We tried every box out there to find the ones that rival homemade.
Best Shells: 365 Everyday Value Organic Deluxe Shells
and Creamy Cheddar Sauce
Thanks to a squeezable pouch of cheese sauce that gets stirred into the warm noodles, every single shell is coated in a decadently thick and creamy sauce—no clumps in sight.
To buy: $4 for 12 oz.; amazon.com.
Best Classic: Back to Nature Organic USDA Macaroni & Cheese
This no-frills pick surprised us with its silky-smooth sauce and extra-long elbows. The short, organic ingredient list also gets a thumbs-up.
To buy: $2.50 for 6 oz., target.com.
Best White Cheddar: Kraft White Cheddar
Macaroni & Cheese
The mild white Cheddar flavor and the nostalgic elbow shape make this a winner for family dinners and dorm meals alike. Opt for whole milk and the suggested half stick of butter for an irresistibly gooey sauce.
To buy: $1.25 for 7.3 oz., target.com.
Best Gluten-Free: LiveGfree Gluten Free Deluxe Macaroni & Cheese
White and brown rice noodles are smothered in a rich Cheddar sauce for a gluten-free option—we spooned up seconds.
To buy: $2 for 12 oz., aldi.com.
Best Vegan: Annie’s Organic Vegan Mac and Cheese, Cheddar Flavor
Many vegan varieties have a distinct aftertaste. This one boasts the same comforting flavor as classic—sans dairy.
To buy: $2.80 for 6 oz., amazon.com.
Best Frozen: Trader Joe’s Hatch Chile Mac & Cheese
Roasted Hatch chiles and aged Cheddar make for a smoky, grown-up take. Unlike many frozen variet- ies, the noodles stayed al dente when heated.
To buy: $3 for 12 oz., traderjoes.com.