The Reason Mac 'N Cheese Is Our Favorite Trader Joe's Frozen Pasta

Trader Joe's frozen pastas
Trader Joe's frozen pastas - Static Media / Shutterstock

Trader Joe's dedicated fan base knows they can count on good ol' Joe for some of the best frozen meals at any grocery store. The chain's wide and unique selection includes orange chicken (which 33% of customers think is the best Trader Joe's frozen meal), delicious soup dumplings, and a whole bunch of pasta dishes. Back in April, Mashed ranked Trader Joe's frozen pasta, and out of all the gnocchi and spaghetti available, mac and cheese came out on top.

To start, all pastas were treated equally and heated in the microwave (it's quicker and easier than the stovetop). In order to determine this ranking, our taster kept the rubric simple: The fresher the frozen pasta tasted, the better. A good pasta wasn't mushy — one noodle had to be distinguishable from the next. The sauce, we determined, should also cling to the noodles and shouldn't be watery. In terms of flavor, the pasta had to meet a deliciousness benchmark, meaning each dish should either taste traditional or bold depending on how it's marketed. The average customer would likely expect a more traditional taste from mac and cheese, and Joe's Diner Mac 'n Cheese meets that mark. It's classically creamy and cheesy with the perfect sauce-to-noodle ratio.

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T.J.'s Mac And Cheese Has A Classic Taste

Heated Trader Joe's Mac 'n Cheese
Heated Trader Joe's Mac 'n Cheese - Helena Nichols/Mashed

Trader Joe's Mac 'n Cheese was up against some other popular favorites, like the chain's frozen mushroom ravioli and cacio e pepe. The ranking was composed of mainly Italian-style pastas (yes, macaroni is Italian), leaving a wide selection of Trader Joe's Asian-style frozen noodles — like its pad Thai or japchae — for another ranking. Few dishes stand a chance against T.J.'s frozen Mac 'n Cheese anyway because it's just that good. Those who've tried it will understand.

Joe's Diner Mac 'n Cheese is, in terms of both texture and flavor, what anyone wants from a mac and cheese. A four-cheese blend of Cheddar, Havarti, Gouda, and Swiss checks off the salty, creamy, smoky, and nutty boxes. Milk and butter smooth out the cheeses and form a sauce that's goopy but still glossy. With its classic elbow-shaped noodles, this mac and cheese is perfectly diner-like. It's no surprise that Joe's Diner also finished first in our ranking of frozen mac and cheeses. T.J.'s also offers a Hatch Chile Mac 'n Cheese, and while it didn't appear in our ranking, it does introduce Southwestern flavors and a hint of heat to the four-cheese classic.

Read the original article on Mashed