Cheesy Potato Casserole with Buttery Ritz Crackers…the only side dish recipe you really need. Think classic cheesy potato casserole that we all know and love, but made without the canned soup and topped with addicting Ritz cracker “crumbs”. These potatoes are creamy, cheesy, and perfectly seasoned. The Ritz cracker topping is a touch buttery, perfectly garlicky, herby, and a little salty too. When baked together the potatoes and topping create the perfect balance and make for the BEST cheesy potato casserole. Make these ahead of time for an easy holiday side that everyone will love.

overhead photo of Cheesy Potato Casserole with Buttery Ritz Crackers

Do you have those family recipes that you make every holiday season without fail? In our family, we have a few, and they’re what I call super “old school” recipes. These are the classics that my brothers love more than anything. And they’re the ones we’ve been eating since I was a kid. You have those recipes too, right?

We always do a cheesy potato casserole at Christmas. But a few years ago I decided I wanted to make something new and updated. I knew I had to keep the flavors pretty simple and classic. I also knew I wanted an easy side dish that I could prepare ahead of time and not have to worry about. Enter this casserole. It’s easy to throw together, but so incredibly delicious, and it’s pretty much guaranteed to be loved by all.

Cheesy potatoes are one of those old school recipes. They’re without a doubt a tried and true favorite. Meaning they’re never not delicious, everyone who tries them loves them. I’m sure many of you have similar casseroles in your family. I know some call them funeral potatoes (which seems really depressing to me). Call um what you please, but in our house, they’re just cheesy potatoes.

My mom’s recipe called for frozen potatoes, canned cream of chicken soup, sour cream, butter, cheese, and a few other ingredients. I decided to take her recipe and give it my own spin, updating a classic, and making it BETTER. I’d actually been wanting to do this for years but feared I wouldn’t be able to create something better.

But a few years back I decided I’d had enough with the canned soup (because it freaks me out and I will not eat it…so yes, I used to miss out on cheesy potatoes every year). I knew it was time to update the cheesy potatoes recipe. Thankfully the new version turned how better than I could have imagined. This casserole is SO GOOD.

Buttery Ritz Crackers before baking

Here is how to make the best baked cheesy potatoes.

Start with the potatoes. You can make the potatoes the traditional way on the stove-top, or you can use the instant pot. I prefer to use the instant pot. It’s the easiest, quickest way to make potatoes.

I always use Yukon gold potatoes for an extra creamy mashed potato, but Russet potatoes will work well too. Once the potatoes are cooked, you’ll mash them up with butter, plenty of sharp cheddar cheese, yogurt for creaminess (sour cream also works well), and then thyme, seasonings, and a good amount of black pepper. Nothing very fancy, just delicious. Potatoes are one of those things that should never be messed with too much.

overhead close up photo of Cheesy Potato Casserole with Buttery Ritz Crackers and spoon in casserole dish

The secret?

The buttery, slightly garlicky, and oh so addicting Ritz cracker crumbs. Honestly? This is my favorite topping of all time.

If you have the Half Baked Harvest Super Simple Cookbook, you’ve probably seen the mac and cheese recipe with this same topping. It’s just addictingly good. I love using crushed Ritz in place of bread crumbs every chance I get. They have so much more flavor and texture. I always find the Ritz crumbs to be the secret ingredient that adds that “extra special” touch I’m looking for in my recipes.

I toss the crackers with butter, garlic, and then a splash of Worcestershire sauce, which is KEY. It adds a savory, salty element that is perfection.

So, do not skip out on the crumbs. They take this casserole form very good to insanely good. Dramatic, but true.

PS. this post is not sponsored by Ritz. I just have an unhealthy obsession with Ritz crackers. I guess you could call them my kind of “junk food”.

I’m excited to now have this recipe to replace mom’s old school cheesy potatoes. I actually served them early to my brothers this week. They once again fully approved, saying that these baked cheesy potatoes are 100% better than the original recipe.

YES. When you win over the brothers, all is good!

Hoping you all feel the same! The next question is, what will you be pairing these cheesy potatoes with? Over here, it will probably be my roasted beef tenderloin. I make it every year.

overhead photo of Cheesy Potato Casserole with Buttery Ritz Crackers with spoon in baking dish

If you make this Cheesy Potato Casserole with Buttery Ritz Crackers be sure to leave a comment and/or give this recipe a rating! Above all, I love to hear from you guys and always do my best to respond to each and every comment. And of course, if you do make this recipe, don’t forget to tag me on Instagram! Looking through the photos of recipes you all have made is my favorite!

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4.28 from 114 votes

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

The Recipe

Cheesy Potato Casserole with Buttery Ritz Crackers

Prep Time 15 minutes
Cook Time 1 hour 15 minutes
Total Time 1 hour 30 minutes
Servings 8
Calories 358 kcal

Ingredients

  • 3 pounds Yukon gold potatoes, peeled and quartered
  • 10 tablespoons (1 stick + 2 tablespoons) salted butter, at room temperature
  • 3-4 cups shredded sharp cheddar cheese
  • 1 cup plain Greek yogurt or sour cream
  • 1/2 cup whole milk or heavy cream
  • 1 tablespoon fresh thyme or 2 teaspoons dried thyme
  • 1 teaspoon each garlic and onion powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon paprika
  • 1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
  • kosher salt and black pepper
  • 1 1/2 cups crushed Ritz crackers (about 1 sleeve)
  • 1 clove garlic, grated
  • 2 teaspoons Worcestershire sauce

Instructions

  1. 1. Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F. Bring the potatoes to a boil in a large pot of cold water. Salt the water and cook until the potatoes are tender, about 20 to 30 minutes.

    2. Drain the potatoes, return the potatoes to the pot and mash over low heat, adding 6 tablespoons butter, 3 cups cheddar cheese, yogurt, cream, thyme, garlic powder, onion powder, paprika, and cayenne. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Spoon the potato mixture into a 9x13 inch baking dish. Top with the the remaining 1/2 cup to 1 cup cheddar cheese.

    3. In a medium bowl, mix together the cracker crumbs, garlic, Worcestershire sauce, and 4 tablespoons butter. Sprinkle the crackers evenly over the potatoes.

    4. Cover the dish with foil. Transfer to the oven and bake for 30-35 minutes, remove the foil and continue baking another 15 minutes, until the crackers are golden. Serve warm topped with fresh thyme and flaky sea salt.

Instant Pot

  1. 1. Combine the potatoes and 1 1/2 cups water. Cover and cook on high pressure/manual for 12 minutes. Once done cooking, use the natural or quick release function and release the steam. Drain the potatoes well.

    2. Finish as directed above from step 2 on.

Recipe Notes

To Make Ahead: Prepare the casserole through step 3. Cover and store the assembled casserole in the fridge for up to 2 days. To bake, remove the casserole from the fridge while the oven preheats, then bake as directed. 

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