I Tried 8 Frozen Boxes of Mac and Cheese and Found a Clear Winner

updated Feb 11, 2020
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Credit: Joe Lingeman

Growing up, I ate plenty of boxed mac and cheese, but I don’t think I had ever tried mac and cheese from the freezer aisle (though my college roommate reminded me she loved the stuff when we lived together, so maybe I had had a bite or two of hers). So, when I set out to find as many boxes of frozen mac and cheese as I could, I assumed it’d be a challenge to find more than a few different kinds.

Our favorite boxed mac and cheese: Kraft Macaroni and Cheese, $8 for 18 pouches

I shouldn’t have worried. My first stop was at Trader Joe’s, and it took me about 10 seconds to grab four different boxes. Other grocery stores all had at least two or three kinds each. 

Credit: Kendall Wenaas

In total, I ended up with eight boxes and headed home to try to determine which boxes are worth tossing into your cart.

I cooked all eight in the microwave — one after another — according to the directions on the back of each box. As one cooked, one cooled, and one was eaten by me. It was the most fun I’ve ever had in an assembly line. Just me, my fork, and eight trays of cheesy noodles. Yes, I have a stomachache; yes, my laptop is now covered in cheese; and yes, there was a clear winner.

Credit: Kendall Wenaas

The Winner: Joe’s Diner Four Cheese Mac ’n Cheese 

If you’re ever in the position where you’re comforting a friend through a breakup or any other sad news, this is the mac and cheese to pick up and bring with you. The cheese blend — cheddar, Swiss, Havarti, and Gouda — tastes fancier than you’d expect from a frozen meal and has zero weird aftertaste. The same cannot be said for some of the others. And despite being heavy on the ooey-gooey cheese, there’s a good cheese-to-noodle ratio. Also the noodles are perfectly cooked, which, again, cannot be said for some of the others.

I loved that when I opened it, it was very clear what I was about to be eating: There were frozen pre-cooked noodles topped with a ton of frozen shredded cheese. Some others were just some odd, frozen bricks. Plus, stirring it all together post-microwave, made an ASMR sound that I did not hate.

Find it: Four Cheese Mac ’n Cheese, $2.99 for 14 ounces at Trader Joe’s

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