Southern Baked Mac And Cheese

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Southern baked mac and cheese recipe – the soul food way!

Mac and cheese is one of my favorite southern comfort foods and a favorite of many households.

Even though I love mac and cheese, I don’t always want to make it traditional.

There are many variations of this classic dish. One such variation is southern baked mac and cheese- the soul food way!

This recipe is made with rich, creamy cheese sauce and southern soul food flavorings that taste like someone stewed over it in the kitchen all day!

 

Watch the video – how to make quick southern baked mac and cheese

 

 

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African-American macaroni and cheese recipes

Baked mac and cheese the James Hemings way

Baked mac and cheese is just one of the many soul food cuisines turned American dishes. This yummy dish has a really old history.

Known initially as macaroni pie, baked mac and cheese was created by James Hemings, an African American slave trained as a culinary chef in France.

Hemings was born in Virginia in 1765, and at eight years old, he becomes one of Thomas Jefferson’s many slaves at his Monticello plantation.

At age 19, Jefferson takes young Hemings with him to France to train in the art of French cooking.

 

African American Macaroni And Cheese Recipes

 

Did a Black person invent mac and cheese?

James Hemings was a highly trained cook known to many modern-day chefs and culinary historians alike – a notable African American chef who helped created and define American cuisine as we know it today.

According to Netflix’s soul food documentary High On The Hog, where an all-Black creative team tells the story of African American food, baked mac and cheese is initially cooked in a mixture of boiling water and milk.

Hemings placed sharp American cheese in between layers of butter and milk-coated macaroni. Then baked in a Dutch oven over an open-hearth fireplace stove with hot coals placed on the pot’s lid to bake.

Today, we can make easy macaroni and cheese while still incorporating the original recipe’s culinary technique, much safer (no open fire needed) inside an Instant Pot!

 

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How did mac and cheese become soul food?

Hemings’ legacy of baked mac and cheese continued long after the Emancipation Proclamation in the 1860s.

Macaroni and cheese began to have new meanings and multiple identities in the Black community.

Mac and cheese became “a celebratory dish, a convenient comfort food, and a meal stretcher for impoverished families.”

We recognize this dish today as soul food!

 

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How do you make southern baked mac and cheese the Black way?

When I think of a traditional Southern meal, baked mac and cheese is one of the first things that come to mind. A delicious combo of two perfect comfort foods- macaroni and cheese can be found all over the southern states.

Southern mac and cheese, which originated in my home state of Virginia, is a popular recipe passed along from chefs like Hemings in the 1700s.

Its legacy continues as it’s been passed along from generation to generation and handed down from chef to chef through today.

Southern baked mac and cheese – the Black way -now includes additional ingredients along with its traditional elbow noodles, butter, and milk.

Nowadays, this soul food recipe is prepared with salt, pepper, garlic, onion, paprika, flour, milk, and a mix of cheeses. Commonly mozzarella, cheddar, and American cheese, baked until creamy on top and golden brown on the edges!

Some southern baked mac and cheese recipes interchange evaporated milk and sweetened condensed milk.

 

What milk is best for mac and cheese?

While whole milk is the best version for this baked mac and cheese recipe because it’s the creamiest, other milk substitutes can be used.

Reduced-fat milk and milk alternatives will still yield a yummy mac and cheese without complaint.

 

Can you make macaroni and cheese in the slow cooker?

Mac and cheese is also one of the easiest dishes to make, but when you hear “slow cooker,” your first thought might be that it would take all day. 

Not so! Slow cookers are a great way to make macaroni and cheese. You can have mac and cheese ready in less than an hour if you use the right ingredients and follow these simple instructions. 

The best part about this recipe is that it requires only one pot. There is no need for multiple dishes and pots – just your slow cooker (or Instant Pot with a slow cooker setting)!

For baked mac and cheese, the extra baking step is necessary to achieve that golden bubbly texture!

 

Baked Mac And Cheese Recipe Ingredients

 

What is Black mac and cheese?

Black mac and cheese is southern baked mac and cheese the way Black people make it with milk and lots of soul food seasonings and flavors.

Get ready for the most delicious baked mac and cheese you’ve ever tasted!

Rich in delicious southern, soulful flavors. 

 

Ingredients for baked mac and cheese southern soul food

  • 4 tablespoons of unsalted butter (divided – 1 tablespoon & 3 tablespoons)
  • 2 tablespoons of flour
  • ¼ cup of heavy cream
  • 1 cup of shredded sharp cheddar cheese
  • 1 cup of shredded Colby-jack cheese
  •  ½ teaspoon of salt 
  •  ½ teaspoon of black pepper
  • ½ teaspoon of garlic powder
  • ½ teaspoon of onion powder
  • 1 teaspoon of dried mustard
  • 1 teaspoon of paprika
  • 3 cups of water
  • 4 ¼ cups of milk (divided – 1 ¼ cups & 3 cups)
  • 8 oz. uncooked macaroni noodles

 

What milk is best for mac and cheese?

 

How to make baked mac and cheese the Black way

Instructions

  1. Turn the Instant Pot on the sauté setting for 25 minutes (although you may not need this entire amount of time)
  2. Fill the Instant Pot stainless steel inner pot with 3 cups of milk, 3 cups of water and 1 tablespoon of butter. 
  3. Pro tip- For baked mac and cheese the Black way, use milk to coat the macaroni and give it a smooth, silky texture. Perfect for layering on cheese!
  4. Once the water begins to simmer, add the macaroni and cook according to the package directions, stirring occasionally to make sure the macaroni does not clump & stick. 
  5. Drain the macaroni and set it aside.
  6. Add the 3 tablespoons of butter to the empty inner pot and turn it back on the sauté setting.
  7. When the butter is melted, add the flour, 1 ¼ cups of milk, and seasonings (salt, pepper, garlic powder, onion powder, dried mustard and paprika) and whisk until smooth. 
  8. Change the Instant Pot cook setting from sauté to slow cook for 1-hour (although you will not need this entire amount of time).
  9. While the cook setting changes from sauté to slow cook, allow the ingredients to simmer for about 3 minutes until the mixture thickens slightly.
  10. Stir in the cheeses (reserve some for topping when baking).
  11. Close the Instant Pot with the lid and let slow cook for 5-10 minutes until the cheeses are blended.
  12. Open the lid to add the cooked pasta and the heavy cream to the inner pot, stirring the mixture to blend evenly.
  13. Transfer the pasta mixture into a pan or a lightly greased 2-qt baking dish.
  14. Top with the remaining shredded cheese.
  15. Bake in the Instant Pot Omni Plus oven at 350 degrees for 20 minutes or until golden and bubbly. Or bake in the conventional oven for 25 minutes or until mac and cheese is golden and bubbly.
  16. Optionally, garnish with a sprinkle of dry thyme or 4-5 fresh thyme sprigs.
  17. Serve and enjoy!

Pro tip: Make sure not to walk away from the Instant Pot when using the sauté setting to avoid burning or over-cooking.

 

Southern Baked Mac And Cheese Recipe

 

Baked mac and cheese cooking tips

It’s time for some cooking tips! 

Southern baked mac and cheese is a classic dish that everyone loves. However, it can sometimes be challenging to know how to make the perfect version of this timeless favorite, so I’m here with some cooking tips for baked mac and cheese, so you never have to worry about making a bad batch again!

Start with a good quality macaroni. Cook the elbow macaroni according to the package instructions. Add a drizzle of olive oil to the water to keep noodles from sticking.

Make sure you’re using a baking dish that’s not too deep. A 12″ x 18″ rectangular dish or medium-size cast iron skillet are perfect for this oven recipe!

 

Don’t skimp on the cheese! 

Use enough cheddar cheese so that you can see it peeking out of the top of your dish while baking. 

Cover as much surface area as possible for maximum browning potential.

Sprinkle some shredded Parmesan over the top (optional) before popping into the oven if desired for an extra burst of flavor.

 

Baked Mac And Cheese The Black Way

 

What toppings can you put on baked mac and cheese?

The options for macaroni and cheese toppings are endless. 

From crunchy to creamy, spicy to sweet, there’s a topping out there for everyone! 

Take a look at some top favorite combinations.

  1. Bacon bits
  2. Panko bread crumbs topping
  3. Fresh tomatoes, sliced thinly
  4. Chopped green onions
  5. Diced bell peppers or pimientos
  6. Dry thyme or fresh thyme sprigs
  7. Shredded parmesan cheese

 

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  • Parmesan cheese

This is the most popular of the mac and cheese topping because it adds flavor without adding too many calories.

  • Bacon bits:

Bacon makes everything better!

  • Chopped green onion:

If you like things on the salty side, then this will be your favorite way to add some zing to your baked mac and cheese recipe.

  • Shredded cheddar:

For those who like their macaroni and cheese with a kick, shredded cheddar is the way to go.

  • Sour cream:

If you want something creamy but not too heavy on the stomach, sour cream is your best bet.

  • Thinly sliced ham or bacon:

This will add texture and enhance the flavoring.

  • Creamy pesto sauce:

If you love pasta dishes that have pesto in them, then this topping may be just what you’re looking for! 

Pesto can add both flavor and color so keep that in mind when choosing toppings.

 

Why is mac and cheese the ultimate comfort food?

Mac and cheese is warm, gooey, and cheesy – everything you want on a chilly evening.

But baked mac and cheese has a bonus crunchy texture on top with a  yummy cheesy, creamy texture in the middle.

And when you make southern mac and cheese the Black way – there’s the unrivaled addition of delicious, heart-warming soul food flavors!

Just when you think you’ve mastered mac and cheese, it seems like there’s always new toppings and techniques to try out!

 

Easy Baked Mac And Cheese

 

Do you have to use macaroni pasta for mac and cheese?

You can use any pasta to make homemade mac and cheese!

Try substituting any of your favorite pasta varieties in place of elbow noodles for your stovetop or baked mac and cheese.

Here are a few options that work well with this dish.

  • Elbow macaroni noodles
  • Rotini noodles
  • Macaroni shells
  • Penne rigate
  • Bow tie pasta

 

What cheese is best for baked mac and cheese recipe?

Another tricky part of making mac and cheese is deciding what type of cheese to use.

There are so many different types of cheeses that people often get overwhelmed by the choices.

While American and cheddar cheese are often mac and cheese lovers’ favorites, here are a few other cheese options to consider.

  • Mozzarella cheese
  • Ricotta cheese
  • Gouda cheese

This baked mac and cheese recipe calls for sharp cheddar cheese and Colby-jack cheese.

 

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What to serve with baked mac and cheese?

Macaroni and cheese can be eaten as a side dish or main course, depending on how hungry you are! 

But what else should you serve with it?

Here are some great ideas for veggies and sides that go great with your favorite cheesy pasta dish.

 

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Soul Food Southern Baked Mac And Cheese

 

Can you make baked mac and cheese ahead of time?

Are you wondering how to make mac and cheese ahead of time? And why would anyone want to do that anyway? 

Well, the answer is yes you can – for sheer convenience!

Making macaroni and cheese ahead of time can be a huge lifesaver for those with busy schedules. You could make this dish the day before, and the next day add toppings and bake.

  • Put all ingredients in a baking dish and cool completely (do not bake). Place in an airtight container or tightly seal with plastic and refrigerate.
  • Let the dish sit on the countertop for 30 minutes before baking.
  • It needs to be baked at the recipe temperature (350 degrees) for 20 minutes until hot, bubbly, and crispy.

 

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Can mac and cheese be cooked on the stovetop?

Making macaroni and cheese on the stovetop is super easy and faster because it doesn’t have the extra step of baking the macaroni dish.

Here are four tips that will help you make the perfect stovetop macaroni and cheese:

  1. Melt butter over medium heat before adding flour or other thickeners.
  2. Add milk or heavy whipping cream slowly while stirring constantly.
  3. Add salt, pepper, and any other desired seasonings after removing them from heat. 
  4. Stir in shredded cheddar until melted before adding other desired toppings.

 

Is baked mac and cheese better than stovetop?

Although stovetop mac and cheese cooks faster, baked mac and cheese has an unrivaled and addictive cheesy and crispy topping.

Proving that faster isn’t always better!

 

Southern Baked Mac And Cheese The Soul Food Way

 

Baked macaroni and cheese is a southern family favorite because it’s hearty, easy to make, and kids love it! It’s delicious as soon as it comes out of the oven. 

This recipe for oven-baked mac and cheese will have you coming back for seconds – and thirds! 

It’s the perfect recipe to try at home when you’re feeling bored with your usual pasta dinner routine or you’re ready for a soul food take on an old classic!

 

What do you think of this recipe?

How would you rate southern baked mac and cheese?

If you love this recipe, share this link on Facebook!

I’d also love it if you’d leave a 5-star rating with your thoughts in a comment below! 

 

Like this post? Pin the below image to your Pinterest Soul Food Recipes board!

 

Baked Mac and Cheese Recipe - The Soul Food Pot

 

Baked Macaroni And Cheese - The Soul Food Pot

Southern Baked Mac And Cheese

There are many variations of macaroni and cheese. One such variation is southern baked mac and cheese - the Black way!
This recipe is made with rich and creamy homemade cheese sauce and soul food spices. It tastes just like someone stewed over it in the kitchen all day!
Prep Time: 35 minutes
Bake Time: 25 minutes
Total Time: 1 hour
Course: Side Dish
Cuisine: Soul Food
Keyword: baked mac and cheese, baked mac and cheese recipe, Baked mac and cheese the Black way, baked macaroni and cheese recipes, Black mac and cheese, Black people food, Instant Pot Duo, Instant Pot Omni Plus, Instant Pot recipe, soul food, southern baked mac and cheese, southern food, vegetarian
Servings: 6
Calories: 522kcal
Author: Shaunda Necole

Equipment

  • Instant Pot pressure cooker
  • Instant Pot Omni Plus oven

Ingredients

  • 4 tablespoons unsalted butter divided – 1 tablespoon & 3 tablespoons
  • 2 tablespoons flour
  • ¼ cup heavy cream
  • 1 cup sharp cheddar cheese shredded
  • 1 cup Colby-jack cheese shredded
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • ½ teaspoon black pepper
  • ½ tablespoon garlic powder
  • ½ teaspoon onion powder
  • 1 teaspoon mustard dried
  • 1 teaspoon paprika
  • 3 cups water
  • 4 ¼ cups milk divided – 1 ¼ cups & 3 cups
  • 8 oz. macaroni noodles uncooked

Instructions

  • Turn the Instant Pot on the sauté setting for 25 minutes (although you may not need this entire amount of time)
  • Fill the Instant Pot stainless steel inner pot with 3 cups of milk, 3 cups of water and 1 tablespoon of butter.

Pro tip: For baked mac and cheese the Black way, use milk to coat the macaroni and give it a smooth, silky texture. Perfect for layering on cheese!

  • Once the water begins to simmer, add the macaroni and cook according to the package directions, stirring occasionally to make sure the macaroni does not clump & stick.
  • Drain the macaroni and set it aside.
  • Add the 3 tablespoons of butter to the empty inner pot and turn it back on the sauté setting.
  • When the butter is melted, add the flour, 1 ¼ cups of milk, and seasonings (salt, pepper, garlic powder, onion powder, dried mustard and paprika) and whisk until smooth.
  • Change the Instant Pot cook setting from sauté to slow cook for 1-hour (although you will not need this entire amount of time).
  • While the cook setting changes from sauté to slow cook, allow the ingredients to simmer for about 3 minutes until the mixture thickens slightly.
  • Stir in the cheeses (reserve some for topping when baking).
  • Close the Instant Pot with the lid and let slow cook for 5-10 minutes until the cheeses are blended.
  • Open the lid to add the cooked pasta and the heavy cream to the inner pot, stirring the mixture to blend evenly.
  • Transfer the pasta mixture into a pan or a lightly greased 2-qt baking dish.
  • Top with the remaining shredded cheese.
  • Bake in the Instant Pot Omni Plus oven at 350 degrees for 20 minutes or until golden and bubbly. Or bake in the conventional oven for 25 minutes or until mac and cheese is golden and bubbly.
  • Optionally, garnish with a sprinkle of dry thyme or 4-5 fresh thyme sprigs.
  • Serve and enjoy!

Video

Notes

  • Start with a good quality macaroni. 
  • Making baked mac and cheese the Black way - boil the macaroni in a mixture of half water and half milk. The milk coats the macaroni and gives it a smooth, silky texture. Perfect for layering on cheese!
  • Make sure not to walk away from the Instant Pot when using the sauté setting to avoid burning or over-cooking your food.
  • Make sure you're using a baking dish that's not too deep. A 12″ x 18″ rectangular dish or medium-size cast iron skillet are perfect for this recipe!
Baked Mac And Cheese Ingredients

Nutrition

Calories: 522kcal | Carbohydrates: 40g | Protein: 21g | Fat: 31g | Saturated Fat: 19g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 1g | Monounsaturated Fat: 8g | Trans Fat: 1g | Cholesterol: 92mg | Sodium: 541mg | Potassium: 386mg | Fiber: 1g | Sugar: 10g | Vitamin A: 1094IU | Vitamin C: 1mg | Calcium: 505mg | Iron: 1mg
Nutrition Facts
Southern Baked Mac And Cheese
Amount per Serving
Calories
522
% Daily Value*
Fat
 
31
g
48
%
Saturated Fat
 
19
g
119
%
Trans Fat
 
1
g
Polyunsaturated Fat
 
1
g
Monounsaturated Fat
 
8
g
Cholesterol
 
92
mg
31
%
Sodium
 
541
mg
24
%
Potassium
 
386
mg
11
%
Carbohydrates
 
40
g
13
%
Fiber
 
1
g
4
%
Sugar
 
10
g
11
%
Protein
 
21
g
42
%
Vitamin A
 
1094
IU
22
%
Vitamin C
 
1
mg
1
%
Calcium
 
505
mg
51
%
Iron
 
1
mg
6
%
* Percent Daily Values are based on a 2000 calorie diet.
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2 Comments

  1. Cyrene
    July 13, 2021 / 9:36 am

    5 stars
    A right recipe to satisfy your cheesy cravings!

    • July 13, 2021 / 11:00 am

      I know right! Baked Mac & cheese is always right!

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