Warm Up to Comfort With The 12 Best Store-Bought Mac & Cheese
Take comfort food to the next level with our picks for the 12 best store-bought mac and cheese brands. Whatever your dietary needs, we’ve got the one for you.
Is there any other meal as loaded with love and childhood nostalgia as good old-fashioned macaroni and cheese? We’re going to bet your answer is no. There’s something quintessentially comforting and all-American about this family-favorite dish. Is it the perfectly cooked pasta? Or the rich, creamy cheese sauce? We don’t know, but this meal is something we can’t do without.
But what if you don’t have time to boil noodles, whisk together the perfect Béchemel to turn into an authentic cheese sauce, and bake an entire casserole? Don’t worry; the grocery store shelves have many mac and cheese options. After all, millions of college students and busy parents can’t be wrong. Some would argue that the best mac and cheese is store-bought.
Whether you prefer frozen or boxed macaroni and cheese, we put together a list of the best store-bought mac and cheese. We’ve even uncovered some tasty vegan options for you to try. So pull up a chair and get ready to be served a heaping portion of comfort covered in a cheesy, creamy sauce.
Imported directly from your childhood, it's the same classic cheesy taste you know and love. So go ahead, and dig in. Your kids may be the perfect age to enjoy the gooey, cheesy boxed mac goodness — but remember, when it comes to Kraft Mac and Cheese, you were there first.
Sometimes, you need comfort above and beyond your Mom’s box of mac and cheese. That’s when your uncle can step up to the plate. Cavatappi pasta combined with a four-cheese sauce, topped with a panko breadcrumb topping, comes fresh from the oven for an authentic gourmet taste.
Daiya’s Cheddar Style Cheezy Mac will delight your taste buds with the savory, rich cheddar flavor and creamy texture you love from classic mac and cheese. Every bowl is made with velvety, dairy-free cheese sauce and gluten-free macaroni for tummy-friendly, no-allergen goodness.
You know, it's hard to write a product description when you're drooling all over the keyboard. Let the cheese sauce fill all the nooks and crannies of the shells in the classic Velveeta Shells and Cheese fashion. Enjoy this comforting dish as a meal or the perfect side to anything you serve up.
Your favorite snack is now a cheesy mac. Introducing Cheetos Mac ‘n Cheese; it’s bold, creamy, and full of the Cheetos flavor you crave. It’s the mac you’ve been dreaming of for lunch, dinner, and anytime. Get your paws on a box today!
Get the comfort of Mom’s mac and cheese but plant-based and gluten-free. Years of recipe testing led to this worth-the-wait version of our creamy original. Amy combines organic macaroni-style organic rice noodles covered with a smooth vegan cheese flavor sauce that’s dairy-free, lactose-free, and soy-free.
Bacon and cheese go together better than peanut butter and jelly. Add in pasta shells, and you have a meal that dreams are made of. Devour Bacon Mac & Cheese comes with a white cheddar cheese cream sauce that’ll have you licking the bowl to get every last drop.
Are you tired of macaroni pasta? Lean Cuisine has made their cheesy noodle casserole with fresh cavatappi pasta and a sharp, cheesy sauce using Vermont white cheddar. This high protein, meatless dish is perfect for days when you need a hearty, comforting meal ready in minutes.
Severino’s Vegan Mac & Cheese takes a classic comfort food recipe and transforms it into a delicious alternative plant-based dish. Creamy vegan cheddar and elbow macaroni deliver a plateful of childhood nostalgia with a side of veggies.
It’s mac and cheese like Mom used to make, only in a box. Annie’s Classic Macaroni & Cheese uses organic pasta with authentic cheese sauce to deliver a meal that rivals homemade. There are no artificial flavors, synthetic colors, or preservatives — just honest, good-for-you cheesiness.
What happens when your taste buds evolve beyond the little blue box of mac and cheese? You get fancy with Evol’s Truffle Parmesan Mac & Cheese. Tubetti pasta is smothered in the sophisticated flavors of truffle oil, sharp cheddar, and parmesan cheeses for a truly grown-up taste.
The original comfort food: mac & cheese. Stouffer's Mac & Cheese dinner is the perfect combination of creamy, melty cheese, and elbow macaroni. Enjoy it as an entire meal on its own or as a savory accompaniment to your main course.
What brand of macaroni and cheese is the best?
We love mac and cheese in all its infinite variety. So asking us what’s the best store-bought mac and cheese is like asking us to choose our favorite meme. It feels like an almost impossible task because they’re all so fantastic, but we’ve given it our best shot.
Here are some of our top choices for the best store-bought macaroni and cheese by category without further ado.
Best boxed mac and cheese: For the best bang for your buck, Annie's Homegrown Classic Cheddar Macaroni & Cheese is the box mac and cheese brand to beat. Its rich cheesy flavor and chewy noodles taste like they’re homemade without the powdered cheese aftertaste.
Best frozen store-bought mac and cheese:What do you do when even the thought of boiling water and stirring a cheese packet into noodles seems too much? You grab a Good Uncle Four Cheese Mac & Cheese tray and pop it into the oven. It’s the perfect fire-and-forget meal; it’s easy to cook and full of rich, satisfying cheese flavor thanks to a combination of 4 different kinds of cheese. Indulge in a meal so rich and creamy that you’ll forget how simple it was to prepare.
Best vegan store-bought mac and cheese: We love a good mac and cheese fresh from the oven. Severino Vegan Mac & Cheese delivers that classic comfort with the goodness of whole foods like carrots, onions, and potatoes in every bite. It’s so good that you wouldn’t know it’s vegan.
Best dairy-free store-bought mac and cheese: Going dairy-free doesn’t mean you have to give up your favorite comfort food. Daiya Dairy-Free Deluxe Cheddar Style Cheezy Machas created a dairy-free mac and cheese that fills the void with all the delicious creamy flavor you crave.
Did we get it right? Find out for yourself by hosting a Mac and Cheese Blind Taste Test party. What could be more fun than a bunch of impartial tasters bonding over pasta and cheese?
Is Velveeta or Kraft mac and cheese better?
We believe the deciding factor comes down to the sauce. Do you prefer to customize the consistency of your sauce using cheese powder, milk, and butter or the convenience of a pre-made package of rich, cheesy goodness to add to your noodles?
Personally, we can’t decide. Try both and decide for yourself.
How do you make store-bought mac and cheese taste better?
Can store-bought mac and cheese get any better? Yes. Yes, it can. And it’s easy too. Here are a few tricks.
Cook the noodles al dente: If you’re making additions to boxed mac and cheese, cook your noodles for two minutes less than the instructions on the box. The shorter cooking time will keep them from getting mushy while customizing your sauce.
Add more cheese: What does everyone want in their mac and cheese? More cheese! Shred some of your favorite cheese. Then add it to a pot along with butter and the cheese packet, and melt everything while the noodles are cooking. Strain the noodles, pour them into the cheese sauce, and stir until coated. We like using a combination of cheddar cheese and creamy Havarti.
Don’t use pre-shredded cheese. Yes, pre-shredded cheese is convenient, but it has additives to help keep the cheese shreds separate that can affect the consistency of your sauce.
Switch up your dairy: If you use milk, try substituting whipping cream for the amount recommended on the box. It’ll make an extra-rich sauce that clings to the noodles like a warm hug.
Seasonings: First and foremost, make sure that you salt the water you’re using to cook your noodles. Next, add some flavorings to your cheese sauce. We recommend hot sauce, smoked paprika, mustard powder, garlic, pepper, or all of the above. Use your imagination and let your taste buds be your guide.
Crumb topping: This goes a long way towards making your store-bought mac and cheese taste more homemade. Mix ½ cup of bread crumbs or crushed crackers with 1 tablespoon of melted butter, 1 teaspoon of parmesan cheese, 1/4 teaspoon of cracked black pepper, and stir to combine.
Add the mix over the top of your frozen mac and cheese for the last 15 minutes of baking time, and continue cooking as usual. If you’re cooking boxed, pour the blended noodles and cheese sauce into a casserole, then top with the crumbs. Put the entire thing under the broiler for a few minutes to get the crumbs nice and toasty brown. Just keep an eye out, so the topping doesn’t burn.