Cracker Barrel Mac and Cheese is rich and creamy yet surprisingly easy to make. The rich sauce is made with chicken broth and Colby cheese, meaning it’s extremely flavorful and decadent!

close up image of a 9x13 inch casserole dish of cracker barrel mac and cheese.

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You have never had macaroni and cheese like this before! Cracker Barrel mac and cheese is seriously one of the best recipes I have ever made. The homemade cheese sauce is out of this world delicious. Luscious and creamy, it perfectly coats the cooked noodles, leaving them dripping in sauce.

Sure, this recipe will make an excellent side dish for my air fryer chicken nuggetsfried chicken, pork chops, or my cast iron chicken thighs. However, I love this homemade mac and cheese recipe so much that I usually just eat a big bowl of it all on its own!  

close up image of a bowl of cracker barrel mac and cheese.

Cracker Barrel Mac and Cheese Recipe

So what exactly makes this Ckarker Barrel mac and cheese better than any other macaroni product out there? Simple- the sauce! There is no boxed, powdered cheese sauce full of artificial flavors here! And rather than making the cheesy sauce with skim milk or whole milk, I use chicken broth.

As a result, the broth gives the homemade cheese sauce a savory, flavorful taste that is unbeatable. Plus, it also gives the mac and cheese a little boost of protein that makes the dish even more satisfying. 

All you need to do to prepare this recipe is boil some pasta, whisk the melted butter with a little flour, broth, and cheese, and toss everything together! Anyone can make this copycat Cracker Barrel macaroni and cheese and have a tasty meal ready in minutes. Give this recipe a try today, and your whole family will come running to the dinner table.

Oh, and if you are looking for more exciting easy mac and cheese recipes, be sure to check out my fun mac and cheese bites or my creamy bacon mac and cheese. You can never go wrong with a big casserole dish of homemade macaroni and cheese! 

ingredients to make cracker barrel mac and cheese.

Ingredients for Cracker Barrel Mac and Cheese

See recipe card below this post for ingredient quantities and full instructions.

  • Elbow pasta – Cracker Barrel mac and cheese is typically made with elbow-shaped pasta, but you can use any shape of pasta you like. Short noodles work best! 
  • Butter – I recommend unsalted butter so you have better control of the flavor.
  • Flour – Flour is used to thicken the cheese sauce for the mac and cheese.
  • Chicken broth – I like to use low-sodium chicken broth just to cut back on the salt a little bit. 
  • Heavy cream – Heavy cream makes the sauce rich and velvety in consistency. 
  • Colby cheese – Cracker Barrel uses Colby cheese, which has a nice tangy taste. 
  • Salt and pepper


Here are a few ingredient substitutions and variations that will work well. 

  • Replace the Colby cheese with shredded sharp cheddar cheese, Havarti cheese, sharp white cheddar cheese, or even pepper jack cheese. 
  • Use milk in place of the heavy cream for a lighter mac and cheese recipe. 
  • Sprinkle some bread crumbs on top before serving to give a little bit of crunch. 
  • Add a little dried garlic powder or dried onion powder to the cheese sauce to give your Cracker Barrel mac n cheese a flavor boost. 

How to Make Cracker Barrel Mac and Cheese

  1. Cook the pasta: Bring a large pot of water to a boil, and cook the noodles to al dente according to the package instructions. Strain the noodles, and set them aside. 
  2. Prepare: Preheat your oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. 
  3. Make the sauce: Add the butter to a large pot, and melt over medium-high heat. Whisk in the flour followed by the heavy cream. Stir in the pre-shredded cheese. 
  4. Assemble: Add the cooked macaroni to the cheese sauce and mix, coating the noodles in the cheese. 
  5. Bake: Pour the mac and cheese into a 9×13 casserole dish or a large cast iron skillet. Bake in the oven for about 10 minutes or until the top is golden brown and slightly crisp. Enjoy while hot! 
close up image of a spoonful of cracker barrel mac and cheese.

Quick Tip

If you don’t like crispy edges on your mac and cheese, you do not need to bake it. Once the noodles are tossed with the homemade cheese sauce, serve it right away! It will be soft, tender, and oh-so flavorful!

How to Store Cracker Barrel Mac and Cheese

Store leftover mac and cheese in an airtight container for up to one week. Reheat leftovers in the microwave until warm. Or, heat, them over medium heat in a saucepan on the stove. Add an extra splash of broth as needed to loosen the sauce back up.

You can also freeze mac and cheese for up to three months! When you’re ready to serve, thaw it in the fridge overnight, and reheat in the microwave or on the stove.


What kind of cheese is best in mac and cheese?

You can use so many different kinds of cheese to make a perfect weeknight meal. Sharp cheddar cheese is the classic cheese but gruyére cheese, smoked gouda, white cheddar, havarti, Monterey jack, and Colby cheese are all great too! We also love the bold sharpness of pepper jack cheese blended into the sauce. So good!

What kind of milk is best for mac and cheese?

Whole milk is best for mac and cheese. You want thicker, fattier milk that to make the cheese sauce nice and rich. You can also use heavy cream or light cream for a super decadent sauce. 

How do you keep mac and cheese creamy?

Mac and cheese is the creamiest right when it is cooked. If your pasta dries out, add more sauce. You should also add a splash of milk or broth to mac and cheese before reheating it to make sure the sauce does not get dry in the microwave.

More Awesome Pasta Recipes

A wooden spoon scooping Cracker Barrel mac and cheese from a baking dish.

Cracker Barrel Mac and Cheese

Cracker Barrel Mac and Cheese is rich and creamy yet surprisingly easy to make. The rich sauce is made with chicken broth and Colby cheese, meaning it's extremely flavorful and decadent!
No ratings yet
Course: Side Dish
Cuisine: American
Servings: 8 servings
Prep Time: 10 minutes
Cook Time: 20 minutes
Total Time: 30 minutes


  • 9×13 casserole dish
  • Large pot
  • strainer
  • Large sauce pot
  • whisk
  • Measuring cup
  • measuring spoons


  • 3 cups dry elbow pasta
  • 2 Tablespoons butter
  • 2 Tablespoons flour
  • 1 1/2 cups chicken broth
  • 2 cups heavy cream
  • 2 1/2 cups shredded Colby cheese
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper


  • Bring a large pot of water to a boil and cook your elbow pasta according to the box directions. Strain and toss the pasta with about 1 tablespoon of olive oil so it won’t stick together while you make the sauce. Set aside.
    3 cups dry elbow pasta
  • Preheat your oven to 350ºF.
  • Add the butter to a large sauce pan and heat over medium high heat.
    2 Tablespoons butter
  • Once the butter is melted whisk in the flour until there are no lumps.
    2 Tablespoons flour
  • Slowly whisk the chicken broth into the flour mix, whisking constantly to blend the broth in evenly.
    1 1/2 cups chicken broth
  • Whisk in the heavy cream.
    2 cups heavy cream
  • Remove the pot from the stove and stir in the shredded cheese, stirring until the cheese has melted completely.
    2 1/2 cups shredded Colby cheese, 1 teaspoon salt, 1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper
  • Toss the cooked pasta into the cheese sauce and stir to coat the pasta evenly in the sauce.
  • Pour the mac and cheese into a 9×13 baking dish then bake in the preheated oven for 10 minutes. The top should be golden brown.
  • Serve while hot!


  • Use white cheddar, parmesan, Havarti or your own cheese mix in place of colby cheese. 
  • Use milk in place of heavy cream for a lighter dish
  • Replace the chicken broth with veggie broth for a vegetarian Cracker Barrel Mac and Cheese. 
  • Sprinkle the mac and cheese with some breadcrumbs before baking for an extra crunch


Serving: 1serving | Calories: 594kcal | Carbohydrates: 44g | Protein: 19g | Fat: 38g | Saturated Fat: 24g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 2g | Monounsaturated Fat: 10g | Trans Fat: 0.1g | Cholesterol: 115mg | Sodium: 745mg | Potassium: 238mg | Fiber: 2g | Sugar: 4g | Vitamin A: 1373IU | Vitamin C: 0.4mg | Calcium: 336mg | Iron: 1mg
Did you make this recipe?Mention @kasey_allthingsmamma or tag #allthingsmamma!

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About Kasey Schwartz

For over 15 years, Kasey Schwartz, the mastermind behind All Things Mamma, has been the ultimate go-to for mouthwatering family recipes. Her work has been featured on, Buzz Feed, Better Homes and Gardens, and more, making her your go-to mom next door for all things delicious and family-friendly.


  1. John R Gorrell says:

    I managed a cracker barrel. You’re missing the key cheese ingredient. Yes Colby cheese, but they also use velveta into the mixture.

    1. Shyanne - ATM Team says:

      Thank you so much, John!

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