With a few additional ingredients, transform Kraft Dinner or a box of regular Mac & Cheese into a delicious Cheesy Macaroni Salad. This salad is sure to be a very popular side dish at your dinner table!
KRAFT DINNER IS THE SAME AS BOXED MAC & CHEESE
Before we get started, let me just point out that in Canada, we call it Kraft Dinner. We do not call it Macaroni & Cheese or Mac & Cheese. Those two names refer to homemade mac and cheese that is baked in the oven usually with breadcrumbs on top. If it’s to be macaroni in a powdered cheese sauce from a box, it’s Kraft Dinner.
I don’t know of anyone who does not purchase a box of Kraft Dinner once in a while – especially anyone with kids! It was very common in our home when we were growing up. My mom would make it often. She would serve it with hot dogs sometimes. My favourite way to eat it was with a slice of bread that had been smeared liberally with strawberry jam. Don’t knock it until you’ve tried it!
Now, I have to be honest. I’m not a huge fan of Kraft Dinner. McKenna, however, loves it. So, I do buy it for her. This particular recipe was prepared with two boxes of Kraft Dinner that I stole from her stash in the pantry.
If I ever get a craving for Kraft Dinner, I usually make my own. I find that the homemade version has so much more flavour! In fact, you can try it too! I have a Homemade Canadian Kraft Dinner recipe published already. Click on the title to get the recipe.
MY INSPIRATION FOR THIS DISH
In late June, I was planning for a little Canada Day dinner for the three of us to have in the backyard. My plan was to cook hot dogs over the fire, and to have a traditional Newfoundland potato salad and my mom’s macaroni salad on the side.
For some reason, I remembered how we used to buy family meals at KFC for these types of occasions. We would usually gather at mom’s or dad’s and enjoy the day together. That thought led me to think about the macaroni salad that we used to get from KFC.
Either my memory is accurate, or it’s playing tricks on me, but I seem to recall the macaroni salad from KFC being orange in colour. I can’t seem to find evidence of that anymore, so I could be wrong. I’m sure my friend, Vera, will know! I’ll have to ask her the next time I see her.
Anyway, I decided to try to make a copycat version of it. And, guess what, Dear Reader!? I have succeeded!! Now, I don’t know if the orange-coloured macaroni salad was from KFC or not, but it was from somewhere, and this one tastes just like it! And, I’ve used Kraft Dinner to help me get it just right!
PREPARING THE SALAD
It’s clear that the orange colour in this macaroni salad comes from the packets of cheese powder in the boxed Kraft Dinner. But, what else goes into a macaroni salad of this nature?
Most store-bought prepared macaroni salads have finely chopped veggies in them. One of those is celery. I didn’t use celery, because McKenna doesn’t like it. What I did use were some not-so-obvious choices. But, the key was to crack the taste and I was certainly able to do that!
I used just a little bit of red bell pepper, because that is often found in macaroni salads. Next, I diced up jarred pickled onions and jarred gherkins. I love the burst of tang from the onions and the smokiness from the gherkins.
All that was left to work out was the cheese sauce mixture. I whisked the cheese powder together with some mayonnaise and some heavy cream to help thin it out. I seasoned the sauce quite well with a bit of salt and pepper too. In the end, this Cheesy Macaroni Salad was perfect! I cannot wait to make it again!
Cheesy Macaroni Salad
- 2 boxes Macaroni and Cheese (Kraft Dinner)
- 1/4 cup diced red bell pepper
- 1/4 cup diced gherkins
- 1/4 cup diced jarred pickled onions
- 1 cup mayonnaise
- 1/4 cup heavy cream
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper
- Prepare the macaroni pasta according to the package instructions. Drain and rinse cooked macaroni under cold water. Set aside.
- In a large mixing bowl, whisk together the two packets of powdered cheese, mayonnaise, heavy cream, salt, and pepper.
- Add the macaroni, red pepper, gherkins, and onions. Toss to coat well in the cheese sauce.
- Cover and refrigerate for two hours. Before serving, toss again.