I love macaroni and cheese. I grew up watching Kraft mac 'n' cheese commercials with the crazy orange dinosaur riding roller coasters in a world of cheese. Hours before basketball games, on half days at school, in college at any time of the day, I would cook up a quick box of Kraft and eat it all.
As I've grown older my macaroni and cheese preferences have changed. I know exactly what I like and Kraft no longer sits alone on my mac 'n' cheese list. For me, certain adjectives are needed when describing a quality macaroni and cheese. Mac ’n' cheese needs to be creamy, cheesy, flavorful, and the pasta does matter.
These are my macaroni and cheese power rankings.
6. Velveeta from Kraft
Velveeta rarely enters my home and when it does, the box warms the bench in the pantry for a long time. In 7th grade I used to look forward to stealing a bowl of Velveeta from my neighbors across the street.
Now, the squeezable cheese tastes a little strange and bland. I hate how things from your youth aren't as great as you remember.
5. Annie's Organic Macaroni and Cheese
Annie’s gets more playing time on my stove than Velveeta. If not clearly stated on the box, I wouldn't know that the powdered cheese is organic. Annie’s costs more than Kraft yet doesn't offer much of a taste upgrade.
4. Kraft Three Cheeses With Mini-Shells
There’s only one way to do Kraft now. Buy the three cheese shells. Shells hold the cheese better, they’re creamier, and it’s easier to eat a whole box since the larger shells trick you into thinking the box portion is smaller than the original. I'm always ready to pop cut-up hot dogs into the pot too.
3. Boston Market
Boston Market cooks juicy and greasy rotisserie chicken, moist and sweet corn bread, and some of the creamiest mac 'n' cheese out there. They overload it with cheese and there’s never enough in the family side for everyone.
2. Ina Garten's Grown Up Mac and Cheese Recipe
When I arrived in Houston a plate of this macaroni and cheese waited in the oven. My sister's creation of Garten's recipe awoke my taste buds after a long bus trip through Texas. Macaroni and cheese from a box becomes a distant memory when attacked by the combination of bacon, Gruyere, extra sharp cheddar, and blue cheese.
1. Smokehouse 21
I stumbled upon this superstar in Portland, OR. Mac 'n’ cheese comes to perfection at this barbecue joint through the joined forces of cheddar, asiago, fontina, and Gorgonzola with bacon molasses cornbread topping. I almost forget to mention that the dish is infused with bacon.
This pig-lit small window restaurant elevated me out of the Kraft world of cheesy dinosaurs into a holy land of cheese and bacon. Smokehouse 21 even claims to have broken certain vegetarians with their heavenly side dish.
Do you agree with the rankings? What's your number 1 macaroni and cheese? Do you have any delicious macaroni and cheese recipe?