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Old Fashioned Baked Mac and Cheese

The next time that you’re looking for the perfect main dish, try out this Old Fashioned Baked Mac and Cheese. This classic dish is a family favorite, with creamy baked mac, white sauce, and a crunchy topping. The whole family will go bonkers for this ultimate comfort food, and I can guarantee you’ll get rave reviews.

small bowls of mac and cheese with gold forks

Old Fashioned Macaroni and Cheese Recipe

When it comes to southern mac, you can’t beat good old-fashioned macaroni paired with a homemade cheese sauce.

Whenever I make this recipe it gets lots of high praise, and this easy baked mac is one of my personal favorites because it has simple ingredients and an easy recipe with the best flavor.

The creamy texture of baked macaroni and cheese will have you scrambling to write it down on a recipe card and will become one of your favorite recipes too!

It’s right up there with my childhood fave Macaroni and Tomatoes and my friend’s Chicken Macaroni Salad.

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labeled picture of mac and cheese ingredients in clear bowls

Ingredients Needed

Elbow macaroni – Substitute with any type of pasta, including a gluten free version for those with gluten intolerance.

Whole milk – I opt for regular milk, but you can also go with low fat. 

Half and half – Substitute Half and half with equal parts milk and heavy cream.

Lawry’s seasoning – If there is no Lawry’s seasoning at the store, you can make your own at home. 

Sharp cheddar cheese – Replace with extra sharp, American cheese, mild cheddar cheese, or medium cheddar if necessary. 

Monterey jack cheese – A good substitute for Monterey jack is pepper jack cheese or Velveeta cheese. 

Gruyere cheese – I recommend Swiss as a substitute if needed.

Ritz crackers – Replace with bread crumbs or corn flakes if you can’t find Ritz.

Pantry Staples – Unsalted butter, all purpose flour, garlic powder, black pepper, dried parsley.

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How To Make Old Fashioned Mac and Cheese 

First: Preheat oven to 350F. Spray baking dish with nonstick spray.

Second: In a large saucepan, melt butter (1 stick) over low heat to medium heat. Once melted, add in flour and mix until thick.

Third: Pour in milk and half and half. Whisk until combined and smooth. Sprinkle in seasonings, cover, and simmer for 5 minutes. and mix.

Fourth: Once mixture comes to a boil, start adding cheese in little bits, melting cheese each time. After all the cheese is added, stir until smooth. Season with salt and pepper if desired.

Fifth: Pour half the cheese sauce into casserole dish. Cover with cooked pasta. Top with remaining sauce.

Sixth: In a small bowl, combine 3 tablespoons of butter and Ritz crackers. Layer over the top of mac and cheese. Bake for 30 minutes. Allow to cool slightly before serving.

For the full recipe and detailed baking instructions, please see the recipe card at the end of this post.

What sides go best with Old Fashioned Baked Mac and Cheese?

Since this is traditional southern comfort food, the best way to serve it is with a side dish like collard greens or roasted broccoli and Brussels sprouts.

This dish is so hearty it can pose as a main course, and pairs well with lighter vegetables and greens. But is great serve with biscuits and gravy, fried chicken, and other southern classics.

Can I make it ahead of time?

This dish can easily be made ahead of time and stored until it’s ready to be baked, which is why it’s one of the best macaroni and cheese recipes.

The only thing that I recommend is leaving off the Ritz cracker topping until the day of, storing at room temperature in a small bowl covered with plastic wrap.

Once ready to serve, just add on your topping and heat according to the instructions.

scoop of mac and cheese

How do I reheat my leftovers?

For reheating in the microwave, move a portion into a microwave safe dish. Because there is so much sauce, heat in thirty second to one minute intervals to avoid having hot spots. After each interval, stir until heated all the way through. 

For reheating in the oven, place in a safe dish and heat at 350F until heated through. Add more Ritz topping for the last few minutes for a crunchy finish. 

two bowls of old fashioned backed mac and cheese

Tips for No Leftovers

  • If this isn’t your first time making this recipe, I recommend experimenting with a different combination of cheeses based on your personal preference, since everyone’s taste buds are different.
  • Opt against using pre-shredded or grated cheese for this recipe. You’ll get the best cheese flavor by shredding your own block of cheese.
  • Add a teaspoon salt to your pasta water to avoid it boiling over.
  • For al dente pasta, cook your pasta in salted water for 1-2 minutes less than the package directions suggest. This helps to ensure that your cooked macaroni won’t get too mushy when baked.
  • For a little extra kick, try throwing some cayenne pepper or mustard powder into your mac and cheese.
  • When adding in cheese, use a measuring cup to make sure you’re not adding more than one cup at a time. This will give you the best results for creamy mac.

If you love this recipe as much as I do, please write a five-star review in the comment section below (or on Pinterest with the “tried it” button – you can now add pictures into reviews, too!), and be sure to help me share on facebook!

casserole dish of mac and cheese with a wood spoon and a white banner with text


This old fashioned baked macaroni and cheese will remind you of mom’s mac n cheese and give you a taste of southern comfort (not to mention blowing boxed mac out of the water!). Southern mac has become a staple in my household, and with cheesy sauce, homemade macaroni noodles, and a crispy topping, this simple mac gets made at least once a month. 

overhead picture of mac and cheese with a wood spoon

Old Fashioned Baked Macaroni and Cheese

Yield: 12 servings
Prep Time: 25 minutes
Cook Time: 50 minutes
Total Time: 1 hour 15 minutes

Old Fashioned Baked Mac and Cheese is full of tender macaroni, a rich and creamy cheese sauce, and a buttery cracker topping!

Ingredients

  • 1 pound elbow macaroni (cooked al dente)
  • 1 stick + 3 tablespoons unsalted butter (softened, divided)
  • ½ cup all purpose flour
  • 2 cups whole milk
  • 2 cups half and half
  • ½ teaspoon black pepper
  • 1 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 2 teaspoons Lawry’s seasoning
  • 1 teaspoon dried parsley
  • 2 cups shredded sharp cheddar cheese
  • 2 cups shredded Monterey jack cheese
  • 2 cups shredded gruyere cheese
  • ½ cup crushed Ritz crackers

Instructions

  1. Preheat oven to 350F. Spray baking dish with nonstick spray.
  2. In a large saucepan, melt butter (1 stick) over low heat to medium heat. Once melted, add in flour and mix until thick. 
  3. Pour in milk and half and half. Whisk until combined and smooth. Sprinkle in seasonings, cover, and simmer for 5 minutes. and mix.
  4. Once mixture comes to a boil, start adding cheese in little bits, melting cheese each time. After cheese is combined, stir until smooth. 
  5. Pour half the cheese sauce into casserole dish. Cover with cooked pasta. Top with remaining sauce.
  6. In a small bowl, combine 3 tablespoons of butter and Ritz crackers. Layer over the top of mac and cheese. Bake for 30 minutes. Allow to cool slightly before serving.

Notes

  • Depending on how deep your pan is you can use a medium saucepan to make the cheese sauce
  • If this isn’t your first time making this recipe, I recommend experimenting with a different combination of cheeses based on your personal preference, since everyone’s taste buds are different. 
  • Opt against using pre-shredded cheese for this recipe. You’ll get the best cheese flavor by shredding your own block of cheese. 
  • Add a teaspoon salt to your pasta water to avoid it boiling over. 
  • For al dente pasta, cook your pasta in salted water for 1-2 minutes less than the package directions suggest. This helps to ensure that your cooked macaroni won’t get too mushy when baked. 
  • For a little extra kick, try throwing some cayenne pepper into your southern baked mac and cheese. 
  • When adding in cheese, use a measuring cup to make sure you’re not adding more than one cup at a time. This will give you the best results for creamy mac. 
  • Recommended Products

    This post may contain affiliate links. As an Amazon Associate, I earn from qualifying purchases. Read my disclosure policy here.

    Nutrition Information:
    Yield: 12 Serving Size: 1
    Amount Per Serving: Calories: 498Total Fat: 34gSaturated Fat: 20gTrans Fat: 1gUnsaturated Fat: 11gCholesterol: 101mgSodium: 814mgCarbohydrates: 23gFiber: 1gSugar: 4gProtein: 25g

    This nutrition information was generated via a third party, Nutritionix, and we can not be held liable for any discrepancies in the information provided.

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