This absolutely delicious Southern Baked Macaroni and Cheese is wonderfully creamy and extra cheesy! Made with a minimum of three cheeses to make the best ever mac and cheese that is sure to be a family favorite!!
A cheesy delicious comfort food!
While this baked mac and cheese is certainly worthy of being one that you reserve for holiday entertaining and family gatherings, I like to mix and bake it up for just any reason! The incredibly smooth, cheesy richness will earn this recipe a top spot in your family's favorite comfort foods!
I know that when I serve this cheesy delight up, it is almost literally inhaled. Demands for more and for the recipe come next!
If you do happen to have any leftover, this recipe is perfect for making leftover mac and cheese bites. Try my breaded mac and cheese bites or my easy baked mac and cheese bites for an extra delicious way to use your leftover macaroni and cheese!
❤️ Why You'll Love This Recipe!
- Super Creamy! This recipe is fabulously creamy, and with the 3 cheeses it is definitely a family and kid favorite!
- It's Versatile. A dish that allows you to be creative. You can swap out spices, cheeses, etc. all based upon what you have on hand or flavor changes.
- Easy - A super simple recipe that is easy to follow!
- Elbow Macaroni - Any type of pasta will do, but the best pastas for this mac and cheese are Penne, Rigatoni, Rotini, and Conchiglie (little shells).
- Milk - Helps make the dish rich and creamy.
- Heavy Cream - Helps add a thickness to the cheese sauce. (Don't have it? See my substitutions)
- Eggs - Fresh is best, the egg will add additional richness and creaminess.
- Cheese - For this recipe I am using 3 cheeses - sharp cheddar, Colby Jack, and, American cheese. You can really use whatever you like for yours, so try different flavors!
- Seasoning - Garlic powder, onion powder, cayenne pepper, salt, and pepper. Adjust these to your tastes or omit any that you do not like.
Most commonly people will ask me for a substitute for the heavy cream in mac & cheese. There are many alternatives you can substitute and still get a beautifully creamy macaroni and cheese, here are a few of my favorites.
- The Best - You can substitute 1 cup heavy cream with ¾ cup whole milk plus ¼ cup melted butter stir until combined.
- Better - You can substitute 1 cup heavy cream for 1 cup cream cheese. (This will change the flavor slightly but is still delicious!)
- Good - You can substitute 1 cup heavy cream for 1 cup milk, plus 2 tablespoons cornstarch, whisked into the milk.
💭 Tips & Recipe Notes
Do not forget to under cook your pasta! For best results cook the pasta according to package directions minus 2 minutes. Rinse under cold water to stop the pasta from continuing to cook.
Get out your cheese grater. The best cheese is block cheese in this recipe. The already shredded cheeses in your grocer's dairy section has additives that prevent the same melting quality of freshly grated cheeses.
To get a lovely browned topping, you can broil the baked mac and cheese for the last five minutes of the cocking time. Watch your dish closely though, as the cheesy topping goes from browned to burnt really quickly!!
🔪 Step-by-Step Instructions
Simple mac and cheese instructions below. You only need to boil your noodles, make your cheese sauce, pour it over the macaroni, stir, and bake.
- To start, preheat your oven to 375ºF (175ºC) and butter or spray your 9 x 13 baking pan or 3 qt casserole dish with non-stick cooking spray.
- Liberally salt your water for boiling the pasta in and cook the pasta as directed on the box, minus approximately two minutes to get an al denté (ie. firm to the bite) texture.
- Once the pasta is cooked, drain and rinse in cold water. Then set aside.
- While the pasta is cooking, whisk the eggs in a large bowl until frothy. Add the milk and heavy cream, then stir to combine.
- Reserve 1 cup of the sharp cheddar cheese, and add the rest of the cheeses to the milk mixture.
- Add the seasoning: garlic powder, onion powder, salt, pepper, and cayenne pepper.
- Add the cooked pasta, then stir all of the ingredients together.
- Transfer the macaroni and cheese to your prepared baking dish and place in the center of your oven. Bake uncovered at 375ºF (175ºC) for 40 minutes.
- Remove from the oven and allow the baked macaroni and cheese to cool before serving. Don't worry if your mac n cheese looks a bit wet or milky, as it will set up during the cooling time.
- If desired, to brown the cheese topping, you can broil the mac and cheese for the last five minutes of the cooking time. If you opt for this, don't walk away! Your cheesy topping will go from a lovely browned color to burnt before you know it!
Southern Baked Macaroni and Cheese
- 3 cups elbow macaroni (uncooked)
- 1 cup whole milk
- 1 cup heavy cream
- 2 large eggs
- 2 cups sharp cheddar cheese (shredded)
- 1 cup Colby jack cheese (shredded)
- 4 oz American cheese (more of you want your mac n cheese even creamier)
- 1 teaspoon garlic powder
- 1 teaspoon onion powder
- ½ teaspoon each, salt & pepper (to taste)
- ½ teaspoon cayenne pepper
- Preheat your oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C) and butter or spray your 9 x 13 baking dish with non-stick cooking spray.
- Cook the elbow macaroni pasta according to the boxed directions, but remove the pasta 2 minutes earlier than the recommended cooking time (for an al dente texture).
- Drain the pasta and rinse with cold water. Set aside.
- In a large bowl, whisk the eggs until frothy. Then add milk and heavy cream, stir to combine.
- Add the cheeses, reserving 1 cup sharp cheddar cheese for the topping, and the seasoning (garlic powder, onion powder, salt, pepper, and cayenne pepper) as well as the cooked pasta. Stir to combine.
- Transfer to your baking dish and top with reserved 1 cup of sharp cheddar cheese.
- Bake uncovered in the center of your oven at 350 degrees F (175 degrees C) for 40 minutes.
- Allow the Southern baked macaroni and cheese to cool for 10 - 15 minutes before serving. *The macaroni and cheese may appear jiggly, but sets up while cooling.
Angela is an at home chef that developed a passion for all things cooking and baking at a young age in her Grandma's kitchen. After many years in the food service industry, she now enjoys sharing all of her family favorite recipes and creating tasty dinner and amazing dessert recipes here at Bake It With Love!