Written by SaVanna Shoemaker, MS, RDN, LD top top February 13, 2020 — medically reviewed through Miho Hatanaka, RDN, L.D.

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Mac and cheese is a rich and also creamy dish consisting that macaroni pasta blended with a cheesy sauce. It’s an especially popular in the united States.

It’s commonly high in calories because it’s made with pasta, cheese, cream, and also butter, return the calorie content varies significantly in between brands, ingredients, and also serving size.

Traditional calorie-rich mac and also cheese can be took pleasure in in moderation, however there are many healthy swaps you deserve to make to improve the nutrient contents of the dish.

This short article reviews the calorie content of different types of mac and also cheese, suggests how to lower it, and also provides a cooking recipes for healthier mac and also cheese.

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Nutrition details for different types of mac and cheese
The calorie contents of macaroni and cheese varies depending upon the brand, ingredients, and serving size.

This table list the nutrient contents of a 1-cup (approximately 150–250-gram) offer of the most common mac and also cheese brands, together with a homemade version (1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7):

Panera Bread47031 grams17 grams33 grams1 gram1040 mg
Chick-fil-A44027 grams19 grams29 grams8 grams1200 mg
Kraft37616 grams10 grams47 grams2 grams669 mg
Velveeta3109 grams13 grams44 grams2 grams869 mg
Daiya 3009 grams5 grams48 grams2 grams580 mg
Annie’s Homegrown3604 grams9 grams51 grams2 grams720 mg
Homemade, regular or gluten-free50624 grams20 grams53 grams3 grams837 mg

Mac and cheese contains large amounts the fat and also refined carbs, both of which contribute to its high calorie count. Eating an ext calories than you burn, nevertheless of which foods they come from, deserve to lead to weight gain.

Additionally, mac and cheese is high in sodium. That recommended that most world don’t exceed approximately 2,300 mg per day of this mineral, as excessive intake may reason high blood press in some individuals (8, 9)

Daiya “Cheezy Mac” — a dairy-free brand — has actually the shortest calorie count with only 300 calories every 1/3 parcel (100 grams), which equates to about a 1-cup serving. It also contains the least sodium.

Meanwhile, homemade mac and cheese — both regular and also gluten-free — has actually the highest calorie count, as this variation is frequently made with huge amounts of cheese, milk, cream cheese, or butter. In return, you have actually the alternative to omit including extra sodium.

As all of these alternatives are fairly high in calories and also sodium because that 1 cup (about 150–250 grams) that food, you should only eat mac and also cheese in moderation or as an occasional treat as part of a healthy and balanced diet.


Macaroni and cheese is frequently high in calories, include 300–500 calories per serving. It’s also high in sodium with 600–1,200 mg per serving.

Mac and cheese is commonly made with rich, high calorie ingredients like pasta, cheese, and milk or cream. Part versions also include cream cheese or butter, i beg your pardon provide additional fat and also calories.

These affluent ingredients make mac and also cheese a tasty dish to enjoy in moderation, but thankfully, over there are easy swaps you have the right to make to alleviate the calorie contents or make the food healthier.

Here are a couple of healthier swaps for her macaroni and cheese:

Use high protein, high fiber pasta make from bean or chickpeas rather of level macaroni to increase its protein and also fiber contents.Use cauliflower or broccoli florets rather of plain macaroni to reduce carbs and also calories.Follow the directions because that “light preparation” top top boxed mac and cheese products, together they require much less butter and milk.Add vegetable to your mac and also cheese to rise the fiber and nutrient contents and also decrease the calories every serving.Halve the lot of cheese supplied and add herbs and spices to flavor the food instead.Swap cream and milk for unsweetened nut milk, which might reduce calories.Use Neufchâtel cheese instead of cream cheese, which offers the same tangy flavor and also creamy texture in fewer calories.Add diced chicken chest or various other lean protein sources, such together tuna or beans, to make the dish more filling and higher in protein.

Also, save in psychic that due to the fact that mac and also cheese is commonly rich and also calorie-laden, you must enjoy that in moderation and limit her serving dimension to no an ext than 1 cup (approximately 150–250 grams) per serving.


There space several ways to lower the calorie count of her mac and cheese, and make it healthier. Also, make certain to limit yourself come no an ext than 1 cup (150–250 grams) every serving.

Here is a healthy recipe for timeless mac and also cheese the still results in a rich, creamy next dish.

You will certainly need:

12 ounces (340 grams) the chickpea pasta elbows, dry1/8 cup (28 grams) that butter1 1/2 cup (360 ml) the unsweetened almond milk1 1/2 cup (360 ml) of chicken or vegetables broth1/2 teaspoon of salt1 cup (125 grams) that shredded cheddar cheese

The actions are:

Prepare the chickpea macaroni according to the parcel instructions and collection aside.In a large pot, melt the butter till it’s slightly bubbly. Include the xanthan gum and mix it through the butter well.Mix in the unsweetened almond milk, broth, and salt and also simmer for 5–6 minutes, stirring regularly, until the sauce has thickened slightly.Stir in the shredded cheese until it melts.Add the cook pasta and mix it well to evenly distribute the sauce.

This recipe makes roughly six 1-cup servings. One offer contains:

Calories: 314Fat: 14 gramsProtein: 19 gramsCarbs: 34 gramsFiber: 8 gramsSodium: 583 mg

Chickpea pasta contains much more protein and fiber than continuous macaroni, and also swapping white milk because that unsweetened almond milk cuts part fat and calories.

Instead that using polished white flour together a thickening agent, this cheese sauce employs a little amount of xanthan gum, a an effective thickener that have the right to be bought virtual or at herbal grocers.

Additionally, this recipe is gluten-free and also can conveniently be do vegetarian- or vegan-friendly by instead of the butter through olive oil and also the cheese through a non-dairy cheese substitute. For a low carbohydrate alternative, change the pasta through broccoli or cauliflower florets.

You have the right to keep the leftovers for approximately 5 days in her refrigerator. Feel totally free to take any type of of the suggestions noted above to do this mac and also cheese even lower in calorie or richer in nutrients.

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The over mac and cheese recipe has some healthy swaps that make it lower in calories and greater in protein and fiber than traditional mac and cheese.