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Low Sodium Mac and Cheese

By: Bill
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Indulge in the cheesy embrace and creamy goodness with this Low Sodium Mac and Cheese recipe. Created to suit our low sodium needs, this dish promises a gooey cheesy covered mac of flavors without compromising on taste

A bowl of low sodium mac and cheese with parsley.
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A Low Sodium Mac and Cheese?

Mac and Cheese from a box seems to come in two levels of sodium per cup, 570mg for the regular or 910mg for the deluxe version. Of course, neither one has any real cheese, just what is that really?

Typical sodium amount per serving600+ mg
Sodium per serving for this recipe113 mg
Calories per serving363
Makes 4 = 1 cup serving1 cup

For most regular recipes, sodium levels vary widely from just under 600mg up to 1000mg for just one cup. Most of the sodium amount depends on how much and the type of cheese used.

This Low Sodium Mac and Cheese recipe comes in at 113mg of sodium per cup. Way lower than the boxed version or most recipes but, a touch higher than I like to have for a side dish. Thankfully it is not a side dish I eat often enough to worry about.

low sodium mac and cheese overhead view
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Is it really low sodium?

Unfortunately, the main ingredient besides the pasta is cheese. And most types of cheese are just not our friend in a low-sodium diet world.

Mac and cheese has never been a side dish I eat very often. I would mainly have it when at a cookout or around a holiday. Either way, it is probably not a side dish that you really should be eating every day, but it does hit the spot once in a while.

I have now made ten different versions of Mac and cheese to achieve what I thought was a decent mix between low sodium and for it to still have a cheesy taste. I am officially Mac and cheesed out for a long while.

With this latest version, I was able to shave off 40mg of sodium. Though the total fat content remained about the same it does have less saturated fat.

Extreme closeup of creamy, cheesy low sodium mac and cheese.
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Best cheese to use for low sodium mac and cheese

Cheese based recipes can be some of the most difficult meals to make low sodium.  There are very few alternatives and is generally not something you can make at home. Plus, it seems that salt is just one of those things that make cheese well, cheese.

I had to find a cheese that would melt well while providing that velvety gooey goodness, but not be out of this world in sodium content. It is a Swiss block cheese, but by the end of the recipe, it still yields a nice amber look that Mac and cheese should have. Not that hideous day glow orange color from a box.

Even with this cheese, I used the least amount possible that still makes it seem cheesy.

Ingredients

Ingredients for low sodium mac and cheese.
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  1. Swiss block cheese – This cheese is one of the lowest sodium cheeses that I can find locally without too much effort. It has only 55mg sodium per ounce, but still contributes nearly 3/4’s of the sodium per serving for this recipe. (Look for 55-60mg sodium per ounce at your store.)
  2. Evaporated nonfat milk – Adds a concentrated source of milk proteins. This helps the mix stay smooth and the fat from breaking out and pooling.
  3. Egg yolk – Has even more protein. It is the highest protein and lowest sodium part of the egg.
  4. Elbow macaroni – Of course, duh! But if need be, any small pasta such as shells, farfalle (bow tie), rigatoni, rotini, etc. can be used in the same amount.
  5. Olive oil -Keeps the pasta slippery and from clumping together.
  6. Cornstarch – Thickens the sauce and helps the mix stay as a smooth and emulsified creamy sauce.
  7. Spices – Chopped dried onions, ground mustard, smoked paprika (paid link), Mrs. Dash original table blend salt-free. I found these melded into the taste I was looking for. Feel free to change or use it as a base and add your favorite no-salt spice.

Find the full printable recipe with specific measurements below.

Savory, cheesy low sodium mac and cheese in a glass bowl.
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How to make

Low sodium mac and cheese process shot 1
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Step 1 – Add cold water to pasta until just covering. Bring to a boil and cook for about 6 minutes stirring often. Almost all the liquid should be absorbed.

Low sodium mac and cheese process shot 2
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Step 2 – While pasta is cooking whisk together soy milk, egg yolk, and dried milk. Then stir in spices.
Step 3 – Grate cheese and toss to coat with cornstarch.

Low sodium mac and cheese process shot 3
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Step 4 – Combine the whisked ingredients with the pasta any leftover water, and fold in. It will have a nice creamy appearance now.

Low sodium mac and cheese process shot 4
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Step 5 – Add the cheese and fold in pulling from the bottom.

Low sodium mac and cheese process shot 5
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Step 6 – Continue to fold in until the cheese is melted. It will now have an awesome creamy and gooey appearance.

Low sodium mac and cheese process shot 6
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Serve promptly and enjoy. So good!

Find the full printable recipe with specific instructions below.

Serving

Mac and cheese will be best when served immediately. That’s when the sauce will be the most creamy and macaroni still has an al dente bite to it. The pasta will continue to absorb any liquid quickly and can make Mac and cheese dry and sticky. This is why I am not a fan of baked Mac and cheese, as it seems to always dry out even more.

If you really want a baked-on topping

Though I am not a fan of baked Mac and cheese if you really want a topping and for it to be done right – it will have to go in the oven. Pour Mac and Cheese mix into an appropriately sized oven-safe dish. Sprinkle Matzo meal and any additional spices as desired over top, then a heavy spray of olive oil cooking spray.

Bake in a pre-heated 425°F oven for about 15 minutes until the topping just browns. Then remove and let cool for 10 to 15 minutes.

FAQ’s about low-sodium mac and cheese

How to store your mac & cheese

Store leftovers in an airtight container of appropriate serving size in the fridge, for up to a week.

Can you freeze mac & cheese?

Mac and cheese can be frozen for up to three months. It will remain safe to eat for longer But it may absorb other flavors and freezer burn if stored for longer.

Reheating your mac & cheese

This newest version reheats very well in the microwave in about a minute and a half. If it seems dry from the pasta absorbing every last bit of moisture, add a spritz of water or splash of milk and mix halfway through heating.

My tips for Low-Sodium Mac and Cheese

  • It really stinks that a recipe as quick and easy as Low Sodium Mac & Cheese couldn’t also be totally healthy and great for us. But when you do make it, get all your ingredients measured out and ready to go. Once it starts cooking it all needs to come together quickly. Have splash of extra milk ready to go also if need be.
  • Stir pasta often while cooking as it tends to really to stick to the bottom if you don’t stir often. Especially towards the end as the liquid is absorbed by the macaroni.
  • If you want your pasta on the creamier side or it seems dry, add 1/4 cup of soy milk at a time.
Have a bite of mac and cheese
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As always, please let me know how you like this recipe in the comments! I get motivated when I hear from you and am interested to learn about how you enjoyed and served your Low Sodium Mac and Cheese. So please, leave a comment and rating or share any tips you might have. You can follow me on Facebook and Pinterest also, for new recipes.

Low Sodium Mac & Cheese

Written by: Bill
Low Sodium Mac and Cheese in one pot in about 15 minutes. Creamy, cheesy, flavorful and as low sodium as it gets. And no weird day glow orange ingredients.
4.80 from 10 votes
Prep Time 5 minutes
Cook Time 20 minutes
Total Time 25 minutes
Course Side Dish
Cuisine American
Servings 4 1 cup
Calories 363 kcal

Ingredients
  

  • 6 oz. large elbow macaroni uncooked
  • 1 cup soy milk
  • 1 large egg yolk
  • 1/4 cup nonfat dry milk
  • 5 oz. Swiss block cheese grated (55-60mg sodium) (cold1 / grates about two cups)
  • 1 Tbsp cornstarch
  • 2 tsp extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 Tbsp onion flakes dried
  • 1 tsp smoked paprika
  • 1 tsp garlic powder
  • 1 tsp ground yellow mustard
  • Ground black pepper to taste
  • cold water (as required to cover pasta2)
  • 1 tsp Mrs. Dash Original Table Blend seasoning no salt

Preparation
 

  • In a medium soup pot, add cold water to pasta till just covered and bring to a boil over high heat. Stir frequently to prevent sticking. When boiling turn off heat, and cover the pan. Let stand for about 7 minutes until most of the water is absorbed2, stirring frequently.
  • Grate Swiss cheese and toss with cornstarch to coat. Best to do before starting pasta.
    5 oz. Swiss block cheese grated (55-60mg sodium), 1 Tbsp cornstarch
  • Whisk egg yolk, soy milk, and dried milk till beaten together. Add spices with a quick whisk.
    1 cup soy milk, 1 large egg yolk, 1/4 cup nonfat dry milk, 1 Tbsp onion flakes dried, 1 tsp smoked paprika, 1 tsp garlic powder, 1 tsp ground yellow mustard
  • When pasta is al dente place over low heat and fold in whisked ingredients (step 3). The sauce should be creamy without excess moisture.
  • Fold in cornstarch covered Swiss cheese until melted. The mixture should appear creamy and gooey without large strands or clumps of cheese.
  • If more moisture is needed add 2 Tbsp soy milk at a time as desired. Adjust spices as desired.3
  • Serve promptly and enjoy!

Notes

  1. Cold Swiss cheese is easier to grate.
  2. Little to no water should be remaining because we want concentrated starches to help make the sauce creamy.
  3. For example – I like it a little more spicy so I use about 1 1/2 tsp smokey paprika when initially mixing now.

Utensils & special ingredients used

I use, own and recommend these products and ingredients used in this recipe and I may earn commissions from qualifying purchases.

Amazon Links (Details>>)

Nutrition

Serving: 1cupCalories: 363kcal (18%)Carbohydrates: 38.5g (13%)Protein: 19g (38%)Fat: 15g (23%)Saturated Fat: 7g (44%)Cholesterol: 78mg (26%)Sodium: 113mg (5%)Potassium: 278mg (8%)Fiber: 2.25g (9%)Sugar: 6g (7%)Calcium: 502mg (50%)Iron: 1.1mg (6%)

The information shown is an estimate provided by an online nutrition calculator. It should not be considered a substitute for a professional nutritionist’s advice. Please understand that not everyone’s sodium and dietary requirements are the same, therefore some recipes may be higher than you’re allowed.

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Did you enjoy this recipe?Leave a comment and rating to let me know how it was!

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My Profile Pic Bill

Hello, I'm Bill

Welcome!  After my stroke, I began to prepare low-sodium and reduced-fat meals. Tasty, easily prepared meals that can help you change to a low-sodium diet for a healthier life.  Read more

15 thoughts on “Low Sodium Mac and Cheese”

  1. I made this recipe today and it is delicious! I had oral surgery about a month ago and living on soft things . I made your potato soup and it is the best potato soup I have ever eaten. So far everything I’ve made from your recipes has been outstanding And I would not hesitate to serve it to company.

    Reply
  2. 5 stars
    Changed to veggie broth and added mixed veggies and roasted butternut squash. Yummy!!

    Reply
    • 5 stars
      I took some pointers from this recipe, especially when I saw the ALDI gruyere and swiss combo. I have used it before for omelettes, etc., but never for mac and cheese. I have a definite need for low sodium right now for a family member. I simplified quite a bit here. I used the mustard, smoked paparika, onion, and black pepper for flavoring. But, what I did (because I didn’t have milk)….I made a roux and added 1 cup of whole milk plain greek yogurt (full of protein) and a splash of half and half. It made a perfect base before adding the cheese and it came out extra creamy. Had I had all of your ingredients, I would have gone for it, but my substitutions worked as well. Thank you for sharing.

      Reply
  3. This sounds wonderful I am so pumped up to make it! My dad recently came out of ICU from covid and in the process his kidneys seemed to be failing…but luckily we were so blessed to have him come home. Yes shaking my head baffled because this is the healthiest man I know. At 69 he can climb and cut trees down and rebuild or build any home etc…so heartbroken that he now has to have dialysis and his diet is so strict. For Thanksgiving all he wants his homemade mac and cheese and with this recipe we can I believe still make him happy while keeping him healthy. I can’t wait to share his and our delight. So too be continued…Thank you again and again for putting all the work into creating what sounds to be a masterpiece….Happy Thanksgiving to you and yours.

    Reply
    • Hi April,
      Thanks, I did a lot of testing to develop this to make it as low sodium as I could, but still be true and taste like a real Mac and Cheese. Though it has significantly lower sodium than regular M&C. It’s still not something I eat often but when you crave it well, you know.

      Cheese is hard to work with (sodium wise) and one of the greatest challenges in my recipes.

      I hope your dad enjoys it and he recovers going forward. Happy Thanksgiving and Thank You for your comment!

      Bill

      Reply
    • 5 stars
      You nailed it, just because it’s low sodium doesn’t mean it has to be tasteless. Followed RECIPE exactly & it was perfect. I have been cooking low sodium for my husband with heart failure & I can finally stop looking for recipes. You have created recipes both low sodium & tasty. TY much!

      Reply
  4. 5 stars
    For a low sodium Mac and cheese I was pleasantly impressed with this one. I’ve been on the low salt train for over a year so this tasted great to me. Will definitely be making again

    Reply
  5. Hi Bill, I just made this as a side to my leftover roasted chicken. I’m a huge fan of baked Mac and cheese laden with 4 different cheeses so I was skeptical about this, I’m so glad I took the chance. It really surprised me and the total sodium of my meal was less than 300mg

    Reply
  6. Hi Bill. Not made this yet but will do. I have to watch my saturated fats so this would be a ‘treat’ dish for me. So glad I found your site.

    Reply
    • Hi Alison, I also consider it a treat. Though much lower in sodium than other M&C it does push the limits all over.
      But it was good! LMK!
      Thanks, Bill

      Reply
    • Please let me know. I really enjoyed this one even though it’s getting close to my limits.

      Reply

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