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Wednesday, April 8, 2015

How to Recreate "Kraft Macaroni & Cheese" in Germany

If you grew up in America, then chances are that you grew up loving Kraft Macaroni and Cheese. Even after living in Germany for nearly 2 years now, I still miss the contents of that little blue box.

So, I have been slaving away in my test kitchen over these past few years trying to figure out a way to recreate the secret Kraft recipe here in Germany.

How to Make Imitation Kraft Macaroni & Cheese

Before someone says it in the comments, let me first address two things:

1. Yes, you can find off-brand macaroni and cheese in Germany. 

My answer to that?

Very few grocery stores carry it, it is extremely over-priced, and no off-brand can compare to the deliciousness of Kraft.

2. Yes, there are lots of amazing recipes online that try to recreate Kraft mac and cheese.

My answer to that?

Most of the cheeses those recipes require are super expensive in Germany (have any of my fellow expats tried to buy cheddar lately?), and those recipes take way too much effort.

Here were my requirements in trying to create German Kraft Macaroni and Cheese:
  1. Ingredients must be available at my local discount grocery store. 
  2. Ingredients for one serving must cost less than 2 EUR.
  3. Total cooking time must be under 20 minutes.
  4. Cooking process must require no more than one saucepan, a colander, and a stirring utensil.
After nearly two years in Germany, I was finally able to fulfill all of these requirements with a imitation Kraft macaroni and cheese recipe that makes the German boyfriend gag, but let's not try to pretend like Kraft Macaroni & Cheese is some kind of delicatessen.

Imitation macaroni and cheese

Only two ingredients are absoluately necessary to make this macaroni and cheese. These are:
  • Noodles
  • Schmelzkäse
Schmelzkäse is basically a meltier and stickier version of American cheese, and it comes in many different colors and flavors. You can buy whichever kind tickles your fancy.

Now, let's get to how you make it:

Step 1: Boil Noodles

If you can find macaroni, perfect! My local discount grocery store doesn't carry macaroni noodles, though, so I just bought these curly noodles. Since I am only cooking for one, I make about three handfuls of these noodles.

Noodles for German macaroni and cheese

Noodles for German macaroni and cheeseNoodles for imitation macaroni and cheese

Noodles for imitation macaroni and cheese

Boiling pasta

Boiling the water in my electric kettle first really make me feel like I have successfully assimilated to the German lifestyle.

Boiling pasta

Boiling pasta

Remember that it's not macaroni and cheese unless you strain the your noodles in a $2 colander that you bought from IKEA five years ago.


Step 2: Mix in Cheese

After the noodles are cooked and drained, put them back in the saucepan, and add your cheese. For my 3 handfuls of noodles, I use 2-3 slices of Schmelzkäse. I like this white "herzhaft-würzig" kind. Unfortunately, the yellow food dye us Americans love is banned in many European countries, so to get your macaroni and cheese to appear as Kraft-like as possible, just try to find the brightest yellow Schmelzkäse you can find.

German form of American cheese

Unwrap the cheese, throw it in the pan, and stir like crazy. To make it creamy, I do also suggest adding some butter and possibly milk. To minimize on dishes, I do not measure. But I guess I use about a tablespoon of butter and two tablespoons of milk.

Butter for macaroni and cheese

Schmelzkäse pasta

You know its Kraft Macaroni & Cheese quality when the cheese resembles plastic.

Imitation Kraft Macaroni & Cheese Recipe

Don't worry, it eventually melts and turns into this!

Imitation Kraft Macaroni & Cheese

For an extra special touch, make sure to eat it off of those ugly plates that the person who lived in your apartment before you left behind.

German macaroni and cheese

Enjoy!


What is your favorite boxed/frozen meal? Have you ever tried recreating it from scratch?

18 comments:

  1. Bahahaha success!! Congrats, going to the grocery now to copy you ;)

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  2. Hahah! I am happy that the first comment isn't someone saying that it looks disgusing :)

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  3. Haha, poor German boyfriend!

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  4. I think you read my mind, as I just finished the last box of Annie's I've been hoarding since Christmas (fancy, I know). Not sure what the Czech equivalent to Schmelzkäse would be, but you any kind of wrapped, mild cheese (not emanthaler or edam, ughh) would do? Soooooo trying this.

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  5. Totally! I tried something like this with emmentaler once, but that nutty, kind of sweet cheese does not work when you are looking for a taste like macaroni and cheese. So yeah, I think any of those melty, wrapped cheeses would work with a little milk and butter.

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  6. Oh man I've been longing for some mac n cheese for soooo long. I'll have to figure out what the french version of Schmelzkase is... Weird how mac n cheese is such a "home" food for we Americans.

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  7. Oooh, that may be difficult. I can't imagine the French are very into these individually-wrapped "cheese product" type cheeses...

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  8. you couldn't have posted this at a better time, since I used my last cheese mix that I brought back vorgestern.

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  9. Do you mean the Kraft cheese powder mix? Did you bring it from the US?

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  10. He just doesn't understand the American affinity for the artificial. I can't help it that I like food that looks like plastic.

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  11. yes ma'am, and also an H-E-B version, and a Mexican version, because it was what we had at hand.

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  12. It's actually a good idea to bring just the cheese powder packets, and not the noodles to save on weight. Maybe I will ask my mom to add a few in the next care package ;)

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  13. that's what I usually do, go for it!

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  14. Marco is completely right on this one.

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  15. At least your homemade version doesn't have as many chemicals in it as Kraft! Looks tasty, great pictures! I don't eat the Kraft one anymore.

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  16. I'm probably one of the few who does not like mac n cheese.

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