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Creamy Smoked Gouda Macaroni and Cheese Recipe {Gluten-Free}

by Jeanette on August 26, 2013 · 15 Comments
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This Creamy Smoked Gouda Macaroni and Cheese is a lightened up version with Greek yogurt and a secret ingredient.

Smoked Gouda Macaroni and Chees © Jeanette's Healthy Living
Ever since I took a bite of Chef Plum’s Gouda Macaroni and Cheese with Smoked Avocado Salsa at the Culinary Exploration Workshop, and then again, at his Dinner Underground in Newtown, CT, I’ve been thinking about recreating a healthier version of this comfort food dish in my own kitchen.

When I came across a recipe for a smoked Gouda macaroni and cheese on Cooking Light, I took a closer look to see whether or not this healthier version of mac n’ cheese would pass the test in our house. Scanning the recipe, there was very little cheese relative to most macaroni and cheese recipes, which is good from a health perspective, but I was concerned about the taste and whether or not the recipe would yield the ooey gooey rich cheesy taste and texture of an authentic macaroni and cheese.

The recipe also included spinach to the mac and cheese, which I knew would not pass muster with my kids (unless it’s a stir fry, my kids prefer their vegetables served separately).

Smoked Gouda Macaroni and Chees © Jeanette's Healthy Living

Sure enough, as I read through the reviews, there were a number of comments about the lack of cheesy flavor. So, I came up with a few alterations to the recipe to make this comfort food just that – cheesy, rich and creamy, but still with less fat and calories than the typical recipe.

Smoked Gouda Macaroni and Chees © Jeanette's Healthy Living

I did three things to amp up the flavor and creaminess of this mac ‘n cheese. First, I used more smoked Gouda cheese (one ounce per serving, which does add fat and calories but more flavor; the original recipe only used half an ounce per serving). Second, I substituted nutritional yeast for the Parmesan cheese to add cheesy flavor (nutritional yeast has half the fat, 97% less sodium, and twice the protein of Parmesan cheese).

If you’re not familiar with nutritional yeast, it’s often used in vegan cooking as a substitute for Parmesan cheese. In addition to having umami qualities, nutritional yeast is packed with B vitamins, and is naturally low in salt, so it’s a healthier alternative to Parmesan cheese. Don’t get freaked out by the name…they should probably call it umami dust.

To add extra richness and creaminess to this mac n’ cheese, I used a mixture of non-fat Greek yogurt and a beaten egg, and stirred this into the sauce. This is a great trick that I’ve been using the last few weeks to make creamy sauces and soups without the fat, while adding protein to recipes. Chobani sent me some Greek yogurt to play around with and I’ve been having fun trying it in all sorts of recipes as a healthier substitute for coconut cream (Smoked Red Curry Coconut Chicken), heavy cream (cream soups), and sour cream (dips).

Smoked Gouda Macaroni and Cheese with Smoked Avocado Salsa © Jeanette's Healthy Living

For extra smokiness, I served some Smoked Avocado Salsa on the side, which the kids dolloped on top of their macaroni and cheese. This little extra condiment is well worth the effort.

Even doubling the amount of Gouda cheese, one serving of this revamped Creamy Smoked Gouda Macaroni and Cheese comes in at about 400 calories, thanks to some healthy substitutes.

5 from 1 reviews
Smoked Gouda Macaroni and Cheese Recipe
Prep time
Cook time
Total time
Greek yogurt adds creaminess without the calories, and nutritional yeast adds cheesy flavor with about half the calories of Parmesan cheese. Spanish smoked paprika adds even more smokiness to this dish.
Serves: 6-8
  • 2 slices gluten-free whole grain bread
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 12 ounces dry gluten-free macaroni
  • 1 tablespoon organic butter
  • 1 onion, chopped (~ ¾ cup)
  • 3 cloves garlic, chopped
  • 3 tablespoons sweet rice flour
  • 3 cups low-fat milk
  • ½ cup non-fat Greek yogurt
  • 1 egg, beaten
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • ¼ teaspoon pepper
  • 2 cups (6 ounces) shredded smoked Gouda cheese
  • ½ cup nutritional yeast
  • Spanish smoked paprika
  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
  2. Place bread in food processor and pulse until you get fine crumbs. Place in bowl and add minced garlic; toss well. Set aside.
  3. Cook macaroni until just done; do not overcook.
  4. Heat butter in large saucepan over medium heat. Add onions and garlic. Cook until onions are translucent. Add rice flour and cook one minute, stirring constantly. Slowly add milk, whisking until well blended. Continue to cook on medium heat until slightly thickened, about 2 minutes. Mix yogurt and beaten egg together well. Whisk into sauce until blended. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Stir in cheese and nutritional yeast; whisk until cheese is melted. Add cooked macaroni to sauce and stir until well blended. Spoon into casserole dish. Sprinkle breadcrumbs on top; sprinkle some Spanish smoked paprika on top. Bake for 15 minutes or until bubbly.
Adapted from Cooking Light

Come join Mac and Cheese Mania at Nutmeg Nanny and Rachel Cooks sponsored by Door to Door Organics and OXO!

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  1. I’m a sucker for cheesy, creamy mac and cheese and this one looks totally fabulous!

  2. I always wonder about Cooking Light’s mac and cheese recipes because when I want something to taste seriously cheesy, it’s such a disappointment when it falls short! I’m so glad to see your modifications! They sound absolutely delicious.

    • Joanne – I love the recipes that have reader feedback so I don’t spend all the time making something and find out (too late) that it doesn’t turn out the way I expected. I’ve learned to taste along the way. I started out with half the amount of smoked Gouda cheese, but the sauce didn’t have enough flavor, so I added more. Some dishes just need that extra creaminess and flavor from cheese, so I try to balance that with the healthy part of it. After all, if it doesn’t taste good, no ones going to eat it.

  3. Jeanette, this looks like the ultimate healthy version of comfort food. And what a great use of nutritional yeast — I mostly use it as a popcorn topping so I’m loving this new application. We tend to toss veggies into our mac & cheese too – yum on the avocado!

    • Thanks Kelly – I started using nutritional yeast a few years back and love the cheesy umami flavor it adds.

  4. We had Mac and cheese that my daughter made tonight-yum! Tomorrow night might be your crock-pot chicken :-) love trying new Mac and cheese recipes, and I especially love your addition of Greek yogurt and nutritional yeast. I’m sure it will end up in a meal plan soon!

  5. So great that your daughter can cook! Hope you like my crockpot BBQ pulled chicken – I’ll be making that again soon. Until recently, I only used Greek yogurt in baking and dips/sauces, so I’m pleasantly surprised that it works so well in other types of cooking.

  6. I made this tonight and it was a major hit! Even my pickiest eater gobbled it up and let out a big “yum”. Thanks for sharing a great recipe, we will be making it again.

  7. Where can you find nutritional yeast?

    • Devon – Whole Foods carries nutritional yeast in the bulk section and you can find it in some supermarkets (in jars) as well as health food stores.

  8. We haven’t exactly eaten the finished dish yet, but the family is practically licking the pan I made the cheese sauce in :-) I am super picky about Mac and cheese, preferring a southern, cheddar variety. I’m officially a Gouda convert! Thanks Jeanette for this excellent recipe

    • Alaina, thanks so much for trying this recipe – so glad it worked out for your family. I really appreciate you coming back to let us know how it turned out.

  9. Whoops! 5 stars, not 4

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