Best Macaroni & Cheese (with a secret ingredient!)

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My husband is known for making the best macaroni and cheese. Every time we bring it to an event, he’s asked for the recipe. Creamy, baked macaroni and cheese that has a secret ingredient…

best macaroni and cheese in a blue bowl

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Over the years I’ve shared many mac and cheese recipes like twisted macaroni and cheese, stovetop creamy mac and cheese, slow cooker mac and cheese, and even macaroni and cheese flatbread. Oh, and mac and cheese in a mug for when you’re short on time.

This particular version is one of the first recipes I posted back in 2009 and I called it Mr. Williams’ Mac & Cheese. Bob is well known for it. Every time we go to a gathering, everyone raves about it and asks for the recipe. 

It has a secret ingredient that I’ll bet you won’t expect – cheddar cheese soup. 

spoonful of macaroni in a casserole dish

If you’ve ever been browsing the soup aisle at the market and seen Campbell’s Cheddar Cheese Soup and wondered what to do with it (like I used to), I’ve got an idea for you.

Adding it to your mac and cheese makes for a really creamy, cheesy sauce that bakes up beautifully.


  • Noodles – We usually use cavatappi noodles in this recipe, but we happened to use regular macaroni noodles for this batch.
  • Cheddar Cheese Soup – Two cans of Campbell’s Cheddar Cheese Soup.
  • Shredded Cheese – We generally mix mild cheddar with mozzarella. Use your favorite.
  • Butter – To add to the top before you bake it.
cans of cheddar cheese soup with noodles


Condensed Cheddar Cheese Soup is basically a very thick cheddar béchamel sauce, which would be made with butter, flour, milk, cheddar cheese and salt.


No one wants dried out macaroni and cheese, which can happen when you’re baking it. Adding canned cheddar cheese soup to this recipe helps to keep it really creamy.


We typically use shredded mild cheddar and shredded mozzarella cheese when we make this recipe, but you can use all cheddar or mix up sharp cheddar cheese or white cheddar. Sometimes we use pepper jack to spice it up.

closeup of spoonful of the best macaroni and cheese


This recipe is so easy, you’re gonna love it.

STEP ONE: Boil the noodles in well salted water until al dente. Drain and return the noodles to the pan. Pour the cans of cheddar cheese soup over the noodles and stir to evenly distribute.

overhead shot of a pot of macaroni noodles

STEP TWO: Butter a casserole dish (or spray with non-stick spray) and start layering – noodles & shredded cheese – repeating until you’re out and ending with shredded cheese.

layer of cheese and noodles in a casserole dish

STEP THREE: Once you’re done making layers, add a few pats of butter and bake at 325 just until the cheese is melted and bubbly.

melted cheesy macaroni and cheese

That’s it! Serve and enjoy.


  • Colander – I used to think a colander with a handle with unnecessary but I really do love mine.
  • Casserole Dish – You’ll want to bake this recipe in a 9 x 13 casserole dish. If you use one with a lid, it makes it really easy to store leftovers.
  • Box Grater – I don’t always grate my own cheese, but every time I do I appreciate that I did. The cheese is creamier and melts better without the preservatives & anti-caking agents they put on shredded cheese.



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close up of mac and cheese in a bowl
best macaroni and cheese in a blue bowl

Best Macaroni & Cheese

Melissa Williams | Persnickety Plates
Creamy, baked macaroni and cheese that has a secret ingredient…
4.62 from 60 votes
Prep Time 5 minutes
Cook Time 35 minutes
Total Time 40 minutes
Course Main Course
Cuisine American
Servings 12 servings
Calories 329 kcal


  • 1 lb noodles cooked
  • 2 cans Cheddar Cheese Soup
  • 3 cups cheddar cheese shredded
  • 4 Tb butter


  • Preheat the oven to 325 degrees and grease a 9 x 13 baking dish. Set aside.
  • Bring a large pot of salted water to boil and cook your noodles until al dente. Drain the noodles, return to the pot, and pour the cans of soup over the noodles. Stir to evenly distribute.
  • Layer the noodles into the prepared pan alternating noodles & cheese, until out of ingredients, ending with shredded cheese.
  • Slice up the butter and place pats over the top of the macaroni.
  • Bake until cheese is melted and bubbly.
  • Serve & enjoy!


Use your favorite noodle shape – we usually opt for cavatappi or macaroni noodles.
Use your favorite blend of shredded cheeses. We like mild cheddar. Sometimes we add mozzarella to the mix or pepper jack to spice it up.
Store covered in the fridge for 3-4 days.


Serving: 1gCalories: 329kcalCarbohydrates: 33gProtein: 13gFat: 16gSaturated Fat: 9gCholesterol: 42mgSodium: 477mgPotassium: 341mgFiber: 2gSugar: 2gVitamin A: 604IUCalcium: 229mgIron: 1mg

Nutritional information is an estimate and provided to you as a courtesy. You should calculate the nutritional information with the actual ingredients used in your recipe using your preferred nutrition calculator.

Tried this recipe? Tag me!Mention @melissa_pplates or tag #persnicketyplates!

Sharing of this recipe is both encouraged and appreciated. Copying/pasting and/or screenshots of full recipes to any social media is strictly prohibited. Content and photographs are copyright protected.

Originally published December 3, 2009

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  1. Diana Danforth says

    5 stars
    Delicious. The best mac and cheese recipe I’ve ever tried.

    • Melissa Williams says

      I’m so glad you liked it – thanks for reporting back!

  2. Rachel says

    How long would you say it takes to bake?

    • Melissa Williams says

      Around 10-15 minutes. Just keep an eye on it – some people like a browned top & some just like it melty.

  3. Jane says

    2 stars
    My husband and I didn’t care for this at all – rather tasteless ! I ended up throwing away the leftovers ( and was glad I only made half a recipe for the 2 of us)
    I will say it was certainly easier and faster than my usual Mac & cheese recipe

  4. Lauren says

    Can this be done in a crockpot or does it dry out?

    • Melissa Williams says

      I haven’t tried, but I think it should be ok. Keep it on LOW or even WARM depending on how hot your slow cooker runs.

  5. John says

    4 stars
    This is pretty amazing for as easy as it is.

  6. Charity Dobbins says

    How do you feel about adding ground meat and making a beefy mac.and cheese? Any suggestions? I was thinking of adding some cream of.mushroommsoup.to meat then combining it with this recipe.

    • Melissa Williams says

      I’m hungry & that sounds delicious 🙂 Sounds like something I should test & get on the site!

  7. Steve says

    4 stars
    was pretty darn good and easy. added a bit more cheese and whole stick of butter and stired in before baking. cut up some lea ada and lightly fried it and added in also before baking , turned out good!

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