Skip to main content

6 Restaurant Chains That Serve Authentic Mac 'n' Cheese—Not That Boxed Stuff

Legendary steakhouse chain Texas Roadhouse recently caught flack for giving a customer what looked like—and turned out to be—boxed mac and cheese. And it's not the only restaurant that serves the simple stuff. While the boxed stuff certainly has its place, a restaurant is not it—especially for over $4 a half cup!

Sure everyone loves a good boxed mac 'n' cheese for the ultimate convenience when the craving hits, but nothing beats the real thing. Building flavor, mixing ingredients, picking your favorite cheeses and spices, and deciding if you want breadcrumbs or not are all parts of a lovely mac and cheese-making experience. But it takes forever.

While making it from scratch is worth it in the end, if you don't have the whole day and need some of that cheesy mac and cheese right now, here are six chains that make their macaroni and cheese the right way, with real cheese and noodles, no powders in sight. No, they're not technically homemade, but it's the next best thing.

RELATED: 8 Fast-Food Chains That Use Pure Ground Beef for Their Burgers


Panera Bread

panera mac and cheese

Panera got in a bit of hot water last year via TikTok when a video of how their mac and cheese was prepared in the restaurant received over 1.2 million likes.

The Panera mac and cheese comes to the location frozen in vacuum-sealed plastic bags and is reheated via a process called re-thermalization, which is a fancy way of saying they put the bag in hot water.

However, despite reactions that ranged from disgust to "what did you think was happening back there," Panera's famously creamy mac and cheese contains real cheese, milk, eggs, and pasta, according to its website. So, while the preparation might not be as on-site as you'd like, somebody is making that mac and cheese from scratch, they're just freezing it afterward.

RELATED: I Tried Panera's New Toasted Baguette Sandwiches & There's Only One I'd Get Again


The Cheesecake Factory's Mac and Cheese Balls

The Cheesecake Factory's Mac and Cheese Balls

The Cheesecake Factory differentiates itself from other chain restaurants by making every single menu item from scratch. There are well over 250 items on a Cheesecake Factory menu, and that mindset extends to the mac and cheese as well.

The chain's famous mac and cheese balls appetizer has creamy, homemade mac and cheese coated in breadcrumbs and fried to golden perfection. While the real recipe is kept under lock and key, there are some great copycats out there trying to replicate that cheesy goodness. But why bother? Just go down the street!


Noodles and Company

Noodles & Company mac and cheese

Noodles and Company prides itself on having the best mac and cheese in the game, and it's got a solid case for it.

According to its website, the chain's mac and cheese consist of a blend of Wisconsin cheddar and jack cheeses, along with cream and elbow pasta. Seems simple enough, but real ingredients and classic preparation go a long way in the mac and cheese game.


Chick Fil A

Chick fil a mac and cheese with grilled nuggets in background

We've all seen a TikTok video of someone doing a Chick Fil A food hack, and we all know that food hack is taking a sandwich and putting the mac and cheese inside of it. While it might not be the most ingenious of culinary solutions, it's delicious as it gets.

While the chicken behemoth does send the pasta and cheese mix frozen to locations, the dish itself is baked in-house.

The cheese mix, which is cheddar and romano, is added to the pasta along with fresh cheese and cream to be baked on location every single day.

So, while your nonna isn't back there making the pasta herself, you could do a lot worse than quality ingredients baked fresh daily.


Boston Market

boston market mac and cheese

The fast-casual chain that made a name off of comfort food done right isn't skipping any steps with the ultimate comfort food either. Even though it's made quite the name for itself in the frozen food aisle, that mac and cheese you get at the store is the real deal.

Using a mixture of real cheddar cheeses and rotini, a spiral-shaped pasta that holds more cheese sauce with each bite, it stands on the podium of fast-casual mac and cheese.

RELATED: 6 Restaurant Chains That Don't Have Vegetarian Fries



popeyes mac and cheese

In 2021, Popeyes debuted its new Homestyle Mac and Cheese, made with real butter and cheddar cheese, and then topped with more melted cheddar. Critics and tasters have absolutely loved it calling it smooth, creamy, and cheesy.

The post 6 Restaurant Chains That Serve Authentic Mac 'n' Cheese—Not That Boxed Stuff appeared first on Eat This Not That.

Eat This Not That

Popular posts from this blog

These 5 Grocery Items Are Cheaper Than Ever Right Now

The grocery industry has been facing major disruptions. The combined effects of the pandemic, climate change, and economic uncertainty over the past couple of years have culminated in a series of supply chain breakdowns. For the consumer, this means supply shortages , shipping delays , and temporary store closures are becoming more commonplace – and all of the added production cost to suppliers is driving up food prices . The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics' Consumer Price Index report for January 2022 was released on Feb. 9, and it tells the story of cost trends for every spending category over the past year. Now the numbers are in, and since January 2021, "food at home" spending has increased 7.4%. Consumers should use this number as a benchmark, Phil Lempert, the consumer behavior analyst and founder behind Supermarket Guru , told Eat This, Not That! "Anything that's substantially less [than the 7.4% increase] is a deal," said Lempert. "When you

When Should I Take Creatine?

Creatine is probably the most well-researched supplement on the market today. Numerous studies have found positive adaptations in strength, power and muscle mass thanks to creatine supplementation—especially when it's combined with resistance training. Although the benefits of creatine are well-known to lifters, the best time to take it isn't common knowledge. Which leads us to some important questions:     Does an optimal time for consuming creatine exist?     If it does, should you take it before or after your workout? According to a new study published in the Journal of Exercise and Nutrition, the timing of creatine ingestion does indeed play a role in getting bigger and stronger. Creatine supplementation before resistance training increases muscular strength and lean muscle mass. Interestingly, taking creatine immediately after lifting weights results in greater muscle growth than taking it immediately before. However, in terms of strength gains, no difference betw

Reentry Anxiety Is Real - Why You May Experience It as Stay-at-Home Measures Ease

When the coronavirus stay-at-home orders began in March, most people's lives changed in immeasurable ways. At the time, we were bombarded with (admittedly, very helpful) advice on how to cope with anxiety , should we experience it during this time of social distancing and sheltering in place. But with restrictions slowly starting to ease in many parts of the world, there are many people who have seen an increase in anxiety all over again, this time about leaving their homes and reentering society. Posts about people's growing anxiety have been popping up around social media for the past couple of weeks, and it's given rise to the term "reentry anxiety." We wanted to find out exactly what reentry anxiety is, whether it's normal to be experiencing trepidation about leaving your stay-at-home orders, and how to cope if you are feeling anxious. What Is Reentry Anxiety? The short answer is that "post-lockdown anxiety is real," said Dr. Balu Pitchiah ,