Southern Baked Mac and Cheese

published Jun 14, 2022
Juneteenth
Southern Baked Mac and Cheese Recipe

An authentic Southern-style, cast-iron skillet mac and cheese recipe that delivers that perfect cheesy, crispy crust that you can't get enough of.

Serves8 to 10

Prep15 minutes

Cook50 minutes

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White ceramic/cast iron skillet with mac and cheese, shot from overhead. A large metal spoon is taking out a scoop.
Credit: Photo: Julia Gartland; Food Styling: Duncan Fitzpatrick

If there’s one thing I love, it’s mac and cheese. And this recipe is high on my list of Juneteenth-worthy dishes. This cheesy delicacy has been a staple at countless events throughout my life, but it’s not just any old version of mac and cheese — it’s Southern baked mac and cheese. 

What’s Special About Southern Baked Mac & Cheese?

Filled to the brim with two kinds of cheddar, this version differs from many other recipes with its use of a cast iron skillet. While stovetop mac and cheese may be a quicker option, this is the way that you’ll find it made most frequently in the South. And trust me — the cheesy, crunchy crust combined with the savory filling will quickly lure you in. 

This mac and cheese gets its rich creaminess from a healthy amount of butter and a couple of eggs whisked into the heavy cream. As the casserole bakes, all of that combines into a delicious, custardy texture that will keep you coming back for more.

This recipe means so much to me because it’s something that I’ve been eating almost my entire life. From after-service dinner on Sundays with my grandparents in South Georgia, to annual family reunions in the heart of Atlanta, this Southern baked mac and cheese is one dish that I could spend a lifetime making — and I can’t think of a better way to celebrate a holiday as special as Juneteenth. After making this yourself, I hope you feel the same way that I do. 

Credit: Photo: Julia Gartland; Food Styling: Duncan Fitzpatrick

Southern Baked Mac and Cheese Recipe

An authentic Southern-style, cast-iron skillet mac and cheese recipe that delivers that perfect cheesy, crispy crust that you can't get enough of.

Prep time 15 minutes

Cook time 50 minutes

Serves 8 to 10

Nutritional Info

Ingredients

  • 1 pound

    dried elbow macaroni

  • 1 pound

    sharp cheddar cheese (not pre-shredded)

  • 1 pound

    mild cheddar cheese (not pre-shredded)

  • 6 tablespoons

    (3/4 stick) unsalted butter

  • 1 1/2 teaspons

    kosher salt

  • 2 teaspoons

    ground white pepper

  • 2 cups

    heavy cream

  • 2

    large eggs

  • Cooking spray

Instructions

  1. Arrange a rack in the middle of the oven and heat the oven to 350ºF.

  2. Bring a heavily salted medium pot of water to a boil over medium-high heat. Add 1 pound dried elbow macaroni and cook according to package directions until a minute or two less than al dente. Meanwhile, grate 1 pound sharp and 1 pound mild cheese on the large holes of a box grater (about 4 cups each). Set aside 1 cup of each for sprinkling.

  3. Drain the macaroni and rinse under cold water. Melt 6 tablespoons unsalted butter in the now-empty pot over medium heat. Turn off the heat. Return the macaroni to the pot, add 1 1/2 teaspoons kosher salt and 2 teaspoons ground white pepper, and toss to combine.

  4. Place 2 cups heavy cream and 2 large eggs in a medium bowl and whisk to combine. Pour over the pasta, add the cheeses, and stir until combined.

  5. Coat a 10-inch cast iron skillet or 8 or 9-inch square baking dish with cooking spray. Transfer the macaroni mixture into the pan and spread into an even layer. Sprinkle with the reserved cheese.

  6. Bake until the top is golden brown, 30 to 45 minutes. If a browner top is desired, move to a higher oven rack and broil until darker golden brown on top, 2 to 3 minutes. Let cool for 10 to 15 minutes before serving.

Recipe Notes

Storage: Leftovers can be refrigerated in an airtight container for up to 4 days.