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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.

One Pot 4 Cheese Caprese Mac and Cheese | halfbakedharvest.com

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.

overhead photo of raw tomatoes and basil

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.

overhead prep photo of One Pot 4 Cheese Caprese Mac and Cheese in pot before baking

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.

overhead photo of One Pot 4 Cheese Caprese Mac and Cheese

The details.

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.

side angled photo of One Pot 4 Cheese Caprese Mac and Cheese

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!

overhead close up photo of One Pot 4 Cheese Caprese Mac and Cheese

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!

overhead photo of One Pot 4 Cheese Caprese Mac and Cheese on serving plate with spoon

Looking for other easy weeknight pasta dinner bakes? Here are a few ideas: 

One Pot 30 Minute Creamy Tomato Basil Pasta Bake

Caprese Pesto Pasta Bake

One Pot Lemon Basil, Asparagus, and Sausage Pasta

One Pot Lemon Basil, Corn, and Ricotta Pasta

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

Prep Time 20 minutes
Cook Time 40 minutes
Total Time 1 hour
Servings: 8
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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Ingredients

Instructions

  • 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!
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overhead photo of One Pot 4 Cheese Caprese Mac and Cheese

 

4-Cheese Caprese Mac and Cheese | halfbakedharvest.com @hbharvest

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Comments

  1. Hey Tieghan! Do you think I could prepare the dish ahead of time, refrigerate for a few hours, and then bake? I’m looking for a vegetarian summer pasta dish that’s make ahead for a dinner party this weekend. Thanks so much!!

    1. Hey Gen,
      Yes, that would be totally fine to do! I hope this recipe turns out amazing for you, please let me know if you give it a try! xTieghan

  2. 5 stars
    Just made this tonight and oh my god, it was amazing! So cheesy and flavorful! Definitely will be making again!

    1. Hey Erika,
      Awesome!! I am so glad this recipe was enjoyed, thank you so much for giving it a try! xTieghan

  3. 5 stars
    Sooooo tasty! I cut the noodle cook time to 5 minutes and subtracted a half cup of milk. Absolutely delicious!

    1. Hey Krista,
      Happy Wednesday! I am thrilled that this recipe was enjoyed, thanks a bunch for giving it a go! xTieghan

  4. 5 stars
    Made this to bring to a party and it was a huge hit. After reading some of the other reviews we didn’t save all the water from the pasta, and only did 1&1/2 cups milk and the consistency was perfect for us. If you like it a little more creamy you could adjust accordingly. Super easy to make and tastes just like summer!

    1. Hey Jessica,
      Happy Monday! Thanks so much for making this recipe, I love to hear that it was enjoyed! xxTieghan

  5. 5 stars
    This is THE mac and cheese for anyone obsessed with cheese and pesto. It is amazingly delicious. Thanks for the recipe, Tieghan!

    1. Hey Sarah,
      Awesome! I am thrilled this recipe was enjoyed, thanks a lot for making it! xTieghan

  6. 5 stars
    100% the best mac&cheese I’ve ever had. It was SO GOOD.
    My only changes were: I doubled the tomatoes and halved the amount of milk added. The consistency was perfect.
    This meal reheats really well too! Sometimes mac&cheese just isn’t as good after it’s been in the fridge and that just simply wasn’t the case here. Reheating melted the cheese perfectly to fresh-out-of-the-oven gooey.

    1. Hey Sara,
      That is so interesting! I am wondering if you adjusted the recipe at all the third time around? Let me know how I can help! xTieghan

  7. 5 stars
    This was so good!!!!! I made a couple of small changes: I didn’t have havarti cheese so I used colby jack instead, I added half a bag of spinach that needed to get used up, and I used my enameled dutch oven so I could bake directly in that & make it truly one pot instead of transferring to a baking dish. Used regular bread crumbs instead of making my own. Came out great and I will definitely make again.

    1. So glad it turned out so well with what you had!! Thank you so much for trying this one, Emmaline! xTieghan

  8. We went all in and created a Half Baked Harvest Sunday dinner bonanza last night. We started with your Peach Spritz which everyone adored, the tangy vinegar helped balance the sweet peach. Then I made the Caprese MAC and Cheese with your Herb Twist Bread to go with it. We could not stop eating them both! Knives kept slicing small wedges of bread and spoons continued to scoop out gooey hunks of mac and cheese. You had me at fontina and Brie for this recipe and it did not disappoint. A great was to celebrate the garden at the end of summer when you have an abundance of tomatoes and herbs! Thanks for some great recipes!! You have some new fans.

    1. Hi Jackie! I am really glad this recipe turned out so well for you! Thank you so much for trying it! xTieghan

  9. 5 stars
    This recipe is easily adaptable from pantry and freezer. We really wanted something comforting last night and didn’t have all the ingredients. So . . . I used whole wheat penne; a little extra cream cheese (I had 3 oz); cheddar, pepper jack and asiago; some cherry tomatoes and some sun-dried tomatoes chopped up. I did have pesto in the pantry. I used crushed cornflakes instead of ritz crackers and added extra garlic to the topping. I did not have fresh tomatoes for the top, but grated some “fresh” mozzarella that I had in the freezer.

    It was delicious and we have enough for a couple more nights

  10. 5 stars
    I made this 4 Cheese Caprese pasta and it is so delicious- I don’t usually follow recipes but decided to trust and only improvised by using garlic scape pesto (homemade) and chopped basil in place of pesto- will definitely make again!😋😋😋😋

  11. 4 stars
    This was a flavor bomb! Very, very tasty. However, I added extra cheddar cheese because it was far too runny. It would have been like soup had I not done that. I also tripled the amount of cherry tomatoes. Next time I would either use less milk, replace the mllk with cream or half and half, or use a cornstarch slurry to thicken it up like a proper mac and cheese.

  12. 5 stars
    This was fabulous! I don’t eat basil pesto as it’s to strong for me and for some reason upsets my stomach (although I can eat all the ingredients in pesto and they don’t bother me. Go figure?) I do buy this dandelion pesto at a local health food store that is delicious. I substituted that instead. Recipe still came out great. My husband usually says Mac & Cheese is a side dish. Not this one! This one was a Main Dish! 5 Stars!