Not many foods are as nostalgic or comforting as a bowl of delicious macaroni and cheese. Whether you’re enjoying instant macaroni and cheese from the box or enduring the labor of love by baking a pan of homemade macaroni and cheese, this family-friendly side dish is a staple of dinner tables across the country. But, you don’t have to be stuck between the choice of instant macaroni and cheese or the work and effort it takes to make a homemade batch of the family favorite. That’s where knowing more about the best frozen mac and cheese options will give you the best of both worlds.
You might be thinking that too much macaroni and cheese isn’t healthy, and for the most part, you’re right. But, this family favorite side dish isn’t as unhealthy as you might think. According to a study conducted by researchers at the University of Dublin, eating large amounts of cheese did not negatively affect LDL cholesterol or “bad cholesterol” levels in study participants. Dr. Emma Feeney explains these findings, “we have to consider not just the nutrients themselves but also the matrix in which we are eating them in and what the overall dietary pattern is, so not just about the food then, but the pattern of other foods we eat with them as well.”
With macaroni and cheese, that means eating a large number of carbohydrates, which is probably not the healthiest combination of foods. Although carbohydrates are generally touted for their ability to help athletes such as runners fuel their bodies before competing, too many carbs are not good for your metabolism. According to a recent study by Harvard-affiliated Brigham and Women’s Hospital and Boston Medical Center, eating too many carbs leads to a breakdown of antioxidants and this process gets worse as insulin production increases.
But, that’s enough of the health studies and food-based research, you came here looking for the best frozen mac and cheese and that’s exactly what we have for you. Study Finds did the research, consulting 10 expert review sites to find the best frozen macaroni and cheese available on the market today. As always, feel free to share your recommendations in the comments section below!
The List: The Best Frozen Mac and Cheese, According to Frozen Foodies
1. Trader Joe’s Hatch Chile Mac and Cheese
The top spot on the list of best frozen macaroni and cheese goes to a non-traditional dish offered by Trader Joe’s. As is the case with most types of foods, it can be tough to find the one that most expert sites agree on, but Trader Joe’s Hatch Chile Mac and Cheese definitely takes the top spot on this list. And for good reason, too. Trader Joe’s Hatch Chile Mac and Cheese is made with chiles sourced from Hatch, New Mexico, hence the name.
But, don’t let the chiles scare you away from trying one of the best frozen macaroni and cheese dishes available. “Green chile paired with macaroni and cheese is a classic, undeniably tasty combination. Fortunately, you can still taste the green chile in each bite, and the cheddar is sharp, which complements the pepper flavor. That said, this mac and cheese is still well worth the purchase,” writes Restaurant Clicks.
This definitely isn’t your run-of-the-mill frozen macaroni and cheese, and the addition of the chiles gives this Trader Joe’s product a boost. “If you want mac and cheese that has a real kick, opt for this hatch chili-infused frozen meal from Trader Joe’s. Toss in some chicken while you’re at it,” adds She Knows.
There’s a reason why this frozen macaroni and cheese appeared in the top 5-10 across almost every expert list we visited – it’s just plain good. Eating macaroni and cheese with green chiles is actually a common way to enjoy the dish in many parts of the country, especially the southwest.
“Macaroni and cheese topped with green chile is a time-honored classic that is incredibly delicious. This winning combination has stood the test of time,” explains Whimsy and Spice.
Although most of the review sites we consulted voted they would have liked to see more green chiles in this dish, Trader Joe’s Hatch Chili Mac and Cheese still pack tons of flavor in every bite. “The dish only has a few bits of green chile, so you may wish that there would be more of it overall. The flavor of the green chile can, thankfully, still be tasted in each bite, and the tanginess of the cheddar cheese complements the spiciness of the green chile in a delightful way,” adds Whimsey and Spice.
2. Stouffer’s Macaroni and Cheese
This classic favorite of the 80s and 90s is still one of the best frozen macaroni and cheese options available in the frozen food section of nearly every grocery store in the country. Stouffer’s has been doing frozen foods for decades, and their frozen macaroni and cheese is filled with nostalgia for most of us.
“Stouffer’s Macaroni & Cheese uses 100% real cheese and zero preservatives to deliver a bold, cheesy, and creamy comfort dish that tastes as good as a home-cooked meal,” explains Restaurant Clicks.
“It takes only six minutes to cook in a microwave, but it is tastier when cooked in the oven for about 50 minutes. Regardless of how you prepare it, you’ll be rewarded with 14 grams of protein and a very sauce-heavy mac and cheese,” adds Restaurant Clicks.
Of course, you might not have the 50 minutes it takes to prepare Stouffer’s Macaroni and Cheese, but we assure you that the microwave version is equally as great. Regardless, Stouffer’s has stood the test of time.
“Whenever I have Stouffer’s frozen macaroni and cheese I always wonder why I don’t eat it more often. It’s a treat-yourself side that’s easy as hell (I love that the edges brown up even when you cook the tray in the microwave, which we did in this case). This is the best frozen mac and cheese you can buy if you’re feeding a big group with a bunch of kids, “ writes Sporked.
“Macaroni and cheese from Stouffer’s is the king of comfort food, as it is produced with genuine cheese and contains no artificial preservatives of any kind. The result is a dish that is tasty, cheesy, and creamy, and it has a flavor that is nearly identical to that of a dish that was prepared from scratch,” adds Whimsy and Spice.
3. Blake’s Old Fashioned Mac & Cheese
The third spot on the list of best frozen macaroni and cheese goes to Blake’s Old Fashioned Mac & Cheese. Similar to Stouffer’s, Blake’s Old Fashioned Mac & Cheese is a classic rendition of macaroni and cheese with one slight addition – a breadcrumb topping. The breadcrumb topping pays homage to the homemade version of this childhood classic. But, that’s not all there is to love about this quality frozen macaroni and cheese.
“We thought it was bold of Blake’s to try to make a microwaveable mac and cheese, finished with a breadcrumb topping to resemble a baked macaroni and cheese. We were impressed when it worked. It wasn’t too dry or thick like breadcrumb toppings can sometimes be straight out of the oven, and it had a perfectly creamy white cheddar cheese sauce,” writes Mashed.
Obviously, Blake’s was able to get the breadcrumb topping down pat. But, this macaroni and cheese is a favorite amongst enthusiasts for other reasons, too.
“Any frozen macaroni and cheese that has a breadcrumb topping is a winner in our books. Plus, Blake’s contains no artificial colors, flavors, preservatives or ingredients,” explains She Knows.
“I love breadcrumb toppings on mac and cheese because it promotes a more dynamic consistency and takes a simple dish to the next level. Plus, while many frozen mac and cheeses are up to 500 calories per serving, this all-natural frozen dish sits comfortably at 300 calories per serving,” adds Restaurant Clicks.
4. 365 Macaroni and Cheese (Whole Foods)
The next product to make the list of the best frozen macaroni and cheese is 365 Macaroni and Cheese from Whole Foods. It’s simple yet tasty and satisfying. Whole Foods is known for carrying fresh, organic, somewhat healthy foods, and their take on frozen mac is no exception.
“This relatively non-descript store brand macaroni and cheese from Whole Foods honestly surprised us. Going into the microwave, the mix looked a little dry, and there aren’t any special descriptions on the packaging other than a nice picture and a casual mention of ‘Three Cheeses Sauce’ in small print that set it apart from the competition,” writes Mashed.
“So when it came out of the microwave and we gave it one last stir, we were giddy to see real stretchy cheese pulling with every forkful. Not only is it a real cheese sauce, but the seasonings are unlike anything we’d encountered so far,” adds Mashed.
With all that stretchy cheese, you might assume this isn’t the healthiest option for frozen macaroni and cheese. But the ingredients are actually healthier than in most options in this classic frozen favorite. “365 makes sure to use organic ingredients in their mac and cheese, and both the calorie and sodium levels of the box are lower than many of its competitors,” adds Restaurant Clicks.
“This is one of the greatest choices for customers who are looking for a healthy mac & cheese alternative,” explains Whimsy and Spice.
5. Amy’s Macaroni and Cheese
The last dish to frequent the lists of best frozen macaroni and cheese is Amy’s Macaroni and Cheese. Similar to 365 from Whole Foods, Amy’s prides itself on using natural ingredients with fewer preservatives. The result is a high-end frozen macaroni and cheese that rivals a batch of homemade.
For cheese lovers, you’ll be hooked on this frozen mac as soon as you see the box. “The image on the box isn’t lying—this stuff is saucy as all get out. And the cheese sauce is definitely the star here. It’s silky and creamy and doesn’t separate like some other cheese sauces tend to. Even if you eat this with a fork, every bite packs a mouthful of sauce,” explains Sporked.
And the best part is this frozen macaroni and cheese offers a healthy portion without cramming your body full of carbs and calories. “As far as the ingredient list goes, it’s about as clean as it gets with most of the same ingredients you’d use at home to make a pot of mac and cheese. The 9-ounce package has 450 calories, 18 grams of protein, and is a perfectly filling entrée for one,” adds Mashed.
This tasty option is also an excellent side dish for vegetarians looking to enjoy a childhood favorite. “These components are consistent with the history of Amy’s Kitchen, in which Rachel and Andy, the company’s founders, developed organic and vegetarian ready-made meals since they were unable to locate any on their own,” writes Whimsy and Spice.
- Restaurant Clicks
- Whimsy and Spice
- Hellthy Junk food
- Recipe Marker
- She Knows
- Moonshine Recipe