★★★★★

Best Homemade Mac and Cheese

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.

Large scoop dripping with cheese being lifted out of a pan of homemade mac and cheese.

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.

Scoop of homemade mac and cheese topped with a ritz cracker in a white bowl.

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.

For instance, this Hashbrown casserole is topped with cornflakes, and this Chicken Cordon Bleu Pasta has a toasted breadcrumb topping!

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!

Step by step photos showing how to make homemade mac and cheese.

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.

A 13x9 baking dish with baked mac and cheese topped with crackers.

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.

Two white bowls with scoops of creamy macaroni and cheese topped with crackers.

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.

Creamy homemade mac and cheese in a white serving dish with a fork.

Serving Suggestions

Yield: serves 12

Homemade Mac and Cheese

Prep Time 15 minutes
Cook Time 45 minutes
Total Time 1 hour

Ritz Cracker Mac and Cheese is made with two kinds of cheese and is topped with buttery Ritz crackers for a creamy, rich side or main dish that the whole family will love.

Ingredients

  • 16 oz elbow macaroni
  • 4 Tbsp butter
  • 2 cup skim milk
  • 1/2 cup flour
  • 2 cup heavy cream
  • 1 1/2 tsp salt
  • 3/4 tsp pepper
  • 1/2 tsp dry mustard
  • 1 Tbsp worcestershire sauce
  • 1/2 lb Gruyere cheese
  • 1 lb Cheddar Cheese
  • 24 Ritz crackers

Instructions

  1. Prepare macaroni according to package directions. Set aside.
  2. In large pot, melt butter. Add skim milk and bring to near boiling over medium high heat. Reduce heat to medium and sprinkle in flour. Whisk vigorously over medium heat for 1-2 minutes. Mixture should be thick and boiling. Slowly add cream, while whisking. Add in salt, pepper, mustard and worcestershire sauce. Reduce heat to low and continue to stir for about 5 minutes.
  3. In food processor, shred Gruyere and Cheddar cheese. Add to pot, stir until thoroughly combined.
  4. Add cooked macaroni to cheese mixture. Pour into a 13x9 dish.
  5. In large ziploc, crush 14 Ritz crackers. Sprinkle over top of macaroni. Lay 10 crackers on top, spaced evenly.
  6. Bake in a 375 degree oven, uncovered, for 30 minutes. Enjoy hot!

Notes

  • 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!

Nutrition Information:

Yield:

12

Serving Size:

1

Amount Per Serving: Calories: 527Total Fat: 39gSaturated Fat: 23gTrans Fat: 1gUnsaturated Fat: 13gCholesterol: 114mgSodium: 803mgCarbohydrates: 25gFiber: 1gSugar: 4gProtein: 20g

Did you make this recipe?

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Aimee

About Aimee

Aimee is a dessert lover (specifically rice krispie treats), workout enthusiast, self-taught foodie, and recipe creator.

Learn more about Aimee.

Affiliate Disclosure:**There may be affiliate links in this post! By clicking on them, or purchasing recommended items I may receive a small compensation. However, I only recommend products I love! Thank you for supporting Shugary Sweets! See my disclosure policy for more info**

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Posted on May 27, 2020

Comments & Reviews

  1. This mac and cheese is SO GOOD! My family could happily make a meal of just this. It is incredibly cheesy and scrumptios!

  2. I may have snuck a little before it was baked, and even that was tasty! But the crunchy topping makes it seriously delish! I’m thinking of trying it next with a some pepper jack cheese to give it a little kick. 🙂

  3. I have been making this Mac and cheese recipe for years. It is always a big hit. I am now required to make it for every family party because everyone loves it so much! One of my all time favorite recipes. Just ate some leftovers of it today!

  4. I tried this tonight for a special carby treat; i’m so nostalgic for this mac and cheese i’d have at a winter camp i’d go to. The lunch ladies always added a crunchy topping, and it was so good! Your recipe was great 🙂 loved the crunchy topping. Thanks for sharing!

  5. Hi Aimee – I needed a new mac&cheese recipe and you were the first and only place I went. Made it tonight and we are all sitting around in a mac&cheese coma right now. Perfection is an understatement. Even though your post is 3 years old, it still delivers the lovin in the kitchen! Hugs, Holly

    1. Oh that mac and cheese is made regularly at our house, and always on the table for holidays and guests. So glad you’re family enjoyed it as well!

  6. How adorable is this mac n’ cheese with the snowflake crackers! I had no idea Ritz made them like this. I have a winter baby shower I am throwing soon, hoping I can find them in the stores! Thank you for sharing.

  7. If you want to get a great deal from this article then you have to
    apply such techniques to your won weblog.

  8. mac and cheese is totally delicious!! although it was never the blue book for me, my mom made it from scratch. i consider it a cheat food if i am really really craving some comfort

  9. This looks great! I like the dried mustard. I might sub smoked gouda in as a cheese – Ive been looking for a perfect mac and cheese recipe with smoked gouda, I just love it. BTW – smashed ritz crackers mixed with panko are a super crunchy chicken breading as well, for chicken courdon bleu or whatever you bread.

  10. Wow! I am bookmarking this recipe and trying it this week! It sounds amazing! The Ritz crackers are a beautiful touch! Thank you for sharing!

  11. i’ll be honest, i’m pretty partial to MY mac & cheese:

    http://gastronomicalsovereignty.blogspot.com/2011/05/home-baked-mac-cheese.html

    That being said, yours is very pretty and I’m always happy to eat the stuff no matter what. The fact that yours has gruyere in it gives you extra props! haha.. Save me a seat!

  12. Wow, the Ritz Crackers are pretty! I am most definitely going to make this! I haven’t had mac n cheese in a long time!

  13. I’ve never seen Ritz look so pretty! My daughter LOVES Kraft Deluxe, so I’m going to try your version out on her…it looks fabulous!! Hope you have a wonderful Thanksgiving~

  14. I am a huge fan of mac and cheese and this looks so yummy! I am over from Chef in training and I am making this recipe this weekend!

    Nettie

  15. Oh Aim, I LOVE me some Mac n Cheese! This one sounds fab! Can’t wait to try it!! 🙂 P.S. Hope you have a very Happy Thanksgiving!

  16. You had me at Mac and Cheese!! My mom actually gave me a “talk” right out of high school about how my college roommates might not appreciate mac and cheese for every meal.. lol!! I can’t wait to try this recipe!!

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