Yes you read that right: Trader Joe’s Gluten Free Mac ‘n’ Cheese.
Of course, they call it Gluten Free Rice Pasta & Cheddar. I’m probably not the best person to be reviewing Macaroni and Cheese, because I’ve really always been more of a Ramen guy. When it comes to Ramen, I like it packaged, cheap and unhealthy. For a fact, the sort of Ramen I like is nothing like what you’ll get at a Japanese restaurant. It’s too bad I don’t know of anybody making gluten free Ramen. As a matter of fact, I just did a Google search on gluten free Ramen noodles and came up with a lot of people suggesting rice noodles, which we all know is just not going to be the same. Do I sound bitter?
Luckily we’re not talking about Ramen today, we’re talking about Macaroni and Cheese. My doctor happens to love Mac ‘n’ Cheese (hey Dr. B.!). As you would expect, the Trader Joe’s gluten free Rice Pasta and Cheddar box contains a bunch of noodles and a cheese packet. The cheese packet actually says “GLUTEN FREE CHEESE” on it. This is a little strange, but reassuring. Here are the ingredients: rice pasta (rice flour), cheddar cheese (cultured pasteurized milk, salt, enzymes), whey, buttermilk, butter, salt, natural flavor, sodium phosphate, and annatto extract (color). If you’re wondering what annatto is, it’s a South American tree extract commonly used in lipstick and also to color (you guessed it) cheddar cheese.
The box makes two and a half servings. Trader Joe’s counts one cup as a serving. A serving is 280 calories. So the whole box would be 700 calories. Like a lot of the Trader Joe’s gluten free products I’ve reviewed, the Mac ‘n’ Cheese has a lot of salt. Weighing in at 390 mg in a serving. So the box has almost a half teaspoon of salt!
To me there’s this fascination with super-processed comfort foods like Mac ‘n’ Cheese or Ramen. It was all I could do to keep myself from sticking a finger in the powder to taste it. As you might expect, the instructions are easy to follow and it’s a quick meal to cook. I have this memory of watching someone make Mac ‘n’ Cheese and seeing them add butter, but the butter is already in there! I want to know how they make powdered butter.
And here is the finished product. Mine ended up too soggy, but I’m sure that’s my fault. It is rich and wow is it salty. I actually think it’s too salty, but like I said, I’m not really a Mac ‘n’ Cheese guy. Other people might like it that salty. Also, we both agreed that the noodles are a little strange. They kind of crumble in a strange way when you chew them. I like my Mac ‘n’ Cheese with some applesauce. Luckily we had some around.
I didn’t really like this product and I’m thinking its main audience is going to be gluten free people who really love the regular sort of boxed Mac ‘n’ Cheese mix.
Here are links to some of my other gluten free Trader Joe’s reviews.
Trader Joe’s Gluten-Free Pancake and Waffle Mix
Trader Joe’s Gluten Free Banana Waffles
Trader Joe’s Gluten-Free Pancakes
Trader Joe’s Pancake and Waffle Mix A’La the Shasta MountInn Bed & Breakfast
We want to know: I’d love to hear from some real Mac ‘n’ Cheese fans to see if Trader Joe’s Gluten Free Rice Pasta and Cheddar compares well to the real thing. Do you have a favorite Trader Joe’s product? Let us know in the comments.
Times we have visited: once (but we feel confident about our score.)
Overall rating: 2 out of 5 stars (too salty)
Price compared to “regular”: Same