Southern Mac and Cheese
This Southern mac and cheese is comforting, cheesy and so creamy! Both kids and adults love this recipe. It is quick and easy enough for busy weeknights. This classic Southern dish is the perfect recipe for family dinners, holidays, barbecues, and more. You and your family will love it!
Why You’ll Love This Recipe
- This Southern mac and cheese is easy and quick!
- It is extra creamy and cheesy. These Cheese Quesadillas are so cheesy too!
- Great for lunch, dinner, meal prep and leftovers.
- This can be served as a main dinner or side dish.
- The sauce is so cheesy!
- It has the feel of a casserole since it is baked in one dish.
- Feel free to add in some chicken, bacon or pork.
- This is made without eggs and without Velveeta cheese.
- This recipe can be made with gluten free ingredients. Use gluten free pasta and gluten free flour.
- Check out this Lobster Mac and Cheese or this Homemade Lasagna for another delicious dinner!
Ingredients & Substitutions
These are the main ingredients and substitutions for Southern mac and cheese. Scroll down to the recipe card for full ingredients list and instructions.
Both regular macaroni and gluten free macaroni can be used. Or, feel free to use any shape pasta. Barilla makes a great gluten free option.
Unsalted butter and flour create the thick slurry. Feel free to use dairy free butter and gluten free flour.
Whole milk adds creaminess. Replace with half and half or cream if needed.
Evaporated milk adds a thick creamy texture. If in a pinch, replace with milk. It will not be quite as creamy though.
Onion powder and garlic powder add great flavor. Feel free to add even more if desired.
Both sea salt and pepper add a little flavor.
Cajun seasoning brings some Southern flavor! Use store bought or homemade. Creole seasoning can be used as well.
Mozzarella cheese and sharp cheddar cheese add the cheesy flavor and texture. These are two of the best cheeses for mac and cheese.
Garnish with a little extra cheese on top before baking. This will become melted!
Taste & Texture
This Southern style baked mac and cheese is hearty and flavorful! It tastes like classic mac and cheese with a very slight kick of spice.
The texture is super creamy and cheesy!
How to Make
First, cook macaroni according to directions. Rinse, drain and set pasta aside. Spray a baking dish with nonstick spray. Preheat oven to 375 degrees Fahrenheit.
Meanwhile, add the butter to a large skillet over medium heat. Once butter has melted, whisk in the flour. Continue to whisk to create a thick slurry.
Add in the whole milk, evaporated milk, onion powder, garlic powder, sea salt, black pepper and Cajun seasoning. Bring to a light simmer for 2 minutes or until slightly thickened.
Add mozzarella cheese and sharp cheddar cheese to the skillet. Stir until thick and creamy. Turn off heat.
Add the cooked macaroni to the skillet. Stir until fully coated.
Pour macaroni into the greased pan. Add extra cheese on top.
Bake for 18 to 20 minutes.
Finally, remove Southern mac and cheese from oven. Serve!
Expert Tips & Tricks
Use regular or gluten free pasta and flour. Both work well!
Both store bought and homemade Cajun seasoning work well.
The cheesy sauce is relatively thick. Continue stirring to prevent burning.
Bake this Southern style mac and cheese until melted on top and bubbly around the edges.
Flavor Variations & Add Ins
Here are some fun ways to switch up the flavors of this Southern mac and cheese.
Add in crispy bacon bits.
Add in shredded or grilled chicken.
Use another type of cheese. Gruyere, gouda, and Monterey Jack are great options.
Add in crumbled sausage or ground beef.
Add in finely chopped peppers and onions.
Mix in some pulled pork or carnitas.
For a spicy flavor, add in some paprika or cayenne pepper. A little bit goes a long way!
How to Serve & Store
Serve Southern baked mac and cheese hot and fresh from the oven!
For total comfort food, serve with this Gluten Free Cornbread.
Store leftovers in the fridge for up to 4 days.
To make ahead of time, make recipe as is but do not bake. Then, store in fridge until ready to eat. Bake.
Frequently Asked Questions
Southern mac and cheese is extra creamy, cheesy and usually has a little Cajun seasoning.
Sure! Add in shredded, diced or chopped grilled chicken to the pan before baking.
Yes! Add in fully cooked bacon to the pan before baking.
The best cheese for mac and cheese is mozzarella, cheddar, gouda, gruyere, and Monterrey Jack.
Sure! Prepare ahead of time. Then bake before eating.
Pyrex Glass Measuring Cups: These are the best measuring cups for baking and cooking.
Whisk: Use this whisk to create the slurry and cheese sauce.
Staub Baking Dishes: I used the larger of these pans for this recipe. They are durable, stunning and easy to clean.
Our Place Always Pan: This is my favorite nonstick pan.
You May Also Like
If you make this Southern mac and cheese recipe, I would really appreciate a review! You can find me on Instagram, Facebook, and Pinterest. Join my exclusive Facebook Group for a behind the scenes look. I would love for you to follow along! For more ideas, see these Lunch and Dinner Recipes.
Get the Recipe: Southern Mac and Cheese
- 8 ounces macaroni, cooked and drained
- 2 tbsp unsalted butter
- 2 tbsp flour, regular or gluten free
- 1 cup whole milk
- 12 ounces evaporated milk
- 1 tsp onion powder
- 1 tbsp garlic powder
- ½ tsp sea salt
- ½ tsp black pepper
- 1 tsp Cajun seasoning
- ¾ cup mozzarella cheese
- ¾ cup sharp cheddar cheese
- extra cheese, to garnish
- First, cook macaroni according to directions. Rinse, drain and set aside. Spray a 10.5 inch by 7.5 inch baking dish with nonstick spray. Preheat oven to 375 degrees Fahrenheit.
- Meanwhile, add butter to a large skillet over medium heat. Once butter has melted, whisk in flour. Continuing whisking to create a thick slurry.
- Add in the whole milk, evaporated milk, onion powder, garlic powder, sea salt, black pepper and Cajun seasoning. Bring to a light simmer for 2 minutes or until slightly thickened.
- Add mozzarella cheese and sharp cheddar cheese to the skillet. Stir until thick and creamy. Turn off heat.
- Add the cooked macaroni to the skillet. Stir until coated.
- Pour into the greased pan. Add extra cheese on top.
- Bake for 18 to 20 minutes or until cheesy is melted on top and edges are bubbly.
- Finally, remove from oven. Serve!
- Both regular and gluten free pasta and flour work in this recipe. For these photos and recipe testing, I always use 100% gluten free ingredients.
- Feel free to use store bought or homemade Cajun seasoning.
- The cheese sauce mixture will be pretty thick.
- I used a 10.5 inch by 7.5 inch baking pan. Feel free to use a 9 inch by 9 inch pan.
- Bake until edges are bubbly and cheese on top is melted.
- Store leftovers in the fridge for up to 4 days.
- To make this ahead of time, follow this recipe but do not bake it yet. Cover and chill for up to 3 days until ready to eat. Then bake.
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