Southern Baked Mac and Cheese is more than just a dish; it’s a tradition, a comfort food that brings families together. It’s the perfect side dish for any meal, a rich and creamy recipe that is expected at every family gathering and Sunday dinner. This guide will take you through the process of making the perfect Southern Baked Mac and Cheese, with tips and tricks to make it even better.
The Quintessential Mac and Cheese Recipe
Every home cook needs to have a good mac and cheese recipe in their repertoire. This recipe is a family favorite side dish, one that has been shared countless times over the years. It’s not just a recipe; it’s a legacy passed down through generations.
While this recipe does require some time to prepare, it’s not difficult. The results are absolutely worth the time invested. Rich, creamy, cheesy, and bordering on decadence, this mac and cheese recipe is perfect for family gatherings, holidays, potlucks, or just as an addition to a Sunday dinner. After all, comfort food is called so for a reason.
Ingredients for Southern Mac and Cheese
The ingredients for this recipe are simple and easily available. You will need:
- 1 pound elbow macaroni
- 2 cups (8 ounces) shredded Cheddar cheese
- 2 cups (8 ounces) shredded Monterey Jack cheese
- 1 package (16 oz.) Velveeta Original Loaf, cut into chunks
- 1-1/4 cup milk
- 2 large eggs
- Salt and pepper, to taste
- 1/2 cup (1 stick) butter
Preparing Southern Mac and Cheese
The process of making Southern Mac and Cheese is straightforward and easy to follow. Here are the steps:
- Preheat the Oven: Start by preheating your oven to 375°F. Spray a 9×13-in. baking dish with cooking spray and set it aside.
- Cook and Drain the Noodles: Cook the elbow macaroni according to the package directions and drain. Rinse the noodles with cold water to cool and stop the cooking process, then allow them to drain.
- Melt and Stir: Place the Velveeta and the milk into a medium saucepan and heat over medium-low heat until the cheese is melted, stirring often. Remove from the heat and set aside.
- Temper the Eggs: Crack the eggs into a small bowl and whisk until combined. Add a scoop (about ⅓ to ½ cup) of the cheese sauce to the eggs to temper them, whisking well as you add the cheese sauce. Quickly add the egg mixture to the remainder of the cheese sauce in the pan, whisking until well combined.
- Assemble the Casserole: Place half of the macaroni into the prepared pan. Season with salt and pepper. Slice half of the stick of butter into thin pieces and place the butter pats evenly on top of the macaroni. Sprinkle half of the Cheddar and half of the Monterey Jack cheese evenly over the top. Ladle or pour half of the cheese sauce evenly over the top. Repeat the layers – macaroni, salt and pepper, butter, Cheddar, and Monterey Jack, cheese sauce.
- Bake: Bake uncovered for 30-35 minutes or until bubbly and the top is lightly browned.
Southern Mac and Cheese: FAQs
Can this dish be made ahead?
Absolutely. It can be refrigerated for 3-4 days. You can also freeze it for up to 3 months.
What are some good seasonings for mac and cheese?
While salt and pepper are the classics, you can also add Italian seasoning, Creole/Cajun seasoning, hot sauce, or chili powder & cumin. Finely diced jalapenos, cooked and crumbled bacon, tuna and peas, or hot dogs can also be added to change things up. Breadcrumbs on the top can add a nice crunch.
Can you rebake leftovers?
Yes, you can! Place the leftovers in a baking dish coated with cooking spray or oil. Cover with aluminum foil and bake at 375°F for about 15-20 minutes or until heated through.
Can I double this recipe?
Yes, this recipe can easily be doubled. Just make sure you have a pan large enough to hold all of the noodles, cheese, and sauce. Or, divide it between two baking dishes!
This Southern Baked Mac and Cheese is sure to hit the spot. It’s a staple at many family get-togethers and at every holiday meal. It’s also great when we’re craving down-home comfort food for Sunday dinner.