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Best Fast Food Mac And Cheese

10 Best Fast Food Mac & Cheese Restaurant Options (2022)

Last Updated on November 7, 2022 by Shari Mason

The macaroni and cheese combo is one of the best and most-ordered sides in several fast-food chains.

Who wouldn’t drool at the crunchy top and creamy appearance of steamy cheese and macaroni? Almost all fast-food restaurants we’ve been to have their version of this mouth-watering dish.

But 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: KFC’s mac and cheese price vary in every store’s menu, but the individual serving is around $3.89, while the large size is $5.49.

Calories: The regular has 140cal, and the large has 540cal.

Why We Like It: We like their appetizing appearance because of the restaurant’s iconic popcorn chicken tenders as toppings.

The crispiness of fried chicken compliments the rich cheese blends with the softness of elbow macaroni Kraft noodles. Find out if Kraft mac and cheese go bad here.

9. Bojangles 

Average Price: The solo bowl on the menu is worth around $1.99, and the picnic size is around $4.19.

Calories: Each serving of the solo bowl contains 280cal.

Why We Like It: We like its classic style of mac and cheese composed of creamy cheese sauce and elbow macaroni. We also like that it has a family-size bowl.

It is rich, creamy, smooth, and cheesy. Every bite tastes flavorful, which would make you order more. 

8. Bush’s Chicken

Average Price: The price of a solo Bush’s chicken mac and cheese bowl will cost you around $3.79.

Calories: The calories per serving of their mac and cheese is 260cal.

Why We Like It: We like that Bush uses brown sugar hickory baked beans as a twist to the classic mac and cheese. And the additional crumbled bacon complimented every ingredient.

Beans and bacon go perfectly with elbow macaroni noodles mixed with creamy melted parmesan cheese, making it the ultimate comfort food for our weeknight cravings.

7. Noodles & Company

Average Price: The prices of each mac and cheese differs in categories. It ranges from around $6.65 to $9.20. If you prefer your bowl as a side, it costs about $2.25.

Calories: The calories per bowl of gluten-sensitive cheesy mac is about 420 to 850cal for the 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.

We love their Buffalo mac for its extra hot sauce and green onions flavor. At the same time, the Wisconsin-style bowl offers an option of less cheese for those who prefer it.

6. Boston Market

Average Price: A bowl of cheesy goodness of Boston Market’s mac and cheese will cost you just about $4.83.

Calories: Each serving of this delicious dish has 270cal for the small order and up to 620cal for the 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. 

5. Panera Bread

Panera Mac and Cheese on a bowl

Average Price: The small order of this mac ‘n’ cheese costs around $6.99, while the large size is about $10.69.

Calories: The calorie intake per serving of a small bowl is 370cal and up to 740cal for the large order.

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: The regular order of Chick-Fil-A’s mac and cheese will only cost you around $3.09 and up to $3.95 for the large order.

Calories: Per serving of small order has approximately 270cal while the large bowl has 450cal.

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: The regular size of Popeye’s homestyle mac and cheese costs more or less $4.09 and up to $7.09 for the upsize bowl.

Calories: The calories per serving of each bowl has 345cal for small order and 1035cal for a large bowl.

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: Dave’s Hot Chicken mac ‘n’ cheese order costs around $3.49.

Calories: per serving of this cheesy bowl has 290 calories.

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: Arby’s Loaded is new on the menu. The average price mac and cheese bowl starts at $5.39.

Calories: The per serving of this delicious mac and cheese has 345cal to 1035cal, depending on the size you will order.

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.

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.

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.

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 doesn’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

We conclude that the best mac and cheese on the list of fast food restaurants is Arby’s Loaded. Mac and cheese at Arby’s are loaded with real cheeses, signature chicken tenders, and a perfect pasta appearance.

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

All mac and cheese on the dish list are delicious and flavorful, but Arby’s Loaded 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/ 
Shari Mason

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