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Southern Macaroni and Cheese [+ Video]

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When we think of macaroni and cheese we always think of Grandma Carol's ultimate comfort food, her cheesy Southern Macaroni and Cheese! ohsweetbasil.comWhen we think of macaroni and cheese we always think of Grandma Carol’s ultimate comfort food, her cheesy Southern Macaroni and Cheese!

When we think of macaroni and cheese we always think of Grandma Carol’s ultimate comfort food, her cheesy Southern Macaroni and Cheese!

When we think of macaroni and cheese we always think of Grandma Carol’s ultimate comfort food, her cheesy Southern Macaroni and Cheese!

When we think of macaroni and cheese we always think of Grandma Carol’s ultimate comfort food, her cheesy Southern Macaroni and Cheese!

When we think of macaroni and cheese we always think of Grandma Carol’s ultimate comfort food, her cheesy Southern Macaroni and Cheese!

sour cream macaroni and cheese in white baking dish

It’s so nice when we get to go back to the Carolinas to visit family; we wish we could go more often. There’s so much history there, and we love to see it all. As much as we love to visit all the places, we can’t wait to get together with family for some good old family food favorites and great chats. When we get together with Grandma Carol and Grandpa Lou it is a sure bet that one of the dishes will be macaroni and cheese and that not one morsel will be left in the dish at the end of the meal.

We carry on this tradition as often as we can with our little family.  The first time we made it with our little ones they did not recognize that it was the “real macaroni and cheese.”  They were used to one of their favorite boxed macaroni and cheese meals.

Don’t get me wrong, boxed macaroni and cheese is a life saver at those meal times when time is just not on your side. However, when we have the time we love making our southern macaroni and cheese from scratch, where every bite is full of cheesy, buttery, heart stopping goodness!

Southern macaroni and cheese is soul food and it’s much different from other mac and cheese recipes. Southern baked mac and cheese is not creamy like the macaroni and cheese Carrian grew up with. Carrian still prefers creamy macaroni and cheese with a panko bread crumb topping, but she can appreciate a baked southern macaroni and cheese.

 

close up of southern baked mac and cheese

What’s in Southern Macaroni and Cheese?

Most baked macaroni and cheese recipes stick to butter, milk, and cheese, but this southern version takes things to the next level with the addition of sour cream. There’s also a little salt in this recipe, plus a few eggs to bind everything together. 

For the cheese, we used a shredded sharp cheddar, but you’re welcome to play around with the type of cheese you use to suit your tastes. As for the pasta, we prefer classic elbow macaroni, but any short and sturdy pasta should work (just don’t use thin pasta like spaghetti!). 

How to Make Southern Macaroni and Cheese

This is such an easy macaroni and cheese recipe! To make this baked mac and cheese recipe with sour cream, follow these steps: 

  1. Cook the macaroni according to package instructions. 
  2. While still hot, place the cooked macaroni into a large bowl and stir in the butter and cheese. 
  3. In a separate bowl, whisk together the milk, eggs, sour cream, and salt. Stir into the macaroni mixture. 
  4. Turn the southern macaroni and cheese into a greased baking dish and sprinkle with additional shredded cheese. 
  5. Bake until the cheese is bubbly and golden brown on top. 

southern macaroni and cheese in white baking dish

Can I Double This Recipe? 

Very easily, yes! You’ll likely need to bake this homemade macaroni in cheese in two baking dishes, though. 

Can I Freeze Macaroni and Cheese? 

Unfortunately, you cannot. Dairy doesn’t freeze very well, so you’ll want to eat any leftovers within a week of making this sour cream macaroni and cheese. 

Is There an Egg Substitute I Can Use? 

No, you can’t substitute the eggs in this recipe. That’s just how Southern macaroni and cheese is made, sorry! 

Tips for Making the Best Macaroni and Cheese

It’s so important that you salt the pasta water. If you don’t salt the pasta water, the macaroni itself will be bland and it’s likely that your Southern macaroni and cheese won’t be as flavorful as it should be. 

You also must use whole or 2% milk in this easy macaroni and cheese recipe. That extra bit of fat in the milk adds moisture and flavor to the baked mac and cheese. Skim milk is a major no-no in this recipe! 

Lastly, there’s no sour cream substitute you can use in this recipe. If you want to make this recipe healthier by using a substitute like Greek yogurt…just don’t. Trust us, the sour cream is a game changer. 

Southern macaroni and cheese recipe

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Southern Macaroni and Cheese

Raised in the Kitchen - Carrian Cheney
182 days

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When we think of macaroni and cheese we always think of Grandma Carol's ultimate comfort food, her cheesy Southern Macaroni and Cheese! ohsweetbasil.com

Southern Macaroni and Cheese

4.11 from 119 votes
Servings: 6
When we think of macaroni and cheese we always think of Grandma Carol's ultimate comfort food, her cheesy Southern Macaroni and Cheese!

Ingredients

  • 1 Pound box elbow macaroni
  • 3 1/2 cups sharp cheddar cheese shredded (reserve 1 cup for topping)
  • 1/4 Cup Butter softened
  • 1 1/2 cups whole or 2% milk
  • 3 eggs beaten
  • 1/2 Cup Sour Cream
  • 1/2 Teaspoon Salt

Instructions

  • Preheat oven to 350 degrees and spray a 9x11" casserole dish.
  • Cook the macaroni per package instructions.
  • Place the pasta in a large bowl and while still hot and add 2 1/2 cups cheese and butter.
  • In a medium bowl, combine the remaining ingredients, whisking to combine, and add to the macaroni mixture.
  • Pour macaroni mixture into a casserole dish, top with remaining 1 cup of cheese and bake for 30 to 45 minutes.
  • Serve immediately.
Nutrition Facts
Southern Macaroni and Cheese
Amount Per Serving (1 g)
Calories 714
% Daily Value*
Cholesterol 182.4mg61%
Carbohydrates 61g20%
Fiber 2.4g10%
Sugar 5.9g7%
Protein 30.9g62%
* Percent Daily Values are based on a 2000 calorie diet.

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About the authors

carrian feik cheney oh sweet basil

Cade and Carrian have three children and love to spend time together whether it’s vacationing or snuggled up on the couch for a good movie.

And this family especially loves to eat.

They love everything from the keep you fit and healthy to the get out your sweat pants indulgent and everything in between.

But most of all, they love the memories made, shared and treasured and it’s all thanks to a meal shared together with loved ones.

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Recipe Rating




70 comments

  • This is how Southern Mac & Cheese is suppose to be. I’ve had it this was at countless diners, church suppers, and at my Grandmother and mothers table.

    May I suggest you try using condensed milk in the place of milk. It really does make a difference. At least that was how my mom did it and I assume my grandmother. Probably because growing up on a farm in rural GA during the depression, fresh milk wasn’t always available but there was always condensed milk in the cupboard.

    If you want egg to “curd”, you need at least 6 eggs.

    • Reply
    • Thank you so much for the feedback! I’ll have to try condensed milk the next time I make it!

      • Reply
  • After reading the comments I was a little skeptical of making this recipe. I am more than knowledgeable in the kitchen so wasnt so worried about curdling as I was about flavor (as many people said it was bland). I followed the recipe exact but added a tsp of seasoned salt and 1/2 tsp sea salt plus 1/2 tsp chicken bouillon and it was absolutely delicious. Thank you for the recipe!

    • Reply
    • Thank you so much for the feedback Jessica! So glad you enjoyed it!

      • Reply
    • Taste grest but presentation not
      Curdled.
      Won’t make it again

      • Reply
      • Hi Carolyn Sue! Did you whisk together the milk, eggs, sour cream and salt before adding that mixture to the cheesy pasta? The sour cream shouldn’t curdle if it was all mixed together properly. I’m so sorry it didn’t turn out the way you hoped!

  • This is my go-to Mac and cheese recipe! We’re from the south but as an Army family we move all over. I make this for potlucks wherever we go, and there are NEVER leftovers! It’s a favorite for family dinners as well!
    I usually end up using more cheese and seasonings than recommended. I like to use a combination of sharp cheddar and Monterey Jack cheese. I buy it in a big block and grate it fresh, it’s SO much better than pre-shredded. I probably at least double the salt, and I add a liberal amount of fresh ground pepper and a dash or two of cayenne…I basically shake until the voices of my southern ancestors whisper, “Stop, my child.” Highly recommend the seasoning additions!
    I also warm all of my dairy ingredients, namely the sour cream, and whisk it with the milk etc. That solved my curdling issues

    Love this recipe, thank you for sharing!

    • Reply
  • This is my go-to Mac and cheese recipe! We’re from the south but as an Army family we move all over. I make this for potlucks wherever we go, and there are NEVER leftovers! It’s a favorite for family dinners as well!
    I usually end up using more cheese and seasonings than recommended. I like to use a combination of sharp cheddar and Monterey Jack cheese. I buy it in a big block and grate it fresh, it’s SO much better than pre-shredded. I probably at least double the salt, and I add a liberal amount of fresh ground pepper and a dash or two of cayenne…I basically shake until the voices of my southern ancestors whisper, “Stop, my child.” Highly recommend the seasoning additions! Love this recipe, thank you for sharing!

    • Reply
    • I forgot to rate it! 5 stars! I should also add, I warm all the dairy ingredients so that they mix together and don’t curdle. I also use a whisk so it combines as much as possible! Hope that helps those who’ve had issues with lumpiness!

      • Reply
    • You are the best, Jordan! Thank you!! We love this mac and cheese so much! So glad you love it too!

      • Reply
  • This was pretty good. It was a little bland as others stated and the cheese was a little clumpy, maybe from the sour cream. I liked the fact that it uses things most people have in their kitchens

    • Reply
    • Thank you so much for the feedback!

      • Reply
  • What kind of butter do you use typically? Salted or unsalted? I always have unsalted on hand for baking.

    • Reply
    • I almost always use unsalted so that I can control the salt in a recipe. It is pretty rare that I buy salted butter unless a recipe specifically calls for it.

      • Reply
  • My kids and hubby enjoyed this southern mac and cheese recipe. I love that it’s simple and things that I already have in my pantry and refrigerator. They asked me to make it again. Lol.

    • Reply
    • Thank you for the feedback Myra! So glad you enjoyed it!

      • Reply
  • Hi! This recipe looks so yummy! My husband always wants me to make homemade Mac n cheese. I love that we don’t need to make a roux. He wants the crunchy topping on top? Can that be made in a separate pan and added to the top of the cheese before or after baking? 

    • Reply
    • Hi Amy! I would make this recipe as it is written and add your crunchy topping on top of the cheese for the last 5 or so minutes of the baking time. Enjoy!!

      • Reply
  • Hi. This recipe sounds so delicious that I am going to make it for Easter this year. Since I have to make it for at least 25 people, should I double every ingredient exactly?

    • Reply
    • Yes! I would double everything exactly. Enjoy!

      • Reply
  • I’m planning on making this some time this week. I was wondering if it would freeze well? Thanks for sharing!

    • Reply
    • Hi Mandy! It doesn’t unfortunately! Dairy just doesn’t do well frozen.

      • Reply
  • Can I cook this at 300 instead of 350? If so for how long? 

    • Reply
    • No, we really recommend cooking it at 350. If you do 300, it will need to bake for too long to bake thoroughly and will dry out.

      • Reply
  • Yes! So good and just like my mom made. Thank you for the recipe!

    • Reply
    • Thanks Melissa!! If we make something just like mom made, then I consider it a success!!

      • Reply
    • This was an easy recipe, and I was thankful for that! It tasted bland even after I salted the water and put more salt in it. Also, the sour cream seemed to curdle….white lumps ?? It wasn’t very appetizing. Not sure what I did wrong, but followed the recipe. Maybe will try again sometime.

      • Reply
      • Hey Jenn! Did you whisk together the milk, eggs, sour cream and salt before adding that mixture to the cheesy pasta? The sour cream shouldn’t curdle if it was all mixed together properly. I’m so sorry it didn’t turn out the way you hoped! With the salt and the sharp cheddar cheese, it shouldn’t be bland in flavor.

  • I honestly think 1 1/2 cups milk was too much. Mine is as very soupy. It’s still in the oven. I’m hoping it thickens. 

    • Reply
    • It should thicken right up in the oven! Enjoy!

      • Reply
  • Mmm, I love macaroni and cheese.. I can’t wait to try this delicious recipe. All that cheesy goodness!

    • Reply
    • It is like a cheesy dream come true!

      • Reply
  • Can this be made ahead of time…..Like assemble the macaroni and the cheese and then the next day whisk the other stuff together and pour it on top of the macaroni and cheese mixture so the noodles wouldn’t get soggy ? Also do you have to add the sour cream cause I have some in my family that arent very big sour cream eaters……Hoping for a reply before Christmas day

    • Reply
    • I’m so sorry! We took the last two days off to spend uninterrupted time with our kids! Did you try it? Yes, that should work great, and you can’t taste the sour cream in it, but you need it to get the right creamy texture.

      • Reply
      • This looks perfect for Thanksgiving! What are your thoughts on baking it the night before then reheating for the next day? How would you recommend reheating it?

      • Hi Kate! This is perfect for Thanksgiving, but it is not a good idea to make it the night before and reheat. Instead shred cheeses and cook the pasta but don’t combine until you’re ready bake and eat.

  • Hi!!  This recipe sounds so good and I making it for Thanksgiving… Can I make this ahead of time and just put in the fridge and bake it tomorrow? Thank you

    • Reply
    • Yes! Sorry our response is too late now, but yes! Hope it was good!

      • Reply
    • This is my all time favorite Mac and cheese recipe, I made it for every holiday party last year and it was a hit! It’s so simple and easy for us who aren’t the greatest in the kitchen!

      • Reply
      • Woop woop! Love to hear that, Margaret! Thanks for taking time to leave us some feedback!

  • What can I substitute for eggs?

    • Reply
    • There’s no substitute for the eggs, it is just how Southern mac & cheese is.

      • Reply
  • great recipe will make again. instant favorite for the entire family.

    • Reply
    • Thank you!

      • Reply
  • Followed the directions perfectly and the cheese turned out lumpy not creamy 

    • Reply
    • Hi Shana, I’m sorry that happened. I haven’t seen it turn out lumpy before. Was it a store brand of cheese or a name brand?

      • Reply
  • This recipe would really benefit from including measurements of salt for both the pasta water as it cooks and any additional salt to be added to the mixture. Not all pasta dishes call for the same amount of salt in the cooking water, and not all packages of pasta offer the same advice for salting the water. If, as seems to be the case here, there is no other salt called for in the recipe, it might be a good idea to note that instead of cooking the pasta per the directions on the package, you should generously salt the cooking water. I tend to fall somewhere in the mid-range on salting pasta water, and it this case it resulted in a really bland dish. I can see why, absent instruction in the recipe, others had the same experience.

    • Reply
  • Can this be doubled and baked in a 9×13 or should I do two separate dishes?

    • Reply
  • SOOOO perfectly cheesy!!!!

    • Reply
  • This recipe is perfect timing!

    • Reply
  • I made this twice and it was pretty bland. I think it needs more salt…or something.

    • Reply
    • Hi Stacey,

      Are you salting your pot of water well? That will completely change the dish as it seasons the noodles, otherwise they will be so bland.

      • Reply
    • I boil my pasta in chicken broth and it really adds a great flavor. Could also use vegetable broth.

      • Reply
      • That sounds extra yummy!

  • What temperature for the oven? Bake for how long.
    I dont see it in the reciepe above.

    Thanks

    • Reply
    • Hi Susan, the full recipe is farther down the page and it lists everything you need to know

      • Reply
  • Just made this last night and was so happy with the results! Absolutely delicious!

    • Reply
    • Did you cover it while it baked?

      • Reply
      • Hi Becky, we don’t usually cover it as it tends to steam it, but if it’s getting too brown on top we will.

    • Thank you so much!

      • Reply
  • Could I use a glass baking dish instead of a casserole dish?

    • Reply
    • Hi Alyssa, absolutely!

      • Reply
  • This was awesome!I am curious to know if it would be safe to mix it up a day ahead of baking it?

    • Reply
    • Hi JP, We haven’t ever mixed it up a whole day ahead, so I can’t say for certain, however I would worry that the pasta would take on too much of the liquid and be mushy. 🙁

      • Reply
  • YES-this is exactly my kind of mac and cheese!!! I adore it

    • Reply
  • Apologizing for what might be an obvious answer that I can’t seem to find – but does the butter get put in with the remaining ingredients and whisked? is it melted first? Maybe it goes in with the hot pasta?
    I’m so clueless. 😀

    • Reply
    • Hi Rebecca,
      You can add it with the sour cream or I like to add it to the hot pasta with the cheese. 🙂

      • Reply
  • I would also strongly urge not to change the quantity of the ingredients. At least for the first time you make it. For us they are perfect!

    • Reply
  • This particular Mac ‘n Cheese is the bomb. My wife tried different recipes for years until she settled on this style and ingredients. It canalso be topped with panko every once in a while also.

    • Reply
    • Yes, we loooooove panko on top! Thanks!

      • Reply

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