Cooking Instructions for Costco’s Mac and Cheese and Tips on How to Improve the Flavor

The ready to bake Costco Mac and Cheese is a reliable, “go to”, side dish that is easy to prepare and even more fun to doctor up! This is not a traditional Mac and Cheese so some folks are not fans but, with a little effort, there is no reason that this can’t become a family favorite at your house.

Trays of Mac and Cheese at Costco

Cooking Instructions

The cooking instructions for the Mac and Cheese are pretty simple but FIRST you need to check whether the tray the meal is in is PLASTIC or ALUMINUM.

If the meal is in a PLASTIC tray then the contents must be transferred to an oven safe dish before cooking.

If the meal is in an ALUMINUM tray then it can be cooked in the tray provided.

Cooking Steps:

  • Preheat oven to 400F.
  • Remove plastic lid.
  • Cover the tray tightly with aluminum foil.
  • Place the tray on a baking/cookie sheet.
  • Place the meal in the oven and bake for 45 minutes.
  • Remove the aluminum foil and allow the meal to bake uncovered for 15 minutes.
  • The mac and cheese is done when the cheese is bubbling and the pasta has reached an internal temperature of 165F.
  • Allow the meal to cool for 5-10 minutes and serve.

These instructions work well for us.

Mac and Cheese Ingredients

Baked Mac and Cheese from Costco

Costco Mac and Cheese - Kicked Up Flavors!

A tray of Ready to Bake Mac n Cheese from Costco is made even better!
You can add bacon, extra alfredo sauce and a little extra seasoning to transform this pasta dish into something spectacular.
You can serve the Mac and Cheese as a side dish or load it up with proteins and veggies to make a one pot casserole that will feed the whole family.
Make sure you check the type of tray the pasta comes in as the ones made from plastic are not suitable for the oven.
5 from 1 vote
Prep Time 15 minutes
Cook Time 1 hour
Total Time 1 hour 15 minutes
Course Side Dish
Cuisine American
Servings 6
Calories 375 kcal


  • 1 tray Costco Mac n Cheese
  • 1 jar Alfredo Sauce
  • 1/2 cup Grated Parmesan Cheese
  • 1 cup Cooked and Crumbled Bacon Optional


  • Remove the plastic top from the tray
  • Pour the Alfredo Sauce into the tray of pasta and tilt the tray back and forth to mix.
  • Add the Grated Parmesan Cheese to the top of pasta.
  • Heat your oven to 400F.
  • Cover the tray with aluminum foil and place on a baking sheet.
  • Place the baking sheet into the oven and cook for 45 minutes.
  • Remove the aluminum foil and bake for another 15 minutes.
  • Remove the baked Mac and Cheese from the oven and top with the crumbled cooked bacon if desired.


A few notes to help with the meal!

Add Flavor with Mustard and Spices

Dijon mustard adds a tangy kick to the mac and cheese, while spices like paprika, garlic powder, or onion powder can enhance the overall flavor. Adjust the amount of seasoning to suit your taste preferences.

Customize with Mix-Ins

Mac and cheese is a versatile dish that can be easily customized with additional ingredients. Try adding cooked bacon, sautéed onions, or diced tomatoes for extra flavor and texture.

Add a Crispy Topping

To achieve a golden and crispy topping, sprinkle breadcrumbs, crushed crackers, or grated cheese on top of the mac and cheese before baking. Broil for a few minutes at the end of baking for an extra crunchy crust.

Let it Rest Before Serving

Allow the mac and cheese to rest for a few minutes after baking to set and thicken the sauce. This will result in a creamier and more cohesive dish when served.
Keyword Costco Mac and Cheese


Taste Test!

The ready to bake Mac and Cheese from Costco tastes a little plain and boring.  This makes the side dish perfect for kids and as there is nothing fancy, odd or exotic to scare off the picky eaters.  This seems to be a common strategy for Costco prepared meals because it is also the perfect description for the Costco Ready to Eat Beef Chili.

The pasta is extremely tender.  Most folks love the tenderness while a vocal minority complain that the pasta is over-cooked.  The pasta is NOT a traditional elbow macaroni but is a “corkscrew” cavatappi pasta.  I like the cavatappi pasta very much as the external ridges and spiral shape helps it soak up and cling to the sauce.

The Alfredo based sauce has a mix of Parmesan and Romano cheeses that provides nutty and slightly salty flavors.  The cheeses in the sauce provide a nice balance to the sharpness of the shredded cheddar that melts over the top.

Baked Mac and Cheese from Costco

Tips to Make the Mac and Cheese Better!

The three biggest complaints I read about the Mac and Cheese are:

  • Pasta is Overcooked
  • Wrong Type of Pasta
  • Sauce is Too Bland

While I can’t help you with the first two issues there are plenty of ways to jazz this dish up and make it delicious.

Make the Sauce Creamier

One way to make this dish even better is to add more liquid to the tray before baking to make the sauce creamier.

I got on the Facebook groups to see how people were doctoring the dish up and the most common addition was 1/2 to 1 cup of heavy cream.  Folks are adding the cream to the tray before baking and tilting the tray back and forth to try to even out the liquid.  Folks that were not using heavy cream used whole milk instead.

Personally I think the best way to increase the creaminess of the sauce is to add a cup of store bought Alfredo sauce to the tray before it goes into the oven. The extra Alfredo sauce matches the original flavor profile while adding both creaminess and cheese to the dish.

Add More Seasoning

This is going to be a matter of personal preference but I like to add more seasoning to the mac before it hits the oven.

I suggest mixing up the following:

  • 2 tsp black pepper
  • 1 tsp granulated garlic
  • 1 tsp smoked paprika

You can either sprinkle the seasoning blend onto the dish before baking or, if you have picky eaters, sprinkle it onto individual servings after it has been cooked.

Jack Up the Cheese Flavors

Adding more cheese flavor is always a sure way to take this dish to the next level.

At the very least you can add an extra 1/2 cup of grated Parmesan to the top of the meal before baking for extra salt and nuttiness. If you want some heat then you can add some grated Pepper Jack.

If you want some serious “adult type flavor” then add a half cup of crumbled blue cheese.

Add Cooked Proteins

The last trick I have to amp up the flavor is to stir in a cup of diced, cooked protein before the pasta goes into the oven.

The absolute best choice would be crumbled bacon but a diced up Polish sausage would also make this amazing.  You could add some grilled chicken breast and this would come out similar to Costco’s Chicken Alfredo.

Here is a great video from the Official Costco Facebook Page with a couple of recipes for taking this dish to the next level.

Servings, Nutrition and Calories

You get just under four pounds of pasta with this meal and, since this is usually served as a side dish, should be more than enough for six servings.

A single serving is one cup of the cooked meal and has the following calories and nutritional information:

  • Calories: 480
  • Fat: 24g 
  • Cholesterol: 70mg
  • Sodium: 720mg
  • Carbs: 40g
  • Protein: 23g

This meal is NOT gluten free.  It is also produced in a facility that handles soy, peanuts, tree nuts and shellfish so be aware if you have food allergies.

Serving Ideas

If you are looking for an easy to fix dinner and want to grab everything at Costco then this side dish would go great with a protein and side salad.

For a good protein I would suggest something lean to balance out the richness of the pasta.

One good choice would be the precooked Master Carve Ham that is found in the refrigerated coolers by the deli.  Another delightful option would be the Oven Browned Turkey Breast which is usually found right beside the ham. Either choice is easier to prepare, packed with protein and very lean.

For a Side Salad I would suggest the Mediterranean Crunch Salad as it is light but packs a flavor punch from the Basil Balsamic vinaigrette that will cut through the richness of the Mac and Cheese.

Of course you can always go with a classic Caesar Salad but the dressing is on the rich side so it might be an overload when paired with the mac and cheese.


The tray is marked with a “Pack Date” that tells you when the meal was prepared and a “Sell By” date that is three days later.

The “Sell By” date is NOT a “Use By” or “Best Buy” date. You can store the mac and cheese in your refrigerator for up to four days past the “Use By” date without any notable loss in quality.

Freezer Friendly

If you need to keep the meal for longer than four days past the Sell By date then you can store it in the freezer.  The meal will last in the freezer for about two months without getting any significant freezer burn.

You can cook the meal straight from frozen and do not need to defrost it first. When you cook the meal from frozen you will need to add about 45 minutes to the cooking time.

Costco Value

This is Item Number 40506 and is found in the refrigerated coolers in the deli section of the warehouse.

The pasta costs $3.49 per pound and comes in trays that hold a little under four pounds of food. This means the full tray will cost you around $15.

There are about eight servings per tray so I estimate each serving costs about $1.90.  This is not an amazing bargain just from a food cost perspective but is worth it for the time it will save you in cooking and cleaning.


Good morning and welcome to the site dedicated to helping you find great products at Costco and other stores! My name is David Somerville and these are hands on reviews of products that I have bought and used or am seriously considering purchasing. I do most of my shopping at the Costco in Baton Rouge, Louisiana but will check out any other Costco warehouses I find while travelling. Please get in touch with any questions and let me know of any great products that deserved to be featured in this blog!

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