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Best Fast Food Mac And Cheese

10 Best Fast Food Mac & Cheese Restaurant Options

Last Updated on February 17, 2024 by Shari Mason

In search of the best mac and cheese experience? Your search ends here! We’re exploring the realm of fast-food mac and cheese, where comfort meets taste in the most harmonious blend.

Join us on a mouthwatering journey as we explore some of the best US fast-food spots that serve creamy, cheesy goodness like no other.

Which is the best among the rest? We listed below some of the best fast food mac and cheese bowls. Read on.

Top 10 Fast Food Mac & Cheese Options (Must Try!)

10. KFC

KFC MAC AND CHEESE BOWL

Average Price: Individual serving ($3.89), large size ($5.49)

Calories: Regular (140 cal), large (540 cal)

Why We Like It:

Their iconic popcorn chicken tenders as toppings make KFC mac and cheese more appetizing.

I noticed that fried chicken’s crispness complements the rich cheese blends with the softness of elbow macaroni Kraft noodles. The mac and cheese had a creamy and cheesy texture that was enhanced by the iconic popcorn chicken tenders on top. It added a delightful crunch and flavor to each bite.

Find out if Kraft mac and cheese go bad here.

9. Bojangles 

Average Price: Solo bowl ($1.99), picnic size ($4.19)

Calories: 280 cal per serving

Why We Like It: Bojangles’ mac and cheese impressed me with its classic style. The classic mac and cheese style is composed of creamy cheese sauce and elbow macaroni.

It is rich, creamy, smooth, and cheesy. Every bite tastes flavorful, which would make you order more. I also appreciated the option of a picnic-sized bowl for sharing.

Read: Do You Cover Baked Mac And Cheese With Foil?

8. Bush’s Chicken

Average Price: Solo bowl ($3.79)

Calories: 260cal per serving

Why We Like It: The solo bowl of mac and cheese at Bush’s Chicken, priced around $3.79, left a lasting impression on me. The addition of brown sugar hickory baked beans gave it a unique twist, and the crumbled bacon complemented the flavors beautifully.

The combination of creamy melted parmesan cheese, elbow macaroni noodles, beans, and bacon created a truly satisfying comfort food experience, making it the ultimate comfort food for our weeknight cravings.

Read the most recent fast food statistics here.

7. Noodles & Company

Average Price: $6.65 to $9.20 but as a side ($2.25)

Calories: 420 (solo serving) 850cal (large bowl)

Why We Like It: We like that Noodles and Company have four different noodle dishes that you can choose from because they have their mac and cheese category on the menu.

I particularly enjoyed their Buffalo mac, which had a tantalizing hot sauce and green onion flavor. The Wisconsin-style bowl, with a lighter cheese option, catered to different preferences.

Read: What Was The First Fast Food Restaurant?

6. Boston Market

Average Price: Bowl ($4.83)

Calories: 270cal (small order) 620cal (upsize bowl)

Why We Like It: Boston Market used rotini noodles instead of the elbow macaroni pasta. With every bite, the cheddar cheese sauce trapped between the spirals makes this dish extremely satisfying. 

The dish had a delightful blend of flavors that left me craving more.

5. Panera Bread

Panera Mac and Cheese on a bowl

Average Price: Small ($6.99) Large ($10.69)

Calories: 370cal (Small) 740cal (Large)

Why We Like It: We like the unique twist of the recipe because instead of the traditional cheddar cheese sauce, Panera bread uses creamy and tangy white cheddar sauce to coat every bit of the macaroni shell.

The strong savory flavors and rich taste linger in your tastebuds and will make you forget that the Panera bread bowl is a bit more expensive than the other fast food chains’ mac and cheese.

4. Chick-Fil-A

Average Price: Regular ($3.09) Large ($3.95)

Calories: 270cal (Small) 450cal (Large)

Why We Like It: We like this version of mac and cheese because they use not just one but three cheese blend: parmesan, cheddar, and romano.

All creamy cheese sauce compliments the soft macaroni shells. It is also baked in the fast food restaurant for extra layers of crispy cheese.

3. Popeye’s 

Average Price: Small ($4.09) Upsize ($7.09)

Calories: 345cal (small) and 1035cal (large)

Why We Like It: We like its ‘homestyle’ taste. The true homemade flavor and gooey finish complement the thick cheddar sauce.

Its noodles are also firm enough with all those cheese sauce. Popeye’s Mac and Cheese is the nostalgic version of “what grandma used to make.”

2. Dave’s Hot Chicken

Average Price: $3.49.

Calories: 290 calories per serving

Why We Like It: They cook the noodles al dente, adding spice to ramp up the flavors to compliment the firm elbow macaroni noodles.

The creamy and smooth cheese sauce goes well with a healthy dose of peppery goodness, making it in the second spot of best fast food mac and cheese.

1. Arby’s Loaded

Average Price: Starts at $5.39.

Calories: 345cal to 1035cal, depending on the size

Why We Like It: It is loaded with thick cuts of bacon and crispy and juicy chicken. This mac and cheese of Arby’s are more than just a side.

“Your mac and cheese shouldn’t be mushy.”

Alissa Fitzgerald, Professional Chef

They use real butter and cheddar cheese to dress up those soft elbow macaroni for our tastebuds. The bacon strips and southern-style fried chicken tenders deserve to be in our top spot.

Insider Tip: Try it out with some ranch dressing.

Read: How To Make Longhorn Steakhouse Mac And Cheese?

Factors To Consider

Texture

The texture of noodles in making mac and cheese depends on how it is cooked. Take note of the cooking time to achieve the right finish.

The baked macaroni and cheese should be crunchy, with lots of toasted cheddar cheese. The stovetop must be soft and creamy.

Taste 

Macaroni and cheese should taste the way it is promoted, especially in fast-food chains. The cheese tasted slightly salty, so adding more salt might be unnecessary.

Mac ‘n’ cheese should taste creamy and flavorful, and the indicated ingredients, like bacon, should blend into the recipe.

Nutrients 

Mac and cheese are high in fat and refined carbs. And eating more of it is equal to consuming more calories. Taking more calories than you can burn may lead to weight gain.

A serving of mac and cheese contains high sodium. Some fast food restaurants use artificial cheeses, which are higher in sodium. And too much sodium may cause high blood pressure. [1] 

Arby’s uses real cheese and butter with signature chicken tenders on their mac and cheese, making it healthier than others.

Adding fried chicken breast and seasoned broccoli could also reduce the calories and increase the protein content. [2] 

Appearance

plate of mac and cheese

A delicious mac ‘n’ cheese for us is the steam of freshly-baked cheese and the smell of sharp cheddar flavor with golden brown crust. 

The creamy or crunchy finish of the cheese they used and how the pasta is cooked to make it a satisfying dish is a plus too.

Toppings and loaded cheeses could add more of an appetizing appearance because it would look like fewer calories and be high in protein for those watching their calorie intake.

“Indulge in cheesy bliss with fast food’s mac and cheese.”

–Eat Pallet Restaurant & Food Advice

Read: How Long Can Mac And Cheese Sit Out?

FAQs

Is Popeyes mac and cheese better than Chick Fil A?

No, Popeye’s mac ‘n’ cheese is not better than Golden Chick-Fil-A in terms of taste, finish, and appearance.

Golden Chick uses three real blends of cheese that complement every bit of the not-so-mush baked pasta.

Popeye’s has a thick cheddar sauce, but it isn’t as good as the cheese sauce used in Chick-Fil-A.

Is fast food mac and cheese healthy?

Yes, fast food mac and cheese is healthy if consumed moderately. Mac and cheese are high in calories and sodium, so it is better not to each more than your body can burn.

Final Thoughts

After a whole day of mac and cheese overload, Arby’s Loaded is the best mac and cheese on the list of fast food restaurants. Mac and cheese at Arby’s are loaded with real cheeses, signature chicken tenders, and al dente pasta [3].

The fast food chain also added protein toppings like chicken and smoky bacon strips, which help lower the calorie content and increase the protein.

All mac and cheese on the dish list are delicious and flavorful, but Arby’s Loaded [4] tops all the side dishes in terms of appetizing appearance and taste.

References:

  1. https://www.healthline.com/nutrition/mac-and-cheese-calories#nutrition 
  2. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3518828/ 
  3. https://www.insider.com/how-to-make-best-mac-and-cheese-tips-from-chef
  4. https://www.mashed.com/955387/arbys-may-have-a-loaded-new-offering-on-the-way/
Shari Mason

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