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Sharing my favorite family dinner today, The Cheese-Maker’s Mac and Cheese from The Half Baked Harvest Cookbook.

Cheese Makers Mac and Cheese | @hbharvest

Cheese Makers Mac and Cheese | @hbharvest

The Cheese-Maker’s Mac and Cheese

Prep Time 15 minutes
Cook Time 45 minutes
Total Time 1 hour
Servings: 8 servings
Calories Per Serving: 766 kcal

Nutritional information is only an estimate. The accuracy of the nutritional information for any recipe on this site is not guaranteed.

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  • 7 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • ¼ cup all-purpose flour
  • 3 cups 2% or whole milk
  • 1 pound elbow macaroni
  • 1 garlic clove, minced or grated
  • cups crushed Ritz Crackers (about 1 sleeve)
  • 4 ounces cream cheese, cut into cubes
  • cups shredded sharp white cheddar cheese
  • cups shredded fontina cheese
  • 1 cup shredded Havarti cheese
  • 1 cup shredded smoked Gouda cheese
  • ¼ teaspoon cayenne
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper
  • Fresh basil leaves, for topping


  • 1. Preheat the oven to 350°F. Spray a 9 x 13-inch baking dish with cooking spray.
    2. In a large saucepan, melt 4 tablespoons of the butter over medium heat. Whisk in the flour. Reduce the heat to medium-low and cook for 1 minute, stirring once to avoid burning—it will bubble. Gradually whisk in the milk and 2 cups of water, then stir in the macaroni. Increase the heat to medium-high and bring the mixture to a boil. Stir frequently until the macaroni is just al dente, 8 to 10 minutes.
    3. Meanwhile, in a medium skillet, melt the remaining 3 tablespoons of butter over medium-low heat. Add the garlic and cook for 30 seconds, or until fragrant. Add the crushed crackers and toss to coat. Toast the crumbs until browned, stirring frequently to avoid burning, for 3 to 5 minutes. Remove the pan from the heat and set aside.
    4. When the macaroni is al dente, remove the pan from the heat and stir in the cream cheese, cheddar, fontina, Havarti, Gouda, and cayenne and season with salt and pepper. Stir until the cheeses have fully melted. Transfer the mixture to the prepared baking dish.
    5. Evenly sprinkle the toasted cracker crumbs over the mac and cheese and place the baking dish on a baking sheet. Bake for 15 to 20 minutes, or until the crumbs are golden brown and the sauce is bubbling. Remove from the oven and let sit for 5 minutes (yeah, right). Garnish with fresh basil. Dig in!
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  1. Huge family hit! It was a little dry so I would add more liquid next time for that creamy consistency we were looking for. I’m confident this was my error and probably overcooked the mixture on the stove, but we will definitely be making this again!

    1. Hey Emily,
      Happy Wednesday!! Thanks a bunch for making this recipe and sharing your review, I love to hear that it was tasty!?

  2. 5 stars
    I LOVE this recipe– comfort food at its best. I’ve made it several times now and it’s just so good. First time around I didn’t have any flour but found that the starch from the pasta was enough to thicken the sauce. I also like to add onions or a shallot in with the butter at the beginning to give it a little something extra.

    1. Hey Max,
      Awesome!! Thanks so much for making this recipe, I am so glad to hear that it was enjoyed. Have the best weekend! ?xxT

  3. This is probably one of my top two favorite mac & cheeses I’ve ever had. I used half a cup of Gouda because I was afraid it would be overpowering, which was perfect (for my tastes). I will say it came out a little dry – I will probably add an extra cup of milk next time I make.

    1. Hi Sara,
      Happy Friday! Thanks so much for sharing your feedback and trying this recipe out! Love to hear that it was enjoyed:) Sorry to hear it was a little dry for you! xxTieghan

    1. Hi Hannah,
      Yes, just make up until baking and then bake when you are ready to serve. Please let me know if you give the recipe a try, I hope you love it! xTieghan

      1. Hey Tieghan! Do I keep the Mac and cheese in the fridge if I want to make it ahead and bake before serving? Thanks for helping!! We love your recipes.

    2. 5 stars
      Just had my first bite right out of the oven & OH MY GOD!!! Soooo good!! I did divide the recipe into 2 dishes & freezing the 2nd dish to have for New Years. This recipe was super easy to make & will definitely be a favorite for me! Thanks for sharing!

      1. Hi Maria,
        Awesome!! I am thrilled to hear this recipe was enjoyed, thanks so much for making it! Happy Holidays!? xT

  4. Thanksgiving take 2! Made two trays of this last year- 1 for Thanksgiving and froze the other one for Christmas. It was so so so good. I just held off baking it with the topping until I was ready to serve it within the hour and it was fine. This time around I think I’ll hold back on the smoked gouda a little, since I found it a little overpowering but still amazing. So glad I was able to find this recipe again for this year.

    1. Hey Lilian,
      Happy Friday!! Love to hear that you liked the recipe, thanks for giving it a try! Have a great weekend. xTieghan

    1. Hey Erica,
      You bet, that would work well for you. I hope you love the recipe, please let me know if you have any other questions! xTieghan

  5. Love all your recipes! Quick question, I’m going to a work potluck and wanted to make this and have it be warm but so the top isn’t soggy. Could these be made in a slow cooker? If so what do you recommend?

    1. Hey Hali,
      I’ve not tested this recipe in the slow cooker so I am unsure of the results. You could just follow the recipe as is and then transfer to the slow cooker to keep warm for your pot luck. I hope this helps! xTieghan

  6. 5 stars
    So good!! Brought this for a Friendsgiving potluck. Made through step 4 in the recipe and then just transferred to my crockpot for transport to the potluck. Skipped the bread crumbs and stirred in extra water/milk before serving to loosen up the sauce and it turned out great, the sauce didn’t break. A big hit!

  7. 5 stars
    Wow, I just made this and it is by far the best mac and cheese ever! And we are mac and cheese connoisseurs! Can’t say I was surprised, we love pretty much everything from this site. No such thing as too cheesy, it was perfect, made exactly as recipe says to do, even though I have never made one like this, adding all the liquids to the roux and then the noodles, but it was perfect! Thanks again for another outstanding recipe!

    1. Hey Cindy,
      Wonderful! Thanks so much for making this recipe, I love to hear that it was enjoyed! Have a great weekend! xTieghan

  8. I made this yesterday for a get together and plan to eat the leftovers for the next few days. How would you recommend reheating it?

    1. Hey Sara,
      Thanks for giving the recipe a try. You could cover with foil and bake on low to reheat or just pop it in the microwave. xTieghan

      1. 5 stars
        I made this for our friendsgiving it was a hit! I know I can always count on The Half Baked Harvest for a great recipe!!

        1. Hey Rhea,
          Thanks a lot for giving this recipe a try, I am so glad to hear it was enjoyed! Have the best day! xTieghan