Genius Tips For Upgrading Your Box Macaroni And Cheese

Our relationships with food, and consequently our kitchens, are important. Food sustains us as humans, but in the convenience-above-all-else world in which we live today, our food can sometimes be lacking. Society requires that we remain busy and therefore must rely on packaged foods, such as boxed macaroni and cheese, to live, but these products can feel bland and boring if we don't upgrade them sometimes.

Upgrading mac and cheese is just as easy as upgrading your mashed potato game. These are both dishes that can prove tiresome, but with the right love can be magical. Who understands this better than Ree Drumond, everyone's favorite Pioneer Woman, who knows all too well the struggles of feeding a family the best she can using what's available to her. In fact, The Pioneer Woman recommends doubling up on the boxed mac and cheese so you can then bake it for an extra indulgent end result — with a crispy top nonetheless!

Drummond also recommends adding fun spices to your boxed mac and cheese to elevate its flavor. Herbs like thyme can bring out earthy flavors from within the cheese sauce, and spices like cayenne pepper, ground mustard, and paprika can offer a fuller, complementary flavor palette to the existing product. Of course, hot sauce works, too.

Still, there are many more ways you can elevate a box of mac and cheese.

These subtle changes can completely elevate your boxed mac and cheese

It's easy to fall into any number of sins when making mac and cheese, but as long as you understand your own palette, elevating boxed macaroni and cheese can be a breeze. According to Southern Living, the best route to extra-creamy mac and cheese from a box is to add a few tablespoons of cream cheese when you add your butter, milk, and cheese packet. The cream cheese will melt down and create an even more luscious sauce.

Southern Living also recommends browning the butter before adding it into your mac and cheese. Browned butter has a rich, nutty taste that can't be recreated by other foods. It's a unique flavor that amps up baked goods and everyday dishes alike.

If you don't want browned butter, perhaps you can add canned pumpkin or other pureed or whole vegetables (via All Recipes). This can bring out new flavors while also adding more nutritious value to the boxed product. Even still, undercook the noodles for a minute or two compared to the box's instructions for a more al dente noodle. This prevents you from ending up with a mushy end result, which can sometimes happen when following the instructions.

Finally, Food52 notes that you can simply add your favorite mix-ins to completely change the dish's flavor notes. Pesto can add garlic notes, while sausage or other meats can offer a more savory approach. The choice is ultimately yours and can be adapted to your tastes. A fried egg with a runny yolk goes a long way, too!