Easily Upgrade Boxed Mac And Cheese With One Dairy-Free Ingredient

Boxed mac and cheese is convenient, delicious, and quick to make, but with just one simple upgrade, it can be just as yummy as if you made it from scratch. By adding egg whites you can instantly transform boxed mac and cheese from dry and boring to velvety and mouthwatering. Egg whites are often used to add structure to cakes, to make light and airy baked goods, and to thicken puddings and custards. They can also be whipped and used as a leavening agent for fluffy meringues and soufflés (like a mac and cheese soufflé, for instance). In fact, egg whites are even a key ingredient in frothy cocktails like whiskey and pisco sours. 

Advertisement

How you add the egg whites to your mac and cheese depends on whether you're using packaged egg whites or if they're straight from the egg itself. With packaged egg whites (which come in a carton and are typically runnier), after adding your butter, milk, and cheese packets, set your stove to medium heat and pour in the egg whites, whisking or stirring constantly until they are incorporated to avoid them scrambling. For egg whites straight from the egg, it's a good idea to temper them before adding to your noodles so they don't curdle. 

In a separate bowl, slowly whisk in a hot liquid like milk or pasta water to the egg whites before pouring the mixture over your mac and cheese. With just this single ingredient, your boxed mac will become extra creamy and delicious. 

Advertisement

Add egg yolk or a whole egg to your boxed mac and cheese instead

You can also add a whole egg or even egg yolks for creamier boxed mac and cheese. Whether you add egg whites or include the yolk is largely up to personal preference. Both yolks and whole eggs are similarly used to build structure and texture in baked goods, as well as to thicken sauces and creams. Using only the egg whites may be a healthier option for those looking to lower their cholesterol. However, they alone contain far fewer nutrients — like vitamins A, B, and D — than a whole egg. You might also want to incorporate the yolk if you're looking for a flavor boost.

Advertisement

The fatty, flavorful content of eggs comes from the yolk, which is why egg yolks or whole eggs are used in creamy sauces like hollandaise and carbonara, to make them extra velvety and rich. You might even think of your upgraded mac and cheese sauce as a quick version of a carbonara (without the bacon and parmesan, of course) since the classic Italian sauce is generally made with just eggs and cheese. As with the egg whites, make sure to temper the whole egg or egg yolk before adding it to your mac and cheese so you don't end up with scrambled egg in your noodles. 

More tips for upgrading your boxed mac and cheese

Whether you are making your own ultimate mac and cheese or upgrading a boxed version, there are plenty of ingredients that will seriously upgrade your mac and cheese. Besides eggs, another way to improve the sauce is to add canned cream soup to mac and cheese. Likewise, cottage cheese, sour cream, and cream cheese will all make it extra creamy while also adding a slight tanginess. Stir in some shredded cheddar or fresh mozzarella to further amp up the gooeyness. 

Advertisement

Once you've upped the creaminess, add some toppings to boost the texture and flavor. Bread crumbs are an essential ingredient in baked homemade mac and cheese that can add some satisfying crunch to your boxed mac too. Or, try sprinkling some Ritz cracker crumbles on top for an extra salty bite. After making your mac, simply pour the noodles into an oven safe dish, top with bread crumbs or crackers and a tablespoon of melted butter, and bake at 375 degrees for 15 to 20 minutes. 

You can also make your boxed mac more filling by adding protein like bacon, chicken, ham, or sausage. Or get really creative and completely transform your plain mac and cheese by adding chicken, blue cheese, and hot sauce for a buffalo take on this classic dish. You could even add sun dried tomatoes, mozzarella, and basil for a caprese or margherita take on mac and cheese. The possibilities for doctoring a boring box of mac and cheese are endless and, it's safe to say, delicious. 

Advertisement

Recommended

Advertisement