The results are in for the competition. I ended up finishing in fourth place with 133 pts. Thanks to everyone that voted. If you would like to see my entry click here.

A couple of months back I did a post on how to spice up boxed mac n cheese. It was a popular post so I decided to do another round. I know that homemade mac n cheese is the best, but we all have a box of mac in the cupboard. I am not too ashamed to admit it. Ok, maybe just a little bit. But, the blue box is cheap and tasty. Especially when you get home late from the bar. So here is my take on how to spice up boxed mac n cheese.

Pesto mac
Pesto mac

Fresh pesto tossed in with the mac n cheese adds an amazing flavor. You can barely tell that the cheese was once in powder form. Really.

Pesto Mac

  • 1 box mac n cheese
  • 1 tbs butter
  • 1 tbs milk
  • dash of pepper
  • handful of basil – roughly 1 cup
  • 2 cloves of garlic
  • 1-2 tbs pine nuts
  • 1/4 – 1/2 cup olive oil
  • 1/4 cup Parmesan cheese
  • salt and pepper

Boil water and cook the pasta according to the directions on the box.

While the pasta is cooking, place the pine nuts, basil and garlic into a food processor.  Pulse until everything is finely chopped.

Add the basil, pinenuts, garlic and seasoning
Add the basil, pinenuts, garlic and seasoning

Next add the Parmesan and pulse again.

Add the cheese
Add the cheese

Now drizzle in the olive oil until you have a mixture that has a paste like texture.  Then add just a bit more olive oil till the texture turns smooth.  This should take between 1/4-1/2 cup of olive oil.  It depends on the quantity and size of the basil leaves.


Drain the pasta and return it to the pan.  Add the pesto, cheese mix and 1tbs butter and 1tbs milk.  This is less butter and milk than the box says, but since we are adding a wet pesto to the mac, if you make it according to the box directions you will end up with soup.

Cheesy, pesto-y goodness
Cheesy, pesto-y goodness

Finally stir and taste.  Check the seasoning and serve.

The green and yellow work together to make a nice looking dish.
The green and yellow work together to make a nice looking dish.

Pesto Mac is quick and easy.  Plus it takes an ordinarily alright mac n cheese and makes it extraordinary.

Rex is an avid griller, barbecuer and bacon enthusiast. He is the Pitmaster for the Rex BBQ competition team. Rex was also featured on the TV show American Grilled. If you have any questions or wish to have Rex decode your favorite dish, click on the ASK REX link in the menu above.


  1. I have lots of basil to harvest. I'll have to give this a try. There's something comforting about the good old blue box!

    • I have to admit, the reason why I tried this was that I had way too much basil growing.

  2. I love mac and cheese – and I love basil. Sounds delish! Speaking of which, I love pies. Your food processor reminded me to tell you that you've got to make pies with it. So easy – make sure to use cold butter and skip Grandma's crisco. You could do a savory bacon pie, peach pie, lemon, apple. The world is your oyster.

    Not a sermon, just a thought.

    • Too funny Sara…Tomorrows post is the story about a pie. Actually a pie crust made in the food processor. Way too funny.

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