Cheesy and Delicious Mac and Cheese Recipe

Rising from the southern soil, we have a dish that will make your taste buds sing the sweetest soulful song. A dish that is smooth, creamy, oozy and gooey at the same time, this recipe for Southern Macaroni and Cheese is a bona fide classic. This recipe has been passed down from generations and perfected over the years to bring you the ultimate comfort food — a true delight that will transport your senses to a blissful place.

From potlucks to backyard barbeques and all sorts of shindigs in between, this Southern Baked Macaroni and Cheese has become a staple among all macaroni cheese recipes. And let me say it outright- no other cheese recipe can compare.

This recipe uses a tantalizing blend of cheeses- colby cheese, sharp cheddar cheese, extra sharp cheddar cheese – making it one of the best five-cheese macaroni and cheese recipes around. The cheesy goodness mixed with elbow macaroni noodles-that is far from overly cooked-makes this dish light on pallet yet heavy on flavors making sure that you get that perfect balance every single bite you take.

As you take your first scoop of this southern mac & cheese into your mouth, a burst of melted goodness will fill your senses. It’s easy to imagine yourself enjoying this soul food dish on an autumn evening or Christmas Day. Trust me when I say with this better-than-your-grandmother’s Baked Macaroni Cheese Recipe; every day can feel like an occasion.

Why You’ll Love This Recipe

Southern Macaroni and Cheese
Southern Macaroni and Cheese

Listen up, foodies and comfort food enthusiasts! This Southern-style macaroni and cheese recipe is bound to become your favorite dish. Trust me on this – I’ve been cooking for decades, and I know a thing or two when it comes to soul food.

What sets this recipe apart from others is the combination of not one, not two, but five different types of cheeses. Yes, you read that right – five! Colby, extra sharp cheddar, sharp cheddar, whole milk mozzarella, and grated Parmesan cheese all come together to create the ultimate mac and cheese experience.

But what about the elbow macaroni? Don’t worry – the recipe delivers there too. The pasta cooks perfectly al dente and with just enough sauce to coat every bite.

This ain’t your average Kraft Easy Mac. No, no. This is a full-on Southern baked macaroni and cheese delight that is sure to give you the ultimate comfort food experience. And let’s face it – who doesn’t need a little comfort these days?

So go ahead and give this recipe a try – I guarantee you’ll be hooked after just one bite.

Ingredient List

 Creamy and Cheesy Macaroni that will melt your heart
Creamy and Cheesy Macaroni that will melt your heart

Let’s take a look at the soulful ingredients for this southern macaroni and cheese recipe that’ll have you drooling!

Here’s what you’ll need:

  • 16 ounces elbow macaroni uncooked
  • 1 stick (8 tablespoons) unsalted butter, melted + 3 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 1/3 cup all-purpose flour
  • 3 cups whole milk
  • 1 cup half and half cream
  • 12 ounces evaporated milk
  • 2 cups sharp cheddar cheese, shredded
  • 2 cups colby cheese, shredded
  • 1 cup extra sharp cheddar cheese, shredded
  • 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon black pepper
  • 1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper (optional)

That’s right, folks! This southern-style recipe calls for not one, not two, but three different types of cheese, including sharp cheddar, colby, and extra sharp cheddar. These cheeses melt so effortlessly into the warm macaroni noodles giving it that perfect cheesy goodness! Don’t be afraid to add a dash of cayenne pepper for that little kick of spice!

The Recipe How-To

 The secret blend of spices that make this Mac and Cheese unforgettable
The secret blend of spices that make this Mac and Cheese unforgettable

Let’s dive into the main part of this recipe, the how-to. Don your aprons and let’s get to work!

Step 1: Cook the Macaroni

Firstly, preheat your oven to 350ºF (176ºC). Take out a pot and fill it up with 6 cups of water. Add a dash of salt and bring it to a boil. Once boiling, add in 3 cups of elbow macaroni uncooked and cook according to package instructions until tender but firm.

Step 2: Make the Cheese Sauce

While the macaroni is cooking, on another stove over medium heat, melt 6 tablespoons of butter in a saucepan. Once melted, mix the flour with the butter using a whisk continuously until it becomes smooth. Slowly whisk in 3 cups of milk, allow it to reach a gentle simmer stirring constantly.

Gradually stir in 2 cups sharp cheddar cheese and 1 cup colby cheese, until it has melted completely. Continue simmering and stirring for around 5 minutes, or until the sauce thickens. Pour in 1 can of evaporated milk, 1 cup heavy cream, and continue stirring for another two minutes allowing the sauce thicken further.

Once done, turn off the heat and then add ½ tsp black pepper and ½ tsp cayenne pepper to give it some extra richness in flavor.

Step 3: Combine Macaroni with Cheese Sauce

Drain the pasta reserving about 1/2 cup pasta water then return back to pot. Pour cheese sauce over cooked macaroni pasta mixing together so there are no dry spots until all macaroni is coated with cheese sauce thoroughly then add some reserved water if needed for easy mix.

Step 4: Baking

Grease a 9×13 baking dish or cast iron skillet with butter baking then pour macaroni and cheese mixture into the dish. Shred 1 cup of extra sharp cheddar cheese and sprinkle it over the top of the macaroni and cheese mixture. Then finish it off by sprinkling another ½ cup of colby cheese on top.

Bake in your preheated oven for 25 to 30 minutes covered with foil until heated through, bubbling and cheese melted. After taking it out of the oven, let it sit for a while before serving.

Now that you have followed these simple steps, you can enjoy the ultimate comfort food — soulful baked southern style Macaroni and Cheese!

Substitutions and Variations

 Baked to perfection, this golden Mac and Cheese will be the star of any gathering
Baked to perfection, this golden Mac and Cheese will be the star of any gathering

When it comes to the soul food classic that is Southern macaroni and cheese, there is always room for customization. However, before you go switching up the recipe ingredients, be warned that changing something fundamental like the cheese or noodle type will undoubtedly alter the final texture and flavor of your dish.

That being said, if you’re looking to switch things up a little without going too far off course, here are some ingredient substitutions and variations you might want to try:

– Cheese: While a simple combination of sharp cheddar and Colby is already perfection in itself, feel free to get creative with different cheese blends such as Monterey Jack or Gouda. Alternatively, swap out 1/2 cup of cheddar with smoked gouda for a smoky flair.

– Noodles: Though elbow macaroni is considered the traditional noodle choice, you can still use other small shaped pasta such as shells or cavatappi. Just note that some alternative noodle types may not hold onto as much sauce as elbow macaroni dose.

– Cream Substitute: Don’t have heavy cream on hand? Not to worry. You can substitute it for an equal amount of half and half or evaporated milk. Just keep in mind that using low-fat milk will affect the creaminess of your mac and cheese.

– Spice it Up: If you want more heat in your comfort food baked macaroni cheese recipe, add in some cayenne pepper along with black pepper. You could also top the dish with a sprinkle of smoked paprika for those who love bold flavors.

Now it’s time to let your creativity soar and make this southern-style macaroni and cheese recipe your own with these substitutions!

Serving and Pairing

 The ultimate comfort food that will warm you up on a cold day
The ultimate comfort food that will warm you up on a cold day

Now that you’ve created this heavenly southern-style macaroni and cheese dish, it’s time to serve it up and dig in. This baked macaroni cheese recipe is the ultimate comfort food, perfect for a cold rainy day or a cozy night in with loved ones.

When it comes to serving, it’s up to you – scoop this soul food baked macaroni onto a plate or into a bowl for a hearty main course or serve it alongside your favorite southern-style entrees, like smoked ribs or fried chicken, for an unforgettable soul food feast.

Pairing-wise, there are different options depending on your preference. For a classic southern pairing, sweet tea is an excellent choice to complement your cheesy pasta dish. If you’re looking for something stronger, a bold red wine can be the perfect way to wash down the richness of the macaroni and cheese.

And don’t forget the sides! Some cornbread, collard greens, or black-eyed peas would be an excellent complement to this dish.

Regardless of how you choose to serve and pair it, one thing is guaranteed – this Southern baked macaroni and cheese recipe will be a hit with anyone who tries it. Enjoy!

Make-Ahead, Storing and Reheating

 This classic southern dish is perfect for family dinners and potlucks
This classic southern dish is perfect for family dinners and potlucks

Here’s the deal: Southern Macaroni and Cheese is a dish that deserves to be savored, whether it’s fresh out of the oven or reheated the next day. Luckily, with a few tips and tricks, you can make this recipe ahead of time or store leftovers for later use.

To make ahead, assemble the recipe as directed and chill it in the fridge for up to 24 hours before baking. When you’re ready to bake, remove it from the fridge and let it sit at room temperature for about 30 minutes to take some of the chill off.

If you have leftovers, store them in an airtight container in the fridge for up to three days. When you’re ready to reheat, transfer it to a baking dish and cover with foil. Preheat your oven to 350°F (175°C) and bake for about 20-25 minutes, until heated through.

Alternatively, you can reheat individual servings in the microwave on high for 1-2 minutes. Just keep in mind that microwaving can change the texture of the cheese sauce and macaroni noodles.

One thing to be aware of is that leftover macaroni and cheese tends to dry out over time. To counteract this issue, add a splash of milk before reheating to revive the creamy texture.

With these tips, you’ll be able to enjoy your Southern Macaroni and Cheese recipe whenever you want – whether fresh out of the oven or reheated from leftovers.

Tips for Perfect Results

 The perfect side dish for any barbeque, cookout, or tailgate party
The perfect side dish for any barbeque, cookout, or tailgate party

If you want the perfect, decadent and ultra-creamy Southern macaroni and cheese every time, then you’re in the right place. After years of perfecting my recipe, I have come up with some tips that will guarantee your mac and cheese comes out top-notch every time.

Firstly, use a combination of cheeses to achieve a rich, complex flavor. In this recipe, I blend sharp cheddar, extra-sharp cheddar, and colby cheese ultimate comfort food. The sharp cheddar provides the classic tangy zip while the extra-sharp cheddar adds depth of flavor. Colby cheese pulls it all together for an unforgettable meltiness.

Use high-quality ingredients 1 lb for best results. Fresh butter baking dish and whole milk will make your cheese sauce velvety smooth absorbing into the large elbow noodles without becoming greasy or oily. And stick to elbow macaroni uncooked 1 lb – this shape holds the sauce perfectly.

While cooking the macaroni elbows in a pot of salted boiling water, ensure not to overcook them as this can cause the macaroni to become mushy once baked. Cook the pasta just about halfway so that it can still a bit firm when stirred into the cheese sauce.

To make sure that your baked mac and cheese doesn’t get dry or burned on top sprinkle some additional shredded cheese on top of your frizzled onions before you bake it off to create a divine crust. A final sprinkle of cayenne pepper before baking does not go amiss for that added kick.

Finally, if you’re new to making southern-style dishes or are intimidated by cooking altogether, be patient with yourself. The measurements are important, but cooking is also an art form – give yourself room to experiment and tweak the recipe until your taste buds sing. With these tips in mind, you’ll be sure to impress your guests with your skills as a masterful Southern mac and cheese chef.

Bottom Line

In conclusion, this Southern Macaroni and Cheese recipe is the ultimate comfort food that you don’t want to miss out on. With its soulful combination of five different cheeses, elbow macaroni, and milk, this recipe is sure to make your taste buds dance with joy. Whether you are having a lazy weekend at home or hosting a dinner party for your loved ones, this Southern-style mac and cheese recipe will definitely impress everyone at the table.

So, what are you waiting for? Give this recipe a try and let your taste buds experience the ultimate cheesy goodness that it has to offer. And don’t forget to experiment with different variations and substitutions to make it even more special. After all, cooking is all about having fun, being creative, and enjoying every moment in the kitchen.

So grab your apron, preheat your oven, and let’s cook up some delicious Southern-style macaroni and cheese!

Southern Macaroni and Cheese

Southern Macaroni and Cheese Recipe

A recipe I gladly received from my husband's grandmother. True comfort food!
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Prep Time 15 mins
Cook Time 35 mins
Calories 290.4 kcal


  • 8 ounces elbow macaroni, cooked
  • 8 ounces cheddar cheese or 8 ounces colby cheese, shredded
  • 1/4-1/2 cup butter, melted
  • saltine crackers or cheese crackers, crushed
  • 2/3 cup milk
  • salt and pepper


  • Spray a flat bottomed casserole dish with vegetable spray.
  • Put half of the macaroni in the dish, top with half of the shredded cheese.
  • Sprinkle with salt and pepper.
  • Repeat.
  • Mix the melted butter and enough crushed saltines to absorb the butter, together.
  • Spread on top of cheese layer.
  • Pour milk slowly over all.
  • Bake at 350°F for 35-45 minutes or until milk is no longer liquid.
  • Let set for at least 10 minutes before serving.

Add Your Own Notes


Serving: 69gCalories: 290.4kcalCarbohydrates: 23.9gProtein: 11.7gFat: 16.4gSaturated Fat: 10.2gCholesterol: 47.9mgSodium: 238.8mgFiber: 1gSugar: 1g
Keyword < 60 Mins, Cheese, High In...
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