This 20-minute baked southern mac and cheese is the best because there are only 4 simple ingredients. Elbow macaroni, shredded cheese, milk, and butter. No flour, roux, or egg required!
Only 4 simple steps. Sometimes, the simplest recipes are the best! That’s my southern wisdom 😁
Why We Love This Recipe
Simplicity. What I really love about this creamy southern mac & cheese is the simplicity of it. Homemade goodness with real ingredients! Nothing artificial and so much better than the boxed version. My southern grandies choose homemade over the boxed brand any day!
Virtually no prep involved other than cooking the macaroni. Simply add butter, milk, and cheese to the cooked macaroni. Bake for a few minutes to get it bubbly hot.
Just 4 basic ingredients are needed. Six if you count any salt and pepper you may add. Some macaroni and cheese recipes call for flour, however, no flour is needed for this one!
This recipe makes about 6 servings. I consider it a small batch. However, this recipe can easily be doubled for a larger crowd. It's the perfect side dish for any occasion such as a holiday, cookout, or office party.
What to Serve with Mac and Cheese
This is one of my favorite pasta side dishes because it goes with almost everything. I love an easy side dish especially when your main dish may be more involved. Plus, it's just easier to make and take a side dish like this to something like a potluck or party.
Mac and cheese can be served with chicken or steak; fish or pork; hot dogs and hamburgers! Serve with my juicy and delicious New York Strip steak recipe!
There are a ton of different macaroni and cheese dishes out there! You can find a recipe for it in just about every cookbook ever printed. Some are baked and some are cooked on the stove. Some dishes even have different toppings (discussed below).
However, the one thing every recipe has in common is this: comfort food! Serving macaroni & cheese for the holidays is a southern tradition!
What Goes Into This Recipe
Elbow macaroni, shredded cheddar cheese (or sharp cheddar cheese), real butter, and whole milk. That's it! Simple mac and cheese recipe without flour creates a smooth, creamy texture.
How to Make Baked Mac and Cheese
Just 4 simple steps: Cook pasta and drain. Add butter, milk, and cheese to the hot cooked pasta. Stir well. Pour into a baking dish and bake. Scoop, plate (or bowl), and enjoy! Try my Best Southern Meatloaf! It goes FANTASTIC with this easy peasy macaroni cheese recipe!
You can watch my Google Web Story at Easy Homemade Mac and Cheese.
Frequently Asked Questions
Sausage is a great main entree to serve with mac and cheese. Try my easy Brats in the Oven recipe. Delicious and super easy sheet pan recipe!
Simply add a little bit more milk to the mac and cheese if it's not creamy enough for you. Or when re-heating it, you may need to add a small amount of milk (a tablespoon at a time) to get your preferred consistency.
Yes, and it's easy to do! Once completely cooled off, place it in a freezer-safe container, write the date on it, and it will keep fresh for up to 3 months. Tip: wrap the freezer-safe container in plastic wrap to prevent freezer burn or ice crystals. When ready to eat, let thaw in the refrigerator overnight and reheat in the microwave.
Tips and Substitutions
- Instead of elbow macaroni, use shells, bow tie, or penne.
- Instead of yellow cheddar cheese, use white cheddar, American cheese, or Velveeta cheese.
- Sprinkle with a little cayenne pepper for an amazing kick.
- Top off your mac and cheese with ketchup! Yes, ketchup!
- Other topping ideas may include cooked chopped bacon or panko bread crumbs.
- Any other suggestions? Let me know!
This recipe makes about 6 servings. For a larger crowd, double the recipe!
Store any leftovers in airtight containers in the refrigerator for up to 3 days. I prefer to use BPA-free glass containers with locking lids. Check out this 18-piece set of glass food storage containers with locking lids from Bayco, available now on Amazon. To reheat, add a tablespoon of milk to cold mac & cheese, stir, and heat in the microwave.
More Pasta Recipes You'll Love
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Easy Southern Mac and Cheese
- 2-¼ cups uncooked elbow macaroni
- 4 tablespoons butter
- ¾ cup milk
- 3 cups shredded cheddar cheese (divided)
- salt and pepper, if desired
- Preheat oven to 375F.
- In a large pot, cook the macaroni according to the package directions. Then, drain in a colander. Return pasta to the pot.
- Add the butter to the hot pasta and stir until butter is melted. Then add the milk.
- Add 2-½ cups of cheddar cheese to the pasta mixture, and stir well. Pour the mac and cheese into a casserole dish, top with ½ cup cheese, and bake at 375F for 5-10 minutes or until hot and bubbly.