Cracker Barrel Mac and Cheese

Discover the secret to making creamy, cheesy Cracker Barrel Mac and Cheese at home! This recipe brings together tender pasta and a rich, velvety sauce for a comforting dish that’ll have everyone begging for more. Say goodbye to boxed macaroni and cheese and hello to this homemade classic.

Two bowls of copycat Cracker Barrel mac and cheese.

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What Makes the Cracker Barrel Macaroni and Cheese So Special? 

So many recipes for mac and cheese are available online, but the best ones are those with the creamiest cheese sauce. And if that is the type of dish you’re after, it is tough to beat this recipe for Cracker Barrel Mac and Cheese.

The secret to the extra creaminess is adding both evaporated milk and pasta water to the recipe. The pasta water is not only used to thin out the evaporated milk, but the leftover starch in the water from cooking the macaroni helps to bring the sauce together into a smooth and dreamy sauce consistency. 

Why You Will Love This Recipe 

This Mac & Cheese recipe is so much better than what you remember eating as a kid. When you use real cheese and other ingredients that don’t come in powdered form, you can guarantee that you are feeding yourself and your family a healthier and tastier version of the classic dish.

The recipe is simply made on the stovetop in a pan or cast-iron skillet. It doesn’t require making a complicated cheese sauce with a roux, milk, and cheddar cheese. And you don’t have to bake it in a casserole dish.

Whether you serve this recipe as a side or a main course, everyone who tastes it can’t help not to be impressed!

Cracker Barrel Mac and Cheese Ingredients

For this copycat Cracker Barrel Mac and Cheese recipe, you’ll need:

  • Short pasta or noodles
  • American cheese
  • Evaporated milk  
  • Pasta water
Copycat Cracker Barrel mac and cheese ingredients in bowls.

Ingredient Notes

Cracker Barrel uses elbow macaroni, but you can use any short pasta you prefer. Tubular pasta is best for macaroni and cheese because there is space for the cheese sauce.

Do not substitute the American cheese with Velveeta.

For extra flavor, you can cook the macaroni in chicken broth or vegetable broth.

Make sure to use evaporated milk and not sweetened condensed milk for this recipe. 

How to Make the Creamiest Cracker Barrel Mac and Cheese

To prepare the pasta:

  1. Boil the pasta according to the package instructions. For the best texture, you should cook the pasta past the point of al dente until it is soft.
  2. A minute or two before draining the pasta, scoop out a cup of the pasta water and keep it for later. 
  3. Drain the pasta and return it to the pot.
Cooked macaroni in a skillet.

To make the cheese sauce:

  1. If you use a block of American cheese, dice it into medium pieces. 
  2. Add the diced American cheese, evaporated milk, and a third cup of pasta water to the pot.
Cooked macaroni and cheese cubes in a pan.
  1. Heat the pot on low and continuously stir until the cheese melts. If the sauce is lumpy, add a bit more pasta water and continue to stir the mixture.
Cooking copycat Cracker Barrel mac and cheese in a pan.
  1. Remove the pot from the heat and serve hot. 
Copycat Cracker Barrel mac and cheese in two bowls and two forks next to them.

What to Serve With Cracker Barrel Mac N Cheese

To turn this copycat Cracker Barrel macaroni and cheese into a main course, stir in just about any cooked meat or veggie. Sliced hot dogs, shredded pork, and steamed broccoli are great options. But if you want to use this recipe for Cracker Barrel Mac and Cheese as a side for a main course, there are a few suggestions below:

How to Store the Leftovers

Transfer any extra macaroni and cheese to an airtight container and keep it in the refrigerator for up to three days. While you can freeze mac and cheese for longer storage (up to a month), the texture of the cheese sauce won’t be the same after defrosting.

What Is the Best Way to Reheat Macaroni and Cheese

Warming the mac and cheese on the stovetop is the best way of reheating this Cracker Barrel Mac and Cheese recipe:

  1. Put the mac and cheese in a saucepan over medium heat. 
  2. Stir in about a tablespoon of whole milk for each cup of chilled mac and cheese you want to reheat. 
  3. Allow the mac and cheese to heat slowly while continuously stirring. You may need to either add more milk or turn the heat down if you notice any burning. 

If you want to reheat it quickly you can microwave it on MEDIUM power in 30-second increments. Remember to add about 1 tablespoon of milk per cup of mac and cheese.

Copycat Cracker Barrel mac and cheese in two bowls and two forks on a napkin.

Favorite Cracker Barrel Side Dish Recipes

More Copycat Mac and Cheese Recipes

Check out more of my easy side dish recipes and the best copycat Cracker Barrel recipes on CopyKat!

Two bowls of copycat Cracker Barrel mac and cheese.

Cracker Barrel Mac and Cheese

You can make creamy macaroni and cheese like Cracker Barrel with this easy copycat recipe.
5 from 1 vote
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Course: Side Dish
Cuisine: American
Keyword: Cracker Barrel Recipes
Prep Time: 5 minutes
Cook Time: 15 minutes
Total Time: 20 minutes
Servings: 8
Calories: 400kcal


  • 16 ounces elbow macaroni
  • 12 ounces American cheese cubed
  • 3/4 cup evaporated milk


  • Cook the macaroni according to the package directions. Drain the pasta, reserving 1/3 cup of pasta water.
  • Return the cooked pasta to the pot and set the heat to medium-low. Add the American cheese, evaporated milk, and reserved pasta water and stir until the cheese has melted. Serve immediately.


Calories: 400kcal | Carbohydrates: 46g | Protein: 17g | Fat: 16g | Saturated Fat: 9g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 1g | Monounsaturated Fat: 4g | Trans Fat: 0.5g | Cholesterol: 49mg | Sodium: 739mg | Potassium: 254mg | Fiber: 2g | Sugar: 5g | Vitamin A: 458IU | Vitamin C: 0.4mg | Calcium: 518mg | Iron: 1mg

About Stephanie Manley

I recreate your favorite restaurant recipes, so you can prepare these dishes at home. I help you cook dinner, and serve up dishes you know your family will love. You can find most of the ingredients for all of the recipes in your local grocery store.

Stephanie is the author of's Dining Out in the Home, and's Dining Out in the Home 2.

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