How to Spice Up Boxed Mac and Cheese

By TBSP Susan
Created March 10, 2017
Take a few extra minutes and turn plain old Mac and Cheese into a full-fledged meal. MORE+ LESS-

Have you ever seen an adult try boxed mac and cheese for the first time? I recently watched an 80-something gentleman eat mac and cheese for the first time in his life. He couldn’t get enough of the stuff. It’s probably best he hasn’t been eating mac and cheese all these years, but he did feel like he’d been missing out.

But for those of us who have grown up with mac and cheese, you find that it’s just not as interesting as it once was.

Here are some some ideas for making your mac and cheese a bit more interesting — some quick additions and some that are a bit more elaborate. In any case, you’ll find mac and cheese can be a quick dinner-time meal instead of just a simple side dish. Be sure to comment with your own favorite mac and cheese additions, or log in and share your favorite recipe with us!

I’m not going to cover making mac and cheese from scratch. While I agree that the taste of homemade is better, you don’t always have time to make things from scratch. So, I’ll focus on easy alterations to boxed mac and cheese.

Simple Additions

A few simple additions include meat — ground beef or hot dogs are the simplest. Brown some ground beef with chopped onion and a little bit of salt, pepper and garlic. Drain the fat from the cooked ground beef and mix in with your cooked and prepared mac and cheese.

With hot dogs, it’s even simpler. Just microwave a few hot dogs in water for a few minutes (until heated through), slice the hot dogs into small pieces and mix in with the prepared mac and cheese. You can also step it up with a few sprinkles of crushed chili flakes for a little kick.

Get a Little Fancier

If you're feeling a bit more adventurous, you can take it a step further and make a beefy mac and cheese bake. Cook your packaged mac and cheese according to the directions. Brown some ground beef as described above. Cut up a medium sized tomato into small chunks and mix the mac and cheese, beef, and tomato in a casserole dish. Top with mozzarella cheese and bread crumbs. Bake the casserole in the oven for about 25 minutes or until heated through.

  • Add fun toppings! Add popcorn to the top of each serving, as shown in the photo.

  • Add some zip! Mix in red pepper sauce to taste (start with just a couple drops, taste, then add more as desired).

Another idea is to make a goulash. Prepare your mac and cheese and ground beef as described above. Mix the cooked mac and cheese and browned ground beef in a frying pan and add in a can of tomato sauce and 2 tsp of chili powder. Add in some canned or frozen corn and cook until heated through.

Want to make your mac and cheese a little healthier? Toss in some mixed veggies and add a few chili flakes for a well-rounded one-dish meal.

Side Dish Suggestions

What to serve with that mac and cheese? Here are some easy answers for fresh side dishes to kick up your meal a zesty notch:

Have fun with mac and cheese!

How do you like to spice up your mac and cheese?  Share your favorites in the comments!