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I Tried 6 Frozen Mac & Cheese Bites & the Best Was Buttery and Luscious

See which options were the cheesiest and which strike a balance of crispy breading to tender noodles.
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The Super Bowl is over, but that doesn't mean all the get-togethers and delicious snack-making have to end. Whether you're a basketball fan, hockey enthusiast, or a social butterfly, there's always something to celebrate and look forward to. And here's the perfect appetizer for your next watch party or event: macaroni and cheese bites.

Whoever came up with the idea to load the creamy and universally admired comfort dish into crisped, bite-sized pockets is a snack-time genius. And now, many different stores and brands offer versions of the tidbits.

Before you go out to the store and pick up the first box you lock eyes on, though, check out the results of this survey to see which options came across as the absolute cheesiest and which also strike a proper balance of crispy breading to tender noodles. Each munchable bite was cooked per the brand's instructions in the oven to level the playing field, and I brought no preconceived opinions to this taste test.

Giant Eagle Mac 'N Cheese Bites

giant eagle mac n cheese bites
Megan Hageman, Eat This, Not That!
PER SERVING (4 PIECES): 220 calories, 11 g fat (2.5 g saturated fat), 630 mg sodium, 26 g carbs (<1 g fiber, <1 g sugar), 5 g protein

Giant Eagle locations are not widespread—confined to five states, mainly Ohio and Pennsylvania. But, the chain greatly impacts these areas and is one of my favorite places to shop. I've spent a great deal of time in the store's frozen foods aisle, cold and contemplating which munchy to grab for the game or my own snacking needs.

I'd never reached for Giant Eagle's store brand Mac 'N Cheese Bites. They claim to be "restaurant-style," and although the box depicts a small bowl of marinara sauce for dipping, the bites are served solo. A box of 12 cost me a reasonable $3.29.

The look: Triangular-shaped but with a batter coating that makes them resemble McDonald's chicken nuggets. The innards are a pale orange, and the macaroni noodles aren't overly cheesy.

The taste: These bites are one of the few Giant Eagle products that disappoint me. The inner mac and cheese portion tasted solely of cheddar cheese and was watery. To make matters worse, much of the cheesiness comes from powder, sauce mix, and a combination of natural and artificial flavorings.  Yellow No. 5 and No. 6 dyes are thrown in to create that more appealing coloring. The outer casing comes with its laundry list of problems, among them being more chewy than crispy.

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Feel Good Foods Three Cheese Mac & Cheese Bites

feel good foods mac n cheese bites
Megan Hageman, Eat This, Not That!
PER SERVING (3 PIECES): 240 calories, 13 g fat (5 g saturated fat), 380 mg sodium, 24 g carbs (1 g fiber, 1 g sugar), 8 g protein

Feel Good Foods Mac & Cheese Bites are bursting with yellow cheddar, mozzarella, and Parmesan. The recipe comes from the minds of a restauranteur and a chef who came together to create a lineup of gluten-free foods. The bites can be bought online through retailers such as the Gluten-Free Mall or Thrive Market. They can also be found at grocers like Whole Foods, Fresh Thyme Market, and at my local Meijer, where I grabbed a box that hadn't yet been made over in the company's new bright yellow packaging. Each 12-count is typically priced at $6.89 at the chain, but you can expect to pay more when ordering online.

The look: Uniformly sphere-shaped with a crumbly outer crust. Most pieces split open during the baking process, revealing bright carrot-colored contents. The shade is less natural than the picture on the box.

The taste: These bites come out of the oven with a nice crunch. But, they cool off rapidly, losing all that great texture and even turning to the dry side. This could be because there are more noodles than cheese. As I munched, I noticed a mustard flavor, and, sure enough, mustard powder was an included ingredient—one that I would have traded for another helping of cheese.

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Louisa White Cheddar Toasted Mac & Cheese

louisa mac n cheese bites
Megan Hageman, Eat This, Not That!
PER SERVING (4 BITES): 260 calories, 15 g fat (4.5 g saturated fat), 510 mg sodium, 25 g carbs (1 g fiber, 1 g sugar), 8 g protein

Louisa does macaroni and cheese bites differently. The company's goal is to be a leader in frozen pasta. This mission carries over into its line of appetizers, including Toasted Mac & Cheese. The means the products outer husk is pasta rather than a breading blanket. The bites also include white cheddar cheese instead of yellow cheddar and ricotta and mozzarella. On the back of the $5.09 box, you can also find a recipe for a yummy pizzaioli sauce for pairing. I gave them a fair shot by themselves.

The look: Flat and disc-shaped. They look like fried ravioli. The color of the mac and cheese is closer to white or cream rather than orange or yellow. They're not overly stuffed.

The taste: There's a decent amount of cheese but not enough mac. The inside is creamy and cheesy—likely due to the added ricotta–but the specific notes of cheddar and mozzarella aren't obvious, making it a little bland. It seems like there are hardly any noodles. I did enjoy the pasta exterior. The edges crisped perfectly in the oven and their sturdiness makes them easy to eat and dip.

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Stouffer's Bite-Fulls Classic Mac & Cheese Bites

stouffers mac n cheese bites
Megan Hageman, Eat This, Not That!
PER SERVING (3 PIECES): 220 calories, 11 g fat (4 g saturated fat), 340 mg sodium, 23 g carbs (1 g fiber, 1 g sugar), 6 g protein

When I think of Stouffer's, I picture ready-to-bake, family-size lasagnas. But, the brand's other claim to fame is its frozen macaroni and cheese—it claims to be America's No. 1 in this department. The dish is served in many different ways, including in a Mac & Cheese Bites form, where the classic recipe is encased in a crispy breading. They are part of the brand's Bite-Fulls line and use real cheddar. A heftier–sized container of the appetizer, with 15 total pieces, costs $7.49 at my nearest Giant Eagle.

The look: These are a mouthful—the largest bites in the taste test. The size of each is inconsistent. Two were morphed together in the box, forming one long macaroni and cheese clump. At each bite's core is a golden nucleus of cheesy elbow noodles.

The taste: Creamy and yummy, but nothing standout. Just like Giant Eagle's offering, there isn't enough complexity with a single cheese. The breading is lusterless, and it didn't get crusty enough in the oven. Perhaps the air fryer would have brought them to that desired texture—I'll try that next time. Other than these complaints, these are a solid option, but I expected more from such an established brand.

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Appetitos Mac & Cheese Bites

appetitos mac n cheese bites
Megan Hageman, Eat This, Not That!
PER SERVING (4 PIECES): 210 calories, 12 g fat (3 g saturated fat), 550 mg sodium, 22 g carbs (1 g fiber, 2 g sugar), 4 g protein

If you're a habitual Aldi shopper, you know that big-name brands aren't the store's style. Instead, the chain's inventory is mostly comprised of private label products such as Nature's Nectar, Millville, and Simply Nature. In the frozen aisle, customers also find many appetizers and snacks sporting the Appetitos label. Franks in a blanket, mozzarella cheese sticks, puff pastry bites, and spinach artichoke dip are just a few options, in addition to classic macaroni and cheese bites. A relatively small box with 11 pieces sells for $3.49.

The look: Not overly appetizing. The shape resembles a mini corn dog, and the breading has the same look. Some became smooshed down in the oven, but noodles are still visible in the middle.

The taste: I wasn't expecting anything incredible, but the bites surprised me for a budget option. Their shell reaches an acceptable level of crispiness despite the droopy look, and the inside isn't oozing with cheese sauce. Despite incorporating only cheddar cheese, the cheese has a one-of-a-kind taste like Parmesan, or some other mild white cheese was thrown in. It's a box I would reach for again.

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Trader Joe's Mac and Cheese Bites

trader joes mac n cheese bites
Megan Hageman, Eat This, Not That!
PER SERVING (3 PIECES): 190 calories, 10 g fat (4 g saturated fat), 280 mg sodium, 19 g carbs (2 g fiber, 0 g sugar), 7 g protein

It didn't surprise me that Trader Joe's stocks Mac and Cheese Bites alongside its countless other award-winning frozen apps and treats. Each box comes with 10 pieces, costs $3.99, and sports a new and improved recipe. The chain explains that the fresh version of the bites is "cheesier than ever" with seven—yes, seven—different cheese types stuffed in. Expect each bite to be stuffed with cheddar, havarti, Swiss, Gouda, Monterey Jack, Pecorino-Romano, and cream cheese. With all this fromage, it's a miracle that any elbow macaroni could still fit inside each nugget. Meanwhile, on the outside of each nugget you'll find "a thinner, crispier, panko-style breading" to offset all that gooey filling.

The look: In the shape of a ball, like Feel Good Foods Bites, but larger. The size leaves room for plenty of curvy noodles, which take on a pale yellow color.

The taste: Trader Joe's achieves the perfect ratio of breading to cheese to macaroni. These are also the first bites to wow me with their mac and cheese quality—probably all the different cheeses at work. The rich Gouda and Swiss stuck out to me, and each oozing pocket tastes buttery and luscious—just like a mac you would find at a high-end steakhouse. I wouldn't have been able to pinpoint that the breading was panko, but it is well-seasoned with tastes of garlic and a touch of salt.

The TJ's bites are good enough to eat plain, as I did. But, they would be even better dunked in marinara or some dressed-up ranch.

Megan Hageman
Megan is a freelance writer based in Columbus, Ohio. Read more about Megan