Trader Joe’s Mac and Cheese Review

Trader Joe's Mac and Cheese
Trader Joe’s Mac and Cheese

Trader  Joe’s Mac and Cheese. This is also going by the moniker Joe’s Diner Mac and Cheese, but we all know it’s from Trader Joe’s, they can’t fool us with all these different names. This is one of those products you walk by a million times and never pick up because you would never eat it in a million years, but suddenly something changes and it’s around you and it’s in your freezer all the time!  That something is a ravenous 11-year-old boy that has taken a liking to all things Mac and Cheese and would be happy to eat it every night of the week. Needless to say we have a constant stock of it in the freezer. 

Trader Joe's Mac and Cheese heating instructions
Trader Joe’s Mac and Cheese heating instructions

I probably don’t need to explain to you what Mac and Cheese is but for those of us that are new to this country or even Trader  Joe’s, Mac and Cheese is basically macaroni pasta, aka elbow, and a cheese sauce. Kraft Mac and Cheese is really the first smash hit when it came to ready to eat Mac and Cheese. Everyone I knew growing up had boxes of it in the pantry. So easy for a kid to make just cook the pasta and then dump the dried cheese sauce on the hot pasta and voila, an instant meal that almost any kid would eat.

Then Stouffer’s came along and made a frozen version of it that had what looked like real cheese sauce. Even easier, just pop the container in the microwave and a few quick minutes later, a creamy golden mac and cheese.

The gold standard in the Mac and Cheese world, other than homemade, is Stouffer’s Mac and Cheese. It’s been around a long time and it’s the standard by which many people judge all Mac and Cheeses. My wife says she grew up on the stuff and I can’t really remember eating it before college, but it is a good, cheap, fast way to fill the empty spot in your stomach. Not exactly the most nutritious meal ever created, but it does fill you up and for picky kids, it’s an easy way to fill them up.

Trader Joe's Mac and Cheese back
Trader Joe’s Mac and Cheese back

When I compare Stouffer’s Mac and Cheese against the Trader Joe’s version, in my humble opinion, there is no comparison. The Trader Joe’s version wins hands down! Stouffer’s version is the bright, unnatural orange color, but I do like the flavor. The consistency is very much runnier than the Trader Joe’s version, which I’m not sure I like that much. 

Trader Joe's Mac and Cheese frozen
Trader Joe’s Mac and Cheese frozen

The really nice thing I like about the Trader Joe’s Mac and Cheese is that you can see real cheese when you take it out of the box and before you heat it up. The flavor and consistency are more what I would think that homemade Mac and Cheese would be like, plus I really like the melange of the four different kinds of cheese and that adds a bunch of complexity to the dish.

Trader Joe's Mac and Cheese
Trader Joe’s Mac and Cheese


Trader Joe’s mac and cheese is the ultimate easy comfort food. One serving size is a big meal at 720 calories. Something I could easily eat, but my wife would struggle to finish. For the price, it’s cheap but satisfying calories. The cheese looks and tastes like cheese and is oh so gooey. There isn’t a more perfect comfort food. 

Final Verdict

If I had my choice, I think the Trader Joe’s Mac and Cheese wins, hands down, over Stouffer’s! It is light years better than Kraft Mac and Cheese. The melange of four cheeses pushes it over the edge towards perfection. I am going to give the Trader Joe’s Mac and Cheese 9 Bells!


Cooked Elbow Macaroni (Water, Enriched Semolina [Durum Wheat Semolina, Niacin, Ferrous Sulfate, Thiamine Mononitrate, Riboflavin, Folic Avid]), Milk, Cheddar Cheese (Pasteurized Cow’s Milk, Cheese Cultures, Salt, Enzymes Annatto [Color]), Havarti Cheese (Pasteurized Cow’s Milk, Cheese, Culture, Salt, Rennet, Calcium Chloride), Imported Gouda Cheese (Pasteurized Cow’s Milk, Cheese Cultures, Rennet, Salt, Carotene [Color]), Imported Swiss Cheese (Part Skim Cow’s Milk, Cheese Cultures, Salt, Enzymes), Unbleached Flour (Unbleached Wheat Flour, Niacin, Reduced Iron, Thiamine Mononitrate, Riboflavin, Folic Acid), Butter (Pasteurized Cream, Salt, Annatto [Color]), Modified Rice Starch, Salt, Spices.


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