NOTICE: This blog is no longer being updated, so medical information may no longer be accurate.

Gluten-Free “Boxed” Mac and Cheese

Okay, so it’s not really “Boxed” Mac and Cheese but “Bagged” Mac and Cheese just sounds weird! 😀

I have been making my own “Kraft-like” GF Mac and Cheese for a long time now, mostly because I do not care for the texture of the pasta in the GF store-bought Mac and Cheese.  The other two reasons I make my own are because I can change up the pasta shapes AND I save a lot of money!

I have been buying my cheese powder in bulk on (Frontier Co-op Orange and White Cheddar Powders). You can see Frontier’s Allergen Statement here.  This is one of those moments when you have to use your judgment.  There is no wheat in the cheese powder and nothing on the label indicates an ingredient derived from barley, rye or commercial oats.  However, the cheese powder is not tested/certified gluten-free (at least it wasn’t a year ago).

Update: There is a now a Gluten-Free Cheese Powder on the market from Riega Foods and I definitely recommend going that route since they test for the presence of gluten in the final product (you can read my review here).

The good news though…  I have heard on VERY GOOD authority that a cheddar cheese powder (that is sold in individual packets, no less!!), will soon be coming to market.  The cheese powders will also be TESTED to ensure they contain less than 20ppm of gluten (but so far they have actually registered “undetectable” for gluten in preliminary testing!), WOO-HOO!  That is all I can say for now, but I will update you as soon as I can. 🙂

For each package of Gluten-Free Mac and Cheese:

7 1/4-ounces of Gluten-Free Pasta (Tinkyada is our favorite)

1 1/4-ounces of GF Cheddar Cheese Powder (White or Orange)

  • I put the cheddar cheese powder in its own separate “snack-size” Ziploc Bag and insert it into the larger “quart-size” Ziploc Bag that is holding the pasta.
  • I bought some large mailing labels and I just print the directions on the mailing label and affix to the front of the bag!

What I put on the label (this is just how we like to make it):

I rarely use real butter in anything I cook, I usually use Smart Balance (Original in the tub) or Earth Balance, which is Smart Balance’s Dairy-Free cousin. The 16 minute cook time you see on the label is specific to the Tinkyada Pasta I use. Make sure to follow the cooking directions on your specific brand… you know how temperamental GF pasta can be (well, except for Tinkyada, 🙂 I am very biased, I know)!

I make a bunch of these at a time and store in an airtight plastic container in my pantry. These are great for Mike to grab for a quick and easy meal for the boys (if I am gone during meal time) or I will send a package to Sam and Luke’s “Nana and Papa’s” when they go for a visit (Nana has her own separate Gluten-Free Pans to help prevent cross-contamination), love her! 😉

This is the “Classic” kid version of Mac and Cheese with Orange Cheddar Cheese Powder. The orange color is annatto extract.

White Cheddar Mac and Cheese.

Tinkyada’s Brown Rice Vegetable Spirals with White Cheddar Powder.

Tinkyada’s Brown Rice Little Dreams Pasta with White Cheddar Powder.

This is not necessary, I do it for my ADD! I am unbelievably “OCD organized” in my pantry, it keeps my brain clear.  😉

I’ve had this for years, I use it as a guide to come up with quick meal ideas, just be sure your add-in’s are gluten-free!! Use two packages of GF Mac and Cheese to equal one Family Size Box of the Gluten-filled Kraft Mac and Cheese, (as indicated on the recipe card). If you don’t have kiddos that are “no-touchers” (separate foods cannot touch…. period), then this is a great way to sneak in some added vegetables! 🙂


  1. Ever since I was little, boxed mac & cheese made me feel like I had been kicked in the stomach. Yet I continued to eat it year after year because it tastes so freakin good! I have yet to find a dairy free cheese solution so I haven't had good mac & cheese in a long time. I miss it so much!!

  2. Jen,

    I am not dairy-free, but very curious to find some great dairy-free alternatives. Have you tried that Daiya Vegan Cheese (it's soy-free too!)? It looks like the next "big thing" in dairy-free cheese! I just ordered some, so I am looking forward to experimenting!!

  3. I cant wait to try your version of "boxed mac & cheese". I have tried (almost) all the versions of boxed gf mac & cheese and the only one I think that is worth it is Trader Joes – its only $1.99 and tastes really good!

  4. Jackie,

    Then you will love this way of making Mac and Cheese! 🙂 If the pasta is gummy or mushy, it kind of defeats the whole purpose, especially if it goes in the trash! It costs a little up front buying the bulk cheese powder, but I store mine in an airtight container in the freezer… this last round lasted a year for us! I am looking forward to the individual GF cheese packets that will be coming out soon and some peace of mind knowing that the product has been tested for gluten!

    Hope you enjoy!

  5. Wow – I'm glad to hear about the powdered cheese sold on Amazon. The boxed gluten free stuff is gross, in my opinion, so I've been making my own cheese sauce. This will be so much easier!

  6. I cannot tell you how excited this makes me! We are brand new (just found out last week our youngest has Celiac) to this gf thing. My kids LOVE mac and cheese, but my middle child INSIST on white cheddar which I cannot find "premade and gf" anywhere. Thank you so much!!

    • Tai:

      You have no idea just how happy that make me! 🙂 It is especially helpful when one is newly diagnosed to be able to have GOOD gluten-free versions of former gluten favorites, I strongly believe it can make all the difference.

      P.S. You MUST get some Tinkyada pasta too! Yummy. 🙂

  7. Thanks for stopping by my blog. Im new to Gluten Free and have been purchasing Kraft Mac and Cheese and dumping the pasta in the trash. NOT very frugal. Oh, I love this post. Thanks for informing me where to get new powder cheese. I'm very much into the make my own convenience foods also. I'm going to subscribe to you blog.

    • Thanks Lisa!!

      I am glad to hear you are into making your own convenience foods too! We can collaborate! You get to save some moolah and eliminate a lot of the chemicals that are in mainstream processed convenience foods! What's not to like? 🙂

  8. Thanks for this, I was glad to stumble upon your site and find actual gluten free recipes my 3 year old will eat. I'm ordering the cheese powder on Amazon now, we're going with white cheddar since my kids are dye free (annatto & caramel coloring cause the same behavioral changes that the synthetic dyes do).

    I'll be trying a few of your other recipes this week too, thanks! We just went gluten free and this is going to help out so much.

    • Casey,

      Ah, yes… the 3 year old set is a difficult one to please! I did not know that about annatto! I have never had a medical reason to avoid artificial colorings but have been very interested in learning more over the past few months… spooky, some of the stuff I have read! I have been greatly reducing the artificial dyes in my boy's diets (outside of the occasional birthday or holiday celebration) and actually just ordered some vegetable powders to experiment making my own natural colorings with. Can't seem to find much info on it though, so we shall see!

      I hope you find some recipes that bring some happiness back to the table! Going gluten-free can be a real shocker in the beginning, but I promise, it does get better! 🙂

  9. Heidi
    Do you add any starches to the cheese powder to thicken it up? I know that Oregon Spice has a premade cheese sauce mix sold by Azure Standard that contains whey and corn starch. They also sell just the cheese powder. I spoke to them today and both products have gf ingredients, but they do process in a facility that also process products w/ gluten. She assured me that they wash and sanitize between each batch and have never had a problem with cross contamination. I am thinking of trying it. But I didn't know if I should get the "pre-made" mix or just the powder…hence my first question of adding starches??

  10. Tai,

    I do not add anything to the cheese powder (it is just cheese powder not a cheese sauce mix) that I use from Frontier Co-op. I just measure it out and add to butter (Smart or Earth Balance in my case), milk and cooked pasta… just as you would the stuff in the blue box!

    Hope that helps! 🙂


  1. […] Veggie Mac and Cheese using Tinkyada’s GF Vegetable Spirals that I buy on Amazon, and the White Cheddar Powder that I get from Frontier Co-op. I threw in some frozen mixed veggies (attempting to […]

  2. […] Not-Kraft Gluten-Free “Boxed” Mac and Cheese […]