You won’t believe how easy and delicious this mayonnaise macaroni and cheese is! It’s made with just 5 simple ingredients including sour cream and shredded cheddar, and you can whip it up in no time. It’s topped with crushed cheesy crackers to add texture and even more cheese flavor! Serve for weeknight entertaining, ladies’ luncheons, and family dinners.
Consider this baked mac and cheese recipe with mayo to be your secret weapon for easy entertaining. It goes together quickly and there’s no extra step of preparing a roux for cheese sauce. Just 5 ingredients and about 45 minutes is all you need!
If this is a new concept to you, you’re in for a treat. I got this recipe at a potluck party years ago and first shared it here in 2013. I was blown away by how simple it was, yet how creamy and rich it tastes.
Why You’ll Love It
- While most recipes tend to use breadcrumbs as a topping, my version uses crushed cheese snack crackers instead. The extra layer of cheese flavor makes it completely indulgent.
- This recipe is perfect for beginners! There are no fancy techniques required.
- Homemade mac and cheese is the ideal side dish and this recipe is convenient enough to be your go-to recipe for year round gatherings.
- Easily feed a crowd when you double or triple the recipe to make a large batch for family and friends, or ladies luncheons.
- The way the sour cream, mayo and cheese come together during baking makes this velvety smooth and classic comfort food.
Ingredients & Substitutions
- Elbow macaroni. Elbows are the traditional shape for macaroni and cheese, but you can use any small pasta such as shells, penne, or rotini. I always use whole wheat pasta for more fiber and nutrition, but you can use regular or gluten-free pasta if you prefer.
- Mayonnaise. I use Duke’s but you can use your favorite brand. Hellman’s is my second choice.
- Sour cream. This adds creaminess and tanginess to the mixture. Try substituting with plain Greek yogurt too.
- Sharp cheddar cheese. Use traditional orange cheddar or white cheddar, but you must shred it yourself. You can also use a combination of both, or add other varieties such as mozzarella, Monterey Jack, or Parmesan cheese.
- Cheesy crackers. You can use any brand but the most popular and easy to find are Cheese Nips or Cheez-Its. Another alternative is to use Ritz crackers, bread crumbs or panko, drizzle with a little butter and cook until golden brown.
How to Make It
- Cook the pasta in a large pot until al dente.
- Combine the mayonnaise, sour cream and pasta together in a large bowl, then stir in the cheese.
- Transfer to a large baking dish, sprinkle with crushed crackers, and bake until cooked through.
- Make sure you salt the water for boiling the noodles.
- Cook the pasta al dente, or a bit undercooked, to prevent it from getting mushy. Do not rinse the pasta!
- Allow the mayonnaise and sour cream to come to room temperature for about 30 minutes so it mixes well and cooks evenly.
- Full fat mayonnaise and sour cream will result in a richer and creamier dish, however you can use the light versions too, if you wish.
- Do not use low fat cheese for this; it’s the star ingredient! And always start with a block and shred it yourself so it melts perfectly.
Prepare this ahead by following the instructions all the way except adding the crackers on top. Cover with foil and refrigerate. When ready to bake, remove from the fridge and top it with the crackers. Let the dish come to room temperature before placing it into a hot oven. Or, simply add the casserole into a cold oven and let it preheat with the oven. Cook as directed.
What to Serve with Mac n Cheese
Whether you’re making this easy mayonnaise macaroni and cheese for holidays or family dinner, here are some delicious recipe options that will round out the meal. Just add a salad and you’re menu is done.
- 1 box (12 oz) Elbow macaroni
- 1 ½ cups sour cream
- 1 ½ cups Duke’s mayonnaise (or your favorite brand)
- 16 ounces shredded cheddar cheese (shred it yourself)
- 1 cup (or to taste) Crushed cheesy crackers such as Cheese Nips or Cheez-Its
- Preheat the oven to 350º F and spray a large 13 x 9-inch baking dish with nonstick cooking spray.
- Cook pasta al dente, according to package directions. Drain and set aside.
- In a large bowl, combine sour cream and mayonnaise. Add pasta and mix well.
- Add cheese and combine until everything is evenly integrated.
- Pour mixture into prepared baking dish, and sprinkle crushed cheese crackers over the top.
- Bake at 350 degrees for 20-30 minutes, and serve.