Creamy and oh-so cheesy, this Chick Fil A mac and cheese recipe is the best copycat mac n cheese recipe you’ll ever taste. The sauce with 5 different types of cheeses creates the smoothest, richest, and creamiest casserole. Your family will devour this gooey side dish, which pairs nicely with your favorite mains.
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Copycat Chick Fil A mac and cheese recipe
Have you ever tried Chick Fil A mac and cheese? Because it’s absolutely amazing!
Their version consists of a creamy bechamel sauce made with cheddar, parmesan, and Romano cheese and coats every noodle. The dish is then baked with more cheese on top for the ultimate comfort food.
If you’re looking for a homemade Chick Fil A mac and cheese recipe, then you’ve come to the right place! My copycat version tastes exactly like Chick Fil A and is so easy to make with just a handful of simple ingredients.
When you’re in need of a comforting bowl of pasta, this easy baked macaroni and cheese comes to the rescue!
What makes this Chick Fil A mac and cheese recipe so good?
- Lots of sauce: We aren’t skimping on the cheese, milk, or half-and-half in this casserole. My recipe makes plenty of sauce to keep everything super creamy and gooey. It may look like a lot of sauce (because it is), but you need that amount to coat the noodles.
- American cheese: Although Chick Fil A mac and cheese doesn’t have it, trust me here: American cheese melts smoothly into the sauce, creating the perfect rich, creamy texture that you can’t quite achieve with other types of cheese.
- Short baking time: The dish goes in the oven for just 15 minutes. That’s just enough time to melt the cheese, but not so long that it dries out the pasta. If you like a crispier topping, pop it under the broiler for a few minutes at the end.
The Chick Fil A mac and cheese ingredients are pretty simple! I bet this dish will become one of your favorites because it is just so good! Please refer to the recipe card below for specific measurements.
- Elbow macaroni pasta is the noodles Chick Fil A uses. However, if you’d like, you could also use other short pasta such as medium shells, penne, cavatappi, or rotini.
- Butter is needed for the base of the roux, which thickens the bechamel sauce.
- All-purpose flour cooks with the butter to create the roux and thicken the sauce.
- Milk and half-and-half make the sauce creamy and rich. Avoid substituting skim milk or lower-fat alternatives – the flavor and texture of the mac and cheese will not be as good otherwise.
- Sharp cheddar gives the sauce a sharp, rich aroma. I use yellow and white cheddar, but you can use just one type if you like to simplify.
- Romano cheese and parmesan give the sauce a wonderful, salty-sweet umami flavor that adds depth to the dish.
- American cheese is responsible for the ultra-creamy mouthfeel and prevents the sauce from splitting. It’s the same reason why I use Velveeta cheese in my Velveeta mac and cheese recipe.
- Salt and pepper for extra flavor.
The best cheese for Chick Fil A mac and cheese
When testing the recipe, I found that a blend of aged cheddar, sharp white cheddar, Romano cheese, parmesan cheese, and American cheese creates the best Chick Fil A cheese sauce recipe.
It may seem like blasphemy, but as I’ve mentioned above, American cheese is the secret to the perfect cheese sauce.
It melts smoother than other cheeses and gives the sauce that velvety mouthfeel we all love from Chick Fil A.
If you like to try a different combination of cheeses, you can replace the white cheddar with gruyere, pepper jack, Monterey Jack, Gouda, or Swiss. And if you enjoy a stringy cheese sauce, add some mozzarella. The options are endless, so choose your favorites!
Do you need to bake this Chick Fil A mac n cheese recipe?
No. The recipe starts with a roux-based sauce and doesn’t need to be baked before serving. You can serve the dish without baking because it can go straight from the pot to the plate, with no oven necessary. It will be just a bit saucier.
Check out this detailed guide to learn more about making a roux for mac and cheese.
How to make Chick Fil A mac and cheese
My copycat mac and cheese is a delicious side dish that comes together quickly. You can even prepare it ahead of time for large family suppers and special holidays like Thanksgiving. I’ll share make-ahead instructions below.
This fast-food mac n cheese is also fabulous as the main dinner course. Throw in some diced ham, shredded chicken, and veggies like roasted broccoli or peas, and you’ve got a satisfying meal. It will be a crowd-pleaser!
#1: Cook macaroni
- Add the pasta and 1 teaspoon salt to a large pot of boiling water.
- Cook for 1 minute less than the package instructions suggest for al dente, about 8 to 9 minutes.
- Drain well and stir in 3 tablespoons butter until melted to prevent sticking.
#2: Cook sauce
- While the pasta cooks, melt the other 3 tablespoons butter in a large, shallow cast-iron pot or Dutch oven over medium heat.
- Sprinkle in the flour and cook for 1 minute, whisking constantly.
- Very gradually, whisk in the milk and half-and-half. Continue cooking until the sauce thickens, whisking continuously, for about 5 to 8 minutes.
#3: Melt in cheese & add pasta
- Remove the pot from the heat and stir in the cheeses until completely melted and the sauce is smooth. You can return the pot to low flame in case the cheese doesn’t fully melt.
- Season the sauce with salt and pepper according to your taste.
- Add the drained, cooked pasta and stir until every noodle is coated.
#4: Bake & serve
- Sprinkle the remaining grated cheese on top and bake at 350°F / 180°C / gas mark for 15 minutes, until the sauce is bubbly and the cheese is melted.
- For a crispier, browned top, pop the casserole under the broiler for 2 to 3 minutes.
- Let cool for about 10 minutes, then serve warm. Garnish with a sprinkle of black pepper and fresh parsley if desired. Enjoy!
Chick Fil A mac and cheese is simple, and if you follow my hand tips below, this family favorite will turn out perfect!
- Boil the pasta in well-salted water: Salting the pasta water seasons the noodles and adds flavor to the dish.
- Cook the noodles until just al dente: They should be tender but still firm to the bite. You don’t want to fully cook the pasta until they are soft as it’ll continue cooking in the oven.
- Allow cold ingredients to come to room temperature: Let the milk, half-and-half, and cheese warm to room temperature before adding them to the sauce. They will combine better if they aren’t cold.
- Grate the cheese yourself: Strat with blocks of cheese that you shred yourself rather than using bags of pre-grated cheese from the store. Pre-shredded cheese contains anti-caking ingredients to prevent clumping, which lessens its ability to melt smoothly into the sauce.
- Crispy top: Place the casserole under the broiler during the last minutes of baking if you prefer a crispier, dark brown top on your mac and cheese. Just keep a close eye on it, so the topping doesn’t burn.
- Need fewer servings? If you’re cooking for a smaller family, cut the ingredient amounts in half and bake in an 8-in / 20 cm square baking dish.
The Chick Fil A mac and cheese recipe tastes great just as is, but there are many different ways to customize this meal. Check out these variation ideas!
- Sub half-and-half: Use more milk or cream instead of half-and-half.
- Swap the cheese: You can prepare the dish with any combination of flavorful melting cheeses. For instance, try gruyere, smoked gouda, Swiss cheese, Colby, Colby Jack, Pepper Jack, or Monterey Jack.
- Seasoning: Add some garlic powder, onion powder, nutmeg, a dash of paprika, or a touch of cayenne pepper for a spicy kick.
- Bread crumb topping: Mix 3/4 cup breadcrumbs with 4 tbsp melted butter for a crunchy topping. Sprinkle on the mac and cheese before baking. Crushed Ritz crackers or seasoned breadcrumbs work well too.
- Bacon: Add crispy, chopped bacon to the topping or to the inside of the dish. You can also add some cooked, chopped ham, chicken, or turkey.
- Vegetables: Make it a full meal by adding veggies such as steamed broccoli, cauliflower, or peas.
You can serve Chick Fil A mac n cheese as a side dish, lunch, or main dinner. It’s pure comfort food, and your family will be thrilled! I like to add roasted broccoli, green beans, or a fresh salad on the side.
Storage & reheating instructions
Make Chick Fil A mac and cheese ahead of time
To prepare the recipe in advance, assemble the casserole as instructed but do not bake. Let the dish cool and cover with foil, then refrigerate for 1 to 2 days.
When you’re ready to eat, let your mac and cheese come to room temperature on the counter for 30 minutes to an hour. Remove the cover and bake until heated through and bubbly, for 20 to 25 minutes.
How to store Chick Fil A mac n cheese
Keep leftovers in an airtight container in the fridge and consume within 3 to 4 days.
I don’t recommend freezing this mac and cheese copycat recipe because the pasta will become mushy when thawed, and the sauce might separate and break.
Reheat Chick Fil A mac and cheese
You can reheat leftovers in the oven or microwave. Here are some tips:
- Oven: Cover the baking dish loosely with tin foil and reheat in 350°F / 180°C / gas mark 4 oven until warm. You may remove the foil during the last minutes to allow the edges to get crispy and the top to brown.
- Microwave: Reheat individual portions in the microwave in 30-second bursts until warmed through.
More mac and cheese recipes you’ll love
Homemade mac and cheese is always a good idea! There are so many ways to prepare this delicious dish, and I have you covered for more yummy recipes. Enjoy!