This Ham and Peas Mac and Cheese is a great make ahead meal that the whole family will love. Even my kids, who typically avoid casseroles, love it. And why wouldn’t they, it includes all their favorites – cheese, macaroni, ham, carrots and peas. Classic comfort food.
This recipe fills a 9×13 inch pan, enough to feed 6 to 8 people. I often split it into two smaller casserole dishes, one to eat right away and one to stash in the freezer. The freezer portion is perfect for those crazy busy days when there’s little time to do anything but heat something up. Sometimes, the dish doesn’t even make it into the oven, people just grab a bowlful and heat it up in the microwave. That’s totally okay with me – at least they’re fueling up with good wholesome food.
I also love that this mac and cheese recipe is totally customizeable based on whatever leftovers or veggies you have in your fridge or freezer. Instead of ham, use chicken, leftover roast pork, turkey or canned tuna, instead of carrots or peas try broccoli, cauliflower, sweet peppers or even spinach.
Here’s my recipe for homemade mac and cheese for you to use as is or as inspiration for your own delicious creation.
- 2 cups raw whole wheat macaroni (375 g box)
- 2 Tbsp canola oil or butter
- ½ cup onion, chopped (1/2 onion)
- ½ cup celery, finely diced (2 stalks)
- 3 Tbsp flour
- 1 1/2 cups milk
- 2 cups sharp cheddar cheese
- 1 medium carrot, grated
- 1 cup peas
- ¼ tsp black pepper
- 2 Tbsp chopped fresh parsley, dill or tarragon
- 1 1/2 cups diced cooked ham
- In large pot, bring water to boil and cook macaroni al dente (slightly firm). Drain and set macaroni aside.
- In large pot, heat oil or butter over medium heat. Add onions and celery and cook until tender, about 3 minutes.
- Add flour and mix well. Allow to cook for 1 minute.
- Gradually whisk in milk until sauce thickens.
- Remove from heat and stir in cheese until melted and mixed in.
- Add carrots, peas, black pepper, parsley, ham and cooked macaroni.
- Transfer to a lightly greased 3 quart (3 litre) casserole dish or a 9x13 inch baking pan.
- Bake in preheated oven at 350°F (180°C) for 25 to 30 minutes or until heated through.
- Freeze before baking.
- Cool mix completely before freezing to avoid condensation and ice crystals.
- Freeze in a well sealed casserole dish, aluminum foil pan or freezer bag.
- To freeze in a container, cover top with a layer of aluminum foil or plastic wrap. Cover with well sealing lid or aluminum foil.
- Or transfer prepared mix into a large freezer bag. Remove air from bag, flatten and place on flat surface to freeze.
- Label with date, recipe name and cooking instructions and use within 3 months.
- Thaw in fridge overnight.
- If casserole is in freezer bag, transfer thawed ingredients to 3L casserole dish.
- Bake in preheated oven at 350°F (180°C) for 25 to 30 minutes or until heated through. If still slightly frozen, increase cooking time as needed.
- Replace ham with cooked chicken, turkey, pork or tuna.
- Replace peas with broccoli, cauliflower, sweet peppers, spinach, etc.
- Sprinkle cheese or panko crumbs on top before baking.
Perfect recipe for families, crowds, freezing ahead, using leftovers, using whole grain pasta, and adding veggies to dishes. It does all that and it’s affordable – I love that in a recipe. I hope you love it too.
If you make this mac and cheese recipe, let me know what you think. Leave a comment or take a photo and tag #getgettys so I can see it and like it!
Sign up to get articles by Getty delivered to your inbox. You’ll get recipes, practical tips and great food information like this. Getty is a Professional Home Economist, speaker and writer putting good food on tables and agendas. She is the author of Manitoba’s best-selling Prairie Fruit Cookbook, Founder of Fruit Share, a mom and veggie gardener.