Cheez It Mac and Cheese
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Cheez It Mac and Cheese is here to jazz up tomorrow’s dinner – just when you thought macaroni and cheese couldn’t get any cheesier!! This is absolutely the cheesiest mac and cheese out there.
We’ve got melty, gooey cheese all over perfectly cooked noodles AND cheesy crackers crumbled over top for a crunchy finish!
Cheez It Mac and Cheese
Have you ever thought about making mac and cheese with Cheez Its? Once you try it, you won’t ever go back to regular baked mac!
Between the noodles, melty cheese, and crunchy crackers, you get basically everything you could ever want out of a casserole from top to bottom!
I love a good casserole for an easy family dinner! Chicken bacon ranch, a (not quite as!) cheesy hamburger casserole, and classic tuna noodle casserole are all on my list of faves.
Filling, satisfying, cost-effective, and easy to prep!
Ingredient Notes & Substitutions
- Cheez-Its – While I do brand this recipe as a Cheez It mac and cheese – and that is definitely my recommended cracker – you do have some other options!
You can make baked mac and cheese with Ritz crackers, saltine, or club crackers.
- Cellentani Pasta – Everyone has their favorite pasta for baked mac and cheese casserole, and this is mine!
Whichever pasta you go with, boil it just until al dente according to the instructions on the box.
Don’t cook it all the way through – you’ll get a soggy mess!
- Cottage Cheese – Not everyone loves cottage cheese, I get it! You don’t even taste it in this mac.
It just lends its texture to give us the cheesiest mac and cheese we can get. But if you still want to swap it out, try ricotta, mascarpone, or even cream cheese.
- Cheddar Cheese – Go with extra sharp, if you’d like, and don’t hesitate to add in one of your favorite cheeses!
I have my own recommendations for extra cheesy Cheez It mac and cheese in the FAQ section below.
Tips For The Yummiest, Cheesiest Mac and Cheese Casserole!
- Try Other Flavors – There are all kinds of Cheez-Its, right? White cheddar, parmesan, extra toasty – they’re all good!
- Play With Textures – Those who dislike the texture of cottage cheese can blend it up with the sour cream in a blender until smooth – no one will be able to tell it’s there!
Additionally, it’s up to you how crunchy the cracker topping is.
Crush the crackers with your hands (or a rolling pin) in a ziploc bag for bigger pieces, or use a food processor for a fine crumb.
- Use Fresh Cheese – Grated cheese melts far more smoothly and easily than the bagged stuff – and it tastes better, too!
To avoid cheese that separates when reheated, freshly shredded cheese is an absolute must.
- Mix Up the Macaroni – I’m partial to the springy, spiral cellentani pasta – I just think it’s so fun!
But any tubed or shell pasta can be cheesed-up and baked like any other. So take your pick!
Storing and Reheating Mac and Cheese Casserole
Leftover Cheez It mac and cheese can be refrigerated for up to 4 days.
When reheating, prioritize the crunchy topping – set the oven back to 350°F and finish with a broil to get those crackers nice and crispy again!
You may want to crumble some more crackers on top (or even replace the Cheez It topping) if more than a couple of days pass before you reheat.
Cheez It Mac and Cheese FAQ
You can’t do without cheddar in mac and cheese casserole! It melts smoothly and has a strong, sharp flavor. It goes well with a bunch of other kinds of cheese, too.
So, in my opinion, the best cheese combination for mac and cheese certainly includes cheddar. Other great options to try include gruyere, gouda, parmesan, Havarti, and Monterey Jack. And try Pepper Jack if you want some heat!
Sure! But you might want to take a few preemptive steps.
Go ahead and follow most of the steps – make the pasta, mix up the cheeses, cream, and seasonings, and spread everything into your baking dish.
But stop there! Use a baking dish with a lid, or give it a tight wrap in plastic or aluminum foil, and store it in the freezer. Let the pasta cool before doing so.
You can freeze for up to 3 months. Let thaw in the fridge before adding the crushed Cheez-Its, and give it a little more time in the oven when you bake.
Well, it depends how you define better.
For a sharper Cheez It mac and cheese, add some dry (or wet!) mustard or use cream cheese instead of cottage cheese.
For a spicier mac and cheese, throw in some diced jalapenos, crushed red pepper, or even some hot sauce!
And, finally, if you’re seeking some savory flavors, then crumbled bacon or some herbs (parsley, marjoram, and/or sage) are what you’re looking for. Some chives on top would take it the rest of the way!
With love, from our simple kitchen to yours.
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Other Amazing Mac and Cheese Recipes
Cheez It Mac And Cheese
- 16 ounces cellentani pasta
- 24 ounces cottage cheese
- 16 ounces sour cream
- 16 ounces cheddar cheese, freshly grated
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 1/2 teaspoon pepper
- 2 cups Cheez-its crackers, *See Notes
- Preheat the oven to 350°F. Spray a 9×13-inch casserole dish with non-stick spray.
- Place a large pot of salted water over high heat on the stovetop. When water comes to a boil, add pasta and cook until al dente, about 8 minutes. Drain water from pasta.
- To a large mixing bowl, add cooked pasta, cottage cheese, sour cream, cheddar cheese, salt, and pepper. Using a large mixing spoon, stir well to combine.
- Pour the pasta into the prepared casserole dish. Use the back of your mixing spoon to spread it in an even layer.
- Place the crackers into a gallon sized zip top bag. Seal the bag, then use your hands to smash the crackers into crumbs. Sprinkle them over the top of the pasta. *Alternatively, you can make the cracker crumbs using a food processor.
- Place mac and cheese casserole into the preheated oven. Bake for 30-35 minutes, or until it’s hot and bubbling around the edges.
don’t worry. The flavor isn’t noticeable, it just adds a creamy texture to the sauce.
All nutritional information is based on third party calculations and is only an estimate. Each recipe’s nutritional value will vary depending on the ingredients used, measuring methods, and portion sizes.
Originally published December 2022
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My kids loved this! A cool new take on mac and cheese!