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Best fast food macaroni and cheese: We tried 10 items and ranked them from worst to best

Cleveland, oh – whether it’s that addictive jumble of blue-and-yellow box you cooked up in your bedroom, or that crunchy dish of savory grandma pulled out of her oven when I visited as a kid, macaroni and cheese always had the power to make the worst day the best. Little.

And let’s face it, there are those days when we all need a big bowl of absolute comfort food.

We all know that the best tasting cheese comes from your home kitchen, but these days’ hectic schedules just don’t capture the time it takes to prepare it from scratch. And during those summer days, who wants to heat the kitchen?

When those cravings hit, and you’re in trouble, many fast food outlets have faced the challenge of serving up delicious macaroni and cheese. The Best Of Cleveland team accepted the challenge of finding the fast food supermarket that served the creamiest, cheesiest mac and cheese.

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We visited eight different fast food chains across the city and found 10 varieties of mac n cheese. In their quest to find the most satisfying foods, try them all, then ranked them from worst to best to give you a guide to the best Mac ‘n Cheese fast food in Northeast Ohio.

Mr. Chicken: Normal

No. 10 Mr. Chicken: Plain Mac and Cheese – Photograph by Yadi Rodriguez, cleveland.com

Calories: Unavailable

price: Small $2.45 Large $4.99

Menu Description: Unavailable

Our thoughts: When you head to one of the Southern fried chicken outlets, you’d expect more traditional sides served alongside the fried star of the meal; But Mr. Chicken’s Mac n Cheese was a huge disappointment. To be honest, none of us could even get a single bite. The noodles were very overcooked and watery, while the cheese sauce was gritty and tasted like cheddar that had been left aged for only a few years.

Kentucky: normal

Kentucky

When. 9 Kentucky Fried Chicken: Plain Mac and Cheese – Photo by Yadi Rodriguez, cleveland.com

Calories: Single 140 Large 540

price: Single $2.99 ​​Large $4.69

Menu Description: Elbow pasta topped with a rich creamy cheddar cheese sauce.

Our thoughts: Nothing rich and creamy about this. We weren’t even sure that the mac ‘n’ cheese we served had been made the same day we visited, and it arrived shortly after lunchtime. The pasta was hard to chew; The “cheese” sauce was frozen on one side of the bowl and had little or no cheese flavor despite its creamy appearance.

Panera: Broccoli Cheddar

Banera

No. 8 Panera: Broccoli Cheddar Mac & Cheese – Photo by Yadi Rodriguez, cleveland.com

Calories: Small 370 Large 740

price: Small $6.99 Large $10.69

Menu Description: Peel pasta in a mixture of creamy cheese sauce and tangy white cheddar with broccoli and carrots.

Our thoughts: If you’re trying to sneak more veggies into a kids’ diet, mac ‘n’cheese might be the perfect way to do it. But don’t count on them not noticing the vegetables in Panera Broccoli Cheddar. The vegetables are brightly colored and not cooked to a puree. They tasted so fresh, but the pieces are very small and left us wondering why we even bothered. While the pasta was well cooked and firm, the cheese sauce was a bit on the liquid side and left a decidedly artificial chalky aftertaste.

Chick – elephant – A: regular

Chick Phil A

No. 7 Chick-Fil-A: Plain macaroni and cheese – Photo by Yadi Rodriguez, cleveland.com

Calories: Small 270 Medium 450

price: Small $3.09 Medium $3.95

Menu Description: This classic macaroni and cheese recipe features a special blend of cheeses including Parmesan, Cheddar, and Romano. They are baked in the restaurant to form a crunchy topping of baked cheese.

Our thoughts: The promise of “bread in the restaurant” was evident in the bowl of mac n cheese that was served to us since there were some crunchy corner pieces mixed into the bowl. For some cheese lovers, it can be the perfect addition, for others, it can be quite harmless. You will have to decide how you feel about them, just know that having them as part of your plate is a possibility. Sadly, not all of the cheese melted and therefore, it wasn’t as creamy as we had hoped and the pasta was a bit on the mushy side.

Skinny Chicken: Regular

healthy chicken

No. 6 Slim Chickens: Regular macaroni and cheese – Photo by Yadi Rodriguez, cleveland.com

Calories: Regular 440 Large 1330

price: Regular US $2.99 ​​Large US $5.49

Menu Description: At Slim’s, macaroni and cheese aren’t just kids’ stuff. This classic Southern side is a great portion that complements any meal with its creamy, cheesy finish.

Our thoughts: Finally – a fast food outlet serving delicious cooked pasta. We were able to discover two different types of cheese in the dish – and there was plenty of hot cheese to enjoy. Kids will definitely enjoy this, but after that, adults will enjoy too.

Panera: regular

Banera

When. 5 Panera: Plain Mac and Cheese – Photography by Yadi Rodriguez, cleveland.com

Calories: Small 460 Large 920

price: Regular $6.99 Large $10.69

Menu Description: Tender shell pasta in a blend of rich cheeses including a tangy white cheddar cheese sauce.

Our thoughts: Interestingly, two Macs from the same restaurant tasted completely different. Panera’s mac ‘n’ cheese offer was without the veggies but gave us a cheesier experience. The sauce was thicker—you have to stir it before dipping—and while it doesn’t have a sharp cheddar flavor, it ranks first with its satisfying taste.

Dave Spicy Chicken: Regular

Dave's Spicy Chicken

No. 4 Dave’s Hot Chicken: Regular Mac & Cheese – Photo by Yadi Rodriguez, cleveland.com

Calories: 290

price: $3.49

Menu Description: Unavailable

Our thoughts: The chicken here is spicy and they don’t skimp on adding a healthy dose of chili to their mac – which is a good thing. Visible seasoning increases the flavor of the firm pasta and smooth cream cheese sauce. Is it your mom’s macaroni and cheese? No, but it is a satisfactory alternative.

Arby’s: white cheddar

grope

#3 Arby’s: White Cheddar Mac ‘n Cheese – Photo by Yadi Rodriguez, cleveland.com

Calories: 475

price: $3.29

Menu Description: Soft and creamy white mac ‘n cheddar cheese made with elbow macaroni.

Our thoughts: This is another dish that benefits from a healthy stir-fry before diving in. The sauce is thick and filled with white cheddar cheese. The pasta was not over cooked and stood up nicely with the cheese sauce. All in all, the mac and cheese is above average.

Popeye’s: Homestyle

Bob

No. 2 Popeye’s: Homestyle Mac & Cheese – Photo by Yadi Rodriguez, cleveland.com

Calories: Regular 345 Large 1,035

price: Regular 4.09 US Dollars Large 7.09 US Dollars

Menu Description: Macaroni and cheese made with real butter and cream and topped with shredded cheddar cheese to create a golden brown crust when baked in the oven.

Our thoughts: If you’re looking for “real homemade flavor” and texture, this mac may become your fast food favorite. Gooey for sure, so give it a healthy stir before diving in. Thick sauce and cheddar cheese. The pasta is solid enough to stand up to all that cheese. This is the dish you’d expect to have at a Southern cookout or church dinner, or “what grandma used to make.”

Arby: loaded

grope

#1 Arby’s: Loaded Mac ‘n Cheese – Photo by Yadi Rodriguez, cleveland.com

Calories: Unavailable

price: $5.39

Menu Description: Unavailable

Our thoughts: Well – let’s be honest… who doesn’t love anything with the addition of bacon? Bacon in mac n’ cheese wasn’t something any of us grew up on, but the smoke of thick, meaty bacon upped the flavor so much that this dish is something that will keep you coming back for more. While you might not expect crunchy, juicy chicken from an outlet known for its roast beef, the bird won’t disappoint either. This dish is satisfying on more than one side. Order two and make it your meal.

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