Wondering how to make Kraft Mac & Cheese better? I have all the hot tips and tricks!
I grew up on Kraft mac and cheese. So not to toot my own horn, but I’m a bit of an expert.
Kraft Mac & Cheese is a timeless family classic. Kids love it and parents can make it in a snap.
Sometimes, though, you want a little more oomph. So I’m letting you in on my Kraft Mac & Cheese upgrades.
With just a few simple tweaks and additions, you can elevate that box.
So get ready to take your mac and cheese experience up a notch.
You’re about to learn the best ways to make Kraft Mac & Cheese better than just store-bought.
1. Salt the Water
Have you been adding salt to your Kraft Mac & Cheese? If not, it’s time to start!
Salting pasta water is like second nature. We do it every time we make pasta without thinking twice.
But somehow, it’s often overlooked with store-bought Kraft.
I’m guessing it’s because the directions leave this step out. And yet, all other pasta dishes we make get a little pinch.
Some argue it helps speed up the cooking. Really, it’s about the flavor.
Adding salt to the cooking water seasons the pasta inside out.
That means it’s not just sprinkled on top. It’s infused into the macaroni.
This results in an overall better flavor. Just remember, a small pinch goes a long way.
2. Slightly Undercook the Pasta
Nobody likes a bowl of mushy pasta! It’s the easiest way to ruin the whole experience.
If you find your mac and cheese is constantly overcooked, try making it al dente.
I’m sure you’ve seen this phrase on pasta packaging a time or two. In Italian, al dente means “to the tooth.”
It’s a way of describing slightly undercooked pasta. Or for others, cooked to perfection!
It’s tender, chewy, and still a little firm.
For al dente, cook the macaroni a minute or two less than what the directions state.
It’s a simple way to add more texture. Plus, it helps the macaroni hold up better when you smother it with cheesy goodness.
3. Make It Extra Creamy
How do you turn store-bought mac and cheese into a decadent feast?
It’s super simple. Just add cream.
Kraft Mac & Cheese calls for a quarter cup of milk. This could be nonfat milk, 2 percent milk, whole milk, or even non-dairy milk.
But when you add cream, it changes everything. It’s like the difference between a skinny latte and a breve.
Kraft with cream has a luxurious mouthfeel and flavor.
Yet the creamy options don’t stop there. Instead of cream, you can use half-n-half, butter, Greek yogurt, or even sour cream.
Play around with the ratios and see what combination you like. Any of these are guaranteed to give that box a richer flavor.
4. Make It Cheesier
When in doubt, double up on the cheese!
I’m the sort of person that believes the cheesier the better.
If you are too, give the sauce a boost with more cheese.
You can sprinkle grated parmesan or gruyere on top for a garnish.
Or make it extra creamy by melding the pasta with cream cheese or brie.
Sharp cheddar cheese gives the pasta a nice bite. Pepper Jack also adds a little spice.
But if you want a guilt-riddled bowl of homestyle comfort food, go with Velveeta.
It maxes out the cheese factor for one sinfully delicious meal. It’s so creamy, indulgent, and cheesy that it’s irresistible!
No matter which cheese you choose, just be sure it’s a melty type.
You don’t want to bite into a hunk of semi-melted cheese.
Speaking of which, melt the cheese with the sauce on the stove before adding it to the pasta.
It’s the best way to fully incorporate it.
Likewise, you can skip the included powdered cheese packet entirely for fresh cheese.
The grating will take more work on your part. But sometimes, it’s just what the doctor ordered.
5. Brown the Butter
Brown butter is a quick Kraft Mac & Cheese fix.
You can use it just like you would regular butter. And it’s super easy.
In a pan, add the desired amount of butter and cook it on low. As it cooks, the butter will start to bubble and darken.
Be sure to swirl the pan and keep a watchful eye. You want it to brown, not burn.
Then, mix it with the sauce like you would with regular butter.
It makes the mac and cheese more complex and rich. And it’s so simple!
It only takes you a handful of minutes. So it’s not a ton of extra effort.
Not to mention, you’ll love how it tastes.
6. Add Protein
Need to make your mac and cheese more filling? Add protein.
Protein is a simple solution to make Kraft Mac & Cheese more satiating.
Savory meats like chicken, ground beef, sausage, and ham work great. I find it’s particularly good with leftover rotisserie chicken.
Although, the barbecue lover in me loves to load up on pulled pork. And don’t get me started on brisket!
For the little tykes, hot dog slices do the trick. Sometimes, nostalgia strikes and I make mine that way too.
Of course, there’s no denying the power of bacon! Fry up a few slices and chop them up.
Bits of fatty, salty pork with creamy macaroni and cheese is like heaven in a bowl.
And don’t worry seafood lovers, I didn’t forget about you. Add lobster to it for the ultimate mac and cheese.
Don’t eat meat? That’s fine too. White beans are a simple, quick, and affordable protein fix.
7. Add Spices
Hands down, spices are the easiest way to spruce up Kraft Mac & Cheese.
You don’t have to chop, cook, blend, or crush any additional ingredients. And, you don’t have to dirty any extra dishes.
Just head to the spice cabinet and get creative with it.
Cayenne adds a nice fiery kick. Curry powder gives it a warming spicy touch.
Then there’s garlic powder for the win!
I also like to reach for regional spices for a fun twist.
Taco seasoning has a ton of flavor. Creole seasoning adds a bit of pizzazz.
Start with just a pinch and season to taste. It’s the best way to avoid overdoing it.
You can also bust out your favorite bottle of hot sauce. Cholula, Louisiana, Tapatio, Crystal, or anything else you fancy.
While it might not exactly be a spice, it certainly is spicy!
8. Top It With Crushed Crackers or Breadcrumbs
Want more texture? Add crackers and breadcrumbs.
The crunchy texture pairs beautifully with the tender creamy pasta.
To max out the crispy factor, pour the cooked mac and cheese into a baking dish.
Then, sprinkle crushed crackers or breadcrumbs on top.
After a minute or two under the broiler, it develops a nice crispy coating.
You can tell it’s done when it starts to brown. Give it a minute to cool and dig in.
For crackers, Ritz has a nice buttery flavor. Club crackers do, too.
In terms of breadcrumbs, panko is my favorite. I love the texture.
If you want a little extra flavor, go with Italian breadcrumbs.
Either way, it makes a store-bought box of Kraft taste homemade.
Mac & Cheese Recipes to Try
With so many tips, where do you begin? Start with my go-to upgraded Kraft mac and cheese recipe.
It’s super cheesy, rich, and it has the best crunch. Plus, you just need six ingredients.
You cook the mac and cheese as usual. Then, pile it into a casserole dish and bake.
About 25 minutes later, your meal is ready.
Another family favorite is Velveeta mac and cheese. It maxes out the cheesy and creamy factor by a thousand.
There’s no denying old-fashioned mac and cheese is the epitome of comfort food.
From the flavor to the texture, it tastes like it came right out of grandma’s kitchen.
And there’s something about Cracker Barrel mac and cheese that has me craving more.
If you’ve had it, you know exactly what I mean. If you haven’t, you’re truly missing out!
And don’t miss out on this copycat Trisha Yearwood’s mac and cheese recipe.
You toss all the ingredients into a Crockpot, then kick back for a few hours. For potlucks, holidays, or game days, it’s absolutely perfect.
Who doesn’t love a big bowl of uber-cheesy mac and cheese?
For more mac and cheese topping inspiration, try cauliflower, corn, or jalapenos. Or go wild with crushed Cheetos.
Trust me on this one. It’s delicious!
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