product type, servings and other factors. If you are following a diet, please consult with a professional nutritionist or your doctor. Stay healthy!
Yep yep yep! Family approved! I was iffy about how they would respond to it being green, but they loved it and I appreciate how easy it was to make. You can’t taste the spinach!
I’m so glad your crew enjoyed this! And I’m glad they got on board with the green mac. I agree, the spinach is there in color but truly blends into the cheesy flavors of the sauce.
So, so easy. It was delicious. My husband commented on the green color. I reminded him that pesto is green too! I added about 2/3 cup of cottage cheese in the blender to add a little more protein. That thickened it some and I might be able to lessen the roux in the future. Overall, great recipe.
I love the pesto reminder! And the addition of the cottage cheese is a brilliant move, Donna! I will 100% be trying that with my next batch.
This was SO yummy (and easy to make(!) with ingredients I always have on hand!)! Even my 7-year old veggie averse kiddo gobbled this up and asked for seconds!
I’m so delighted to hear that! Easy + kid-approved is always a goal of mine with recipes. Thanks for taking the time to share, Rebecca!
Made this for my 1yr old grandson and he loves it. He really prefers savory over sweet, which is awesome. Thanks for another great recipe!
I’m so glad to hear that, Cheryl! Thanks for taking the time to share.
Made this for dinner tonight and it was DELISH! Even my veggie-loading hesitant husband was super delighted by it. I read the comments and added some blended cottage cheese to the mix (I’m not often a cottage cheese lover) and it was SO good!!
I always love hearing that a recipe wins over veggie-iffy adults! Especially a bright green one! I agree, the idea of adding cottage cheese is awesome for upping the protein and creaminess. A must try. Thanks for sharing, Steph!
So easy and delicious! The same effort as normal mac and cheese but felt so much better eating it green! Thanks!
I’m so glad you found this as tasty and easy as I do! Thanks for taking the time to share, Shelley!
This was delicious; thank you!
I’m so glad you enjoyed it!
I’ve made this before and it’s superb but can you sub regular cheddar for the white?
Sure! Just the color will be different
Can I freeze this?
I’ve had mixed success freezing cooked pasta. I find that it is always considerably softer after defrosting, but if you don’t mind that, freezing should work fine. Or you could freeze the sauce only and add it to freshly cooked pasta
My picky 3 and 9 year olds said best mac and cheese ever because they don’t like the traditional baked kind. Thank you for this simple veggie filled recipe!
What a wonderful review! I’m so glad it was a success, Sarah. Thanks for taking the time to share.