Copycat Cracker Barrel Baked Macaroni & Cheese

Nothing reminds me of old fashioned home cooking more than Cracker Barrel. This Macaroni and Cheese is just like Mom used to make!

2 Tbsp. butter
2 Tbsp. flour
1 tsp. salt
1 tsp. dry mustard
2 1/2 cups milk
2 cups cheddar (8 oz.), divided
2 cups elbow macaroni (8oz.)
1/4 cup buttered bread crumbs

In saucepan, melt butter. Blend in flour, salt, and mustard. Add milk, stir constantly until sauce thickens a little. Add 1 1/2 cups cheese, heat until melted, stirring.
Remove from heat.

Meanwhile, cook macaroni as directed; drain. Combine with sauce in a buttered 2 quart casserole; top with remaining cheese, then buttered bread crumbs and sprinkle with paprika.
Bake at 375′ about 20-25 minutes or until nicely browned.

Serves 4-6

42 thoughts on “Copycat Cracker Barrel Baked Macaroni & Cheese

  1. Satria says:

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  2. Mary says:

    This recipe can’t be near what Cracker Barrel does. They never put bread crumbs on their mac and cheese. And they use Colby cheese, not Cheddar.

  3. debbieu says:

    As a family we love macaroniandcheese,my daughters really do love crackerbarrel resturant.I wrote down this recipe for my kids.when i go shopping next time iam going to pick up the ingredients and make it for them.thank you for the idea.debbieu

  4. Stephanie says:

    Sorry, but you are wrong. CB does put a topping on their mac n cheese. You must have just been lucky enough not to get any. I used to have them make sure my son didn’t get any of it cause he thought it looked burnt.

  5. Kasaundra says:

    Thank you so much for posting this recipe! I’ve never tried Cracker Barrel’s mac n cheese, but if it’s anything like this then I’m sold! My husband has even asked for this to be a weekly staple. My kids sure aren’t complaining!

  6. dkc135065 says:

    CB does NOT put a topping on their mac and cheese. I used to work there for 9 years so I kind of know the deal. They use three different kinds of “cheese”- Colby (which is a form of cheddar), parmesan and velveeta (hence the quotes around cheese). It is baked which gives it the appearance of a crust on top but it’s really just melted slightly burnt cheese.

  7. PammySue says:

    I worked for Cracker Barrel and there were no bread crumbs in their mac & cheese. The only kind of cheese you will find in their cooler is colby. So no cheddar is used.

  8. Barbara Smiar says:

    Really makes you wonder how close recipe is, when people insist cheeses are totally different, when several have worked there and have different opinions. Sounds yummy, will try it soon. Grams (77 yrs young)

  9. Karlynn says:

    No, this is no where NEAR the recipe.. And they do not put a topping on the Mac and cheese. The only “topping” is the cheese sauce that crisps up while baking. They use margarine, whole milk, Velvetta, and Colby cheese. Then they make a roux with milk and flour to thicken it up and add Parmesan at the end, into the cheese sauce. Then, they pour the cheese sauce mixture over the cooked macaroni noodles. I worked there for 6 years while in college as a server and cook. I have the recipe memorized… I make it at home all the time and it is constantly a hit!

  10. Barbara says:

    Hi Karlynn—Since you know the recipe will you share it with us ? I just got the one from Todd Wilbur’s book and it called for colby cheese only, no velveeta or parmesan. I would like to have the right one.

  11. LINDA says:



  12. gloria tanner says:

    Karlynn, would you please post the mac & cheese recipe because I cannot make mac & cheese that is baked to please my husband. We do not like bread crumbs on top so please help me with finally finding a good recipe, appreciate it very much!

  13. Barbara says:

    Hi Debi : Here’s the recipe for the hash brown casserole from Cracker Barrel, then i’ll add what i do differently that my family thinks is better as mine is not as dry.

    2 cups shredded American or Cheddar cheese
    1 10 3/4 oz. cream of chicken soup
    1 cup sour cream
    1 cup finely chopped onion ( optional )
    1/4 cup butter, melted
    1/4 tsp. salt
    1/4 tsp. pepper
    1 32 oz. pkg. frozen loose-pack hash brown potatoes, thawed
    1 cup cornflakes, crushed
    1 tbsp. butter, melted

    In large mixing bowl combine the shredded cheese,chicken soup,sour cream,chopped onion,1/4 cup of butter,salt & pepper. Mix well. Fold in the thawed hash browns. Turn mixture into a greased 9×13 baking dish. Toss together the cornflakes & 1 tbsp. of melted butter & sprinkle over the potato mixture. Bake at 350 for about 1 hour or until the casserole is golden brown & potatoes are tender.

    I use—24 oz frozen hash browns, thawed
    8 oz. sour cream
    1 10 oz. can cream of chicken soup
    12 oz. mild cheddar cheese
    small piece of onion, chopped
    1/4 tsp. pepper
    1/4 tsp. salt
    Mix all ingredients & turn into a buttered 9×13 baking dish
    Melt 3/4 to 1 stick of butter or margarine and pour over potato mixture.
    Bake at 350 for about an hour

  14. sandee says:

    Since you know the recipe will you share it with us ?velveeta or parmesan. I would like to have the right one.This would be for CB mac and cheese.

  15. Frances Focacci says:

    This recipe is a copycat of the one I cut off a box of Mueller’s elbow macaroni about 30-40 years ago! Could this be the recipe that Cracker Barrel “borrowed” when starting up their franchise?

  16. Amanda says:

    To correct this recipe, although it sounds good, it is not accurate to Cracker Barrels recipe and I should know, I work there. For one we do not put bread crumbs on our Mac and cheese, it looks burned when it comes out because we bake it in the oven and the cheese browns. We also always use Colby cheese, that’s all we use in any of our recipes.

  17. Stacey says:

    Amanda – Can you share the recipe? Seems like people keep asking those that work there and know the recipe, but no one ever actually replies. Can you share it?

  18. Barbara says:

    Yes Amanda, I would love to have it too. I make one now that’s awfully good but I also use Parmesan along with it in a roux.

  19. Rebecca Wright says:

    The Mac & Cheese and the Hash Brown Casserole have been altered. In the Mac & Cheese there isn’t any Cheddar Cheese or Bread Crumbs. They use Velveeta and Colby Cheese mixed together to make a cheese sauce which is blended with the Macaroni which they rinse well before mixing it together.

    And the Hash Brown Casserole does not have sour cream or corn flakes… The hash brown casserole is made the night before they cook it. So the hash browns are still frozen when they mix them in and no sour cream at all.

    I know these things because I worked at a prep cook, backup cook and grill cook at Cracker Barrel for 3 years.

  20. Barbara says:

    Amanda and Rebecca both said that they had worked there but yet one says colby only, other one says colby and veleeta in mac and cheese. Both of them can’t be right. My recipe for hash brown casserole came from Cracker Barrel Cookbook so if it’s wrong then evidently they don’t want to give the correct recipe.

  21. Stephanie says:

    For those anxiously awaiting the “real” CB recipe. I have never worked there BUT from the several peoples comments who have this is what I would do. The roux I would make with either the amounts listed for the butter and flour or sub milk for the butter. Then 1 c colby, 1 c c velvetta. Omit breadcrumbs. Same amount of milk as posted. Slowly mix milk into the roux. Slowly add cheeses until melted. Then add 1 c parmesean. Pour over macaroni noodles. So basically follow the recipe as written but make substitutions from the comments stated by those who said they work there.

  22. Mary says:

    Did anyone finally get the “real recipe” Cracker Barrels Macaroni and cheese? I really enjoy it and don’t live close by one so would love to have the recipe so I can have it more than once or twice a year on vacation.

  23. Barbara says:

    No the girls that say they know it won’t give it to us. Since they knew that we all wanted it I don’t know why they would tell us that they know it and then not give it to us. I think it’s kinda mean,” like saying, haha I know it but you can’t have it.”

  24. Mickie says:

    Maybe to try to clear up this debate…originally CB did put a bread crumb/butter (lightly though) on their mac and cheese when prepared. based on how they were serving onto dishes, some toppings did not get into every portion. Also, they used heavy whipping cream and colby cheese.

    Recently , CB seems to have changed their recipe. I have it every time I go there and in the past couple years it is not the same. Probably cheaper to make the way they are doing it now. It does appear to have a velveeta texture to it.

  25. Mickie says:

    Here is the one I use. It is as close to their *original* mac & cheese as I have found. Optional, you can mix melted butter and bread crumbs and sprinkle lightly on top.

    Cracker Barrel Mac & Cheese
    Servings: 6

    2 tablespoons flour
    1 cup low sodium chicken broth
    1/2 cup cream
    2 1/2 cups shredded Colby cheese
    2 1/2 cups uncooked pasta — elbows, etc.
    1 teaspoon salt

    In a sauce pan melt butter over medium low heat then add the flour a little bit at a time while whisking to make a roux. Heat the broth. Next add the broth to the roux, stir with the whisk. This will thicken as it heats. Next add a little cream watch for consistency.

    Bring 4 cups water to a boil in a separate pot, add salt, and pasta.

    In the other pot add shredded cheese a 1/4 of a cup at a time while stirring with a spoon. When you have about one cup of cheese in you can add the rest of the cheese.

    Cook the pasta al dente. Strain and combine with the cheese sauce.

    Pour the mix into a casserole and bake uncovered in a preheated oven set to 350°F for about 10 minutes. Keep an eye on the mac & cheese, you want it to brown around the edges and in patches on top.

    Remove and let stand for 10 minutes before serving.

  26. Nikki King says:

    I also work at Cracker Barrel and we are not allowed to share many of the recipes that’s why no one has answered back the recipes they share cn be found in the Cracker Barrel cookbook and the also have the Mac an cheese sauce mix in there store

  27. Steve says:

    You won’t be getting the recipe from these persons who claim they work there because they don’t have it. It comes frozen in tins, and all they do is heat it up.

  28. Jeff says:

    One problem with asking Cracker Barrel employees or ex-employees for the recipe is that the measurements are meant for commercial kitchen amounts and may include products not available for anyone else. And the recipes usually call for measurements and units that are not meaningful outside of the restaurant For example, Cracker Barrel gets Colby cheese in large bags, so a recipe may call for a bag of Colby, a box of noodles, and a block of Velveeta. In the context of their kitchen, the cook does not even need to know how many cups or ounces or pounds go in, and the recipe is simplified to the large measures. So, yes, they make this from scratch, gallons and gallons of it at a time, and then hold it tightly wrapped in a special holding cabinet at about 180 degrees until they need it.

  29. Tammy i says:

    Geez, all this commotion over Cracker Barrel mac and cheese yes it is good but obviously they can’t share the recipe because there’s a patent on it. Just funny going back reading the comments on people wanting the darn mac and cheese recipe so bad they’re drooling on their keyboards. Haha😜

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