10 Ways to Upgrade a Box of Mac and Cheese with One Ingredient

updated Jul 17, 2020
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(Image credit: Lauren Volo)

It’s hard not to love boxed macaroni and cheese — it’s fast, cheap, and pleases the whole family. Everyone has their favorite, whether you hold true to the blue box, dig white cheddar, or embrace the kid in you and reach for a fun shape. On its own, it makes a fine lunch, dinner, or even a hearty snack, but reach into your pantry for one extra ingredient to add to the mix and you can upgrade your mac and cheese game entirely. A quick addition, like spicy jalapeños or buttery avocado, boosts the flavor, texture, and overall appeal of any boxed mac and cheese.

How to Upgrade Boxed Mac and Cheese with One Ingredient

The concept is simple: Cook up a box of your favorite macaroni and cheese according to package instructions and in the meantime consider your upgrade. That upgrade is likely something you already have in your pantry, just waiting to get a little more love in the kitchen. Then it’s just a matter of stirring it in or sprinkling it on top of the cheesy pasta.

(Image credit: Lauren Volo)

For Something a Little Wholesome

Give that bowl of macaroni and cheese a wholesome boost by adding something green — a few big handfuls of frozen peas will do the trick, as will diced avocado, which will make things even more creamy. Or add some protein in the way of flaked oil-packed tuna to give it some extra staying power.

(Image credit: Lauren Volo)

For Something a Bit Spicy or More Saucy

If you’re strictly in need of a flavor booster, you have plenty of options. For serious spice and tang, reach for pickled jalapeños. If you want some savory, umami-rich character with that spice, go for funky kimchi. You could also spin things Tex-Mex by stirring in salsa or Italian by mixing in marinara. Or just skip all the condiments and sauces and just add more cheese.

(Image credit: Lauren Volo)

For Something a Touch Fancy

Make your boxed macaroni and cheese dinner party-worthy with the help of a fast and fancy addition. A big drizzle of pesto makes for a bowl that’s full of garlic and herb goodness. Or try crispy cubes of pancetta, which give it both texture and richness that can only come from bacon’s Italian cousin.

10 Ways to Upgrade a Box of Mac and Cheese with One Ingredient

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