Cheesy Ranch Shells - My Fav Homemade Mac & Cheese

Total Time
Prep 15 mins
Cook 30 mins

I got this recipe out of the newspaper years ago. It's a favorite at our house. Folks always comment that they like how the sauce sort of bursts out of the shells when you're eating it. I've made this with both small and medium shells with equal success.

Ingredients Nutrition


  1. In a large pot of boiling water, cook the shells to desired doneness; drain, transfer to a large bowl and set aside.
  2. In a medium-sized saucepan over medium heat, saute the onion in the butter for about 5 minutes, or until tender.
  3. Stir in the flour, salt, pepper and mustard powder.
  4. Gradually add the milk and cook, stirring occasionally, until thickened. Remove from heat.
  5. Add the ranch dressing and 1 1/2 cups of the cheddar cheese; stir until the cheese melts.
  6. Combine the cheese sauce with the cooked shells.
  7. Place in a greased 1 1/2 quart casserole and top with the remaining 1/2 cup cheddar cheese.
  8. Bake at 350 degrees for about 30 minutes or until bubbly and cheese begins to turn golden brown.
Most Helpful

I thought this recipe was fantastic. I had to tweak it some though because we didn't have onion in the house, I used onion salt instead and I also cut up some velveeta cheese to put over the sauce mixture to add extra cheese. Also, we omitted the mustard. But It was still fantastic, my husband and I both thought it was the best mac and cheese ever.

scottishgirl1983 January 26, 2011

Had to leave out the onions. Other than that, followed the recipe exactly. The whole family loved it. The ranch isn't really tasted as much, but it lends to a really creamy texture. I personally thought the white sauce by itself, before adding the cheese and ranch was absolutely delish! Thanks!

didyb September 24, 2009

Awesome Mac & Cheese! I made it with elbows instead of shells. The sauce was amazing. I'll be making this again for sure.

SusanRose October 06, 2008