Deliciously comforting easy cheesy pasta using a cheat’s crème fraiche cheese sauce pepped up with smoked paprika and Dijon mustard. Best of all it only takes 15 minutes to make and 15 minutes to bake. I guarantee the whole family will gobble it down!
This cheesy pasta, hands down, is the most requested meal in our house (with my easy cheat’s lasagne a ‘fairly close’ second). Gooey cheesy pasta with a crisp herby breadcrumb topping! The kids love it, adults love it and most importantly I love it as it’s so simple and quick to make. A great option for busy weeknights and the ultimate cheese lover’s dream!
✔️ Why should you try it?
- On the table in 30 minutes
- Proper comfort food
- Kid friendly
The ingredients list for this easy pasta recipe;
- Pasta – I used 300g of macaroni but any short hollow pasta would work well.
- Creme Fraiche – used to make the cheat’s cheese sauce rather than making a traditional white sauce.
- Cheddar Cheese – I prefer extra mature cheddar as it gives the dish plenty of flavour.
- Parmesan – makes the cheese sauce extra cheesy!
- Dijon Mustard – 1 tsp really helps bring out the flavour of the cheese.
- Smoked Paprika – gives the dish a lovely smoky undertone.
- Reserved pasta water – helps the sauce emulsify and go silky smooth and glossy.
For the topping;
- Breadcrumbs – I use panko breadcrumbs which help make the topping go lovely and crispy.
- Parmesan – finely grated.
- Dried Italian Herbs – helps impart a subtle herbiness to the recipe, although they can be left out if you prefer.
The recipe card with ingredient quantities and detailed instructions can be found at the bottom of the post
One: Bring a pan of salted water to the boil and cook the pasta according to instructions. Whilst the pasta is cooking place a heat-proof bowl on top of the pan (making sure it doesn’t directly touch the water) and stir together the creme fraiche, cheeses, dijon mustard and smoked paprika until they are all melted together. Take the bowl off the heat and place to one side.
Two: Reserve 1 cup of pasta water to stir into the cheese sauce and then drain the pasta. Pour the reserved pasta water into the cheese sauce a little at a time and whisk until you get a glossy smooth sauce. You might not need the whole cup of the reserved water. Once you have your desired consistency stir in the pasta.
Three: Spoon the cheesy pasta into an ovenproof dish and scatter over the breadcrumbs, parmesan and dried Italian herbs.
Four: Bake in a pre-heated oven for 15 minutes until golden and bubbling.
🍴 Serving suggestions
This cheesy baked pasta is great on its own for a quick and easy weeknight supper. You could also turn it into a more substantial meal by serving it with air fryer chicken breasts, homemade garlic bread or focaccia and a crisp green salad on the side.
I sometimes also serve it with fresh vegetables such as carrots, broccoli and sweetcorn.
Why not try varying the cheeses? Crumbled blue cheese, nutty gruyere, or smoked cheddar would add another dimension to the dish.
You could also stir through cooked bacon, chicken or air fryer salmon before baking it in the oven. A tin of drained sweetcorn or a handful of fresh spinach added to the cheese sauce would work well too.
The baked cheesy pasta can be stored in the fridge for up to 3 days. Reheat the pasta in the microwave until piping hot.
I find a combination of cheeses is best to use in a cheesy pasta bake. An extra mature cheddar, parmesan, mozzarella, and nutty gruyere are my personal favourites.
Short hollow pasta like macaroni, penne or rigatoni hold cheese sauces really well. You should avoid long, thin pasta shapes like spaghetti, as the cheese sauce will just slide off.
Some more delicious pasta recipes to try;
- Easy Chorizo and Pepper Pasta
- Creamy Boursin Pasta
- Creamy Cajun Chicken Pasta
- Marmite Spaghetti
- Creamy Bacon and Pumpkin Pasta
- One Pan Chicken Penne Arrabbiata
- Chorizo Mac and Cheese
- Penne alla Vodka
- Hawaiian Macaroni Cheese
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- 300 g Macaroni
- 300 g Creme Fraiche
- 150 g Extra Mature Cheddar grated
- 30 g Parmesan grated
- 1 tsp Dijon Mustard
- 1 tsp Smoked Paprika
For the topping
- 5 tbsp Panko Breadcrumbs
- 20 g Parmesan finely grated
- 1 tsp Dried Italian Herbs
- Preheat the oven to 190°c (170 fan/ 375F/ Gas 5).
- Bring a pan of salted water to the boil and cook the pasta according to instructions. Whilst the pasta is cooking place a heat-proof bowl on top of the pan (making sure it doesn't directly touch the water) and stir together the creme fraiche, cheeses, dijon mustard and smoked paprika until they are all melted together. Take the bowl off the heat and place to one side.
- Reserve 1 cup of pasta water to stir into the cheese sauce and then drain the pasta. Pour the reserved pasta water into the cheese sauce a little at a time and whisk until you get a glossy smooth sauce. You might not need the whole cup of the reserved water. Once you have your desired consistency stir in the pasta.
- Spoon the cheesy pasta into an ovenproof dish and scatter over the breadcrumbs, Parmesan and dried Italian herbs.
- Bake in a pre-heated oven for 15 minutes until golden and bubbling.
I’m linking this up to #CookBlogShare which this week is hosted by Glutarama.