Southern Mac and Cheese is easy to make, loaded with flavor, and perfect to share with your friends and family. Few ingredients and worth every bite!
Macaroni and Cheese is one of those dishes that can go very wrong very fast.
Which is actually surprising when you think about the few ingredients that are involved.
This dish is also not that complicated at all, but I have had some mac and cheese that is too dry, too wet, not enough pasta, too much pasta, not enough cheese, no seasoning…the whole thing sounds like a science experiment gone wrong. The best mac and cheese to me has all of those things in the perfect balance.
I had an uncle that made the absolute best mac and cheese ever! He only used Cracker Barrel cheese, along with a little bit of sugar, and instead of milk, he used heavy cream and half-and-half. It was always amazing and at get-togethers, if it was on the table, there was definitely not going to be any leftovers for you to take home to enjoy later.
Legends are made of this stuff.
Over the years, I have tried to duplicate his recipe with no success, but along the way, I came up with my own version that I will share with you now.
This recipe makes a large rectangle 9×13 inch baking dish, but you can cut the recipe in half and bake it in a square baking dish instead. I took a page from my uncle’s book and chose to use half-and-half and heavy cream instead of milk. It definitely makes for a thick and creamy cheese sauce that binds well to the cooked macaroni pasta. For the shredded cheese, it is best to buy the cheese in bulk (the block) and shred it yourself because it melts so much better in my opinion. You can also use a mixture of cheese such as half sharp cheddar cheese and half Gouda. Whatever combination you prefer as there really aren’t any rules for this part.
Southern Mac and Cheese
- 6 cups cooked elbow macaroni
- 8 tablespoons unsalted butter
- 4 tablespoons all-purpose flour
- 2 cups half and half
- 1 cup heavy cream
- 1/2 teaspoon dry ground mustard
- 1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 1 teaspoon ground black pepper
- 4 cups shredded cheese + extra for topping
- Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F. and set aside a 9x13 inch baking dish.
- Using a large pot, melt the butter over medium-high heat.
- Add the flour, stirring constantly until completely dissolved and thick.
- Slowly stir in the half and half and heavy cream. Cook for 2-3 minutes to thicken.
- Stir in the mustard, garlic powder, salt and pepper.
- Add the cheese, stirring the sauce to allow the cheese to completely melt. About 2 to 3 minutes.
- Add the cooked pasta and stir until fully covered in the cheese sauce. Pour into the prepared baking dish.
- Spread evenly, top with additional shredded cheese, and place in the oven to bake for 20 minutes, until golden and bubbly.
- Serve warm.