How I Wrote a Whole Cookbook of 3-Ingredient Recipes

The more flavorful your ingredients are to start with, the better the final dish will be.

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November 19, 2020

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When I was first approached about writing a cookbook of recipes using only three ingredients, I said to myself, “Is this really possible?” After brainstorming with myself I realized that it absolutely is — and I was able to come up with 100 three-ingredient recipes. Here’s an inside look at my new cookbook The Best 3-Ingredient Cookbook and the recipe for my three-ingredient Creamy Cheddar Mac and Cheese.

Why Use Three Ingredients?

It’s totally possible to make tasty dishes using only three ingredients, and there are advantages to using a limited amount of ingredients. The biggest pro is it’s a big money-saver. Buying only three ingredients per recipe certainly helps cut back on your food bill. Plus, shopping is much quicker — your shopping list will be shorter and you’ll breeze through those supermarket aisles in a flash or get your delivery order even quicker.

Because they're only made with three ingredients, I found the recipes I created tended to be on the simpler side. These recipes are designed for beginner cooks and experienced home cooks who are looking to save time and money. Also, when you only have three ingredients there is less to chop, slice, measure, mix or assemble. This helps shave off time spent cooking in the kitchen. To me, any trick that saves even five minutes on a busy weekday is a win! Finally, there's also less food waste when you use less food.

How Do You Make a Recipe Using Three Ingredients?

I often get asked how it’s possible to have delicious recipes with only three ingredients. First, it's important to note that three pantry staples — salt, black pepper and olive oil — are "free" ingredients in addition to the three I ultimately end up using. As such, there truly are minimal ingredients used in each recipe.

There is one secret to making recipes with three ingredients actually taste good: use at least one very flavorful ingredient. When you’re cooking with three ingredients, you need to make sure at least one ingredient is adding an abundance of flavor. Plus, in many of the recipes I created in the cookbook there are complimentary flavors to awaken your sweet, sour, salty, bitter and umami taste buds. Some of the recipes you will find in the book include Vegetarian Spaghetti Carbonara, Spaghetti Squash with Sausage, and Cheese Stuffed Mini Peppers.

Below is my recipe for Creamy Cheddar Mac and Cheese which uses evaporated milk to cook the pasta and give the dish a thick consistency and flavorful sharp Cheddar cheese to give the dish a flavorful punch. If you would like to lighten it up, use low fat evaporated milk and reduced fat cheddar cheese. You can also up the fiber content by using a whole wheat pasta.

Creamy Cheddar Mac and Cheese

Serves: 4

Serving size: 1 1/4 cups (300 mL)

10 oz (300 g) dry elbow macaroni pasta

2 cups (500 mL) evaporated milk

2 cups (500 mL) shredded sharp Cheddar cheese

Pantry Item:

1/8 tsp (0.5 mL) salt


Place the pasta in a large skillet. Add the salt and enough cold water to just cover the pasta. Bring the mixture to a boil over high heat.

Lower the heat to medium and continue cooking until most of the water is absorbed, about 6 minutes.

Add the evaporated milk and stir to combine. Raise the heat to high and bring the mixture to a gentle boil.

Reduce the heat to medium-low and add the cheese. Stir continuously until the mixture is smooth and has thickened, 1 to 2 minutes. Serve warm.

Recipe from "The Best 3-Ingredient Cookbook" by Toby Amidor and published by Robert Rose Books, October 2020. All rights reserved.

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