Mac and Cheese Calories and Nutrition Facts

Bowl of macaroni and cheese
Verywell / Alexandra Shytsman

Macaroni and cheese is a favorite in households across the country, a kid-friendly food that's easy to whip up for a quick, hearty meal. Depending on how it's prepared, it can be energy-dense (higher in calories, lower in nutrients). That means it's best as an occasional food, not a pantry staple.

For example, Kraft Mac and Cheese calories are pretty high (350 per one-cup serving). And other mac and cheese calories (even the homemade variety) are high as well. This dish is also high in fat and very high in sodium. But there are ways to adjust mac and cheese recipes to lower calories, fat, and sodium and to add fiber and protein.

Kraft Mac and Cheese Nutrition Facts

The following nutrition information is provided by the USDA for 1 serving (180g, or about 3/4 cup) of prepared Kraft Macaroni and Cheese.

  • Calories: 257
  • Fat: 7.8g
  • Sodium: 518mg
  • Carbohydrates: 37.9g
  • Fiber: 2.3g
  • Sugars: 6.7g
  • Protein: 9g

You'll benefit from several vitamins and minerals when you consume Kraft mac and cheese, such as thiamin, niacin, folic acid, and beta carotene. It also contains iron, calcium, and phosphorus.

Kraft Mac and Cheese Calories

When prepared using the suggested method, with 4 tablespoons of margarine and 1/4 cup reduced-fat milk, a one-cup serving of Kraft's original mac and cheese has 350 calories and 11 grams of fat (that's about 99 calories from fat, or about 28%). Each box has three one-cup servings, so an entire box has 1,050 calories.

Preparation Variations

You can adjust how much butter and which type of milk you use to prepare your mac and cheese to best align with your nutrition goals. While the box recommends using 4 tablespoons of margarine, you can reduce this amount to cut back on fat and calories. One tablespoon of margarine has about 81 calories and 9g fat. One tablespoon of butter provides approximately 100 calories and 12g fat.

You can also swap whole or reduced-fat milk for a different variety. Different types of milk provide different nutrients. One-quarter cup of 2% (reduced-fat) milk provides 31 calories and 1g of fat, while nonfat milk has 21 calories and about 0g fat.

Mac and Cheese Calories and Nutrition By Brand

These are the calorie and nutrition facts for other popular brands of macaroni and cheese, according to USDA data (all nutrition facts are for a single serving).

  • Stouffer's Macaroni and Cheese: 350 calories, 17 g fat, 7g saturated fat, 34g carbohydrate, 15g protein, 2g fiber, 2g sugar, 920mg sodium
  • Lean Cuisine Macaroni and Cheese: 300 calories, 6g fat, 48g carbohydrate, 13g protein, 2g fiber, 5g sugar, 560mg sodium
  • Amy's Organic Foods Macaroni and Cheese (frozen): 400 calories, 16g fat, 10g saturated fat, 16g protein, 47g carbohydrate, 3gfiber, 6g sugar, 640mg sodium
  • Velveeta Shells and Cheese: 360 calories, 12g fat, 3.5g saturated fat, 49g carbohydrate, 13g protein, 2g fiber, 4g sugar, 870mg sodium

Homemade Mac and Cheese Nutrition

The calories and nutrition of homemade macaroni and cheese will vary based on the ingredients you use, but one cup of a typical homemade macaroni and cheese recipe provides 506 calories, 20 grams of fat, 24 grams of saturated fat, 20 grams of protein, 53 grams of carbohydrate, 3 grams of fiber, and 837 milligrams of sodium.

Recipes and Preparation Tips

A homemade version of macaroni and cheese typically offers more nutrition than packaged brands that may be made with powdered cheese and other artificial ingredients. And when you cook it at home, you can adapt this versatile dish to meet your dietary needs and preferences.

For example, you might boost fiber by adding peas, small broccoli florets or other diced veggies, and/or using whole-grain or whole-wheat pasta. Fiber provides several health benefits and can make meals more filling and satisfying. Vegetables provide vitamins and antioxidants.

Protein also makes meals more satisfying and is an important macronutrient. You can bump up the protein power of your mac and cheese by adding grilled chicken or turkey to your bowl. And you can reduce fat by using lower-fat cheese, reducing the amount of cheese you use, and keeping portions small.

If you have dietary restrictions, you can still enjoy mac and cheese. Swap in gluten-free pasta, dairy-free cheese, cow's milk alternatives, reduced-sodium or reduced-fat cheese—whatever you need to make this favorite safe for you.

Mac and cheese has a place in your diet as a once-in-awhile food that's familiar, comforting, and quick to prepare.

Allergies

Since macaroni and cheese is made with a combination of several ingredients, there are several potential allergens present in the food. Those with dairy allergies, gluten insensitivity, celiac disease, or lactose intolerance should avoid traditional mac and cheese.

But ingredients vary from brand to brand and recipe to recipe. Always check the ingredients list before consuming the food. If you suspect an allergy to any ingredient listed on the package or in the recipe, avoid the food until you get personalized advice from your healthcare provider.

Frequently Asked Questions

  • How long does macaroni stay fresh once prepared?


    If refrigerated, prepared mac and cheese should stay fresh for two to three days. You can also freeze macaroni and cheese for about three months.

  • How long does packaged macaroni and cheese stay fresh in the box?


    A typical packaged box of mac and cheese is good for about two years on your pantry shelf.

8 Sources
Verywell Fit uses only high-quality sources, including peer-reviewed studies, to support the facts within our articles. Read our editorial process to learn more about how we fact-check and keep our content accurate, reliable, and trustworthy.
  1. Applebee's, Kraft, Macaroni & Cheese, from kid's menu. FoodData Central. U.S. Department of Agriculture.

  2. Kraft Original Flavor Macaroni & Cheese Dinner 7.25 oz box. Kraft

  3. Margarine, NFS. FoodData Central. U.S. Department of Agriculture.

  4. Butter, NFS. FoodData Central. U.S. Department of Agriculture.

  5. Milk, nonfat, fluid, with added vitamin A and vitamin D (fat free or skim). FoodData Central. U.S. Department of Agriculture.

  6. Macaroni and cheese. FoodData Central. U.S. Department of Agriculture.

  7. Macaroni or noodles with cheese. FoodData Central. U.S. Department of Agriculture.

  8. Mäkelä M. Milk and wheat allergy, and celiac diseaseClin Transl Allergy. 2011;1(Suppl 1):S37. doi:10.1186/2045-7022-1-S1-S37

By Malia Frey
 Malia Frey is a weight loss expert, certified health coach, weight management specialist, personal trainer​, and fitness nutrition specialist.