Black Folks Soul Food Baked Macaroni And Cheese

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Southern soul food baked mac and cheese – the Black folks way!

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

Black Folks Southern Baked Mac And Cheese

It’s a staple for soul food Sundays, summer cookouts, Juneteenth celebrations, and always a featured item at a soul food Thanksgiving or on a Black folks Christmas dinner menu.

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

Soul food baked macaroni and cheese

There are many variations of the classic dish macaroni and cheese. One such variation is Southern baked mac and cheese – the soul food way!

This recipe is made with rich, creamy cheese sauce and Southern comfort soul food flavorings baked ’til the edges are crispy and browned to taste like someone stewed over it in the kitchen all day!

We call this Black folks baked mac and cheese – an authentic soul food dish easy for anyone to make and everyone to love!

Watch the video – How to make soul food baked macaroni and cheese

African-American macaroni and cheese recipes

Why is Southern baked mac and cheese so important to Black culture?

Baked mac and cheese is just one of the many soul food cuisines turned American dishes. And 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 enslaved and trained as a culinary chef in France.

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

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

Black Folks Food Baked Mac And Cheese

Did a Black person invent mac and cheese?

Southern baked mac and cheese the James Hemings way –

James Hemings was a highly trained cook known to many modern-day chefs and culinary historians alike. A notable African American chef who helped create 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 by Hemings 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)! 

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!

 

Baked Mac And Cheese The Black Way

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

When I think of a traditional Southern soul food 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 baked mac and cheese – the Black way – is still boiled in milk and then baked. But nowadays, this iconic recipe includes additional ingredients with the traditional elbow noodles, butter, and milk.

Is mac and cheese an African American dish?

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 passed from African-American generation to generation and handed down from chef to chef through today.

Learn more about the African American history of macaroni and cheese HERE.

What makes Black folks soul food baked mac and cheese so different?

Today, this Southern recipe is still made from scratch. Prepared with a combination of soul food seasonings like salt, pepper, garlic, onion, paprika, flour, milk, and a mix of cheeses. Commonly sharp cheddar cheese, mozzarella, and American cheese, baked until creamy on top and golden brown on the edges!

Some soul food 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!

Black Folks Baked Mac And Cheese Recipe Ingredients

What is Black mac and cheese?

Black mac and cheese, or Black folks 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. 

Instant Pot Southern Baked Mac And Cheese

Soul food baked macaroni and cheese recipe

Kitchen equipment for Southern baked mac and cheese

Shop my kitchenware HERE!

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 ground mustard powder
  • 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 Black folks baked mac and cheese?

How to make baked mac and cheese the Black way

Instructions for Black folks baked mac and cheese

  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 liquid 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, ground 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 an 8-inch cast iron skillet or baking pan.
  14. Top with the remaining shredded cheese.
  15. Bake in the Instant Pot Omni Plus oven at 350 degrees F 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. Serve this Black folks’ soul food baked macaroni and cheese recipe right away, and enjoy!

🎙 Listen to The Soul Food Pod episode: Southern Mac And Cheese

Keep the podcast conversation going about Southern mac and cheese HERE!

Soul food mac and cheese pro tips:

  1. First: Southern mac and cheese must include sharp cheddar cheese.
  2. Then start with a good quality macaroni. 
  3. 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!
  4. Make sure you’re using a baking dish that’s not too deep. An 8-inch baking pan or 8-inch cast iron skillet is perfect for this oven recipe!
  5. Make sure not to walk away from the Instant Pot when using the sauté setting to avoid burning or over-cooking.
Black Folks Baked Mac And Cheese

What to serve with soul food baked mac and cheese?

What goes with mac and cheese?

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

What to serve with soul food baked mac and cheese?

But what else should you serve with it?

Here are some great Southern soul food ideas for veggies and sides that go great with Black folks baked mac and cheese.

What is a traditional African American meal?

African American soul food dinner favorites may include Southern style whole chicken, Black folks Southern cabbage, Soul food candied yams, and Soul food collard greens.

And for dessert? Southern peach cobbler or  soul food banana pudding!

Southern Baked Mac And Cheese The Soul Food Way

Black folks 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. An 8-inch baking pan or 8-inch cast iron skillet are perfect for this oven recipe!
Black Folks Soul Food Lobster Mac And Cheese
Soul Food Lobster Mac And Cheese
Even with the addition of decadent lobster meat, there’s no compromise to the Southern soul food flavors customary to this meal. In other words, this is still baked macaroni and cheese made the Black folks way!
Check out this 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.

Soul Food Baked Mac And Cheese The Black Way

What toppings can you put on baked mac and cheese?

How do you spruce up baked mac and cheese?

Not that this recipe needs any help! But some folks love to add toppings to any dish, so here are a few Southern mac and cheese topping favorites.

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 Mac and cheese topping favorites.

  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

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 cheese

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.

Black folks baked mac and cheese FAQs

Why is Black folks 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!

What are the best seasonings for mac and cheese?

This Southern mac and cheese recipe calls for the best combination of soul food seasonings, including salt, black pepper, garlic powder, onion powder, ground mustard powder, and paprika.

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 pasta 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?

What cheese is best for a 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, a soul food Southern mac and cheese recipe should always incorporate sharp cheddar cheese in the recipe, even if you’re adding other cheeses, too.

Here are a few cheese options to consider.

  • Sharp cheddar cheese
  • Havarty cheese
  • Monterey Jack 
  • Gouda cheese

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

Why put mustard in baked mac and cheese?

This recipe calls for ground mustard powder. It’s not enough to get a robust mustardy taste.

The mustard in this recipe is just enough to cut the overwhelming creaminess and round out the flavors.

Why add egg to baked mac and cheese?

Some Southern baked mac and cheese recipes call for an egg as an ingredient for binding and adding creaminess.

However, you won’t need eggs for this recipe. Instead, the flour is a binding and texture agent, and the milk adds the necessary silkiness and creaminess.

Should you cover baked mac and cheese when cooking?

Covering Southern baked macaroni and cheese is not necessary because you want the edges of the cheese to be caramelized and browned from the oven’s direct heat!

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.

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 Black 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 soul food baked mac and cheese recipe?

Did you enjoy this Black folks baked macaroni and cheese recipe?

Have you had it?

Would you make it? 

Then subscribe HERE for all the soul food!

Comment below and lemme know. 

The Ultimate Soul Food Recipes Guide
The Ultimate Soul Food Recipes Guide
What is soul food? Soul food recipes are African-American recipes full of flavor! A legacy of Southern cooking the Black way. Check out this collection of the best soul food recipes!
Check out this recipe!

This recipe appeared first on TheSoulFoodPot.com on May 26, 2021.

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Black Folks Soul Food Baked Macaroni And Cheese
Black Folks Southern Baked Mac And Cheese

Black Folks Soul Food Baked Macaroni And Cheese

Soul food baked mac and cheese is made with a rich & creamy homemade cheese sauce & yummy Southern spices. Southern comfort food the Black folks way!
Prep Time: 35 minutes
Bake Time: 25 minutes
Total Time: 1 hour
Course: Side Dish
Cuisine: Soul Food
Servings: 6
Calories: 522kcal

Equipment

  • Instant Pot electric pressure cooker
  • 8" cast iron skillet or baking dish

Ingredients

  • 4 tablespoons unsalted butter divided – 1 tablespoon & 3 tablespoons
  • 2 tablespoons flour
  • ¼ cup heavy cream
  • 1 cup sharp cheddar cheese (pre-shredded cheese or grated cheese)
  • 1 cup Colby-jack cheese (pre-shredded cheese or grated cheese)
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • ½ teaspoon black pepper
  • ½ tablespoon garlic powder
  • ½ teaspoon onion powder
  • 1 teaspoon ground mustard powder
  • 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 liquid begins to simmer, add the macaroni and cook according to the package directions, stirring occasionally to make sure the macaroni does not clump & stick.
    Once the liquid 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, ground mustard, and paprika) and whisk until smooth.
    When the butter is melted, add the flour, milk, and seasonings
  • 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).
    Stir in the cheeses.
  • 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 an 8-inch cast iron skillet or baking pan.
    Transfer the pasta mixture into a cast iron skillet or baking pan.
  • Top with the remaining shredded cheese.
  • Bake in the Instant Pot Omni Plus oven at 350 degrees F 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.
    Bake in the oven until mac and cheese is golden and bubbly.
  • Serve this Black folks' soul food baked macaroni and cheese recipe right away, and enjoy!
    Serve this baked macaroni and cheese recipe and enjoy!

Video

Notes

Soul food mac and cheese pro tips
  1. First: Southern mac and cheese must include sharp cheddar cheese.
  2. Then start with a good quality macaroni. 
  3. 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!
  4. Make sure you’re using a baking dish that’s not too deep. An 8-inch baking pan or 8-inch cast iron skillet is perfect for this oven recipe!
  5. Make sure not to walk away from the Instant Pot when using the sauté setting to avoid burning or over-cooking.
Black Folks Soul Food Baked Macaroni And Cheese Recipe Card

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
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70 Comments

  1. Elizabeth says:

    5 stars
    I love this recipe full of yummy flavor!

  2. 5 stars
    Wow! My favorite cheeses in this recipe. Will be making very soon!

  3. Candice Jamel Gordon says:

    5 stars
    Thank you for this recipe!

  4. Michael Coovert says:

    5 stars
    This Mac n’ cheese makes that Kraft boxed stuff run away and cry, Ever heard of a food-gasm. Make this recipe and you will understand exactly what it is. It just doesn’t get any better.

  5. Elizabeth says:

    5 stars
    This looks so delicious. I love Mac and cheese.

  6. 5 stars
    Another delicious recipe.

  7. Shujuana Coleman says:

    5 stars
    My family loves this recipe. I’m not big on cheese, but I tried this on them and they loved it.

  8. Gloria Dukes says:

    5 stars
    Thank you for this recipe!

  9. 5 stars
    This recipe slapz. I’m black so of course I put my own spin on it but mainly followed the recipe and it was the best Mac I ever made, no cap!