At Serious Eats, we love macaroni and cheese in all its forms. We love quick stovetop varieties, recipes that use a little bit of science, and even mac and cheese that's literally pressed into waffle form. If it has noodles, butter, and melty cheese, we're very much on board.
Cracker Barrel Cheese just launched Oven Baked Macaroni & Cheese, and, after a lot of testing, tasting, and devouring, we're excited to deliver our verdict: It's really good. You can choose from three flavors: Sharp Cheddar, Sharp White Cheddar, and Cheddar Havarti. With no artificial flavors or dyes, each bag includes large, ridged noodles, flavorful seasonings, toasted breadcrumbs, and that sharp and bold Cracker Barrel Cheese. These ingredients really elevate this comfort food favorite. It's the perfect dinner solution for those seeking a premium, bold-flavored macaroni and cheese without the hassle of making everything from scratch.
Prep is simple: Boil the noodles, melt butter in a saucepan, add seasoning mix and milk, and let simmer for one to two minutes. Then add cheese sauce and mix everything before pouring into a baking dish with macaroni; and topping with the toasted bread crumbs. After 10 minutes in the oven, your homemade macaroni and cheese is ready to be enjoyed. You can portion the mac into bowls for serving, or just take a spoonful from the piping-hot pan (three guesses as to what we chose to do).
Because we're born food experimenters (and wanted an excuse to keep eating), we decided to try out some variations. We highlighted the bold, all-American flavor of the Sharp Cheddar variety with some browned ground beef and juicy cherry tomatoes. It turned out almost like an incredible, spoonable cheeseburger. Just be careful eating this straight from the oven, since those tomatoes get hot.
In the Cheddar Havarti variety, we wanted something relatively sweet to cut into the rich creaminess of the sauce. So we went with freshly shucked corn, sautéed with a knob of butter, a flurry of Parmesan, and sliced scallions. The balanced flavors of the resulting mac and cheese were downright addictive—this dish would definitely make a great Thanksgiving side.
Finally, for the Sharp White Cheddar variety, we replicated the fiery flavor of jalapeño poppers by adding sliced pickled jalapeños to the creamy cheese sauce. Depending on how spicy you want things, we suggest using five to eight thin slices. And, to get that porky crunch typical of a popper, we sprinkled in pieces of crispy bacon. If this is what a deconstructed jalapeño popper is, then we never want a constructed one ever again.
Whether you stick to the classic route or want to create your own variations, Cracker Barrel Oven Baked Macaroni & Cheese elevates this classic comfort food and lays the perfect foundation for a delicious and seriously cheesy dinner.