Cheetos Now Makes Mac 'n Cheese—Here’s How It Tastes
Boxed mac and cheese was one of my favorite quick meals growing up (and it still is now, to be honest). There’s something so irresistible about the cheesy powder taste, and I’d gladly go through several bowls in a week. So when I heard that Cheetos—another equally nostalgic food—was launching a boxed mac and cheese version of its own, I had to give it a shot.
Announced this week, Cheetos Mac 'n Cheese comes from two PepsiCo divisions, Frito-Lay North America and Quaker Foods North America (which manages Pasta Roni). There are three flavors to choose from, “Bold & Cheesy,” “Cheesy Jalapeño,” and “Flamin’ Hot”—the corkscrew pasta is also “inspired by Chester's cheetah tail,” per the announcement. And later this week, you’ll be able to buy it at Walmart, both in boxes and single-serving microwaveable cups.
I had the chance to give the mac and cheese an early try at home, and worked my way through boxes of all three flavors in less than 24 very cheesy hours. While I normally follow boxed mac and cheese instructions pretty loosely and eyeball the butter-to-milk ratio, in this case, I stuck to them in order to produce the exact intended results.
To that end, it's a typical boxed mac preparation: You start by boiling water (the box recommends at least six cups), and then cooking the pasta for seven minutes, or “until tender.” Then, you drain the pasta—don’t rinse it—and return it to the pot to add in two tablespoons of butter or margarine. Once that’s melted, all that’s left is mixing in 1/4 cup of milk and the cheese powder. (Yes, the Flamin’ Hot powder is just as bright red as you’d hope.) Voila, you’ve got Cheetos Mac n’ Cheese.
After a very scientific tasting process (aka eating a few spoonfuls of each one) I found all three flavors enjoyable and liked the size and texture of the pasta noodles. But if I had to pick a favorite, I’d go with Bold & Cheesy, which tasted like classic Cheetos. Flamin’ Hot definitely had a kick, as expected, and while the heat lingered for a little while after I took a bite, it wasn’t too intense. Cheesy Jalapeño was spicy, too, and with the creaminess and cheese flavor factored in, it vaguely reminded me of a jalapeño popper. There was one suggestion from the box I didn’t follow—topping the mac n’ cheese with actual Cheetos, which I had to skip because I didn’t have any in my snack cabinet. But crunchy topping or not, as a boxed mac and cheese fan, it’s something I’d definitely have again.
If you want to give them a try yourself, they'll be available at Walmart (in stores and online) starting August 8 for the suggested retail price of 98 cents. The mac and cheese will also hit other retailers nationwide in 2021.