Macaroni & Cheese Casserole

I am a diehard macaroni and cheese fan. Ironically, it wasn’t one of those foods that I begged for as a kid, but have fallen in love with as an adult. Sure, if it was offered to me I ate it, but I never went out of my way to throw a tantrum for a bowl of shells and cheese. However, after discovering the amazing delicious-ness that is homemade macaroni and cheese, my taste buds have never been the same. I have no shortage of macaroni and cheese recipes here on the site, but that doesn’t stop me from trying new ones as they fall into my lap. This one is a really basic baked version, very similar to the Baked Mac n’ Cheese, but using only one type of cheese instead of three. It bakes up thick, cheesy and bubbly with a Ritz cracker crust. Completely irresistible, I tell you.

I got this recipe from my grandma, who was in the midst of giving me a another recipe when she pulled this one out of her box and asked if I liked macaroni and cheese. Hello, do you know me?! I immediately copied down the recipe, which had been cut out of a box of pasta (I have no idea which brand it was). You start with a simple white sauce on the stove consisting of butter, flour and milk, and then melt in the cheese, stir in the pasta, then get it into a casserole dish, top with crushed Ritz crackers and melted butter. Thirty minutes later you have cheesy goodness.

More homemade macaroni and cheese recipes:

Grown Up Mac and Cheese
Mushroom-Herb Macaroni and Cheese
Three-Cheese Baked Macaroni and Cheese

And let it be known that I am not above eating an entire box worth of shells and cheese or easy mac when I’m sick. Sometimes in a dire situation you do what you need to do, and there’s no better time for comfort food than when you’re feeling your worst! But for all of those other times… mmm homemade mac and cheese!

Two years ago: How to Afford Le Creuset on a Budget: Bargain Shopping at its Finest
Four years ago: Peanut Butter Dog Treats

Macaroni & Cheese Casserole

Yield: 6 to 8 servings

Prep Time: 40 minutes

Cook Time: 30 minutes

Total Time: 1 hour 10 minutes

Ingredients:

1 lb. elbow pasta
½ cup (4 ounces) unsalted butter
½ cup all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon onion powder
Salt & pepper, to taste
5 cups milk (whole or 2%)
4 cups (16 ounces) shredded cheddar cheese

For the Topping:
15 Ritz crackers, crushed
1 tablespoon butter, melted

Directions:

1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.

2. Cook the pasta according to the package directions for al dente. Drain and set aside.

3. In a large saucepan over medium heat, melt the butter. Whisk in the flour, then add the onion powder, salt and pepper. Gradually whisk in the milk. Cook, stirring constantly, until the sauce thickens and the mixture begins to boil. Add the cheese and stir until the cheese is melted. Add the cooked pasta and stir to coat the pasta.

4. Pour the mixture into a 9x13-inch baking dish. Mix together the crushed Ritz crackers and the melted butter until all of the crumbs are moistened, and then sprinkle over the top of the pasta mixture.

5. Bake for 30 minutes, until golden and bubbly. Let stand 10 minutes and serve.

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78 Responses to “Macaroni & Cheese Casserole”

  1. Kristen on November 3, 2011 at 1:13 am

    I’m pretty sure this is what I’ll be making sunday night for dinner. Looks yummy!

    Reply

  2. Laura @ Laura's Sweet Spot on November 3, 2011 at 1:41 am

    Wow, that looks SO creamy! I love macaroni and cheese. I like how there is only one type of cheese and doesn’t get excessive with 5 different cheeses..

    Reply

  3. Lauren at Keep It Sweet on November 3, 2011 at 6:51 am

    Mac n cheese really is the best comfort food, yum!

    Reply

  4. Katrina on November 3, 2011 at 7:18 am

    I love the Ritz addition! Plus, any recipe from Grandma is good in my books!

    Reply

  5. Jennifer@Peanut Butter and Peppers on November 3, 2011 at 7:20 am

    This recipe sounds old school, but I love it! Nothing comforting then Mac and Cheese. When I was a kid I would only touch the stuff in the blue box, now I think yuck! Love homemade WAY better!!!

    Reply

  6. Erica on November 3, 2011 at 7:46 am

    How do you NOT weight 300 lbs?

    Reply

    • Michelle on November 3rd, 2011 at 11:09 am

      Haha! Everything in moderation. I share a lot of what I make.

      Reply

  7. Erin @ Dinners, Dishes and Desserts on November 3, 2011 at 8:22 am

    My husband is a huge mac n cheese fan. I have only made it for him once or twice. I know he would absolutely love this! I am saving it for after we are done with our move, and he can have a comforting treat! Thanks!

    Reply

  8. amanda @ fake ginger on November 3, 2011 at 8:32 am

    That looks so creamy and amazing! When the husband & I first married I used to make a mac and cheese with Ritz on top – I had forgotten about it until your post! Cannot wait to get some crackers and make some pasta!

    Reply

  9. Tracy J. on November 3, 2011 at 9:32 am

    So funny that you post this today. I just made this last night, but we used gruyere and parmesan reggiano for a white mac and cheese. So good.

    Reply

  10. Amber, RD on November 3, 2011 at 9:42 am

    This is perfect. I was just thinking last night I would like to make mac and cheese today. With the cold weather, it was just sounding good! I also have many mac and cheese recipes, and wasn’t sure which to make. But I think you posting this is a sign that I should make it. I am so indecisive. You have no idea how much easier you just made my day! :)

    Reply

  11. linda on November 3, 2011 at 9:47 am

    That is how I have been making mac & cheese for years except I use a sleeve of Ritz crushed and a half stick of butter for topping and I only use Extra sharp cheddar. True comfort and a nice tribute and memory of Grandma

    Reply

  12. ZC on November 3, 2011 at 9:55 am

    This looks absolutely INSANE! 2 questions- can I use mozzarella cheese instead of cheddar cheese? And do you think I can cut down on the butter, or you need the full amount? I can not wait to make this.

    Reply

    • Michelle on November 3rd, 2011 at 11:10 am

      I don’t know that I would replace ALL of the cheddar with mozzarella for this. I would do more of a mix if you want to include mozzarella. The butter works with the flour to create the base for the sauce. If you want to cut down on the butter, you’ll need to cut the flour and milk by the same ratios, and the casserole just won’t be as creamy.

      Reply

  13. Holly on November 3, 2011 at 10:39 am

    Looks delicious! Do you subscribe to Cooking Light, Michelle? Two months ago they featured a mac and cheese that used butternut squash and cut a lot of the cream. It was perhaps one of the best homemade mac and cheeses I’ve ever had, despite being lower calorie. It’s definitely worth a try. The b’nut squash adds a lovely, velvety richness, and there’s still cheese, of course!

    http://www.myrecipes.com/recipe/creamy-light-macaroni-cheese-50400000115195/

    Reply

    • Michelle on November 3rd, 2011 at 11:10 am

      Ooh thank you Holly! I’d love to give this a try, thank you for sharing. I don’t subscribe so I wouldn’t have seen it. Looks delish!

      Reply

  14. sherri lynn @ life of a wife on November 3, 2011 at 10:40 am

    Mac & cheese is one of my favorites! I can’t even count the varieties I’ve made, but this one will be next! I love that this one has Ritz topping – yum!

    Reply

  15. Jen of My Tiny Oven on November 3, 2011 at 10:48 am

    I love Mac and Cheese!! I would eat it everyday! This looks amazing. Thank you grandma for sharing!

    Reply

  16. Bev Weidner on November 3, 2011 at 11:26 am

    MOMMY.

    Reply

  17. Ashley @ Wishes and Dishes on November 3, 2011 at 12:55 pm

    My all-time favorite food! I thought of making my blog totally dedicated to mac and cheese but realized that wouldn’t appeal to more than 2 people. Ha,ha.
    Great recipe!

    Reply

  18. Priyanka on November 3, 2011 at 1:17 pm

    Superb…thats a real comfort food :)

    Reply

  19. janet@fromcupcakestocaviar on November 3, 2011 at 1:51 pm

    Ooooo, I can never get enough mac and cheese myself and this one looks soooo good! I love the topping. So much better than the usual bread crumb topping.

    Reply

  20. Lea on November 3, 2011 at 1:53 pm

    yum! this is bookmarked for this weekend.. i love how the recipe is so simple.

    Reply

  21. Natalie @ Cooking for My Kids on November 3, 2011 at 3:04 pm

    I love mac and cheese, too. And, wow! This one looks amazing. I cannot wait to try it!

    Reply

  22. Kate H. on November 3, 2011 at 3:33 pm

    Homemade Mac n’ Cheese is the Best! Thanks for sharing this recipe.

    Reply

  23. Deborah on November 3, 2011 at 4:27 pm

    I love the Ritz cracker crust!

    Reply

  24. Ally on November 3, 2011 at 7:47 pm

    This looks delicious! Such comfort food. I love the Ritz topping addition.
    xo
    http://allykayler.blogspot.com

    Reply

  25. Ann on November 4, 2011 at 12:13 am

    Well….that is HOLY COW delicious! Like you – I was okay with mac & cheese as a kid…but it’s one of the ultimate comfort foods for me now! I just love the stuff!

    Reply

  26. Tessa on November 4, 2011 at 12:31 am

    That picture on the bottom totally makes me want to dig in with a fork. Yum!

    Reply

  27. Gluten Free Confessions on November 4, 2011 at 12:35 am

    This is almost my exact recipe I have been using for years!!! I don’t bake it though (can’t wait that long!) I am a diehard Mac n cheese fan. Gotta be one kind of cheese, sharp cheddar. I’m open to trying other cheeses and recipes but this recipe (my go to family recipe) I make once a week! I think the word I’m looking for is obsessed…lol

    Reply

  28. Silvia on November 4, 2011 at 5:43 am

    Isn’t the sauce a besciamella, quite a staple of northern italy baked pasta… and why not just parmigiano on top?

    Reply

    • Michelle on November 4th, 2011 at 11:42 am

      Yes, it’s a traditional bechamel sauce. You could put Parmesan on top if you prefer, it just won’t have the crunch that comes from the cracker crumbs.

      Reply

  29. Naomi on November 4, 2011 at 12:41 pm

    Hi there! My apologies if you’ve already answered this, but which is your favorite mac and cheese recipe?

    Reply

    • Michelle on November 4th, 2011 at 4:39 pm

      Ahh, so hard to choose! The mushroom-herb might be my favorite just because I love mushrooms and the flavor of the dish.

      Reply

  30. Jen @ Chocotuile on November 4, 2011 at 12:41 pm

    Mac n cheese is the best thing on a cold day, isn’t it? I still love Easy Mac (Shhhh, don’t tell anyone!) but my favorite is a Truffle Mac and Cheese:
    http://chocotuile.blogspot.com/2011/09/pasta-od-on-truffle-mac-and-cheese.html
    Your pictures look amazing! I have lots more to learn on food photography skills! :)

    Reply

  31. Rachel @ Baked by Rachel on November 4, 2011 at 2:45 pm

    This sounds a ton like a recipe I grew up eating at church luncheons. My mom finally asked the lady for the recipe and I’ve been making a similar one since. SO good. And now I’m completely in the mood for mac n cheese!!

    Reply

  32. sara on November 4, 2011 at 7:17 pm

    Mmmm, ooey gooey and delicious! Yum! :) I am so in the mood for mac and cheese now. :)

    Reply

  33. Lauren @ hey, who cut the cheese? on November 6, 2011 at 1:13 am

    This looks fabulous! I can’t wait to try it out.

    Reply

  34. Ambel on November 6, 2011 at 7:01 pm

    I’m gunna have to try this, I love mac n cheese and I love Ritz crackers!!!!

    Reply

  35. Elizabeth on November 6, 2011 at 7:57 pm

    I made this tonight, and it was a HUGE hit… Thanks for sharing this recipe, Michelle! I also threw in a few shakes of cayenne pepper to cut through all of the sauce and cheese, and that worked really well (I didn’t put in enough to make it spicy), just in case anyone else feels like doing that.

    Reply

  36. Ana Fernández on November 7, 2011 at 6:55 am

    Hi everyone,

    I cooked this recipe a few days at home using Spanish cheese, as it was the only I had at home, which from my point of view it really improved the whole thing, it was so tasty and smooth, why don´t you give it a try, just have a look at this website and let me know what do you think.
    Kind regards
    Ana
    http://www.asturiascheese.com/spanish-cheese

    Reply

  37. Sarah on November 7, 2011 at 10:40 am

    Even though it’s morning, these pictures have suddenly made me incredibly hungry for mac and cheese! I love the addition of Ritz crackers, can’t wait to try it out!

    Reply

  38. Mr. Cheesy on November 8, 2011 at 2:27 pm

    This is a fantastic recipe!

    Reply

  39. Heather on November 13, 2011 at 7:53 pm

    Delicious – eating it right now!!! Used garlic salt instead of regular to taste – absolutely amazing :)

    Reply

  40. Rachel @ Bakerita on November 16, 2011 at 2:33 pm

    This looks absolutely heavenly!
    I’ve been craving mac and cheese for days, and I added it to my Thanksgiving menu! I’ll definitely be “testing” this recipe for the big day ;)

    Reply

  41. ZC on November 23, 2011 at 1:22 pm

    Thank you so much for this recipe!! I made it and ate almost the whole pan myself :) The cracker topping gives it a great taste! I did half with and half without to see the difference. Next time I’ll put it on the whole thing! And it was so easy to make.

    Reply

  42. sam on December 5, 2011 at 11:08 am

    kinda late posting this but i have a question..
    can i add some velveeta cheese to this for some more demension? how do i add it without messing up the yummy recipe? maybe reserve 1 cup for the velveeta?

    Reply

    • Michelle on December 6th, 2011 at 12:08 pm

      Hi Sam, I never use Velveeta for homemade mac and cheese – I find that other cheeses like cheddar add a lot more flavor and dimension. I guess you could just stir a little in to melt if you really want to add it.

      Reply

  43. Brie on December 23, 2011 at 9:55 pm

    How many servings does this yield? I’m in charge of making the macaroni & cheese for my family Christmas this year- and there are about 20 of us, should I double the recipe?

    Reply

    • Michelle on December 26th, 2011 at 5:45 pm

      Hi Brie, Per the recipe notes above, it makes 6 to 8 servings (as a main dish).

      Reply

  44. Ruth on January 23, 2012 at 7:40 pm

    I just made this tonight for dinner. I’m eating it now – DELICIOUS!!!

    Reply

  45. Hollie on February 20, 2012 at 3:03 pm

    Is it possible to use almond milk in place of real milk for this recipe?

    Reply

    • Michelle on February 20th, 2012 at 10:27 pm

      Hi Hollie, I think you could do that. I’ve never drank almond milk so I don’t know if it has a strong/distinct flavor? If you are okay with any flavor changes, then go for it!

      Reply

  46. Lauren on February 20, 2012 at 11:19 pm

    Can I make this recipe ahead of time and then bake it later, before I serve it?

    Reply

    • Michelle on February 21st, 2012 at 9:52 am

      Hi Lauren, I would bake it as soon as you assemble it, but you could always reheat it (covered with foil) in a 350-degree oven.

      Reply

  47. Caitlin on February 26, 2012 at 4:12 am

    If I were interested in freezing this, what changes do you think would need to be made in regards to cooking time/temp and anything else that may change?

    Reply

    • Michelle on February 27th, 2012 at 9:32 am

      Hi Caitlin, I have never frozen macaroni and cheese – I imagine that the texture would be changed a bit? If you do, though, use the same temperature and just bake for longer, until warm throughout.

      Reply

  48. Kat on June 20, 2012 at 8:34 pm

    Hi, it is the mac & cheese recipe from the of the Prince elbows pasta box. That is my Godmother’s go to recipe as well! Happy eating!

    Reply

  49. Jennifer on November 25, 2012 at 1:07 pm

    I made this for Thanksgiving. I think next time I will have to add more cheese as it was not that cheesy tasting at all. I used a lb block of sharp cheddar that i grated myself. Next time I will add 32 ounces.

    Reply

  50. Emily on December 25, 2012 at 5:31 pm

    Just made this for our Christmas feast with 2 cups of cheddar and 2 cups of pepper jack. SO GOOD! Thanks for the wonderful recipe!

    Reply

  51. Jackie Nugent on March 6, 2013 at 4:26 pm

    Can I prep everything one day in advance and then bake the day of my party?

    Reply

    • Michelle on March 6th, 2013 at 8:26 pm

      Hi Jackie, Yes, I don’t see why that wouldn’t work.

      Reply

  52. Tiffany on March 13, 2013 at 6:37 pm

    I don’t know if anyone else had commented with this, but I made this, but added cubed ham to it and it is AMAZING! It is so yummy!!

    Reply

  53. Jenn on April 1, 2013 at 4:27 am

    can i use cream cheese instead of cheddar cheese?

    Reply

    • Michelle on April 2nd, 2013 at 11:35 am

      Hi Jenn, I would not substitute cream cheese for the cheddar.

      Reply

  54. Allison on June 5, 2013 at 6:33 pm

    Hi, I found this on Pintrest recently and I thought that I would let you know that I plan on making this this weekend at camp and sharing it with the other counselors! It looks delicious and I can’t wait to try it!

    Reply

  55. richie on August 24, 2013 at 11:14 pm

    this was a great recipe, i threw in some leftover ham and sweet peas and everyone had seconds and even thirds

    Reply

  56. Kirstin on November 11, 2013 at 3:30 pm

    Was reminiscing and wanting to make something similar to the mac and cheez my mom made me when I was a kiddo. This sounds close to my mom’s recipe but she always used Colby cheez so that is what I am going to make for my kids…will see how it goes.

    Reply

  57. Jami on December 17, 2013 at 3:15 pm

    Thanks for sharing this recipe! I was just curious about the onion powder. I’m allergic so I was just curious if this is purely for taste and could be left out or if you think it should be substituted? Do you think its an integral part of the taste? Thanks!

    Reply

    • Michelle on December 17th, 2013 at 8:46 pm

      Hi Jami, You can omit the onion powder, I think it would be just fine without it.

      Reply

  58. Liza on April 3, 2014 at 10:02 am

    I made this yesterday and it had a grainy texture. I used a 3 cheddar cheese bag of cheese. I mean, it didn’t taste horrible, and it was creamy, but the cheese felt weird. Did I do something wrong?

    Reply

    • Michelle on April 7th, 2014 at 10:52 pm

      Hi Liza, Pre-shredded cheese comes coated so that it does not clump and stick together. This makes it really bad for melting purposes, as it can end up chalky or grainy. When making recipes that rely on melting cheeses, I definitely recommend buying cheese in a block and shredding it yourself, vs. buying it pre-shredded.

      Reply

      • Mimi on April 26th, 2014 at 4:48 pm

        Ack!! Noooo I am sitting in my car on the ride home. And I have shredded cheese. Doh! I read almost all the comments and this shredded cheese comment was at the very bottom. Oh well C’est la vie! Anyways I’m going to toss some charred Polska kielbasa in this baby!!

        Reply

  59. Ann on July 18, 2014 at 10:50 am

    Can I use skim milk?

    Reply

    • Michelle on July 18th, 2014 at 9:44 pm

      Hi Ann, You can, just be aware that the sauce may be a bit on the thin side.

      Reply

  60. Ashlee on September 11, 2014 at 12:34 pm

    Made this last night, it was very good! Creamy and not dry at all like many baked mac n cheese recipes. I just came here to warn people that the step where you have to stir the milk/roux mixture constantly until it thickens and starts boiling takes a LONG time. I had to keep turning the heat up but it finally happened after about 15 mins

    Reply

  61. Sylvia on November 15, 2014 at 5:53 pm

    I would like to use a different type of pasta, would the different type make a difference in the amount I’d need?

    Reply

    • Michelle on November 16th, 2014 at 7:31 pm

      Hi Syliva, No, you can use something different, the amount will be the same.

      Reply

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