I Tried Kraft’s Brand-New Plant-Based Mac & Cheese and Was Pleasantly Surprised

published Dec 10, 2023
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Credit: Nina Derwin

Whenever I think about switching to an entirely plant-based diet, I consider the one food I would struggle to give up: cheese. Vegan dairy substitutes are tasting more and more like the real thing, but I still have yet to be convinced that I wouldn’t miss cheese as I’ve always known it. 

Naturally, macaroni and cheese is one of the many cheese-centric dishes that populates my long list of non-vegan favorites, so I am always excited to try plant-based varieties, hopeful that I will find one I truly love. So, when I heard that Kraft Heinz and NotCo were teaming up to release a brand new plant-based version of the classic Kraft Mac & Cheese, I knew I had to get my hands on a box.

Credit: Nina Derwin

Kraft Heinz x NotCo Plant-Based Mac & Cheese

Kraft Heinz and NotCo’s new plant-based mac & cheese comes in two varieties: original and white cheddar. I wanted to try the original to see exactly how it measures up to the one I grew up enjoying, so I read the recommended preparation instructions on the side of the box to see what other ingredients I needed. 

The recipe calls for four tablespoons of vegan butter and a 1/4 cup of non-dairy milk. I chose Miyoko’s Plant Milk Butter and Forager Oatmilk, both of which I’ve used in the past and really like. I boiled my water, then cooked the pasta, and added everything to the pot to mix together. The sauce blended together with minimal effort, and the texture was almost instantly creamy, just like the original.

I couldn’t wait to dig in, and when I did, I will admit that I was surprised. For starters, texture and consistency were nearly identical to the non-vegan version of Kraft Mac & Cheese that I have always loved. However, the taste was not nearly as similar. There was something almost sweet about the taste that reminded me more of a butternut squash mac & cheese than the Kraft Original. I think it’s important to note that the type of vegan butter and non-dairy milk you use play an enormous role in the flavor of the end product, and it’s possible that there are choices better suited to this recipe than those I selected.

Ultimately, Kraft Heinz x NotCo’s new plant-based Mac & Cheese is its own thing entirely, and though flavorful, it is not the seamless replacement for the original variety that I’d been hoping it would be. If you eat a plant-based diet already or you like a slightly sweeter taste, then the plant-based Mac & Cheese is definitely worth trying. Consider adding some veggies, like broccoli, or a breadcrumb topping to jazz it up just a little, or enjoy it as it is for a quick and easy vegan meal — chances are, there won’t be any leftovers.