The Great Kraft Mac and Cheese Showdown
Years ago I read that Kraft Mac and Cheese shapes taste better than their standard elbow. Logically, this makes sense. Why wouldn’t mac and cheese taste better shaped as basketballs over of boring tubes? Characters tend to have more ridges creating pockets to better hold the sauce. After years of preaching the superiority of shaped mac and cheese, it’s time to put it to the ultimate test.
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I picked up four different boxes of Kraft mac and cheese: Frozen Shapes, Spirals, Thick and Creamy, and the Original Kraft Mac and Cheese. Because this is a scientific experiment, it’s important to standardize our samples as much as possible. Boxed mac and cheese is better when you doctor it a little bit. I swapped the recommended butter and milk mixture for butter and sour cream. Each bowl was topped with crispy onions and cooked chicken seasoned with garlic, onion powder, cajun spice, butter, pepper, and chile honey sauce.
We started with this box mostly on the insistence of our daughter. I expected it to be the champion of this competition, and it was wonderful. The flavors blended well and shapes offer lots of ridges to hold extra sauce.
It’s worth noting the box instructs you to boil the pasta for 11 minutes and 30 seconds before combining the sauce packet with 1/2 tablespoon butter and 3 tablespoons milk. I followed the cooking time, but added 2 tablespoons butter and 2 tablespoons sour cream instead of the milk and butter ratio they recommend. Sour cream adds a layer of tartness that stands out nicely against the other flavors.
Because of my mac and cheese bias, I typically only buy Kraft mac and cheese in shape form, so this tasted exactly like I expected it to – delightful.
This box requires 4 tablespoons butter and 1/2 cup milk added to pasta cooked for 9 minutes. I subbed the milk and butter out for 2 tablespoons sour cream and 2 tablespoons butter to keep it consistent, but looking back I’m interested to see what would have happened if I’d followed this recipe to the letter.
What I didn’t expect was for our second mac to be better than the shapes. I thought shapes were supposed to be the best, but this experiment is already proving that false.
I thought spirals would come in second. If we are running on the theory that pockets of sauce increase likability, spirals offer a lot of ridges to hold extra sauce compared to my anticipated bottom two choices.
This box calls for 2 tablespoons butter and 3 tablespoons milk and a 7 minute cooking time. As before, I subbed out the milk and butter for 2 tablespoons butter and 2 tablespoons sour cream.
This box blew the previous two out of the water.
This recipe calls for 4 tablespoons butter and 1/4 cup milk with pasta cooked for 7 minutes and 30 seconds.
Out of all of the boxes we tried, this was the one that surprised me the most. There’s something to be said about how long this has been on the shelf, but I thought this would be in dead last. It was very very close to top place but didn’t quite make it there.
When we started, I expected the shape pasta to be in top place with spirals in second, thick and creamy in third, and original in the bottom.
Surprisingly, spirals came in top – beating out every other recipe