Sheet Pan Mac and Cheese is the perfect creamy, comforting recipe with cheddar cheese, American cheese, mustard, hot sauce, and a crispy cracker topping.
There are so many ways to make this delicious recipe, including Baked Mac and Cheese, Slow Cooker Mac and Cheese, and Instant Pot Mac and Cheese. This sheet pan version is the perfect way to make Macaroni and Cheese to share with a crowd. It’s a great Side Dish for the next time you’re serving a big dinner party that’s sure to be a hit with kids and adults alike.
Sheet Pan recipes are an amazing time-saver when you’re feeding a big group. Instead of cooking things in batches, you can just combine a large quantity of ingredients, and cook them all at once in a single dish. Perfect for a family reunion, potluck, or holiday dinner!
Mac and Cheese fans love making this cheesy, comforting recipe for a filling side dish, or as a fun, kid-friendly lunch. You can even make the whole sheet pan, and then divide it into smaller containers to store for easy lunches that your family can enjoy throughout the week. It’s easy to heat up and so much tastier than boxed Mac and Cheese.
To make sure Sheet Pan Macaroni is just as creamy as Classic Mac and Cheese we’ve added extra liquid into the sauce. When you’re first combining the cheese sauce, it might seem too runny. That’s just because of the water in the sauce. A lot of that excess liquid will cook away while you simmer it on the stovetop, and even more will cook out during the oven time. So, by the time it’s finished, you’ll have a thick, melty, creamy sauce that’s the perfect texture!
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Most recipes call for a deeper baking dish to bake Mac and Cheese. However, baking your Mac and Cheese in a shallow, wide sheet pan will bring a slightly different texture to your dish. A sheet pan will have more surface area for you to spread that delicious crispy topping, resulting in more crispiness per square inch for you to serve up to your guests.
You can easily make this Mac and Cheese ahead of time. Just prepare the recipe and instead of baking it, cover and place it in the refrigerator over night. It will be ready to cook the next day. Just remember if you’re cooking a cold sheet pan, it might need a little more cooking time in the oven.
You want to look for a nice brown crusty top, and you will see the cheese bubbling underneath when your mac and cheese is finished cooking. Be careful taking it out of the oven, it will be very hot.
Ritz crackers are a classic whether you serve them with slices of meat and cheese, alongside some dip, or crumble them as a crunchy topping. Ritz crackers crumble so nicely, they have a great crunchy texture, and a delicious buttery flavor. They make an outstanding topping for Mac and Cheese.
How to Make Sheet Pan Mac and Cheese
- Prep Time: Start by preheating the oven to 450 degrees. Then take out a 13×18 inch baking dish, and spray it lightly with cooking spray.
- Pasta: Next, bring a pot of water to a boil. Pour the uncooked elbow macaroni into the boiling water. Cook the pasta until it’s tender, about 1 minute shy of the box directions. Drain macaroni, but reserve 3 cups of the pasta water to use in the macaroni mixture. Set the drained pasta to the side while you prepare the sauce.
- Cheese Sauce: Heat the 3 cups of water in a large pot over medium-high heat. Then pour in the heavy cream, and softened cream cheese. Whisk until smooth, cooking the liquid at a simmer. Add in the cheddar, American cheese, ground mustard, and hot sauce. Whisk the sauce again until smooth.
- Combine: Add the cooked noodles to the sauce and stir until the pasta mixture is coated in the cheese sauce. Pour the cheesy pasta into the prepared rimmed baking sheet, and spread it out evenly. Stir together the Ritz crackers, Parmesan cheese, and melted butter. Then sprinkle the crumbs over the top.
- Cooking Time: Pop the dish in the preheated oven to bake for 20-25 minutes. The cheese should be bubbly, while the top is golden brown and crispy.
- Cool: Let your Mac and Cheese sit out for at least 5 minutes after you take it out of the oven. It will need those few minutes to cool before you can safely handle it. It will also firm up a little bit and will be easer to get onto the plate.
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- Bread Crumb Topping: Instead of Ritz crackers, you can top off the Macaroni and Cheese with a Parmesan and panko breadcrumb mixture.
- Cheese: You can experiment with different varieties of cheese in the cheese mixture, depending on what flavors you like. Try using sharp cheddar cheese, Havarti cheese, Pepper Jack, Swiss, or gruyere cheese.
- Pasta: If you don’t have classic elbow macaroni on hand, you can also make the recipe with penne, bowtie pasta, rotini, or rigatoni. Pretty much any shortcut pasta varieties will work just fine.
- Seasonings: Try adding in some flavor with garlic powder or minced cloves of fresh garlic, black pepper, kosher salt, paprika, cumin, onion powder, or an Italian seasoning blend.
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How to Store
- Serve: Don’t leave Mac and Cheese at room temperature for more than 2 hours.
- Store: If you have leftovers, you can transfer them to an airtight container or cover them in aluminum foil to store in the fridge for 3-4 days.
- Freeze: You can also freeze Mac and Cheese for up to 2 months. For easier storage, you can transfer the pasta to smaller airtight containers. That way you don’t have a whole sheet pan taking up space in the freezer.
- 1 pound elbow macaroni
- 1 cup heavy cream
- 8 ounces cream cheese , softened
- 2 cups cheddar cheese , shredded
- 12 ounces American cheese , slices
- 1 teaspoon ground mustard
- 1 teaspoon hot sauce
- 1 1/2 cups Ritz crackers , crushed
- 1/2 cup Parmesan cheese , grated
- 6 tablespoons unsalted butter , melted
- Preheat oven to 450 degrees and spray a 13×18 baking sheet (with 1″ high sides) with vegetable oil spray.
- Cook the pasta 1 minute shy of the directions on the box, drain all but 3 cups of the pasta water.
- Set the drained pasta to the side.
- Heat pot on medium-high heat.
- To the 3 cups of pasta water you saved add the heavy cream and cream cheese, whisking well until smooth.
- Bring liquid to a simmer.
- Add in the cheddar cheese, American cheese, ground mustard, and hot sauce, whisking well until smooth.
- Add the pasta back into the pot and stir well.
- Pour the mixture carefully into your baking sheet.
- In a bowl, mix together the Ritz crackers, Parmesan cheese, and melted butter.
- Sprinkle over the pasta.
- Bake for 20-25 minutes.