This is one of my favorite mac and cheese recipes and I saved the best for last here in my childhood food favorites week! I really hope you all enjoyed all of the recipes this week – I know I have enjoyed eating them! This one I’m sharing today is a double whammy childhood favorite: mac & cheese (which I was completely obsessed with as a child and had a friend remind me of said obsession this week)… and Cheez-Its! I literally ate them like it was my job growing up. Even when I moved out on my own, I had a consistent stash of them in my pantry. So, I combined my love of Cheez-its and Mac ‘n Cheese together in this recipe today.
Several summers ago, I went to this hole-in-the-wall restaurant for lunch with some friends here in Rochester. I couldn’t believe my eyes when I saw “Cheez-it Mac & Cheese” on the menu! I think that was the fastest decision I ever made at a restaurant when it came to what I was going to order. The mac & cheese was awesome (obviously that was not in question), and I thought that was just genius to incorporate my beloved cheese crackers into a macaroni and cheese dish. That restaurant has since closed down, and I made it my mission to recreate the cheesy goodness at home so I didn’t have to go without it the rest of my life. Like mac & cheese NEEDS more cheese added to the top….I know, but trust me – this is good!
This mac & cheese recipe is not overly creamy and has just the right amount of cheese and milk. It is baked to perfection while the crunch of the Cheez-Its adds a nice crisp topping and was a delicious alternative to using bread crumbs on top. You will never go back to bread crumbs!
1 16 ounce box shells (or your pasta of choice)
1/2 cup butter
1/2 cup all-purpose flour
2 cups milk
16 ounces sharp cheddar cheese, shredded
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground pepper
2 cups Cheez-It crackers, crushed
Cook pasta to al dente according to package directions (you will be baking it later). Drain pasta and set aside.
Melt butter in saucepan over low heat; whisk in flour, and cook, whisking constantly, 1 minute or until mixture is smooth. Increase heat to medium; gradually whisk in 2 cups milk, and cook, whisking constantly, 5 minutes or until mixture is thickened and bubbly. Stir in cheese, stirring until cheese is melted. Remove pan from heat.
Stir pasta and ground black pepper and into cheese mixture; spoon into a lightly greased 13 x 9 inch baking dish or a 3-quart casserole dish. Spread crushed Cheez-It crackers evenly on top.
Bake uncovered at 375°F for 30 minutes or until thoroughly heated. Enjoy!