Skip to Content

Southern-Style Mac and Cheese

This Southern-style mac and cheese recipe is a true soul food classic! With just a few ingredients, including a generous amount of freshly shredded cheese, butter, and milk, it’s unbelievably hearty, comforting, and crowd-pleasing.

big spoonful of macaroni and cheese

With its lasagna-style layering and toasted cheesy topping, this Southern mac and cheese is a go-to for family dinners and gatherings. It’s always the first to go! If you’re a fan of homecooked, cheese-filled dishes, my oven-baked mac and cheese might just be your next favorite!

Why I Love This Recipe

I don’t think there is one dish I love more than this Southern-style mac and cheese. It’s been appearing at my family functions for as long as I can remember, and it never disappoints!

This recipe features extra sharp cheddar and Colby jack cheddar, butter, whole milk, and eggs for the most rich, comforting flavors you’ll ever try. Tossed with elbow macaroni and broiled, it’s creamy on the inside with a golden, crispy top.

There’s no need for a roux or complicated steps — just layer it like lasagna and bake. It’s perfect for anyone craving comfort food without the fuss, from busy parents to students on a budget.

white casserole dish of baked macaroni and cheese

Ingredient Notes

This Southern mac and cheese doesn’t contain many ingredients, but they all play an equally important role. Here’s a breakdown:

  • Elbow macaroni: The classic choice for mac and cheese, macaroni holds onto the cheese sauce beautifully. Use your favorite brand!
  • Extra sharp cheddar cheese: Provides a deep, tangy flavor that makes you do a double take.
  • Colby jack cheddar blend: Adds a smooth, creamy texture and mild flavor.
  • Large eggs: Bind all the ingredients together.
  • Unsalted butter: You can’t have a Southern-style mac and cheese recipe without some butter! It gives the dish an even creamier texture and richer flavor.
  • Whole milk: Gives the sauce an ultra-creamy consistency.

Substitutions

  • Macaroni: You can also use rotini, fusilli, or shells. They do a great job at catching the cheese, too.
  • Cheese: Feel free to mix and match different melting cheeses! Try medium cheddar, Monterey Jack, or mozzarella.
  • Eggs: If you don’t have eggs, try a small amount of cream cheese.
  • Butter: Margarine will work in a pinch, but the flavor won’t be the same.
  • Milk: For a richer result, you can use half-and-half or a mix of milk and cream. For a lighter version, 2% milk works well.

How to Make Southern-Style Mac and Cheese

Find out how to make the BEST Southern-style mac and cheese with my easy-to-follow instructions and tips and tricks.

Preparation

Preheat your oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. Meanwhile, bring a large pot of salted water to a boil for the macaroni.

Cooking

Step 1
Cook the elbow macaroni until just al dente. Be careful not to overcook it, as the pasta will continue to cook in the oven.

Step 2
In a large bowl, mix the cooled, drained pasta with the melted butter, salt, and pepper. Then, incorporate the beaten eggs until well combined. Fold three cups of the sharp cheddar cheese into the pasta mixture.

Step 3
Transfer half of the macaroni mixture to a greased 9×13 casserole dish. Sprinkle two cups of the Colby cheddar cheese blend evenly over it, then layer on the remaining macaroni mixture. Reserve some cheese for the top layer to achieve that irresistible golden crust.

Step 4
Pour the milk evenly over the top layer of macaroni, then sprinkle the remaining cheese over the milk. Pouring milk at this stage helps to distribute moisture evenly, preventing any dry spots.

Step 5
Cover the dish with foil and bake for 25-35 minutes. Stir halfway through the cooking time to help the cheese melt. Remove the foil and broil until the top is brown and bubbly. Keep a close eye on the oven to prevent burning the cheese. Let the dish cool for about 10-15 minutes before serving to let it set.

full casserole dish of macaroni and cheese with an individual serving

Expert Tip

While many recipes call for regular cheddar, this Southern mac and cheese’s combination of extra-sharp cheddar and Colby Jack cheddar blend really sets it apart.

I recommend freshly shredding your cheese rather than using pre-shredded varieties. This extra step makes a huge difference in meltability and taste, as pre-shredded cheeses often contain anti-caking agents that affect the smoothness of your sauce.

casserole dish of southern Mac and cheese

Cooking Tips

Layer the ingredients: Like lasagna, layering the ingredients means that every bite is filled with pasta, cheese, and sauce.

Don’t skip the broil: Broiling at the end of baking gives the mac and cheese a beautifully browned and crispy topping, adding to the texture of the dish.

Stir halfway through baking: Stirring helps distribute the cheese and milk throughout the dish, ensuring there are no dry spots.

Let it rest: Allowing the mac and cheese to cool slightly before serving helps it set, making it easier to serve and eat.

Serving Suggestions

Southern mac and cheese is rich, warm, and hearty, making it the ultimate comfort food. To balance its richness, you can serve it alongside a crisp green salad, air fryer frozen broccoli, or tangy coleslaw.

For a heartier meal, pair it with mains, like boneless pork ribs, sloppy joes, or pulled pork, for a truly Southern feast.

Frequently Asked Questions

How can I prevent my mac and cheese from being too dry?

Use enough milk, and don’t overbake it! The milk should just barely cover the pasta before it goes into the oven.

What can I do if I don’t have a 9×13 casserole dish?

You can use any oven-safe dish that’s close in size. Adjust the cooking time if the dish is deeper and smaller since the mac and cheese may take longer to set.

How do I know when the mac and cheese is done?

It should be bubbly around the edges and set in the middle. A slight jiggle is okay since it will firm up as it cools.

Storing & Reheating 

This Southern-style mac and cheese makes great leftovers. Let the dish cool completely before storing it.

Fridge

Once the mac and cheese has cooled, cover the dish with plastic wrap or transfer the leftovers to an airtight container for up to 3-4 days.

Freezer

To freeze the mac and cheese, place portions in freezer-safe containers or bags. For the best quality, freeze them for up to 2 months.

Reheating

Reheat leftovers in the oven at 350 degrees Fahrenheit for 15-20 minutes until hot and bubbly. For individual portions, use the microwave, stirring in between intervals.

More Comfort Food Recipes

Loved this recipe?

If you enjoyed this recipe, please consider leaving a star rating and a comment below! Your feedback not only helps others discover my blog but also gives me valuable insights from your experience.

Don’t forget to subscribe to my newsletter for the latest recipes. Thank you for supporting Southern Cravings!

Southern-Style Mac and Cheese

Anna Kate
This Southern-style mac and cheese recipe is a true soul food classic! With just a few ingredients, including a generous amount of freshly shredded cheese, butter, and milk, it’s unbelievably hearty, comforting, and crowd-pleasing.
5
Servings 12
Prep Time 10 minutes
Cook Time 35 minutes

Ingredients
  

  • 1 lb elbow macaroni (cooked al dente)
  • 4 cups extra sharp cheddar cheese (freshly shredded)
  • 4 cups Colby jack cheddar blend (or another cheddar blend, freshly shredded)
  • 3 eggs
  • ½ cup unsalted butter (melted)
  • 1 cups whole milk
  • Salt and pepper (to taste)

Instructions
 

  • Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
  • Cook macaroni until just al dente or a little under al dente. Be careful not to overcook.
  • Drain pasta and set aside. Rinse with cool water to stop the cooking. Allow to cool.
  • In a large bowl, add pasta, salt, pepper, melted butter. Then, add 3 beaten eggs. Stir until well combined.
  • Add three cups of sharp cheddar cheese to your pasta and mix.
  • To a greased 9×13 casserole dish, add half of the macaroni mixture. Then, sprinkle two cups of Colby cheddar cheese blend over the pasta. Make sure the cheese is evenly distributed.
  • Then, top with the remaining macaroni mixture (similar to making a lasagna). Then, pour the milk over your pasta.
  • Sprinkle the remaining one cup of sharp cheddar cheese and two cups of colby jack over the top.
  • Bake covered with aluminum foil for 25-35 minutes, stirring halfway through. It may be a bit jiggly when you take it out of the oven. It will firm up as it cools.
  • Remove the foil and broil until brown.
  • Let cool for about 10-15 minutes or until fully set, and enjoy!

Nutrition

Calories: 579kcalCarbohydrates: 31gProtein: 28gFat: 38gSaturated Fat: 23gPolyunsaturated Fat: 2gMonounsaturated Fat: 10gTrans Fat: 0.3gCholesterol: 148mgSodium: 590mgPotassium: 194mgFiber: 1gSugar: 2gCalcium: 631mgIron: 1mg
Recipe Rating




This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.