Gluten Free Review: Annie's Deluxe Mac and Cheese
In my pre-GF days I was originally a Velveeta Shells and Cheese kind of gal. My brother, on the other hand, preferred Kraft Deluxe. So every time my mom made macaroni and cheese there would be a fight. He wanted Kraft and he was the picky eater, and I wanted Velveeta (but would eat the Kraft). Which meant he usually won the battle unless I wanted to make my own darn meal.
Once I was an adult and in charge of my own mac and cheese destiny, I branched out from Velveeta and into the variety of Annie's macaroni and cheeses. Different styles. Different shapes. Different cheeses. I would buy them by the case while I was living in Japan and have them shipped to my door via the lovely folks at Foreign Buyers Club. And I would eat half a box at a time, since I was just one person. Oh, those were the days. The delicious, mac-and-cheesy days. They ended abruptly, and I was left with several unusable boxes of mac, but I still ate up all of the cheese packets (with GF pasta). Because they were delicious.
Anyway, what were we talking about? RIght. Annie's Gluten Free Deluxe Macaroni and Cheese. This was one of the first things I bought when I moved back to America, and just as I had done in Japan, I divided my box in half and ate it in two servings. How was it? How did it compare to the mac and cheese of my past? Let's find out!
The noodles are very white and shaped like long tubes. I suppose you could call them "elbows," but they're not really bent in the middle. They're bigger than the noodles you would get in the regular gluten free mac and cheese. Once cooked they aren't terribly mushy, but you do have to be careful not to overcook them. They're relatively flavorless, which I suppose is a good thing when you're going to drown them in cheese sauce.
The sauce comes in a silver packet and does not require the addition of any butter or milk. The gluten free variety only comes in one flavor, which I would describe as a robust cheddar that is similar to the "original" flavor of Kraft Deluxe. Actually, as far as I can recall, it is very, very similar in flavor to Kraft. It's a darker, sharper cheddar flavor with just a hint of a bitterness to it. Not sweet like the powdered kind.
In my area things cost too much. It's about $6 for a box of Annie's gluten free mac and cheese. But you can get it on Amazon for about $25/6 boxes. Compare that to $40 for 12 of the regular kind and $28 for Kraft. So you're going to pay about twice as much for the gluten free Annie's, but only a little more than you would pay for regular Annie's. Compared to other Annie's varieties, you get about the same amount of product in the box regardless of whether you get gluten free or not.
- As far as I know this is the only gluten free "deluxe" macaroni and cheese on the market. It's easy and doesn't require any extra ingredients. Boil pasta (about 10 minutes), squeeze on cheese sauce, mix, done.
- It is tasty. Very similar to Kraft Deluxe. Which wasn't my favorite but was still good.
- "This product consists of no artificial colors, flavors, or preservatives, is processed without GMOs, and is free of trans fat and cholesterol. It is a good source of protein, calcium, and vitamin B6."
- Vegetarian, if that's important to you.
- The pasta gets overcooked easily. I wish it were more substantial like Tinkyada pasta.
- It's expensive (did I mention it's $6 here? $6!! Even $25 for 6 feels like highway robbery when you're a poor college student).
- It only comes in one flavor. I really love the rotini with white cheddar and wish that would come in a GF version. Or that Annie's would sell the cheese a la carte! I remember asking them to do so, but I guess that wouldn't ever happen ...
- Not good for folks with milk issues, obviously.
Delicious, easy, fills the void. Wish there were more flavors/shapes. Or competition from other companies. As close to the "real thing" as you get.
Ingredients: RICE PASTA (WHITE AND BROWN RICE FLOUR), CHEDDAR CHEESE (PASTURIZED MILK, CHEESE CULTURE, SALT, NON-ANIMAL ENZYMES), WATER, CREAM, WHEY, SKIM MILK, SODIUM PHOSPHATE, NATURAL BUTTER AND CHEESE FLAVOR, SALT, LACTIC ACID, SODIUM ALGINATE ANNATTO EXTRACT FOR COLOR, XANTHAN GUM.