When you need dinner fast and you need something that will please both kids and adults alike, there’s a reliable place you can always turn — boxed mac and cheese. But when it comes to boxed mac and cheese, most of us think of a single brand that we feel reigns supreme. (Yes, the one with the blue box.) So that got us thinking… is that really the best one? Or are we just stuck on name recognition and nostalgia? So we set out to find out which boxed mac and cheese is truly the best! With a panel of eager taste testers, we blind tasted seven different mac and cheese brands to see which one we loved the most. (And like us, you just might be very surprised who comes in first!)
How We Tested
We conducted this trial blindly with a panel of testers, meaning that the taste testers didn’t know which mac and cheese was which when tasting. (But at the end, we did try to guess which was which for fun!) For this test, we had a panel of three testers so that we could compare opinions. Testers were allowed to re-taste as needed to further investigate a mac’s qualities.
We chose seven nationally-available brands of boxed mac and cheese. They were: Velveeta, Annie’s Organic, Goodles, Cheetos, Signature Select, Trader Joe’s, and Kraft (can’t leave that one out).
What We Looked For In Mac and Cheese
Mac and Cheese should taste like, well, cheese. Is the cheese flavor strong or subtle? Does it taste like cheese or powder?
Mac and Cheese should have a creamy sauce that’s smooth and sturdy noodles with a little chew. Did it fit those criteria?
Mac and Cheese can sometimes venture into nearly fluorescent territory but that’s not necessarily appealing. How was the cheesy hue?
And here are the results, ranked from worst to best:
While none of us were really expecting to love this one, it was kind of intriguing so we were interested to try it. While it tastes like Cheetos, it’s a subtle flavor and wasn’t offensive. However, none of the testers could see themselves eating a whole bowl of this. The bright orange hue was a little off putting. All in all, our least favorite.
6. Annie’s Organic Mac
We all proclaimed to be big fans of Annie’s prior to this taste test but when tested, we found that it really had very little flavor. More than one tester remarked that it “tasted like nothing.” And you don’t want your mac to taste like nothing.
5. Trader Joe’s White Cheddar
It’s not entirely fair to pit a white cheddar option against the usual orange varieties but we had to work with what TJ’s had in stock and that was this. We found it to have decent flavor, but a little bland for a white cheddar option. The cheese tasted a little more “real” than other varieties.
Velveeta is known for its creaminess and it lived up to that reputation. The sauce texture was unlike any of the other ones, very rich and creamy. It had a good cheese flavor but maybe just a little bit too subtle to take the grand prize.
The one we ALL expected to come out on top. But surprise! It somehow wasn’t our top choice. When tasting it blind, we found Kraft to really be lacking in flavor and have a more powdery taste. Definitely a decent mac and cheese, but it was missing that wow factor.
Before taste testing, none of us had ever even heard of Goodles so we were surprised to love it so much. The noodles here were much sturdier and the sauce had a much zestier flavor that tasted more of actual cheese than some of the other varieties. We all ended the day saying that we’d buy this one on our own in the future.
1. Signature Select
This happened with our ketchup taste test too, but once again, the Safeway store brand comes in first! We couldn’t believe it. Signature Select had a really nice cheesy flavor with a creamy sauce and a hint of sweetness. It’s basically exactly what you expect boxed mac and cheese to taste like. And that’s just what you want when you’re turning to the box.SKM: below-content placeholder