This Ingredient Swap Instantly Upgrades Boxed Mac And Cheese

In this day and age, there are plenty of ways to enjoy mac and cheese. You can get it from a restaurant. You can buy it pre-made from the grocery store or deli. You can whip up a creamy homestyle mac and cheese recipe from scratch. You can buy boxed mac and cheese or go with those little cups that just might catch your microwave on fire if you forget to add water.

Regardless of your personal feelings on boxed mac and cheese, it makes for an easy dinner. And even if it isn't your favorite dish, there are many hacks to make that boxed mac and cheese a whole lot better.

Most boxed mac and cheese hacks boil down to two main categories: ingredient substitutions and ingredient additions. Food52 recommends adding spices, veggies, or proteins such as bacon or chicken to take boxed mac and cheese to a whole new level. And as far as substitutions go, we've got an easy one for you. 

Make your boxed mac and cheese creamier with Greek yogurt

If you're looking to jazz up regular old boxed mac and cheese, consider swapping the recommended milk and butter for Greek yogurt. With Greek yogurt as a secret ingredient, your bowl of mac and cheese will pack more protein and probiotics.

So, how exactly do you go about using Greek yogurt in mac and cheese? The Takeout suggests using about half a cup of yogurt (that's 8 tablespoons) to replace 5 tablespoons of milk and butter. Of course, you can add as much or as little Greek yogurt as you like, depending on how creamy you want your mac to be.

Another simple swap involves something you'd normally just pour down the drain: pasta water. Pasta water is important, as its starch content helps thicken sauces. If you don't want to add milk to your mac and cheese, you can swap in a bit of pasta water to help bind the cheese sauce to the noodles. 

Hack your boxed mac with different kinds of cheese

That neon-orange powdered cheese is undeniably part of the boxed mac and cheese experience, but that doesn't mean you can't add fresh cheese, too. In other words, no one ever said you can't play around with the recipe on the back of the box. And who wouldn't want more cheese? Some of the best cheeses to use in mac and cheese are sharp cheddar, Monterey Jack, and brie, but the options are truly endless.

If you want to create a spicy mac and cheese recipe, consider adding shredded pepper jack to boxed mac and cheese. Looking for a rich, cheesy side dish? Try making boxed mac and cheese with blue cheese crumbles mixed in or on top as a garnish, suggests MyRecipes. You can also experiment with different combinations of cheese to keep that boxed mac and cheese exciting.

Your choices of cheese can even increase the creaminess of your mac and cheese. For instance, Insider recommends adding a tablespoon or two of cream cheese for a thicker texture and a "flavorful zing." You can also swap out or supplement your powdered cheese with goat cheese for a creamier sauce, suggests The Littlest Crumb

How to make boxed mac and cheese more nutritious

If you want your regular old boxed mac and cheese to pack a little more nutritional value, there are a few things you can try. While additions such as broccoli and spinach are fairly obvious, you can also add butternut squash or cauliflower to mac and cheese to trick your family into eating more veggies.

Another way to add nutrition and to experiment with flavor is by cooking your macaroni in a mix of water and bone broth. In addition to having numerous health benefits, bone broth provides a "pleasant savory taste," says the Spruce Eats. Similarly to using pasta water for your cheese sauce, you can also use bone broth as a milk substitute. It won't thicken the sauce, but it will add a rich flavor.

Feeling stumped about how to bring this all together for the ultimate boxed mac and cheese? Don't worry, we've got you. A Duck's Oven recommends boiling your macaroni as usual and adding broccoli to the pot. Then, rather than adding milk and butter, you can swap in cottage cheese, cream cheese, or Greek yogurt. Not only is this hacked mac guaranteed to be healthier than the original boxed mac and cheese, but it also tastes a whole lot more exciting.