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How To Elevate Boxed Mac and Cheese

How To Elevate Boxed Mac and Cheese | Well and Full | #vegetarian #recipe

Learn how to elevate boxed mac and cheese from a plain dinner dish to a fully balanced meal! 

Back when my fiancé and I were living in West End, I used to make this boxed mac and cheese all the time. It’s simple, easy, and actually pretty nutritious. I would rotate between Annie’s vegan mac (which is made with pumpkin – you all know how much I love pumpkin), and other vegetarian varieties of mac and cheese. 

I love this recipe because it is PACKED with flavor – smoky barbecue sauce, chipotle cheese sauce, sautéed kale (which I can’t get enough of) – it’s all SO good. Plus, there’s something about a bowl of mac and cheese that is just so cozy and comforting. I love it!

I’ve been kind of taking the summer off in terms of blog work and recipe development, which has been nice. In the spring, I was working my butt off trying to get a ton of recipes in for summer. I enjoy working really hard, but sometimes it’s not always realistic to work at such a frantic pace.

That being said, once it hits August, I am going to be back to work pumping out fall recipes (read: pumpkin EVERYTHING). Like I have said many times, I LOVE pumpkins. I don’t care if it makes me “basic”, LOL! At the first sign of crisp autumn air, I break out my pumpkin decorations, pumpkin soap, jack-o-lanterns, pumpkin spice lattes, pumpkin lotion, pumpkin bread, pumpkin pasta, pumpkin soup, pumpkin spice cookie dough… if it’s pumpkin, it’s in my house. 

However, I do want to give a shout-out to my other fave fall item, which is the lovely apple. I love going apple picking and making apple recipes too! (My best ones include this apple latte and this apple pumpkin stew!

So get ready for the most fall-iest fall ever over here at Well and Full. I might even name it Pumpkin Fest 2019. Is it too much? Probably. But am I going to do it anyway? Probably ;) 

How To Elevate Boxed Mac and Cheese | Well and Full | #vegetarian #recipe

How To Elevate Boxed Mac and Cheese

Learn how to elevate boxed mac and cheese from a plain dinner dish to a fully balanced meal!
Prep Time 15 minutes
Cook Time 15 minutes
Course Dinner
Cuisine American


The Mac

  • 2 Boxes Your Fave Vegetarian or Vegan Mac and Cheese

The Sauce

  • 2 Packets Cheese (from the boxes of mac and cheese)
  • 3 Tbs Olive Oil
  • 3 Tbs Water
  • 1/2 Tsp Black Pepper
  • 1/4 Tsp Garlic Powder
  • 1/2 Tsp Chipotle Chili Powder
  • 1/4 Tsp Cayenne

The Kale

  • 2-3 Large Handfuls of Curly Kale chopped
  • Drizzle of Olive or Avocado Oil
  • Pinch each of Salt + Pepper

The Beans

  • 1 Can Red, Pinto, or Black Beans drained
  • 1/3 Cup Your Fave Barbecue Sauce
  • Black Pepper to taste
  • Pinch of Cayenne optional


  • Preheat your oven to 425 degrees F.
  • Rinse and drain your can of beans. Then, mix them with the barbecue sauce, black pepper, and cayenne (optional).
  • Bake the beans in the oven for 25-30 minutes.
  • While beans are baking, cook the pasta from the mac and cheese boxes in salted water according to the package directions. When done, drain and set aside.
  • While the pasta is cooking, make the sauce. Add the flavor packets, olive oil, water, and spices into a bowl and whisk together until a creamy sauce is formed. When the pasta is done cooking, mix the sauce into the pasta.
  • Sauté the chopped kale in a little bit of oil. Season with a pinch each of salt + pepper. Sauté on medium heat for about 5 minutes, or until kale is wilted and starting to brown.
  • Lastly, add in the sautéed kale and beans to your pot of mac and cheese. Stir everything in, mixing well.
  • Serve in bowls with a garnish of sprouts, if you'd like.
  • Enjoy!


  • Annie's brand of mac and cheese makes a delicious vegan mac that I highly recommend. (Not sponsored!!)
  • For this recipe I recommend curly kale because it has the most texture. However, spinach, lacinato (dino) kale, or collard greens would work too!
  • My fiancé and I will often eat this recipe for dinner - I'll make the entire recipe, then split it in half for both of us to eat. However, other people may not want such a large portion, so I wrote in the servings as 2-4 people.
  • To make this less spicy and more kid-friendly, sub out the chipotle chili powder for smoked paprika.
Keyword beans, kale

How To Elevate Boxed Mac and Cheese | Well and Full | #vegetarian #recipe


If you enjoyed learning how to elevate boxed mac and cheese and post your mac on Instagram, be sure to tag me @wellandfull and #wellandfull so I can see! I love seeing your takes on my recipes :)


  • Reply
    Meredith Youngson
    July 9, 2019 at 9:46 am

    Sarah my mouth is watering reading this. Love your take to add the BBQ beans + kale. Always crave that cheesy + bbq combo but never get around to making mac and cheese from scratch.

    • Reply
      July 10, 2019 at 3:15 pm

      I rarely make mac and cheese from scratch either! Since I cook so often, sometimes it’s nice to take shortcuts ;)

  • Reply
    July 19, 2019 at 4:28 pm

    Do you think it would be okay to sub baby spinach for the baby kale? Thanks in advance!

    • Reply
      July 21, 2019 at 9:34 am

      Hi Mel, this recipe works best with curly kale, but spinach would work too! Spinach cooks down more than curly kale, so I would recommend using a bit more than the recipe calls for :)

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