We Tried Popeyes' New Homestyle Mac & Cheese to See if It’s Any Good

The layer of cheddar cheese on top makes the world of a difference.

Photo by Opheli Garcia Lawler for Thrillist
Photo by Opheli Garcia Lawler for Thrillist

I am somewhat of a mac ‘n cheese connoisseur. There are baked macs,quick stovetop macs, and elite mac ‘n cheeses that come topped with crumbles, bits, and various other extras. When Popeyes recently announced its new side dish item, Homestyle Mac & Cheese, I was skeptical, but excited. Few fast food joints even offer mac ‘n cheese, let alone achieve anything worth writing home about.

Popeyes said its take on the classic is made with butter, cream, and cheddar cheese. The chain’s marketing photos of the menu item tease a creamy consistency with a slightly crispy top layer of cheese. It looks irresistible. And after the Louisiana-style chicken purveyor knocked it out of the park with its recent Megan Thee Stallion collab, we obviously had to put this mac ‘n cheese to the test.

The Sauce

A good mac ‘n cheese has a creamy, buttery sauce that liberally covers all of the noodles. It shouldn’t be so thick that your spoon gets stuck, but it shouldn’t be watery either. Popeyes hit this just about perfectly—previous iterations of Popeyes mac ‘n cheese felt a bit grainy, and with this new formula, I could taste the inclusion of additional butter and cheese. This sauce elevated it from a flat, quick bite to a fulfilling stand-out item on the menu.

The Cheesy Top

Photos of the mac ‘n cheese on Popeyes website suggest the top layer might have a bit of a crunchier texture like it had been broiled for a minute or two. The order I received had a cheesy top layer, but it was more gooey than crispy. It also shifted entirely to one side of the cup on my journey from Popeyes to my home, so it was a bit hard to evenly distribute the cheddar cheese topping to each bite. I managed, and the cheese was delicious, but I wouldn’t recommend using the spork that Popeyes included with my order. The spork simply couldn’t support the density of the mac.

Photo by Opheli Garcia Lawler for Thrillist

The Noodles

By far the weakest link of the dish, the noodles have room for improvement. While still incredibly delicious in the context of the sauce and the cheese, the noodles could stand to be a bit more al dente. This is more of a personal preference, clearly, but I don’t love it when my noodles feel too soggy. They still tasted great, but the texture left a little to be desired.

The Verdict

When I go to Popeyes, I almost always go for the Cajun Fries as a side to my meal. But after testing out the new Homestyle Mac & Cheese, I will definitely be tempted to switch up my order in the future. It may not taste 100% homemade, but it stays true to the homestyle name. The creamy, buttery sauce and the cheesy top make this a standout side across every fast food menu.

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Opheli Garcia Lawler is a staff writer at Thrillist. Follow her on Twitter @opheligarcia and Instagram @opheligarcia.