This stovetop version of homemade mac & cheese with kale is our go-to recipe whenever we want to sneak some kale into our daughters’ meals! This 30-minute skillet-style mac and cheese is loaded with flavor and health benefits! It’s creamy and cheesy without sacrificing any flavor!
Yes, you heard correctly. Kale and Macaroni prepared at home. Okay, KALE. Now stay with me. It’s all you could ask for in a handmade mac and cheese, so don’t worry. It’s lovely and creamy, but most of all, my girls like it. Not only is it really easy to prepare, but it’s also loaded with nutritious, hearty kale.
Okay, so I won’t lose you die-hard fans of macaroni and cheese—I swear, this dish will surprise you. Since it involves more than just adding some greens to your preferred mac and cheese. Garlic, onion, and stock are braised down with the kale to absorb the taste and enhance the cheesiness. Once more, my children like this, and believe me when I say that it’s a success when my 5-year-old is still raving about supper several days later.
Braising the kale is one of the most crucial stages to adding kale to mac & cheese and making it kid-approved. For this task, you will require:
- Choose any type of fresh kale that you have. Although the type of kale you’re most likely to find at your grocery store is Curly Kale, you can also get several other types at your local farmers market, such as Tuscan, Red Russian, or Siberian kale. You may use this recipe with any variety!
- Do we ever prepare anything without onions and garlic? The finest colors for this dish are going to be white or yellow.
- To make it vegetarian, use vegetable stock instead of chicken stock.
- Salt with Olive Oil
And now for the pièce de résistance: the handmade macaroni and cheese!
- Macaroni – Elbow macaroni is my daughters’ go-to pasta for this, but we also enjoy it with campanelle, orecchiette, penne, or shells.
- Sharp-flavored cheese Cheddar Our favorite cheese for this is cheddar, although white or medium would also be excellent. We really adore this paired with a smoked gouda and mozzarella combo! Our go-to cheese of choice is tillamook!
- We use milk and half and half (2%), but feel free to use whichever milk or half and half you happen to have on hand. For an even creamier sauce, try using a touch more Whole or adding more cream.
- Butter and flour are needed to produce roux, which is the foundation for a lovely, creamy sauce.
- Ground Mustard: We adore the flavor boost that the mustard adds to the kale.
- Add the salt and pepper.
Cheese Tip: Shredded cheese is essential to a creamy cheese sauce, although it does need a bit more time. In reality, pre-shredded cheeses include chemicals to keep the cheese from clumping together, which also keeps them from melting.
Milk Tip: As soon as you begin preparing your kale, measure out your milk. It will thicken more quickly if the milk is room temperature.
This homemade macaroni and cheese is a hit with my daughters for its creamy, cheesy flavor, but I really appreciate that it only takes 30 minutes to prepare in our dependable and adored Finex Cast Iron Skillet!
Step 1: prepare your kale. To accomplish this, add the oil, sauté the garlic and onions in it, then add the kale and braise it in stock.
What does it mean to braise?
To cook kale with both fat (olive oil) and liquid (stock) is known as braising. The taste that the kale gains while braising in stock makes it both kid- and adult-friendly! This is how we usually just cook kale as a side dish!
After the kale has softened and most of the liquid has evaporated, take everything out of the cast iron skillet and leave it aside.
This is also an excellent moment to start cooking your pasta.
Step 2: Whisk flour into melted butter to make your roux.
What is a Roux?
The secret to making your homemade macaroni and cheese creamy and dreamy is a roux, which is a blend of fat and flour (in this instance, butter). All you have to do to make it is add the flour and butter to your saucepan, stir, and heat for approximately 2 minutes, or until it becomes frothy and bubbling and begins to resemble a thick paste. This short roux, called a White Roux, is an excellent foundation for any sauce or soup since it’s boiled just long enough to eliminate the taste of raw flour.
Step3: The roux will thicken as you gradually add the milk and whisk to properly integrate it. When everything is combined, add the cheese gradually while whisking it in to melt it gradually.
step 4: Add your braised kale in step four.
It will all get well mixed into the mac and cheese if you add it to the cheese sauce immediately.
Step 5: Include the cooked pasta and stir!
You may stop right now, since it is quite delicious. This homemade mac & cheese with kale is really creamy and heavenly! But I can give you the baked mac and cheese touch if that’s what you’re after.
You can get that creamy, luscious handmade macaroni and cheese with a crispy, cheesy topping by adding extra cheese and melting it in the oven!
Take a look at all that kale. Yes. That’s right there, tasty and suitable for kids, plus it’s loaded with potassium, magnesium, calcium, vitamin K, and vitamin A! Macaroni and cheese cooked at home that is surprisingly nutritious!
More Recipes You Might Like
- Sourdough Bread Stuffing with Ground Sage Pork
- Traditional Baked Ziti
- Southern Corn Pudding
- Three-Cheese and Spinach Manicotti
Homemade Mac and Cheese with Kale
- 1 bunch kale trimmed from stems approx 4 cups packed
- 1 cup white onion diced
- 4 cloves garlic minced
- 1 1/3 cups chicken stock or vegetable to make vegetarian
- 3 tablespoons olive oil
- 1 1/2 teaspoons salt divided
- 1/2 lb elbow macaroni
- 2 tablespoons salted butter
- 3 tablespoons all purpose flour
- 1 1/2 cups milk
- 1/2 cup half and half or use all milk
- 1 teaspoon fresh ground pepper
- 1 1/2 teaspoon ground mustard
- 2 1/2 -3 cups sharp cheddar cheese grated
- After giving your kale a good wash in cold water, pull the leaves from the stems. Cut into tiny bits.
- In a big pan (preferably one with a cover), or a cast iron skillet, heat the olive oil on medium heat. Add the garlic and onion, and sauté for about 90 seconds.
- Add the kale, toss it in oil, and stir in the onion and garlic. After a minute of sautéing, add one teaspoon of salt, stir, and finally pour in the stock. Once most of the liquid has boiled off, cover and allow the meat braise in the stock for around ten minutes.
- In the meanwhile, heat up three quarts of water to a boil. Boil the noodles until they are al dente. To avoid sticking, drain and rinse with cold water.
- Once the kale is cooked, take it out of the skillet and reserve.
- Melt the butter in a pan over medium heat, then add the flour and stir to make a roux.
- One cup of milk at a time, gradually add it, whisking to mix it completely in before adding additional milk and half-and-half.
- Allow the sauce to simmer until it starts to thicken, stirring regularly to keep it from burning. One cup of cheese at a time, add to mixture and stir to mix. Lower to a medium-low setting.
- After allowing the sauce to thicken, gradually add the cheese, a handful at a time, stirring until each piece is completely melted before adding more. Continue with two cups of cheese.
- Add 1/2 teaspoon each of salt, pepper, and mustard to the thickened cheese sauce and stir. Stir in the kale well. By doing this, the kale will be incorporated into the meal more evenly.
- After the kale has been thoroughly combined, add the cooked pasta and stir again.
- Here’s where you can put it on hold if you’ve done your prep ahead of time. Or serve it just as it right now. If not, preheat oven to broil and place rack in upper third of oven.
- After adding the remaining 1/2 to 1 cup of cheese to the pan, place it in the oven for three to five minutes to melt and crisp the cheese.
- Present and savor!
Use either white or yellow onions.
Milk/Cream: Use 2% or whole milk, and then use half-and-half just, all milk, or more half-and-half and less milk. Just keep in mind that cheese sauce gets creamier the more cream there is.
Make advance preparations.
Cook pasta al dente and stop before the last cheese melts or broils if preparing this in advance. Add to a dish that is ovensafe. Refrigerate after covering. When ready to serve, preheat the oven to 350 degrees, top the mac and cheese with the remaining 1/2 to 1 cup of cheese, and bake for 20 to 25 minutes. Keep refrigerated for up to three days. Use an oven, microwave, or pan fryer to reheat.
Up to three months in the freezer.