Original Kraft Mac and Cheese (Upgraded Recipe) (2023)

Level up mac and cheese from the box! This upgraded Kraft mac and cheese is too good not to try.

When you’re too busy to make lunch or dinner or just not up for it, you can always depend on Kraft mac and cheese.

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The blue box is a lifesaver! I always make sure I have a steady supply of it at home.

While it’s perfectly good as it is, there’s an incredibly easy little trick to make it 10 times better.

With this little hack, you can transform the simple comfort food into a party-worthy dish.

Homemade Kraft Mac and Cheese Recipe

I found this recipe from a Kraft newsletter some time ago.

I was impressed by how incredibly simple it was and how significant it improved the basic mac and cheese.

With added cheese and sour cream, the sauce becomes even richer, cheesier, and downright divine.

The crushed cracker and butter topping gives the dish a crunchy outer crust that complements the texture of the mac and cheese very well.

So the next time you’re wondering , be sure you also have some cheese, sour cream, butter, and crackers on hand.

Believe me, once you’ve tried it, you’ll never cook boxed mac and cheese the same way ever again.

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  • Kraft Macaroni and Cheese – Use the classic blue box, the one with a packet of cheese sauce that you simply squeeze out. I haven’t tried this recipe with the powdered cheese version, but I imagine it’ll work well, too.
  • Cheddar Cheese – More cheese = more scrumptious mac and cheese. I use cheddar here because it’s what I always have on hand. But feel free to experiment with other cheeses as well. As long as it melts well, it’ll work!
  • Sour Cream – For an extra dose of richness and creaminess.
  • Ground Red or Black Pepper – Even if you don’t like spicy food, don’t skip the pepper. As you can imagine, the added cheese and sour cream make this dish ultra-rich. The pepper is as such, essential to balancing things out.
  • Crushed Crackers – It’s sprinkled over the mac and cheese to make a crunchy topping. I always use Ritz crackers for this recipe but you can also try panko breadcrumbs or French fried onions.
  • Butter – or margarine, in a pinch. It’s combined with the crushed crackers to create the topping.
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How to Make Kraft Mac and Cheese Better

1. Cook the mac and cheese. Just follow whatever it says at the back of the package. Easy-peasy.

2. Stir in cheddar cheese, sour cream, and pepper. This simple addition makes the sauce even more decadent!

3. Spoon the mac and cheese into a greased baking dish. Don’t forget to grease the dish, okay? Otherwise, the macaroni will stick to it.

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4. Top the mac and cheese with even more shredded cheese. This will add an extra layer of melty, ooey-gooey goodness on top of the already scrumptious dish.

5. Combine crushed crackers and melted butter. This is the crunchy topping that makes the boxed mac and cheese seem homemade. Sprinkle this on top of the cheese layer.

6. Bake the mac and cheese for 20 minutes at 375 degrees Fahrenheit. Let it rest for 5 minutes. Serve and enjoy!

Original Kraft Mac and Cheese (Upgraded Recipe) (4)

Tips for the Best Mac and Cheese

  • Grate the cheese yourself. I know using pre-shredded cheese is so much more convenient, but it really makes a difference. The anti-caking agents in pre-shredded cheese keep it from melting well.
  • Salt the pasta water well. As in, it should taste like salt water! Trust me, it won’t be to much, so don’t be afraid to add a whole spoonful to the pot!
  • Cook the macaroni to al dente, or about 1-2 minutes less than prescribed by the package. I find that the pasta gets a little too mushy if cooked exactly according to instructions.

If you’ve accidentally overcooked the macaroni, just toss it with butter to coat. The butter will create a protective coating that will keep the pasta from absorbing more liquid.

Storage Instructions:

Place mac and cheese in an air-tight container or cover it with plastic wrap. Store it in the fridge for 5 days.

Next, you’ll need to know how to reheatmac and cheese the right way!

I like to reheat it in a saucepan over medium-low heat. If the sauce dries up, add a bit of milk or cream to thin it out.

When reheating small servings, place mac and cheese in a microwave-safe bowl and reheat for 1-minute or until warmed through.

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Recipe Variations

Make your mac and cheese more to your liking with these variation suggestions!

  • Make it meaty: throw bacon crumbles, cubed ham, ground beef, cut-up hotdogs, or shredded chicken into the mix. Add mushrooms if you’re vegetarian.
  • Have you ever had mac and cheese with a piece of fried egg on top? It’s to die for! It makes the dish even more indulgent, so only go for this if you don’t mind an incredibly rich dish.
  • If you find the sauce way too rich, balance it out with herbs and spices. Cayenne and red chili flakes are great additions if you like some heat to your mac and cheese. Garlic and onion pepper taste really well with cheese, too. For an earthy flavor, add rosemary, thyme, or oregano.
  • Instead of crushed butter crackers, you can also use panko breadcrumbs or French fried onions. Anything crispy and crunchy works.

More Macaroni and Cheese Recipes You’ll Love

Velveeta Mac and Cheese
Sweetie Pie’s Mac and Cheese
Cracker Barrel Mac and Cheese
Paula Deen Crockpot Mac and Cheese
Trisha Yearwood Crockpot Mac and Cheese Recipe

Original Kraft Mac and Cheese (Upgraded Recipe) (6)

Original Kraft Mac and Cheese (Upgraded Recipe)




Prep time



Cooking time



For comfort food at its best, try this original Kraft mac and cheese recipe! With just 6 ingredients, you can have the dish you know and love in a homemade version.


  • 1 1 (14-ounce) package of Kraft macaroni and cheese, Dinner (blue box)

  • 1 cup 1 shredded cheddar cheese, divided

  • 1/2 cup 1/2 sour cream

  • 1/4 teaspoon 1/4 ground red or black pepper

  • 6 6 butter-flavored crackers (e.g. Ritz), crushed

  • 1 tablespoon 1 butter or margarine, melted


  • Preheat the oven to 375 degrees Fahrenheit. Grease a 1/5-quart baking dish with butter or non-stick spray.
  • Cook macaroni and cheese according to package instructions. Stir in 1/2 cup of cheese, sour cream, and pepper.
  • Transfer the mac and cheese into the greased baking dish. Sprinkle with the remaining 1/2 cup of cheese.
  • Mix the crushed crackers and melted butter. Sprinkle the mixture over the cheese.
  • Bake for 20 minutes. Let it sit for 5 minutes before serving Enjoy!
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What can I add to Kraft Dinner to make it better? ›

My favorite add-ins to doctor up mac and cheese are:
  1. Shredded Rotisserie Chicken.
  2. Broccoli.
  3. Crispy Bacon Pieces.
  4. Browned Ground Beef.
  5. Crumbled Sausage.
  6. Sun-Dried Tomatoes.
  7. Green Onions.
  8. Hot Dogs.
Jun 13, 2022

How many cups of water for 2 boxes of Kraft mac and cheese? ›

After testing the recipe with different amounts of water, I found that 3 cups of water is perfect for 2 boxes of macaroni. If you like your mac and cheese with thinner sauce, you can add 3 ½ cups of water.

How to upgrade Kraft mac and cheese reddit? ›

Any one of these or any combination of them you like:
  1. Real butter, a little more than the box calls for.
  2. A little fresh grated cheese - cheddar, parm, gruyere, etc.
  3. A little more milk than it calls for or use 1/2 n 1/2.
  4. Dollop of sour cream.
  5. Crispy bacon.
  6. saute some diced ham with green bell peppers and onions.
Mar 12, 2022

What are the ingredients in Kraft mac and cheese original? ›

Enriched Macaroni (Wheat Flour, Durum Flour, Niacin, Ferrous Sulfate [Iron], Thiamin Mononitrate [Vitamin B1], Riboflavin [Vitamin B2], Folic Acid), Cheese Sauce Mix (Whey, Milkfat, Salt, Milk Protein Concentrate, Sodium Triphosphate, Contains Less than 2% of Tapioca Flour, Citric Acid, Lactic Acid, Sodium Phosphate, ...

How do you class up Kraft mac and cheese? ›

A dollop of canned pumpkin or pureed winter squash, a handful of halved cherry tomatoes, a scoop of roasted broccoli or cauliflower or even a scoop of frozen peas can perk up the boxed pasta in no time flat.

How do you spice up macaroni and cheese? ›

8 Ways to Elevate Your Macaroni and Cheese Dinners
  1. Add extra cheese to your dish.
  2. Mix in some hot sauce and chicken to make buffalo chicken mac n' cheese.
  3. Add in vegetables like broccoli, cauliflower and spinach.
  4. Sprinkle some bacon bits or breadcrumbs on the top of your dish.
  5. Add spices and fresh herbs to your dish.
May 21, 2022

How do you keep Kraft mac and cheese cups from overflowing? ›

We recommend stirring the water/pasta mixture before putting it into the microwave. There is anti-foam in each cup to prevent boil over but it needs to get stirred properly in the cup to function. Hope this helps!

Is water or milk better for Kraft Mac and Cheese? ›

Yes, you can use water instead of milk for Kraft Mac and Cheese. But remember that replacing milk with plain water will produce a different taste for the dish. Some people are accustomed to adding water instead of milk, which can make the cheese flavor shine through.

How do you thicken Kraft Mac and Cheese with too much milk? ›

Use cornstarch or all-purpose flour. You can thicken cheese sauce further by adding more flour or even using a couple of teaspoons of cornstarch. In a small bowl, dissolve the cornstarch or flour with a cup of water. The cold water will create a slurry.

How to make Kraft mac and cheese 10x better? ›

How To Make Kraft Mac & Cheese Better (8 Easy Tricks)
  1. Salt the Water. Have you been adding salt to your Kraft Mac & Cheese? ...
  2. Slightly Undercook the Pasta. Nobody likes a bowl of mushy pasta! ...
  3. Make It Extra Creamy. ...
  4. Make It Cheesier. ...
  5. Brown the Butter. ...
  6. Add Protein. ...
  7. Add Spices. ...
  8. Top It With Crushed Crackers or Breadcrumbs.
Jun 13, 2023

How do you make Kraft mac and cheese creamy again? ›

Add 1 tablespoon of milk per cup of mac and cheese and mix to incorprate as much as possible. *If you'd like to add more creaminess and flavor, substitute half-and-half or cream.

What changed in Kraft Mac and Cheese? ›

In 2016, Kraft quietly changed its recipe, removing artificial preservatives and dyes and replacing the latter with paprika, annatto and turmeric. The company even sold 50 million boxes of its new recipe before cleverly announcing the change in a marketing campaign.

Why did Kraft Mac and Cheese change? ›


The brand maintains its signature blue and red colors while its typography, photography, iconography and packaging all are updated. Kraft Mac & Cheese explained that the name change was made to reflect the way customers "organically" reference the brand.

What is the largest ingredient in Kraft Mac n Cheese? ›

Turns out, it is mostly milk products and byproducts like whey and milk protein and cheese culture, milkfat and lactic acid. Kraft has recently started taking out the more chemical-based ingredients like artificial dyes and flavors.

How do you doctor up frozen mac and cheese? ›

Brown the mac and cheese under the broiler for a couple of minutes and voila, amped up mac and cheese. Adding fresh vegetables, herbs, and seasonings helps tailor frozen dinners to your own personal taste and make bland freezer meals taste a little more homemade.

How to make TV dinner mac and cheese better? ›

Adding protein to your mac and cheese is a quick, easy way to turn it into a well-rounded meal. Shredded rotisserie chicken, cubed ham, and crumbled bacon would all make fantastic mac and cheese mix-ins. After all, everything's better with bacon.

How to spice up Kraft dinner reddit? ›

Things I like to add:
  1. basil/oregano or Italian seasoning mix.
  2. chili paste or flakes.
  3. tomato paste.
  4. garlic paste or garlic powder.
  5. chopped cherry tomatoes.
  6. frozen corn or peas.
  7. Parmesan.
Nov 20, 2022

What can I put in my Kraft Dinner instead of butter? ›

So, if a recipe asks for butter, you may use ghee or margarine instead. However, sour cream, mayonnaise, or yogurt can be used to get the same creamy texture when cooking boxed macaroni. You may use 1 cup of any of these in place of the butter called for in the recipe (4 tablespoons).

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