This 2-Ingredient Mac and Cheese Hack Is the Ultimate Hosting Trick

If you’ve made boxed mac and cheese, you can do this.

<p>LauriPatterson/Getty Images</p>

LauriPatterson/Getty Images

Homemade mac and cheese is as easy and opening two store-bought ingredients: Dried pasta and cheese dip. You read that right: processed cheese is the ultimate hack to a gooey, scrumptious, from-scratch-ish mac and cheese that’s incredibly simple and delicious on a weeknight, or while hosting. All you need to do is boil water, cook and drain your pasta, and stir in all that cheesy goodness. Better yet, both ingredients needed to make this dish are shelf-stable, so you can always have both on hand to whip up a meal for impromptu guests or cozy nights at home.

Sound familiar? This hack, popular on TikTok with Trader Joe’s cheese spreads and dips, is essentially making your own Velveeta—you’re just squeezing a specialty cheese product onto hot noodles, so it melts and coats them with a tasty dairy blanket. Depending on what cheese you use, perhaps you’ve opted into Trader Joe’s Syrah Soaked Toscano Cheese Spread & Dip for a classy, Parmesan-y take, this mac and cheese can take on all sorts of flavors. It can also fit into any hosting spread—book club, sports night, date night, family dinner, lazy night on the sofa—the options are pretty much limitless. And no, no one needs to know your hack.

Related:TikTok’s Buttered Noodles Recipe Is the Easiest Dish You’ll Make All Week

Play around with your favorite cheeses—we like Queso Mama’s White Queso With Diced Green Chilies for a Southwestern kick, Wisconsin Beer Cheese for a rustic flavor, or Port Wine Cheese spread—and noodles and see which quick combo is your favorite. Toppings and mix-ins are optional.

How to Make Two-Ingredient Mac and Cheese

Here’s how to make TikTok’s latest viral pasta recipe!

  1. Start by boiling a pot of salted water for your pasta. This vessel can also be your serving dish, so opt for a Dutch oven if you want to be a little fancy.

  2. Once the water comes to a boil, add a 16-ounce box of your favorite short pasta—elbows, shells, wagon wheels, and radiatore all work great.

  3. Cook pasta until al dente, drain and reserve 1 cup of cooking liquid.

  4. Return pasta to the hot pot and spoon in a 12 to 16-ounce package of processed cheese, stirring as it’s added. Splash in some pasta water if you need to loosen the sauce so that it coats the noodle.

  5. Serve immediately.

Related:TikTok's One-Pot French Onion Pasta Is the Perfect Winter Recipe

Variations on Two-Ingredient Mac and Cheese

This simple recipe has infinite variations, starting with the type of noodle you use. Any short noodle will work, and can be stirred with any cheese product. You can also try mixing different types of processed cheese, or cooking several types of similar size noodles together for a fun bowl of pasta!

If you prefer baked mac and cheese, make sure your pasta and cheese mixture is extra gooey (add half a cup of pasta water or milk if there’s not enough sauce), scoop it into an oven-safe skillet, and bake at 375 degrees for 20 minutes, or broil for 5-7 minutes. You can also top it with additional shredded cheese, or crispy elements like breadcrumbs or crumbled bacon.

If you want that melty cheese pull texture, stir in ½ to 1 cup of shredded mozzarella, or a four-cheese blend.

If you don’t eat gluten, this recipe can be gluten-free and replicated with any gluten-free pasta.

Related:8 Pasta Mistakes That Are Ruining Your Meal

Add a nutritious element to this recipe by straining the hot pasta over frozen peas or frozen broccoli, and then stirring it into the pasta mixture. You can also add baby spinach or baby kale directly to the pot with the cheese for some bonus veggies. Leftover roasted, grilled, or steamed veggies, cut into ½-inch pieces are great mix-ins too.

Play with the flavor of your cheese by adding in a teaspoon of Calabrian chili paste (Trader Joe's Italian Bomba Hot Pepper Sauce is a popular pick), truffle sauce, pesto, Dijon mustard, or your favorite hot sauce or other condiment to amp up the spice.

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