This Homemade Mac and Cheese recipe is made with two kinds of cheese and topped with buttery Ritz crackers for a creamy, rich side or main dish that the whole family will love.
In college I was a mac and cheese lover. I made some nearly every night of the weekend. However, I never parted with that blue box.
I mean really, it really was the cheesiest. I would try mac and cheese at restaurants, but they were always so bland that I never attempted to make it myself.
Until now. Until I realized that grown-up mac and cheese can be amazing. Total comfort food.
And, it could be that perfect side dish you are looking for for any holiday dinner, potluck or party.
Don’t think for a second though that only adults will love this Ritz Cracker Mac and Cheese. It got four thumbs up from my kiddos- and that’s something huge! Because they only like the blue box stuff, too.
Until now, that is.
Why this recipe is best
I’m sure that everyone thinks that their recipe is the “best ever mac and cheese” recipe. So I might be biased, but I think this really is the best ever mac and cheese.
My Ritz Cracker Mac and Cheese recipe makes a ton, so it’s perfect for serving as a Thanksgiving side dish, or taking to a potluck. It’ll be the first thing to disappear!
I use a few simple tricks to make mine be the best mac and cheese ever.
I like to use heavy cream and a roux-thickened bechamel made with milk.
A healthy splash of Worcestershire sauce adds a rich, savory flavor to the cheese sauce.
I use two types of cheese – nutty gruyere and creamy cheddar – add more cheesy flavor and make this dish doubly cheesy.
And finally, don’t forget the Ritz cracker topping!
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About the topping
The Ritz cracker topping on this Ritz Cracker Mac and Cheese is what really takes it over the top.
I’m not stranger to putting a crunchy topping on my classic dishes.
It’s also probably the easiest mac and cheese topping ever. Because Ritz crackers are so buttery, all you need are the cracker crumbs. No extra butter needed.
You could totally use panko crumbs with butter though if you’re in a pinch. Or Club Crackers would work too!
How to Make Homemade mac and cheese
Step 1. Cook the pasta.
Using a box of your favorite pasta, I use elbow macaroni, cook until al dente. Don’t make the pasta mushy!
Step 2. Make the sauce.
In a large saucepan, melt your butter. Add in milk and bring to near boiling, over medium high heat.
Reduce heat to medium, sprinkle in flour. Whisk vigorously for 1-2 minutes, mixture should be thick and boiling.
Slowly, add cream while whisking over medium heat. Add in salt, pepper, dry mustard, and Worcestershire sauce.
Reduce heat to low and cook for 5 more minutes, while whisking.
Step 3. Combine.
Remove the pot from heat and add in shredded cheese.
For best results, shred your own cheese! I use Gruyere and Cheddar for maximum flavor.
Add in cooked macaroni and stir until everything is combined. Pour into a 13×9 baking dish.
Step 4. Add a topping and bake.
Crush 14 Ritz crackers in a ziploc bag and sprinkle over the top of the macaroni and cheese, prior to baking. Add some full sized ones too if desired.
Bake in a 375 degree oven, uncovered, for 30 minutes. ENJOY.
Tips and Tricks
- Do not overcook your pasta. You want it to have a little “bite” to it, so cooking al dente is very important. You’ll still be baking mac and cheese, and don’t want it mushy!
- Use good quality cheese! Don’t buy the preshredded bags of cheese. They just don’t melt well, and the taste is not as good!
- Whisk whisk whisk. Have everything measured out ahead of time, because you’ll be whisking the entire cooking process so the sauce doesn’t burn or stick!
Storing Mac and Cheese
What I love about this recipe is that when I make it for the holidays, it can be prepped a day ahead of time.
To do this, make the mac and cheese without adding the topping, and without baking. Cover with foil and refrigerate.
When ready to bake, allow dish to sit at room temperature for at least 30 minutes. Add topping and bake until hot (may take an additional 10-15 minutes to cook if still “chilled”).
To reheat leftovers, add a splash of cream before microwaving. ENJOY.
More Mac and Cheese Recipes
If you loved this Ritz Cracker Mac and Cheese recipe, you’re in luck because there’s lots more where that came from.
Chicken Enchilada Mac and Cheese is made entirely on the stove and combines the best parts of both mac and cheese and chicken enchiladas.
Copycat Panera Macaroni and Cheese is ultra creamy and tastes just like the mac and cheese at Panera Bread!
Gouda Bacon Mac and Cheese uses smoked gouda and bacon for a side dish with a smoky, rich flavor.
Instant Pot Mac and Cheese is perfect for anyone who loves their pressure cooker.