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A lightened-up simple recipe for classic southern macaroni and cheese that has all the delicious flavor and taste of the original with half the calories.
What makes this macaroni and cheese recipe southern style? It is thicker and richer than your basic creamy macaroni and cheese, made with eggs and baked until bubbly and lightly golden in the oven.
I adore the texture of this classic southern recipe, it’s one of my favorite southern side dishes. Therefore, I have to control my urge to eat more than one generous helping!! I love to assemble this casserole a day in advance, cover and refrigerate until ready to bake. It saves a lot of time when I have several dishes to prepare, especially during the holidays.
Tip For Making The Best Creamy Macaroni and Cheese
I highly recommend using freshly shredded cheese from the block instead of pre-shredded cheese. Bagged shredded cheese contains additives that will affect the texture of the dish. Freshly shredded cheese melts better and results in a creamier dish.
My favorite hack for quickly shredding an entire block of cheese is using a salad shooter. Yep, it’s the bomb for shredding cheese for all my favorite recipes and takes only a few seconds. I’ll link to the one I have below and I promise that you will wonder how you’ve survived this long without it. It’s one of my favorite, can’t live without, kitchen gadgets.
This is the one I use and love! (paid affiliate link)
How To Make Lightened-Up Southern Macaroni and Cheese
After shredding your block of cheese, preheat the oven to 375 degrees F. Cook macaroni according to package directions, drain and set aside to cool.
Mix remaining ingredients, reserving 3/4 cup cheddar in a large bowl and toss with cooked macaroni.
Transfer macaroni and cheese to a 9×13 baking dish sprayed with olive oil cooking spray and top with remaining shredded cheddar cheese.
Bake for 30-40 minutes until top is just turning lightly golden and the cheese is bubbly. Allow the macaroni and cheese to rest for 10 minutes to thicken and cool.
Grab a serving spoon and dive in.
Great Additions To Southern Macaroni and Cheese
Upgrade your macaroni and cheese and make it a hearty casserole. Here are some great add-ins to spice things up or make it a one-dish meal.
- Diced, low-sodium ham
- Cooked and chopped bacon
- Sliced hot dogs
- Cooked lean ground beef
- Cooked and crumbled sausage
- Chopped tomatoes
- Chopped jalapenos
- Steamed chopped broccoli
These are just a few ideas that you could toss in to make it a hearty meal. Kids, typically, really dig this one-dish dinner.
You can also get creative with your cheese combination to kick up the flavor of your dish. I love to mix gruyere, cheddar, and parmesan for a delicious twist.
However, I’m honestly a purist when it comes to my macaroni and cheese. I love it just as it is served up with a few of my southern favorites.
*This post was updated on Oct. 22, 2019, from the original post published March 29, 2011.
Lightened-Up Southern Macaroni and Cheese
- 8 oz uncooked elbow macaroni cook according to package directions (I prefer Dreamfields, it's a low-glycemic, low-carb pasta that actually tastes good!)
- 2 eggs beaten
- 8 oz Cabot extra-sharp cheddar shredded
- 12 oz 50% less fat Cabot's sharp cheddar cheese shredded
- 1/3 cup light sour cream
- 1 ½ cups 2% organic milk
- 4 tbsp smart balance stick butter melted (I also love the Land O'Lakes olive oil butter blend sticks)
- Dash ground mustard
- ¼ tsp cayenne pepper optional
- Salt and pepper to taste
- Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Boil macaroni according to package, drain and cool. In a large bowl, mix all other ingredients (except ¾ cup cheddar cheese for topping). Toss with cooked macaroni. Transfer to a baking dish sprayed with olive oil cooking spray. Top with remaining cheese. Bake for 30-40 minutes or until just cheese just starts to turn golden (do not brown).
- Let sit for 10 minutes before serving to thicken.