Mac and Cheese is a dish with such rich history tied to it here in the South. We have it at just about every holiday or celebration dinner. Perfecting a Mac and Cheese recipe is sort of a right of passage in Black families. You have to EARN the privilege of being tasked with bringing the Mac and Cheese to the family gathering. I love to create different variations of the classic and add interesting ingredients such as meats and veggies. However, the classic Southern Mac and Cheese is usually the go to and for good reason!
Making Southern Mac and Cheese
The secret to a good Southern Mac and Cheese, other than the cheese of course, is the béchamel sauce! Béchamel is really just a fancy word for a cream based gravy.
First, cook your macaroni according to the package instructions. Be sure and cook just until al dente as the noodles will continue while baking.
Sauté your chopped onion in your butter until translucent. Add garlic and sauté until fragrant.
Add flour to pan and stir to incorporate with the butter. Stir and cook a minute or two to cook out the raw flour taste.
Slowly add half and half to flour mixture, whisking constantly so lumps do not form. Season with spices and continue to simmer until sauce slightly thickens.
Mix in cheeses, reserving some for the top. Add salt and pepper to taste. Next, add cooked macaroni to pan with cheese sauce and stir to combine.
Transfer Mac and Cheese to buttered baking dish and bake until top is golden and bubbling. It should smell divine!!
I know lots of people are intimidated by making Southern Mac and Cheese but I say just don't overthink it and go for it! Experiment with different cheeses and spices and have fun. I hope you enjoy this Southern Mac and Cheese recipe as much as my family and I do!
You Will Also Love This Buffalo Chicken Mac and Cheese Recipe!
Southern Mac and Cheese
- 4 tablespoons unsalted butter
- ¼ cup chopped onion
- 1 teaspoon chopped garlic
- 2 tablespoons flour
- 1 ½ cup half and half
- ½ -1 tablespoon onion powder
- 2 teaspoons garlic powder
- ½ -1 teaspoon creole seasoning
- ¼ teaspoon cayenne pepper
- ½ cup mozzarella cheese grated
- ½ cup sharp cheddar cheese grated
- ½ cup Gouda cheese grated
- Salt and pepper to taste
- 8 ounce uncooked Macaroni noodles
- Cook macaroni according to the package directions. Drain.
- Add butter to skillet, as soon as butter melts, add chopped onion and garlic and sauté until garlic is fragrant, whisk in flour . Continue whisking until flour is completely mixed in with butter. Then cook for about a minute to get rid of the flour taste.
- Slowly add half and half a small amount at a time, stirring constantly so lumps do not form. Simmer for about 3-5 minutes until mixture thickens slightly.
- Add seasonings, onion and garlic powder, creole seasoning and cayenne pepper.
- Bring to a simmer and let it simmer gently for about 2 minutes.
- Stir in the cheeses, reserving some for topping. Stir until cheese is melted and sauce is smooth. Add salt and pepper to taste.
- Then add the cooked pasta to the pot, stir to evenly incorporate.
- Transfer the pasta mixture into a the pan or into a lightly greased 2-qt. baking dish; top with remaining cheese.
- Bake at 375 Degrees F° for 20-25 minutes or until golden and bubbly.