Mayo Is The Secret Sauce To Elevate Boxed Mac And Cheese

Devouring a bowl of mac and cheese — especially the boxed kind — is one of life's simple pleasures. Whether you're Team Kraft, Team Annie's, or any other store-bought brand that satisfies cheesy, carby cravings, boxed mac is a nostalgia-inducing comfort food like no other. There are tons of ingredients you can use to enliven this iconic, fork-friendly pasta, including hot sauce, ketchup, pesto, breadcrumbs, and even brown sugar. One eyebrow-raising suggestion making the rounds at the moment is to add mayonnaise to boxed macaroni and cheese. Not only does mayo add a creaminess to anything it touches, but it also enhances the flavor of the cheese sauce. While some folks use mayonnaise as a substitute for the milk and butter boxed mac and cheese calls for, the condiment also works as a supplement in addition to the traditional recipe.

When mixed into macaroni and cheese, mayonnaise creates a rich and velvety texture that complements its rich flavor. The oil in the mayonnaise helps to prevent the cheese sauce from becoming too thick or clumpy. Mayonnaise also offers a pleasant tang to macaroni and cheese. The vinegar or lemon juice in the mayonnaise provides a subtle acidity that balances out the richness of the cheese sauce, resulting in a more complex profile.

Mayonnaise is a versatile secret ingredient

Because of mayo's basic ingredients — oil, acid, and eggs — it's actually a useful secret ingredient in a surprisingly wide range of recipes. The oil in mayonnaise means that it can be used to produce a perfectly crispy crust on everything from grilled cheese sandwiches to whole roast chicken. Mayo can be used as an egg substitute in baked goods from cupcakes to cookies to banana bread, adding a subtle moistness that belies its savory personality. And the lemon or vinegar ensures that it adds a kick to mild-flavored foods, including mac and cheese. Plus, when eaten in moderation, mayo provides various essential vitamins and omega-3 fatty acids, which can boost the nutrition factor of regular ol' mac, albeit by a slim margin.

The trick of adding mayonnaise to macaroni and cheese is making the rounds on social media, with predictably-mixed reactions. In TikTok videos, skeptics can be seen cringing at the idea of mayo-infused mac and cheese, but coming around instantly after just one bite. On Reddit, reactions range from praise to disgust or even anger. Commenters chime in to suggest similar dairy-based substitutes or additions, like sour cream or cottage cheese. And one mac and cheese purist points out that mayo is not that unusual an addition to a traditional baked mac and cheese recipe. Of course, not everyone is a fan of mayonnaise, and that's okay. There are plenty of other ways to customize your boxed mac and cheese.