There are two things that everyone in the world agrees on: casseroles are great and macaroni and cheese is delicious. Here is a recipe from my mom that combines these two universal constants and tops them with buttery and delicious Ritz Crackers.
I can do the whole béchamel-fancy-cheese-blend-sauce-with-panko-breadcrumb-topping mac and cheese but this recipe is my favorite. It probably has as much to do with fond family memories as it does with the overall deliciousness of this mac and cheese casserole.
- 16 oz Macaroni, Cooked and Drained
- 16 oz Sharp Cheddar Cheese, Shredded (reserve 1 cup of the cheese for topping the casserole)
- 2 - 10 ¾ oz Cans Cream of Chicken Soup
- 1 Cup Mayonnaise
- ½ tsp Kosher Salt
- ½ tsp Black Pepper
- 3 Tbs Butter, Melted
- 1.5 Sleeves Ritz Crackers, Crushed into Crumbs (about 55 crackers)
- Preheat oven to 350° and spray a 9 x 13 casserole dish with non-stick cooking spray
- Mix macaroni, all but 1 cup of the cheese, cream of chicken soup, mayonnaise, salt and pepper in a large bowl and spread into the prepared baking dish
- Sprinkle the remaining cheddar cheese on top of the mixture
- Put the melted butter and Ritz Cracker crumbs in a separate bowl and toss to combine.
- Sprinkle the crumb topping onto the casserole and cook for 30 minutes.
Shred your own cheese! It only takes a minute or two to shred, it melts and tastes better, and the pre-shredded cheese has cellulose added to it. Do you know what cellulose is? It’s powdered wood pulp. That’s right, there’s sawdust in that bag of pre-shredded cheese to keep it from clumping.
Pasta and casseroles freeze amazingly well so a pasta casserole was practically made for the freezer! Freeze this bad boy after putting the layer of cheese on but before putting the Ritz crackers on – they’ll get soggy.
Cook from frozen at 375°. Cook it without the topping and covered in aluminum foil for 45 minutes. Uncover, add the topping and cook for an additional 15 minutes or until heated all the way through.
Thomas Jefferson helped to popularize macaroni and cheese in the United States by serving it at the White House after trying it while on a trip to Italy.