This easy, summery one pot 4 cheese caprese mac and cheese is the perfect recipe to use up those summer tomatoes and garden basil. Short cut pasta, four kinds of cheese…including creamy Brie, basil pesto, and a mix of tomatoes. All stirred together to create the creamiest mac and cheese that’s finished off with garlicky Ritz cracker crumbs. Throw it in the oven for a cheesy baked mac and cheese that’s perfect for summer nights, but equally great for transitioning into fall.
It’s about this time every summer that our local farm stand gets their heirloom tomatoes and peaches in. I wait all summer for these candy-like tomatoes to finally arrive. Now that I have them, I’ve been trying to use them up in ways other than just the classic recipes you might expect. So far this summer, I’ve shared this glorious (how about that for a new word?) everything cheddar tomato bacon grilled cheese, a quick lemon scallop pasta with burst cherry tomatoes, and a roasted tomato tart too.
All are well-loved, especially the grilled cheese, which if I’m being one hundred percent honest, is probably my favorite of the summer. Well, the grilled cheese and this mac and cheese. It’s a tie, it’s too hard to choose a favorite. Both are cheesy, highlight the tomato, but yet feel exciting, different, and most importantly, delicious.
Here’s the background.
I think of this mac and cheese as fancied up just a bit, but not fancied up so much that you’re turned off. I feel like sometimes mac and cheese can be made way too fancy. To me, mac and cheese should be pretty simple, and of course, heavy on the cheesy goodness.
I really love a buttery breadcrumb on top. And I love to bake my mac and cheese with crispy edges and creamy, cheesy goodness underneath.
Which brings me to this mac and cheese. It’s a recipe taken from a few years back and adjusted slightly to make it even better. And all in one pot so it’s easier too.
The recipe itself is really simple. If you’ve gotten yourself a copy of the Half Baked Harvest Super Simple cookbook, this is my staple one pot mac and cheese recipe…but with a summer tomato basil twist. And while I hate to set aside my own cookbook recipe, this is better.
Why? Roasted tomatoes, basil pesto, and Brie. Three of my favorites all in one.
The method is simple. Start by boiling a big pot of water on the stove. Once the water has come to a boil, add the pasta. Boil until al dente, then simply stir in all the remaining ingredients, and that’s kind of it. The key is to use a touch of cream cheese. The added creaminess…in addition to the other four types of cheese, is next level. It creates the perfect amount of creamy sauce but allows you to not have to make a roux, as most traditional mac and cheese do.
For the other 4 kinds of cheese, I love using a mix of sharp white cheddar for flavor and creamy Havarti or fontina for creaminess. Together they create that ideal cheese pull we all love so much. But for that extra special touch…I add Brie.
Yummm. Love a cheesy Brie mac and cheese, and guys, it makes this mac and cheese, so don’t skimp on it.
Once the cheese is in. Add basil pesto and a small handful of cherry tomatoes. Put everything into a baking dish and top with mozzarella and a few slices of heirloom (or regular) tomatoes.
Now add some buttery garlicky Ritz cracker crumbs. Then bake until that sauce is bubbling up over the tomatoes and those crumbs are nice and golden crisp.
Finish with as much fresh basil as you can gather up. Eat and enjoy!
Simple, simple and so very delicious.
I couldn’t love this mac and cheese more. It feels like that “kid” kind of food we know and love, but with a very subtle adult twist.
Melted cheese, ripe summer tomatoes, basil pesto, BRIE, and buttery Ritz cracker crumbs…when all put together they equal perfection on so many levels. My suggestion…make this dish tonight as an easy Monday night dinner…you’ll be SO happy you did!
And lastly, this mac and cheese will be perfect for Labor Day, upcoming game nights…assuming there are upcoming game nights (fall will not be the same without them), and low key family dinners at home. Such a multi versatile dish. Win, win!
Looking for other easy weeknight pasta dinner bakes? Here are a few ideas:
Lastly, if you make this One Pot 4 Cheese Caprese Mac and Cheese be sure to leave a comment and/or give this recipe a rating! Above all, I love to hear from you guys and always do my best to respond to each and every comment. And of course, if you do make this recipe, don’t forget to tag me on Instagram! Looking through the photos of recipes you all have made is my favorite!
One Pot 4 Cheese Caprese Mac and Cheese
Calories Per Serving: 592 kcal
Nutritional information is only an estimate. The accuracy of the nutritional information for any recipe on this site is not guaranteed.
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- 6 tablespoons salted butter
- 1-2 cloves garlic, grated
- 1 cup crushed Ritz crackers
- 1 pound your favorite short cut pasta
- 2 ounces cream cheese, cubed
- 2 cups milk
- 1 cup sharp white cheddar cheese
- 1 cup shredded Havarti or fontina cheese
- 4-6 ounces Brie, rind removed and chopped
- 1/4 cup basil pesto, homemade or store-bought
- 1/4 teaspoon mustard powder
- 1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper use more or less to taste
- kosher salt and black pepper
- 1 cup cherry tomatoes, halved
- 1 cup mozzarella cheese
- 1-2 regular or heirloom tomatoes, sliced
- fresh basil, for serving
- 1. Preheat the oven to 375°F. Grease a 9×13-inch baking dish.2. In a large pot, bring 4 cups of water to a boil over high heat. Add 1 teaspoon salt and the pasta. Cook, stirring occasionally, for 8 minutes. Do not drain the water. Stir in the milk, cream cheese, mustard, cayenne, and a pinch each of salt and pepper. Cook until the cream cheese has melted and the pasta is al dente, about 4-5 minutes.2. Add the cheddar, Havarti, brie, and 3 tablespoons butter. Stir until melted and creamy. Remove from the heat. Stir in the pesto and cherry tomatoes. 3. Transfer the mixture to the prepared baking dish. Top with the mozzarella. Lay on the tomato slices. Season with salt and pepper. 4. In a medium bowl, stir together the crackers, the remaining 3 tablespoons of butter, and the garlic. Sprinkle the crumbs evenly over the mac and cheese. Bake until the sauce is bubbling and the crumbs are golden, about 20 minutes. Eat and enjoy!