bowls/ everything else/ pasta

Boxed Mac and Cheese Hacks

Boxed Mac and Cheese Hacks | Well and Full | #recipe

Looking for easy boxed mac and cheese hacks? This post has got you covered! I have vegan, vegetarian, and gluten-free options, with a mix-and-match approach that lets you customize your perfect bowl of mac!


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You might think that a food blogger wouldn’t miss an opportunity to cook. That is 1000% not true! (Cue laugh-crying emoji) When cooking becomes your job, it usually means that you’d rather not have to “work” for dinner! 

That’s where these boxed mac and cheese hacks come in. While many might not consider mac and cheese to be a traditionally “healthy” dinner, that can easily be remedied! With the right healthy additions, you can have your perfect nutrient-dense, vegan/vegetarian/gluten-free bowl of mac. It’s a complete boxed mac and cheese makeover! :)

First, start with a box of mac and cheese.

My favorites include:

1 // Annie’s White Cheddar Shells

2 // Banza Vegan Mac and Cheese

3 // Banza Mac and Cheese

Then, follow this formula to make the optimal sauce:

In order for maximum creaminess, taste, and flavor, I’ve come up with an easy formula that can help you create an ideal sauce for your mac. This is what you will need per one box of mac and cheese:

1 // Cheese packet – This will be the packet that comes with your box, and it may be white cheddar, classic, vegan, etc.

2 // Oil (2 Tbs) – adding oil helps the mac and cheese powder emulsify and have that satisfying creamy taste. Don’t skip it! I recommend olive oil or avocado oil, but you can use an infused flavor oil if you like!

3 // Dressing (2 Tbs) – This might sound weird, but adding in a dollop of salad dressing to your cheese mix brings the recipe to a new level. I do not recommend vinaigrettes for this! Just opt for a creamy dressing you like (it can be vegan, too!).

4 // Spices (To taste) – Be sure to add in a generous helping of spices to your cheese mix. So if you’re making a chipotle taco-themed mac and cheese, add in smoked paprika, taco seasoning, and oregano. I’ll go over more combinations below!

5 // Sauce (1-2 Tsp) – For even more flavor, add in a tablespoon or two of your favorite sauce, like hot sauce or barbecue sauce. Even just a little bit of hot sauce can add so much dimension to the flavor.

6 // Water or Milk (About 1/4 cup or more) – Add in your liquid of choice. I usually use water, but unsweetened almond or coconut milk would work just fine. I don’t recommend oat milk for mac and cheese.

Finally, add on toppings: 

My favorites include sautéed kale, vegan pesto, spicy chickpeas, barbecue lentils, and nuts/seeds.

Boxed Mac and Cheese Hacks | Well and Full | #recipe

To spice things up, decide on your flavor profile:

Cheese is a unifying ingredient, but some combinations really knock it out of the park! Here are a few ideas of some flavor combinations you could try. 

CAESAR MAC AND CHEESE

Oil – Garlic-infused olive oil or avocado oil

Dressing – Caesar dressing

Spices – Black pepper and red pepper flakes

SMOKY CHIPOTLE MAC AND CHEESE

Oil – Avocado Oil

Dressing – Chipotle ranch dressing

Spices – Chipotle powder, smoked paprika, and black pepper

Sauce – Barbecue sauce or chipotle hot sauce (or both)

SAVORY VEGAN MAC AND CHEESE

Oil – Garlic-infused olive oil

Dressing – Vegan ranch

Spices – Garlic powder, paprika, black pepper, and a small pinch of cumin

Sauce – Habanero or jalapeño hot sauce

SUPER SPICY MAC AND CHEESE

Oil – Chili-infused olive oil

Dressing – Chipotle or Sriracha ranch

Spices – Cayenne, garlic powder, smoked paprika, and black pepper

Sauce – Habanero hot sauce

Or, make your own mac mix at home!

For a few of the photos shown here in this post, I’ve made a mac mix from scratch using this life-changing cheese powder I found on Amazon. I was very skeptical buying a pre-made cheese on the internet, but I can’t even tell you how many times this ingredient has come in clutch. Even if you’re not making mac and cheese, this powder adds SO much flavor to pasta, creamy soups, risotto, popcorn, or homemade salad dressings.

Here are the two varieties I regularly buy:


This is how you sub in the mac and cheese powder:

For any of the flavor combinations I’ve listed, use 1/3 cup of the mac and cheese powder and add in the rest of the ingredients (oil, spices, dressing, etc.). 

The result will be the best mac and cheese from a box you’ve ever had! Enjoy!

Boxed Mac and Cheese Hacks | Well and Full | #recipe

Boxed Mac and Cheese Hacks

Looking for easy boxed mac and cheese hacks? This post has got you covered! I have vegan, vegetarian, and gluten-free options, with a mix-and-match approach that lets you customize your perfect bowl of mac!

Ingredients

Start with:

  • 1 Box Mac and Cheese of Choice

The Sauce

  • 1 Cheese/Flavor Packet
  • 2 Tbs Oil of choice such as garlic oil
  • 2 Tbs Salad Dressing of choice such as chipotle ranch
  • Spices of choice such as taco seasoning
  • 1-2 Tsp Sauce of choice such as hot sauce
  • Water or Unsweetened Milk of choice such as unsweetened almond milk

Optional Toppings

  • 1-2 Cups Roasted or Steamed Vegetables of choice such as broccoli, green beans, etc.
  • 1 Cup Chopped Greens of choice such as kale, spinach
  • Nuts or Seeds of choice such as salted pumpkin seeds
  • Vegan Pesto
  • Spicy Chickpeas or Lentils

Instructions

  1. Start by cooking the mac and cheese pasta. Or, use about 6-8 oz pasta of your choice. Be sure to cook it in SALTED water, reserving about 1/2 cup of the pasta water for later. When done, drain and set aside.

  2. As the pasta is cooking, prepare your sauce. Start with the cheese packet; or, use about 1/3 cup of another powdered cheese. Add in the oil, dressing, sauce, spices, and water/milk of your choice. Detailed options are provided in the full post! Whisk everything together until creamy. Taste, and adjust seasonings if necessary.

  3. Mix the sauce into the pasta, adding a little of the pasta water if needed to loosen up the sauce.

  4. Toss in your add-ins of choice, if desired, or serve in bowls with your favorite toppings.

  5. Enjoy!

Recipe Notes

Please see the full post for more detailed instructions and flavor combinations!

Boxed Mac and Cheese Hacks | Well and Full | #vegetarian #recipe

P.S.

For more vegan and vegetarian recipes and meal inspiration, be sure to follow along on Instagram @wellandfull! If you make one of these boxed mac and cheese hacks, please tag me in the photo and use the hashtag #wellandfull so I can see! I love seeing your creations!

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