This baked mac and cheese with corn is made with a handful of fridge and pantry staples. This easy family friendly budget dinner is on the table in 30 minutes – and is loved by picky eaters too!
This easy 6 ingredient cheesey pasta bake is comfort food at its best. Soft pasta in a homemade cheese sauce is always a crowd pleaser, and my family love pasta bakes from creamy tuna and sweetcorn pasta bake, and tuna cauliflower pasta bake to ham macaroni cheese. Sweetcorn is a handy budget friendly ingredient that we use all the time, from sweetcorn fritters to leftover chicken pie and pizza cups. This macaroni corn casserole combines the two!
Why we love this recipe
- This budget friendly vegetarian pasta bake is made from basic fridge and store cupboard ingredients.
- This recipe for macaroni and cheese with corn is a great dish for picky eaters: blending tinned or frozen sweetcorn into the sauce not only makes it sweet, rich and creamy without adding cream; it ‘hides’ the vegetable.
- You can double the recipe to feed a crowd, or halve the recipe it to serve 2 people.
- This easy baked mac and cheese can also be served as a baby macaroni cheese, in fact this was how I came to publish this recipe as I was making it when baby led weaning with my son and continued to serve it to him as a toddler.
Ingredients notes and substitutions
- Pasta – macaroni if you wanted to make a macaroni cheese. I have also made this pasta bake with penne and pasta spirals.
- Plain flour – all purpose flour.
- Butter – or you can also substitute butter for margarine.
- Milk – I like to use full fat or full cream milk as I think it makes for a richer mac n cheese, however if you have half fat milk that will be fine to use.
- Cheese – block cheddar cheese or tasty cheese. I prefer to grate it myself, but you can also use ready grated cheese if you prefer.
- Sweetcorn – tinned / canned sweetcorn or frozen corn.
No, it tastes really good straight from the pan, although you can’t beat that golden crust of melted cheese on the top!
No, I wouldn’t recommend you freeze this dish. It will thicken as it sits and you lose the soft creamy texture. If you freeze it you could get water crystals in it they can make the mac n cheese seperate when you bake it.
- Use block cheese and grate it yourself. The pre-grated/shredded cheese is coated with an anti caking agent and therefore won’t melt as well.
- The tip with making a smooth white sauce is to add the milk a little at a time and whisk vigorously in between with a balloon whisk.
- Cook your pasta slightly less than the packed states for al dente as it will be cooked for a little longer in the oven.
- The sweetcorn blended into the sauce can make it ever so slightly grainy. Picky eaters don’t notice this, but if you want a silky smooth cheese sauce Id recommend you leave the sweetcorn whole and stir it in with the pasta. Plus this step saves dirtying a blender and extra bowl!
- Baby mac and cheese – make sure you blend the sweetcorn until smooth, and cook the pasta until soft. I prefer to serve baby led weaning mac n cheese without baking it.
Add Water / Stock to the Sauce
You can add 250ml / 1 c of water or vegetable or chicken stock to the sauce instead of milk.
The beauty about this dish is that you don’t need to serve anything with it! I personally think you can’t beat a salad with a hot creamy pasta dish. Try this cabbage slaw without mayo, German cucumber salad, or pear salad.
If you want to serve the macaroni cheese as a side dish, alongside some baked chicken thighs or chicken stew would make a delicious meal!
I wouldn’t recommend making this ahead of time, as the pasta absorbs the sauce when left to sit, meaning it would be dry rather than the sauce laden macaroni cheese you want!
However, you can cook the pasta up to 2 days ahead and then store, covered, in the fridge. You can also make the sweetcorn and cheese sauce up to 2 days ahead and keep, covered, in the fridge. When ready to make the macaroni and cheese, heat the sauce over a gentle heat thinning with a splash of milk if it seems too thick, then stir into the macaroni pasta, top with grated cheese and cook as below.
- Without butter: If you want to make macaroni cheese without butter, the same weight of margarine, both dairy and dairy free is a good substitute for butter in mac and cheese, as is olive oil (use 3 tablespoons of oil).
- Cream cheese – stir through a couple of spoonfuls of cream cheese when you stir the sauce with the cooked pasta.
Leftover Mac n Cheese:
- If you have just a spoonful or two, mix with a spoonful of flour and beaten egg and make into muffins or fritters.
- Or heat with a little milk in a small saucepan and put on top of toast then put under the grill with a little more cheese sprinkled on top for the ultimate carb meal!
More easy pasta recipes
Baked Macaroni Cheese
- You will need a lightly greased ovenproof dish with a 2-2.5 litre / 8-10 cup capacity.
- 200g (7 oz) macaroni pasta ($0.40 /£0.34p)
- 45g (3 tablespoons) butter ($0.59 /£0.32p)
- 45g (¼ c) plain flour ($0.06 /£0.03p)
- 750ml (3⅛ c ) milk ($1.09 /£0.48p)
- 240g (8½ oz) sweetcorn, tinned or frozen, defrosted ($0.68 /£0.33p)
- 150g (5oz) cheddar / tasty cheese, grated ($1.95 /£0.77p)
- 50g (1½ oz) cheddar / tasty cheese, grated, for the top ($0.65 /£0.26p)
- freshly ground black pepper ($0.02 / £0.01)
- Preheat the oven to 180˚C fan / 200˚C / 360 ˚F convection / 392˚F.
- Bring a large pan of water to the boil then add the pasta. Cook according to the packet instructions, minus 1 minute.
Meanwhile, Make the Cheese Sauce:
- In a medium saucepan melt the butter over a medium heat and then stir in the flour.
- Cook for 1 minute over a medium heat, then add a little of the milk.
- Stir vigorously to combine, and when the milk is incorporated, add a little more milk.
- When you have added half the milk, use a balloon whisk to whisk in the rest of the milk.
- Turn the heat down to low and let the sauce cook gently for 5 minutes, stirring from time to time to prevent it from catching on the bottom of the saucepan. This is to take the raw taste out of the flour.
- Take the sauce off the heat and add 150g (5 oz) grated cheddar cheese. Season with black pepper.
- Using a stick blender, blend the sweetcorn to a smooth puree. It can take a few minutes to get it silky smooth. (This is optional – if you prefer whole corn kernels in your pasta bake and are not making it for baby led weaning you can leave out this step.)
- Fold the sweetcorn puree / corn kernels into the cheese sauce. If the sauce is too thick then add 1-2 tablespoons of the pasta cooking water.
- Drain the pasta and pour the cheese and corn sauce over and mix well to combine.
- Pour into a 2-2.5 litre / 8-10 cup capacity oven proof baking dish.
- Sprinkle over the remaining 50g (1.5 oz) grated cheese and place in the oven. Bake for 15-20 minutes until golden brown.
- It will thicken as it cools. I don't recommend freezing this mac and cheese.
Use margarine instead of butter. Pasta – If you don’t have macaroni pasta, use the same weight of whatever pasta shapes you have to hand. I often make this pasta bake with penne and pasta spirals. Plain flour – all purpose flour. Butter – or you can also substitute butter for margarine. Milk – I like to use full fat or full cream milk as I think it makes for a richer mac n cheese, however if you have half fat milk that will be fine to use. Cheese – block cheddar cheese or tasty cheese. I prefer to grate it myself, but you can also use ready grated cheese if you prefer. Sweetcorn – tinned / canned sweetcorn or frozen corn. If the sauce is too thick then add 1-2 tablespoons of the pasta cooking water. Make Ahead:
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What an awesome way to hide some veggies – my kids will devour this! Thank you for sharing 🙂
Thanks Jaimie – hope your kids enjoy it!
Gavin Sutherland says
It’s DEFO mac n cheese weather right now – love the addition of sweetcorn. I think I’ll have to add this to next weeks menu planning maybe with the addition of bacon 😉
Thanks Gavin! Oh yes, bacon would be awesome in this dish!
I’ve made every variation of mac and cheese under the sun, or so I thought! Have never thought about adding corn to the sauce! I must give this a try. Plus I love your ideas for what to do with the leftovers – yum!
Such a yummy and comforting dinner idea – I love the addition of sweet corn!
Thanks Sylvie! Sweetcorn goes so well with pasta bakes!
What a delicious comfort food! I love mac and cheese and this is a very tasty version!
It is so comforting Alex!
We love Mac and cheese, never thought of hiding corn on it, yum!
Thanks Sarah, it also means that you don’t have to think about a vegetable side!