Make Frozen Mac and Cheese Better
While fresh made mac and cheese is almost always the tastiest choice, sometimes we’re literally and figuratively out of spoons and don’t have the time or energy to make it. In this case, you aren’t destined for sad, soggy mac and cheese. There are ways to make frozen mac and cheese better without depleting the last of your energy.
Choose the Right Frozen Mac and Cheese Option
Not all frozen mac and cheese options are created equal. Searching my local grocery store for frozen mac and cheese gives nearly 50 possibilities. Some of these options are fantastic and I would gladly eat them again and again. Others are so-so but easy to doctor into something edible, and some are downright gross. Check reviews and experiment to find the best frozen mac and cheese you have access to and go from there.
I know, baking takes longer and a little more effort, it’s worth every minute. Baking your frozen mac and cheese will significantly improve the texture. If your pasta has bread crumbs on top, the oven will crisp them up while the microwave leaves you with a soggy mess.
While pasta and cheese sauce is the heart of every mac and cheese, toppings make a huge difference in your mac and cheese experience. Toppings add flavor, texture, and color, which will elevate a so-so mac and cheese experience into something you will be excited to eat.
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There are four different categories I use to classify my toppings:
Meat inclusions add a filling, savory component. Most frozen options are limited on the amount of food you get, leading to it not feeling like enough. Adding a meat topping will help you stretch your meal in both calories and volume. This is great if you’re cooking for more than one person or if you need a little more food for yourself.
- air fry frozen chicken strips, cut into bite size pieces, and toss with buffalo sauce
- cook bacon and chop into pieces
- leftover bbq
- steak cooked to your liking and cut into bite size pieces (or even served whole with mac and cheese as a side)
The reality of frozen food is that it just won’t keep its texture as much as you hope it would. When your dry and wet ingredients are forced to sit together for weeks or even months, they’re going to take on some of the qualities of each other. Adding a crispy topping will give your dish another dimension of texture that would be impossible to see straight out of the box.
- crispy onions
- crispy jalapenos
- panko bread crumbs (bonus points if you toast them a little bit before serving)
- crushed chips (think hot Cheetos or Funyons. Something that will pack a ton of flavor into your dish)
Sometimes frozen mac and cheese just needs more cheese.
- Mozzarella is how you get that fun, stretchy cheese pull. It’ll add a ton of texture and dimension to frozen mac and cheese. Keep this cheese on top for best results.
- Shredded parmesan is the only cheese I am okay with buying pre-shredded and it’s easy to keep on hand for mac and cheese related emergencies. It’ll add a ton of flavor.
- Extra sharp cheddar is my favorite cheese for a good reason. It’ll add a great flavor to lackluster mac and cheese.
Vegetables are another great option for making frozen mac and cheese a more nutritious and complete meal. Some take effort while others only require chopping. Either option is a great way to add some dimension and stretch the pasta into a full meal.
- sauteed onions
- fresh herbs
- roasted vegetables
- chopped green onions
Add a Fork
While frozen mac and cheese can be a disappointing experience, it doesn’t have to be. By choosing the best option available to you, baking the dish, and layering interesting toppings you can have a dinner that you’ll be excited to eat.