The Secret Ingredient to the Best Boxed Mac and Cheese

Sorry, butter and milk — you’ve been replaced.

Updated on January 18, 2024

Related To:

Homemade Creamy Macaroni and Cheese Pasta in a Bowl

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Boxed mac and cheese with a secret ingredient

Photo by: bhofack2/Getty Images

bhofack2/Getty Images

When I was younger, my brother and I would fight over boxed mac and cheese. He preferred his with so much butter and milk that it was basically a soup, whereas I liked mine to be as thickly sauced as possible. Sometimes, I would skip the butter and milk altogether to avoid thinning it out too much, which often resulted in clumps of powdered cheese and dry pasta. Looking back, I can’t blame him for trying to force in some extra ingredients.

Given those early experiments, it's perhaps unsurprising that, as I grew older, I found myself eating less boxed mac and cheese. A few weeks ago, however, I was running low on groceries and needed a quick and easy lunch. I grabbed a box of Annie’s Mac and Cheese (something I normally keep in the pantry for my three-year-old niece) and fired up a pot of water. While I was cooking the pasta, I noticed a tip listed on the very bottom of the box: If you want a creamier mac and cheese, try replacing the butter and milk with a few spoonfuls of Greek yogurt. I was skeptical, but since I always have some Greek yogurt on hand, I figured it couldn’t hurt to try.

Once the pasta was cooked, I stirred in the cheese powder and a few big dollops of yogurt. The finished result looked promising, but I still took my first bite with a bit of trepidation. I was blown away. The Greek yogurt created a mac and cheese that was smooth, creamy and perfectly on point — and, thanks to the yogurt’s slightly tangy flavor, the entire dish actually tasted cheesier, too! I’m not exaggerating when I say that it was some of the best mac and cheese I’ve ever had in my life, and that includes homemade and restaurant versions.

That afternoon, I sang the praises of Greek yogurt to everyone I know. I even inspired one of my coworkers to try it when she made a box for her kids, who gobbled it up with rave reviews. Now, I consider myself a reformed mac and cheese hater. I’ll definitely be keeping a box on hand — and a container of Greek yogurt to go with it!

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Photo by: LauriPatterson/Getty Images

LauriPatterson/Getty Images

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. Whole-milk Greek yogurt is best, but low-fat or even nonfat versions will still taste great.

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