Today, we have a ranking of warm, cheesy comfort food! This is our list of the 5 best boxed macaroni and cheese brands.
Now, we love mac and cheese, so it was a joy to try several brands and pick our top five. We looked at overall cheese flavor, texture, creaminess, and varieties available when we rated our favorites.
Let’s get right to the cheesy goodness, starting with number 5.
5. Kraft Deluxe Macaroni And Cheese Dinner
Kraft Deluxe mac and cheese features a creamy cheese sauce and different varieties that put it a step above standard boxed macaroni and cheese dinners. The standard elbow macaroni comes with a pouch of flavored cheese sauce that contains no artificial flavors or colors. That sounds promising for sure!
Kraft Deluxe Macaroni and Cheese dinner delivers creaminess and a good amount of cheese sauce when cooked according to package directions. The texture of this one is on point, perfectly cooked noodles in a smooth and creamy sauce, The only reason that it fails to rank higher on our list is the lackluster flavor, especially in the Original Cheddar version. It has a bit of a weird flavor that reminds us of nacho cheese. While that isn’t necessarily a bad thing, there are other brands that manage to produce a stronger, more authentic cheese flavor.
Kraft Deluxe macaroni and cheese comes in so many varieties that you are sure to find one for your tastes! You can currently get it in Original Cheddar, Sharp Cheddar, 2% Milk, White Cheddar Garlic & Herb, White Cheddar & Cracked Black Peppercorn, White Cheddar & Bacon, Creamy Alfredo.
4. Annie’s Deluxe Rich & Creamy Macaroni And Cheese
Annie’s has several varieties of mac and cheese on store shelves, but we prefer one of their newer lines, Annie’s Deluxe Rich & Creamy. It has a much creamier sauce than other types of Annie’s macaroni and cheese and has a richer, more decadent feel. The flavor of the sauce itself is only slightly better than Kraft Deluxe, but it is made with all organic and non-GMO ingredients.
The flavors available in this line of mac and cheese are:
- Shells & Classic Cheddar
- Shells & Four Cheese
- Shells & White Cheddar
- Shells & Aged Cheddar
- Gluten Free Shells & Cheddar Rice Pasta
- Shells & Vegan Cheddar
- Shells & Vegan Cheddar With Broccoli
Shells are also our preferred pasta shape for mac and cheese. While shells usually hold up well during cooking, sometimes Annie’s shells got a bit mushy on us when cooked according to package directions. Some boxes had this issue and some didn’t, so the texture is a bit inconsistent.
Overall, Annie’s Deluxe Rich & Creamy is a great option, but it isn’t our favorite. If you want to know more about Annies and their organic, gluten-free, and or vegan options, you can check out their website.
3. Great Value Artisan Crafted Macaroni And Cheese Dinner
We certainly did not go into this thinking that a store brand would provide the name brands with serious competition, yet here we are. We think that this is Walmart’s version of a brand that is featured higher up on our list, but it’s tasty either way. We found this in 5 delicious flavors:
- Havarti Cheddar Macaroni And Cheese
- White Cheddar And Black Pepper Macaroni And Cheese
- Loaded Bacon Cheddar Macaroni And Cheese
- Smoked Gouda Macaroni And Cheese
- Garlic And Herb Macaroni And Cheese
We feel that the Great Value Artisan Crafted varieties provide great value (pun intended!). The pasta shapes vary depending on the flavor you choose, and there is a decent amount of flavorful sauce. However, the texture of the sauce isn’t as smooth and creamy as some other brands. On a positive note, it packs lots of flavor and tastes great.
While this is not our favorite brand, we think it is a solid option, especially for around $2. This brand is available exclusively at Walmart.
2. Kraft Velveeta Shells & Cheese
Nothing has a smoother, creamier melt than Velveeta. It’s called “Liquid Gold, because it’s just that good! Kraft’s Velveeta Macaroni and Cheese also uses shells, so there is a great bite to the pasta and perfect creaminess to the sauce. It definitely has the best texture of any boxed macaroni and cheese we sampled to compile this list.
There may not be as many varieties of this one compared to other brands, but they do include most of the classics. They have Velveeta Original Shells & Cheese, Velveeta Shells & Cheese With 2% Milk Cheese, Velveeta Shells & Cheese Queso Blanco, and Velveeta Bacon Shells & Cheese. There is also a version with rotini pasta that has creamy Velveeta sauce and broccoli.
The main issue with Velveeta Shells & Cheese is the taste. Some people really love the iconic taste of Velveeta processed cheese and get nostalgic about it, while others feel that the overwhelming taste of processed cheese ruins what would otherwise be a nice, creamy bowl of mac and cheese.
Most of our crew preferred the real cheese flavor of the brand you are about to see in the top spot, but that doesn’t diminish Velveeta’s Liquid Gold status!
1. Cracker Barrel Macaroni And Cheese Dinner
Cracker Barrel Macaroni And Cheese Dinner brings that real cheese flavor in these four varieties currently available:
- Sharp Cheddar Macaroni And Cheese Dinner
- Sharp White Cheddar Macaroni And Cheese Dinner
- Cheddar Havarti Macaroni And Cheese Dinner
- Parmesan White Cheddar Macaroni And Cheese Dinner
They really nail the taste with real Cracker Barrel cheese for a fantastic cheesy flavor. The shell-shaped pasta holds the delicious sauce really well. While a decent amount of sauce is provided, we would like a little more. It is so good! The price is a bit higher for this one compared to others on this list, but the flavor makes it worth it, in our opinion.
Of all the ones that we tasted, Cracker Barrel is the closest to homemade macaroni and cheese, making it worthy of the title of ‘Best Boxed Macaroni And Cheese Brand’. If you make it following the instructions on the box, and then bake it in a casserole dish with cheese and breadcrumbs for a few minutes, you could probably fool a crowd!
Takeaways From The Food Rankers Crew
When selecting the best macaroni and cheese brands for your family, you can’t go wrong with any of the ones on our list. It all comes down to taste and preferences. For example, we found that ones with pouch of thick, cheesy sauce were more successful with all of our reviewers. It makes preparation easier and melts into a smoother, flavorful sauce compared to the powdered cheese options.
What do you think the best boxed macaroni and cheese brands are? Do you agree with our list? Let us know in the comments below!