I’m on an everlong quest to beat the Blue Box when it comes to mac and cheese. Now, don’t get me wrong. I think pretty much ANY mac and cheese is better than the Blue Box version, but my kids strongly disagree and choose the Blue Box frequently over my homemade versions. This Havarti Mac and Cheese though took them for a loop.

For starters, it’s green. So they thought they weren’t going to like it. But once they tried it, they were hooked. It was a serious winner in House Macheesmo!

This is just one of the wonderful recipes in Maria Lichty‘s new book Two Peas and Their Pod! I love pretty much every recipe in this book. They are approachable, but each one has a twist.

I had never really tried Havarti in mac and cheese before, but it turns SO creamy and wonderful. It reheats surprisingly well also. Out-of-the-ballpark hit! Must try!

Want a cheesy appetizer? Try these Pimento Mac and Cheese Bites!

Havarti Mac and Cheese with Spinach Pesto

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Author: Nick Evans
Servings: 6 Servings
Prep Time: 5 minutes
Cook Time: 15 minutes
Total Time: 20 minutes
This is super creamy and surprisingly easy homemade mac and cheese made with Havarti cheese. A stirred in homemade spinach pesto adds some nice vegetable and herb flavors.


  • 12 ounces macaroni pasta, al dente
  • 4 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • ¼ cup all-purpose flour
  • 2 cups whole milk, room temp
  • 2 cups shredded Havarti cheese

Spinach Basil Pesto:

  • 4 cups packed spinach leaves
  • 2 cups packed fresh basil leaves
  • ½ cup extra virgin olive oil
  • ¼ cup grated Parmesan cheese
  • 1 large lemon, juice only
  • 2 cloves garlic, peeled
  • ½ teaspoon kosher salt
  • ¼ teaspoon black pepper


For Spinach Pesto:

  • In a food processor or blender, combine all ingredients and blend for about 30 seconds. Scrape down the sides and blend until smooth. If you want a thinner pesto, add more olive oil. Taste and adjust salt and pepper to your liking.
  • Store pesto for up to two weeks in the fridge. It’s good on so many things!

For Mac and Cheese:

  • Cook pasta according to package. Drain and set aside.
  • In a large pot, melt butter over medium heat. Reduce heat to low and whisk in flour to create a roux. Add milk slowly and whisk until smooth. Increase heat to medium and whisk until sauce starts to thicken, about two minutes. Stir in cheese and stir until melted. Stir in 2-3 tablespoons of pesto.
  • Add pasta, stirring to combine and continue to cook until pasta is warmed through.
  • Serve immediately seasoned with salt and pepper and extra pesto!


Recipe from the Two Peas & Their Pod cookbook by Maria Lichty


Serving: 1Plate | Calories: 664kcal | Carbohydrates: 54g | Protein: 22g | Fat: 41g | Saturated Fat: 16g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 3g | Monounsaturated Fat: 19g | Trans Fat: 1g | Cholesterol: 67mg | Sodium: 604mg | Potassium: 455mg | Fiber: 3g | Sugar: 6g | Vitamin A: 3002IU | Vitamin C: 17mg | Calcium: 422mg | Iron: 2mg
Course: Main Dishes
Cuisine: American

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Making the Spinach Pesto

I like the spinach addition to this pesto. It bulks it up a bit and makes it easier to stir into a dish like this.

Spinach Pesto - Havarti Mac and Cheese

Blend everything together and add more olive oil if you want it to be a little thinner. I thought it was pretty great as written.

Mixed up - Spinach Pesto for Mac and Cheese
Nice pesto!

It should be noted that this recipe will make more pesto than you need for the mac and cheese. Keep the leftovers! It’s great on eggs or as the base for a salad dressing!

Havarti Mac and Cheese

For the pasta, I used a mix of shells and elbow macaroni because, well, I had a little bit of both!

Various Pastas - Havarti Mac and Cheese
Various pastas…

Make the sauce as you normally do: Melted butter, add flour, and slowly whisk in milk. Then add all the cheese! Maria notes that you can substitute mozzarella, but I would stick with Havarti unless you just can’t find it.

Making Sauce - Havarti Mac and cheese
Making the Sauce

Stir in the noodles and you are in business. CREAMY.

All together - Havarti Mac and Cheese

I stirred in a few big spoonfuls of the pesto. I just love the green color it adds.

Try out this Havarti Mac and Cheese and if you like it (you will) then you can find many other recipes like it in Maria’s book!

Havarti Mac and Cheese with Spinach Pesto

Here are a few other great Mac and Cheese Recipes!