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Unexpected cheddar spread

Unexpected Cheddar Spread Mac and Cheese Hack

The Unexpected Cheddar at Trader Joe’s is magic, and they did it again when they turned it into a spread perfectly suited for a low effort mac and cheese hack. It’s bold and full of flavor with a creamy texture perfect for spreading on crackers or melting into hot pasta for an easy mac and cheese.

When you bite into a piece of cheese, pay attention to when the cheesy flavor develops. Sometimes the taste hits you immediately, and these are what I call opener cheeses. On the other hand, some cheeses take a few seconds for the flavor to develop. These are closer cheeses. A well-balanced mac and cheese recipe makes use of both opener and closer cheeses.

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What is Unexpected Cheddar?

Unexpected Cheddar is the star of the cheese section at Trader Joe’s. A shopping trip is incomplete without their Cheddar that tastes like a Parmesan. It’s the best of both opener and closer cheese worlds with flavor that carries throughout the entire bite and is delicious in a variety of recipes or as a snack straight out of the fridge.

Here is my recipe using a block of Unexpected Cheddar.

What’s in Unexpected Cheddar Spread?

From the ingredients list, it looks like Trader Joe’s took their Unexpected Cheddar and combined it with butter and milk for a semi-soft cheese full of flavor and easy to use in a variety of applications. Since this is similar to my cheese sauce recipes, it only makes sense I toss it into a pan of fresh pasta for a quick weeknight mac and cheese.


The pasta you use in mac and cheese is arguably as important as your cheese selection. Noodles that are too large or too long will be difficult to eat and will not hold onto the sauce as easily. Alternatively, If your pasta is too small you run the risk of it becoming a soupy mess.

In my recipe, I used the Organic Pasta Quintet from Trader Joe’s. With 5 different shapes in one bag, it’s a fun way to make pasta dishes. Each shape is bronze cut, giving it extra texture. Paired with plenty of ridges and pockets to hold onto the sauce, each bite is guaranteed to be full of flavor.

The Unexpected Cheddar Spread Mac and Cheese Hack

Seeing as the Unexpected Cheddar Spread is the basic recipe for a mac and cheese sauce, it’s perfect for a quick and easy mac and cheese recipe. All you need is a pound of well salted pasta cooked according to package directions and a tub of Unexpected Cheddar Spread. While the pasta is hot, stir the cheese in and wait for it to melt. If you’re impatient, you can microwave the cheese for a few seconds to soften it before adding it to the pasta.

Topping Suggestions

The cheese in this is packed with flavor, so you’ll want to reach for toppings that are bold. I topped mine with garlic pepper crispy onions, but it would be great with some fresh peppers, caramelized onions, or even crispy jalapeños.

How much does Unexpected Cheddar Spread cost?

One 9-ounce tub of Unexpected Cheddar spread will set you back $4.99. When you consider that 7 ounces of Unexpected Cheddar is $3.99, this is relatively comparable. Add a bag of pasta from Trader Joe’s for $1.99 and you’re looking at around $6 for at least 4 servings of delicious pasta.