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The Secret Ingredient Your Boxed Mac & Cheese Is Missing

Prepare to have the creamiest macaroni and cheese. You might just fool yourself into thinking it's homemade!

This last year has truly been one that has tested every aspect of life, so it's easy to see why so many of us have turned to classic comfort foods. They're reliable favorites, often easy to make, and you know no matter what, they're going to taste exactly how you remember. There is one comfort food that simply rises above all the other options—and that's boxed macaroni and cheese.

Yes, it's totally possible to make a perfectly delicious (and definitely healthier) homemade mac and cheese—especially with all this extra time spent at home—but there's no judgment here if Kraft's iconic blue box calls your name. If you're looking to really elevate that boxed mac and cheese, consider this your lucky day. See, you're about to be let in on a bit of a secret: The key ingredient you need to add to your boxed mac and cheese so it's perfectly creamy.

It'll taste so good, you might just fool yourself into thinking it's homemade! OK, maybe that's a bit extreme, as there's no denying you used the orange powder that comes in the box instead of actual cheese. But you understand what we're going for here.

The secret ingredient you need to add to ensure you end up with a creamy bowl of boxed mac and cheese is…

Oat Milk

oat milk

That's right—it's none other than the oh so trendy oat milk.

So how did we come to this conclusion?

I personally don't drink regular cow's milk and haven't since I was in middle school. (Much to my grandmother's dismay.) I have been a longtime almond milk fan, but I always found it was a bit too thin and watery when it came to adding it to my beloved box of Kraft Spirals Macaroni and Cheese. The resulting pasta never quite tasted the way I had hoped.

During the last two years, I switched allegiances and became a huge oat milk advocate—I tried it one time when I made overnight oats, and my life was never the same. I then decided to add oat milk to my mac and cheese dinner one night, and I couldn't believe what appeared in the pot. The mac and cheese was far creamier than I had eaten in years. (Sorry to almond milk, but you just weren't cutting it anymore.)

Which oat milk should you use? I am loyal to Califia Farm's Barista Blend—I haven't dared to try any other oat milk in fear of ending up with a bowl of less than stellar mac and cheese. So this is the magical oat milk I always have in my fridge.

carton of califia farms barista blend oat milk

Per serving, 8 fl oz: 130 calories, 7 g fat (0.5 g saturated fat, 0 g trans fat), 110 mg sodium, 14 g carbs (2 g fiber, 3 g sugar), 1 g protein

Along with using this oat milk, I like to add broccoli, corn, and even some chopped up tomatoes to my mac and cheese, just to get a bit of veggie-flair in the dish. But another key component to a perfect boxed mac and cheese is adding avocado, as that too contributes to the overall ideal creamy texture. When an avocado is perfectly ripe and more of the softer side, that makes for a solid addition.

Next time you decide to indulge in that blue box for dinner, be sure to have oat milk and a super soft avocado as part of your ingredients. This way, you'll be able to enjoy a bowl of cheesy deliciousness that will make your heart (and most importantly, your stomach) the happiest. You're welcome.

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Jennifer Maldonado
Jennifer Maldonado is a senior editor at Eat This, Not That!, specializing in food and health content. Read more about Jennifer
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