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Soul Food Mac and Cheese Recipe

Ask any Southerner for their favorite BBQ side dish and they’re bound to tell you mac & cheese!

Let’s be honest, what isn’t there to like about mac & cheese? A  combination of velvety smooth cheese and tender pasta – baked to bubbling perfection – has got to be the ultimate comfort food!

Everyone has their own secret mac & cheese recipe and here we share the musician John Legend’s, as revealed to Martha Stewart on her show.

Baked Macaroni and Cheese Photo

Mac and cheese is versatile

Mac & cheese allows you to get creative and add in some fun flavors that you don’t find in more traditional recipes.

But the first thing you need to determine is your cheese blend – this is the key to a great dish!

Baked Macaroni and Cheese Picture

Many people make the mistake of only using one cheese type, but a blend creates a range of flavors that make for a rich, decadent sauce.

Gluten Free Mac and Cheese Photo

This recipe calls for extra sharp cheddar cheese and Monterey Jack, but you can get more creative than that if you would like. Why not try some of our other favorites:

  • Gouda: melts perfectly and adds a sharp, yet rounded taste

  • Gruyere: melts into velvety goodness, and while on the saltier side, offers nutty notes

  • Cream cheese: melts wonderfully

  • Brie: rich and creamy, Brie adds a decadent touch

  • Goat cheese: adds a tangy yet creamy flavor

  • Parmesan: salty and nutty, adding a depth of flavor

Avoid buying pre-shredded cheeses as they tend to contain a preservative which keeps them from clumping. This means they don’t melt as well and up being lumpy and gritty instead!

And whilst elbow macaroni is traditional, don’t be afraid to venture out and try other types of pasta.

Gluten Free Mac and Cheese Pic

You will always want to look for pasta that has a large surface area and nooks and crannies for that lovely sauce to get into.

Why not try:

  • Conchiglie (shells)

  • Ziti

  • Fusilli (corkscrew)

Avoid long, thin pastas like angel hair, spaghetti and linguine as they will not hold so much of your lovely sauce.

More mac and cheese recipes

Instant Pot Panera Mac and Cheese

Barefoot Contessa Mac and Cheese

Lobster Mac and Cheese

Gluten Free Mac and Cheese

Baked Macaroni and Cheese Photo

Soul Food Mac and Cheese Recipe

Christine Albury
A classic soul food mac and cheese recipe, originally shared by John Legend when he visited Martha Stewart. Creamy and delicious, this recipe is a winner.
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Prep Time 20 minutes
Cook Time 45 minutes
cooling 15 minutes
Total Time 1 hour 20 minutes
Servings 8 1 serving
Calories 669.08 kcal


  • 4 Unsalted Butter plus more for baking dish
  • 1 salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 3 Elbow Macaroni
  • 2 Evaporated Milk
  • 0.33 Skim Milk
  • 2 Egg
  • 0.5 Lawry’s Seasoned Salt
  • 0.25 Garlic Powder
  • 16 Extra Sharp Cheddar Cheese grated
  • 8 Shredded Monterey Jack Cheese shredded
  • 1 Paprika for sprinkling


  • Preheat your oven to 375 degrees Fahrenheit.
  • Grease a 13 x 9" baking dish with butter and set aside. 
  • Bring a large pot of water to the boil and cook pasta according to the directions. Drain the pasta, return it to the pot and add butter, tossing until the pasta has melted and the pasta is coated well.
  • Whisk evaporated milk, skim milk and eggs together in a large bowl. Add in the seasoned salt, garlic powder, 1 tsp salt and ½ tsp pepper and set aside. Add the cheese to a separate bowl and set aside.
  • Spread 1/3 of the cooked macaroni in the baking dishes, followed by a 1/3 of the cheese sauce. Repeat twice. Then, pour the milk mixture over the mac and cheese and sprinkle with paprika. Bake for about 35-45 minutes until the top layer has turned a light brown. Allow to sit for 10 mins prior to serving.


Calories: 669.08kcalCarbohydrates: 41.06gProtein: 34.33gFat: 39.63gSaturated Fat: 22.75gSodium: 478.53mgFiber: 1.13gSugar: 10g
Keyword Barbecues, Cheese, Macaroni and Cheese, Pasta, Side Dishes
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