Go Back

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