Do you love mac and cheese? Who doesn't, right? Well, what if I told you that there is a way to make your favorite family meal even better? It's true. This simple copycat recipe can be made completely on the stove top or can be baked and ready to serve in under 30 minutes. That's what I call a quick family dinner for the win.
This was inspired by my other cracker barrel recipe, Crockpot Cracker Barrel Hash Brown Casserole, and pairs well with this juicy air fryer pork chop recipe, crockpot hot dogs and sauerkraut, and this classic meatloaf recipe.
If you're looking for a another delicious macaroni and cheese dinner option you'll love this baked macaroni and cheese recipe with eggs - it was my Dad's recipe and is a super satisfying dinner but also makes a great side dish for a pot luck or family get together.
💟Why You'll Love This Recipe
- Easy to make without a lot of ingredients.
- Quick dinner for when you're in a pinch.
- No special equipment needed.
- Leftovers can be served for lunch the next day or mixed with cubed cooked ham for another dinner.
This is an overview of the ingredients. You'll find the full measurements and instructions in the printable recipe card at the bottom of the page.
- elbow macaroni
- unsalted butter
- all-purpose flour
- whole milk
- black pepper
- Colby cheese
See recipe card for quantities.
This is an overview of the instructions. Full instructions and nutritional information can be found in the printable recipe card at the bottom of the page.
Heat 4 cups water to boiling and add dry macaroni. Cook approximately 8 minute or until al dente. Drain.
Melt butter in cast iron skillet over medium heat or medium-low heat. Whisk in flour and continue whisking until the combo is bubbly perfection.
Add milk, salt, and pepper and stir until the milk starts to bubble. Add pre-shredded cheese and turn off heat. Whisk until the consistency of a smooth creamy sauce.
Gently stir in hot macaroni.
If you would like a beautiful golden brown top to your homemade mac you can place it under a preheated broiler (set to high) and broil for 2 to 3 minutes.
Remove from oven and let set for 5 minutes. cheesy sauce will thicken as it sets!
Hint: If you would like to make this in advance you can place it in a casserole dish after the stovetop portion of the recipe is completed and before the dish is placed in the oven.
- Whole wheat flour - for the all-purpose flour. It will give the finished dish a slightly different taste.
- Cheddar cheese- can be substituted for the Colby cheese.
- Cracker Barrel Cheese - Cracker barrel has its own brand of cheese and while I haven't tried it, it might be fun to use it in this recipe.
- Skim milk - you can use skim milk if you're in a pinch but the sauce will not be nearly as stable. If whole milk isn't an option I recommend 2% milk with whipping cream in a 3:1 ratio for ever cup milk. For this recipe that would translate to 1 ¾ cup 2% milk and ½ cup of whipping cream (approximately)
- Tangy Heat - add a touch of ground mustard, approximately 1 tablespoon of Dijon, to the sauce before adding the cheese.
- Toasted Bread crumbs - melt a tablespoon of butter in microwave oven. Add ½ cup of plain dry bread crumbs and season with salt and pepper. Stir until evenly moistened. Sprinkle over the cooked macaroni and cheese before placing in the oven or under the broiler.
- Garlic Powder - sweeter and less bold than fresh garlic but may be just the punch of flavor you're looking for.
- Smooth cooking surface. The entire interior of our skillet is machined smooth. That means food sticks less and it’s a breeze to clean.
- Optimal weight. Lighter than most, our 10.5-inch skillets tip the scales at 5.2 lbs for the perfect balance of heat retention and ease of use.
- All natural. No toxic chemicals, no space-age materials, just iron.
- Lasts forever. Treat your cast iron properly and it will last many lifetimes.
- Drip-free flared rim. No more pour spouts. Pour from anywhere with confidence.
- Stay-cool handle. Burn your hand on someone else's pan. Our forked handle stays cooler much longer than the cast iron you’re used to.
A good cast iron skillet is a kitchen must. I use Lodge cast iron skillets but my favorite skillet by far is this skillet from Stargazer.
Mac and cheese can be stored in the refrigerator for up to 5 days. Store in an airtight container.
If you love this recipe please give it a 5 star rating. ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️
If you click on the number of servings in the recipe card below ⬇️ you can adjust the measurements up or down for the exact number of servings you need.
Cracker Barrel Mac and Cheese Oven Baked Recipe
- Cook pasta in 4 cups of boiling water until al dente. Approximately 8 minutes. Drain.¾ cup elbow macaroni
- Melt butter in oven safe skillet over medium heat.3 tablespoon butter
- Whisk in flour, salt, and pepper until bubbly.3 tablespoon all-purpose flour, ½ teaspoon salt, ⅛ teaspoon black pepper
- Stir in milk until the mixture just begins to bubble.2 ¼ cups whole milk
- Add cheese, turn off heat, and whisk until sauce is creamy and smooth.2 ½ cups Colby cheese
- If you desire a crunchy top preheat broiler to high and place skillet under the preheated broiler for 2 to 3 minutes.
- Preheat oven to 350°.
- At this point you can leave the mac and cheese in the skillet or spoon it into a casserole dish.
- Place mac and cheese in oven for 10 minutes just until the edges are lightly browned.
- Remove from oven and let cool for 10 minutes before serving. This allows the dish to set up.
- Don't leave food sitting out at room temperature for extended periods
- Never leave
- Use oils with high smoking point to avoid harmful compounds
- Always have good ventilation when using a gas stove