Mac and Cheese Nutrition Facts

Macaroni and Cheese Calories and Carbs Listed by Brand and Preparation

Bowl of macaroni and cheese
Verywell / Alexandra Shytsman

Love macaroni and cheese? You're not alone. It's a favorite in households across the country. But is this kid-friendly food nutritious?

Kraft Mac and Cheese calories are substantial. And other mac and cheese calories (even the homemade variety) are high as well. It is also high in fat and very high in sodium. But some brands are better than others. And there are ways to lower calories, fat, and sodium in macaroni and cheese to make it healthier.

Nutrition Facts

The following nutrition information is provided for 1 serving (180g) of prepared Kraft Macaroni and Cheese.

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

Mac and Cheese Calories

Instructions on the Kraft box indicate that should add four tablespoons of butter or margarine and one-quarter cup of milk to blend your mac and cheese. A single serving as prepared provides 376 calories and 148 calories from fat. If you eat a whole box, the calories and fat will be much higher. To get your total number of calories in macaroni and cheese, add the following based on your preparation method.

Kraft Mac and Cheese Calories and Nutrition: Preparation Variations

  • If you make your mac and cheese with four tablespoons of butter and one-quarter cup of whole milk add 445 calories and 48 grams of fat and 30 grams of saturated fat
  • If you make your mac and cheese with four tablespoons of margarine and one-quarter cup of whole milk add 444 calories and 48 grams of fat and 10 grams of saturated fat
  • If you make your mac and cheese with four tablespoons of butter and one-quarter cup of 2 percent milk add 437 calories and 47 grams of fat and 30 grams of saturated fat
  • If you make your mac and cheese with four tablespoons of butter and one-quarter cup of skim milk add 428 calories and 46 grams of fat and 29 grams of saturated fat

Mac and Cheese Calories and Nutrition by Brand

What about other brands of macaroni and cheese? These are the calorie and nutrition facts for other popular brands according to USDA data.

  • A single serving of Stouffer's Macaroni and Cheese (one-fifth of the family size container) provides 350 calories, 17 grams of fat, 7 grams of saturated fat, 34 grams of carbohydrate, 15 grams of protein, 2 grams of fiber, 2 grams of sugar and 920 grams of sodium.
  • A single serving of Lean Cuisine Macaroni and Cheese provides 300 calories, 6 grams of fat, 48 grams of carbohydrate, 13 grams of protein, 2 grams of fiber, 5 grams of sugar and 560 milligrams of sodium.
  • A single serving of Amy's Organic Foods Macaroni and Cheese (frozen) provides 400 calories, 16 grams of fat, 10 grams of saturated fat, 16 grams of protein, 47 grams of carbohydrate, 3 grams of fiber, 6 grams of sugar and 640 milligrams of sodium.
  • A single serving of Velveeta Shells and Cheese provides 360 calories, 12 grams of fat, 3.5 grams of saturated fat, 49 grams of carbohydrate, 13 grams of protein, 2 grams of fiber, 4 grams of sugar and 870 milligrams of sodium. 

Homemade Mac and Cheese Nutrition

The calories and nutrition of homemade macaroni and cheese will vary based on your ingredients, but one cup of a typical homemade macaroni and cheese recipe would provide 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.

Micronutrients in Mac and Cheese

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

Health Considerations 

Is any brand of macaroni cheese healthy? All of them are high in calories, sodium, and fat. And most of them provide artificial ingredients. Of all those listed, the Lean Cuisine Macaroni and Cheese will do the least damage to your waistline. That said, it is also possible to make your own mac and cheese using lighter ingredients. Another option is to replace the macaroni with fiber and nutrient-rich cauliflower or broccoli, which are also much lower in calories.

There are a few things you should consider before adding macaroni and cheese to your meal plan. This food is calorically-dense and is not likely to help you to maintain your weight or lose weight unless you really watch your portion size.

Most recipes and pre-packaged varieties use enriched pasta, not whole wheat pasta. So you're not getting a lot of dietary fiber when you consume the food. Fiber provides several health benefits and helps people curb hunger.

In addition, macaroni and cheese is very high in sodium. Even the kind you make at home provides almost half of the recommended daily intake of sodium. So when you add just a single serving of this food to your daily diet, you're likely to consume too much sodium for the day.

Lastly, macaroni and cheese is a food that we often overeat. The popular blue box is supposed to provide 2.5 servings. But many people eat the entire box as a meal. If you consume an entire box of Kraft Macaroni and Cheese (prepared with margarine and 2 percent milk), you'll consume 875 calories, 32.5 grams of fat, 11 grams of saturated fat and 25 grams of protein. You'll also consume over 1800 milligrams of sodium.

Common Questions

How long does macaroni stay fresh once prepared?

If refrigerated, your mac and cheese should stay fresh for 2-3 days. You can also freeze macaroni and cheese for up to 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.

Recipes and Preparation Tips

Even though the homemade version of macaroni and cheese isn't the healthiest meal, you'll get the benefit of better nutrition if you make your own. Why? Because many of the manufactured brands use powdered cheese and other artificial ingredients that don't provide the benefits that real ingredients provide.

So how do you lighten up your favorite recipe? One way to adjust any macaroni and cheese recipe for better health is to use whole grain pasta. It won't lower the calorie count, but you'll get a dose of fiber that's good for your diet. And whether you make your own at home or buy the boxed variety, using skim or 2 percent milk will decrease both fat and calories. You can also try a different approach with this recipe for healthy slow cooker macaroni and cheese.

Allergies and Interventions

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 this food.

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

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6 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.
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