The 1 Ingredient I’m Adding to Boxed Mac and Cheese From Now On (2024)

There’s no denying that boxed macaroni and cheese is among the best comfort foods. Not only is it inexpensive and easy to make, but it’s buttery, cheesy, and channels comforting memories of childhood meals. There are many ways to upgrade boxed mac and cheese and I recently stumbled on a series of TikToks featuring Walmart's smoked gouda mac and cheese.

The Walmart Mac and Cheese Upgrade That Has the Internet Talking

“There’s this girl that I follow, Bella’s Bites, and she makes this super-cheesy mac and cheese with veggies in it,” TikTok user @talibrianna explains as she eats her own version of the dish. “Every time I see her eat it, I’m like I want that right now.”

As a lover of macaroni and cheese, that's exactly how I felt. Once I saw videos paying tribute to @bellas.bites' two-ingredient mac and cheese, I wanted to try it, too. Bella’s recipe looked fairly simple: While the noodles are boiling, add frozen mixed veggies to the water. Drain, toss in a pan with butter, and add the packet of cheese sauce, some extra cheese, and black pepper. The foodie TikToker frequently posts videos of her eating this macaroni and cheese dish along with proteins like chicken wings or sausage and it looks absolutely delicious in every video.

Bella tells Allrecipes she started sharing her meals on TikTok because food is a “universal love language” that “brings people together and tastes different in different places.” An added benefit to seeing so many TikTokers try her ultimate boxed mac and cheese hack? “People trying something new because they saw me eat it makes me so happy,” she says.

How to Make the Viral Walmart Mac and Cheese

The 1 Ingredient I’m Adding to Boxed Mac and Cheese From Now On (1)

While Walmart's Great Value smoked gouda variety is Bella’s go-to for this dish, she says her add-ins will boost any kind of boxed mac dinner. “I think you should make your food how you most enjoy it,” she says. “If there’s a version of mac and cheese you like better than the one I use, then use that—I’m sure it’s just as good.”

For Bella, the smoked gouda dinner kit just tastes the best. “Mac and cheese is, and always has been, a comfort food for me,” she explains. “I tried the Great Value brand because the box looked fancy and it instantly became my favorite.”

She also feels the dish is a great way to get in some extra veggies in an unexpected way. “I love vegetables, but don’t always consider them when thinking about comfort food, so I decided to incorporate them into the meal by just adding them into the cheesy goodness,” she says. “I don’t know about you, but I’d take cheese-covered veggies over plain ones any day.”

The creator's biggest tip for enjoying her version of boxed mac at home? “Eat it while it’s nice and hot,” she says. “The creamier, the better, in my opinion.”

And, when choosing a protein to serve with the pasta dish, Bella has a clear favorite. “You can’t go wrong with a good chicken wing and mac and cheese pair,” she says. “That’s definitely my favorite.”

I Tried the Recipe, and Here's What I Thought

I tried Bella’s mac and cheese recipe in my own kitchen and was blown away by the crunchy bursts of flavor brought to the dish by the mixed vegetables. Adding a bit of shredded cheese and butter made the classic dinner even more creamy, and the black pepper added the perfect pop of seasoning. I served my upgraded mac and cheese dinner in bowls with a few chicken nuggets on the side.

@bellas.bites Mac and Cheese Recipe


  • 1 box macaroni and cheese (Bella prefers Walmart’s Great Value Artisan Crafted Smoked Gouda variety)
  • 2 tablespoons butter
  • 1 handful frozen mixed veggies
  • 1 handful shredded cheese (whatever variety you prefer)
  • Freshly ground black pepper


  1. Bring a pot of salted water to a boil.
  2. Add pasta noodles from the boxed macaroni and cheese to the boiling water.
  3. About halfway through the noodle cooking time, add a handful of frozen mixed veggies and allow them to cook with the pasta for the remaining time.
  4. Drain the vegetable-noodle mixture and return to the pot with the butter.
  5. After stirring the butter until melted and mixed into the pasta and vegetables, add the cheese sauce packet and combine. (You can also add a splash of milk.)
  6. Add black pepper and shredded cheese to the mixture and stir until combined.
The 1 Ingredient I’m Adding to Boxed Mac and Cheese From Now On (2024)


The 1 Ingredient I’m Adding to Boxed Mac and Cheese From Now On? ›

Adding a bit of shredded cheese and butter made the classic dinner even more creamy, and the black pepper added the perfect pop of seasoning.

What can I add to boxed mac and cheese to make it better? ›

How to Make Boxed Mac and Cheese Taste Better. To improve the tang and overall cheesiness of your boxed mac, add 2 to 3 tablespoons of plain Greek yogurt to the cooked and drained pasta while it's still warm. Toss to combine, then stir in the cheese powder until it's uniformly blended.

What are the ingredients in boxed mac and cheese? ›


How to fix bland mac and cheese? ›

Try adding a little more salt first, because that might fix it. If the problem was the cheese you use doesn't have much flavor, then try adding some other flavors, such has mustard or hot sauce.

How do you dress up a box of mac and cheese? ›

Here are a few of my favorite ways to upgrade boxed mac and cheese in three ingredients or fewer:
  1. Broccoli + Shredded Chicken. ...
  2. Bacon + Peas + Egg. ...
  3. Garlic + Pickled Jalapeños. ...
  4. Mushrooms + Thyme + Grated Gruyère. ...
  5. Pesto + Sun-Dried Tomatoes. ...
  6. Kimchi + Bacon + Chopped Scallions. ...
  7. Cherry Tomatoes + Basil + Mozzarella.

How do you ramp up boxed mac and cheese? ›

Take boxed mac and cheese to the next level by experimenting with different combination of add-ins. Adding cold butter to the sauce and baking the mac in the oven helps with both texture and flavor. Incorporating things like real cheese, bacon, or leftover veggies can turn boxed mac and cheese into a full meal.

What can I use instead of milk in boxed mac and cheese? ›

10 Substitutes For Milk In Mac And Cheese
  • Almond Milk. Almond milk is a popular plant-based milk that's a great substitute for regular cow's milk. ...
  • Soy Milk. Soy milk is another popular dairy-free milk option. ...
  • Oat Milk. ...
  • Coconut milk. ...
  • Rice Milk. ...
  • Cashew Milk. ...
  • Hemp Seed Milk. ...
  • Chicken Broth.
Jul 17, 2023

What to use in box mac and cheese without milk? ›

Things like heavy cream, almond milk, oat milk, yogurt, cream cheese, and even pasta water all work very well in boxed mac and cheese.

How do you keep boxed mac and cheese from drying out? ›

Add one tablespoon of milk per cup of macaroni and cheese to a saucepan. Heat over medium heat, breaking it up with a wooden spoon. Heat to the desired temperature and add a touch of butter and extra cheese to finish the dish.

What can I add to mac and cheese to make it tastier? ›

8 Ways to Elevate Your Macaroni and Cheese Dinners
  1. Add extra cheese to your dish.
  2. Mix in some hot sauce and chicken to make buffalo chicken mac n' cheese.
  3. Add in vegetables like broccoli, cauliflower and spinach.
  4. Sprinkle some bacon bits or breadcrumbs on the top of your dish.
  5. Add spices and fresh herbs to your dish.
May 21, 2022

What makes mac and cheese taste so good? ›

Great mac n' cheese needs one or more cheeses that melt well, and one or more cheeses that bring the flavor. The best melters include monterey jack, fontina, baby swiss, asiago, provolone, mozzarella, and alpine-style. Cheeses for flavor: cheddar, havarti, smoked gouda, gorgonzola, feta and any other of your favorites.

How can I improve my ready meal mac and cheese? ›

20 Easy Ways To Make Boxed Mac And Cheese Even Better
  1. Add Cream Cheese.
  2. Replace The Milk.
  3. Upgrade The Cheese.
  4. Give It A Cheffy Twist.
  5. Turn It Into A Main Dish With Meat.
  6. Mix In New Flavors To Create Magic.
Feb 9, 2024

What not to do when making mac and cheese? ›

Here's what several experts say are the biggest mistakes when it comes to making macaroni and cheese at home and how to avoid making them.
  1. Using Only Cheddar cheese. ...
  2. Not Adding Spice and Seasoning with Salt. ...
  3. Choosing the Wrong Pasta. ...
  4. Overcooking. ...
  5. Skimping on the Toppings.
May 21, 2020

How to make mac and cheese Gordon Ramsay? ›

In a large pot over medium heat, combine the pasta and milk. Bring the milk to a simmer and cook until the pasta is tender, 8–10 minutes. Once the pasta is cooked, remove the pan from the heat and add the butter, cheddar cheese, salt, and pepper. Stir until fully combined.

How to revive mac and cheese? ›

Reheat in the Microwave
  1. Store leftovers right. ...
  2. Add one tablespoon of milk per cup of macaroni and cheese.
  3. Reheat at 50 percent power, stirring every minute or so.
  4. When the mac and cheese has reached its desired temperature, add a touch of butter to bring it back to life.
Oct 26, 2022

How do you doctor up store bought mac and cheese? ›

It's very easy to adapt. We like to ad cream cheese and/or sour cream, a little spicy brown mustard, and whatever cheese we have on hand. Sometimes we ad ground beef, ground turkey, sliced ot dogs or bacon, but its the rits topping on the top that makes it sooo good.

How to make microwavable mac and cheese taste better? ›

Letting the cup sit for a minute or so lets the cheese gel and makes your microwaveable mac and cheese taste so much better. Plus, it allows it to cool off a little bit so you don't burn all the skin off of the inside of your mouth.

What adds Flavour to mac and cheese? ›

Cayenne, Nutmeg, Black Pepper, and Dry Mustard

Simply add ½ teaspoons of cayenne, black pepper, and dry mustard with a dash of nutmeg to a mixture of 1 egg and 1 cup (0.24 l) of heavy cream. Pour this spice mixture on top of your traditional mac and cheese recipe before baking.

Can I use yogurt instead of milk in mac and cheese? ›

Finally, using a plain yogurt is one of the best options for replacing milk in kraft mac and cheese! A plain whole milk yogurt or a greek yogurt would work well. Mix it in the same way you'd mix in sour cream, until it is well incorporated. This may have a slightly tangier flavor, but that is a personal preference.

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