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Nov 3, 2023

Baked Macaroni and Cheese for a Crowd

This simple baked macaroni and cheese is the perfect side dish for your next holiday dinner. It's super easy to make and totally unfussy. 

Baked Macaroni and Cheese in bowls.

Plus, I'm sure this macaroni and cheese will make any picky twelve-and-under guest at your table happy.

This mac and cheese is about as easy as it gets to make, yet, with its simple ingredients and cheesy and buttery sauce, it will please everyone. 

Baked Macaroni and Cheese in a casserole dish.

History of Macaroni and Cheese:

Macaroni and cheese, first called "macaroni pie," has its roots in both France and Virginia. 

Macaroni and Cheese's African American roots can be traced back to Thomas Jefferson and his chef de cuisine, James Hemings, who was a slave. 

I've been hooked on the podcast, The Sporkful by Dan Pashman for a long time. In 2019, he visited the kitchen at Monticello, Thomas Jefferson's plantation, along with Michael Twitty, the author of The Cooking Gene, Niya Bates, a historian, and Gayle Jessup White, a community engagement officer at Monticello. 

According to the podcast, when Thomas Jefferson was appointed Commerce Minister to France, he took James Hemings with him. While in Paris, Hemings mastered the techniques of French cuisine. 

Hemings could have easily petitioned the French government for his freedom and stayed in France, but as a very young man, he also wanted to return to his family in America. He convinced Thomas Jefferson to give him his freedom as long as he trained his successor chef (Hemings' brother) when they returned, and, after three years (while the story is a lot more complicated) Jefferson kept his word. 

Baked Macaroni and Cheese in bowls.

P.S. Other American dishes with roots to Monticello and James Hemings include French fries and ice cream! 

Shopping List for this Macaroni and Cheese:

- One pound of elbow macaroni. You can also use shells, fusilli, penne, farfelle, salad macaroni, or any other pasta that works in a casserole. 

- Gruyère cheese. This cheese has great melting quality and amazing flavor. 

- Cheddar cheese. You can also substitute Monterey jack or mozzarella cheese for the cheddar. 

- Butter. One whole stick plus more for buttering the baking dish. 

- Sour cream, evaporated milk, and eggs. 

- Spices: Salt, white pepper, cayenne pepper, and sweet paprika. 

Baked Macaroni and Cheese serving in a white bowl.

With this macaroni and cheese, you don't have to make a roux or a béchamel sauce. Instead, combine melted butter, sour cream, eggs, and evaporated milk and pour the mixture over the layered cooked noodles and shredded cheese in a baking dish. 

After that, top the dish with more cheese, a sprinkling of paprika, and bake. Super easy. 

Of course, you can mix in some chopped cooked shrimp, lobster, or sausage (or anything else you like). I also like to sprinkle some crushed red pepper on my serving. 

Baked Macaroni and Cheese in a red-rimmed casserole dish.

Tips for Success:

1. If you can, grate your own cheese rather than buying the pre-shredded bags. These include additional ingredients that can affect the texture and meltiness. 

2. Don't overcook the pasta. Just cook it to al dente before layering it in the casserole. 

3. While this macaroni and cheese is best fresh from the oven, leftovers are fabulous reheated in the oven for several days. 

More Fabulous Mac and Cheese Recipes:

Spiralized Sweet Potato Macaroni and Cheese

Individual Baked Macaroni and Cheese

Crab Macaroni and Cheese

Chorizo Macaroni and Cheese with Cheddar and Cotija

Chili Macaroni and Cheese

Buffalo Chicken Macaroni and Cheese

Cauliflower Cheese (Mac and Cheese without the Pasta)

More Side Dish Recipes:

Baked Macaroni and Cheese in two white rimmed bowls.

Baked Macaroni and Cheese

Baked Macaroni and Cheese
Yield: 10 Servings
Author: Karen's Kitchen Stories
Prep time: 45 MinCook time: 45 MinTotal time: 1 H & 30 M
This simple baked macaroni and cheese is the perfect side dish for your next holiday dinner. It's super easy to make and totally fuss free.


  • 3 tablespoons softened butter, for the baking dish
  • 1 pound elbow macaroni
  • 8 ounces (2 cups) shredded Gruyère cheese
  • 8 ounces (2 cups) shredded cheddar cheese
  • 4 ounces (1 stick) butter, melted
  • 1/2 cup sour cream
  • 5 large eggs, beaten
  • 1 (12-ounce) can evaporated milk
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground white pepper
  • 1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
  • Paprika for topping


  1. Heat the oven to 35 degrees F and butter the bottom and sides of a 13 inch by 9 inch casserole dish.
  2. Cook the macaroni according to the package directions, until al dente. Drain.
  3. Combine the two cheeses in a bowl. Set aside one cup (4 ounces) of the cheeses.
  4. In the bottom of the casserole dish, distribute 1/3 of the macaroni. Top with half of the remaining cheese (minus the reserved cup of cheese). Repeat with 1/3 of the macaroni, 1/2 of the remaining cheese, and the rest of the macaroni.
  5. In a medium bowl or extra large measuring cup, whisk together the melted butter, sour cream, eggs, evaporated milk, salt, white pepper, and cayenne. Pour the mixture evenly over the macaroni and cheese layer. Sprinkle the top with the reserved cup of cheese and sprinkle with the paprika.
  6. Bake, uncovered, for 30 to 45 minutes, until the cheese on top is crusty and the sauce is bubbly.
  7. Let stand for 10 minutes before serving.

Nutrition Facts



Fat (grams)

30 g

Sat. Fat (grams)

17 g

Carbs (grams)

32 g

Fiber (grams)

1 g

Net carbs

31 g

Sugar (grams)

5 g

Protein (grams)

20 g

Cholesterol (grams)

159 mg
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Recipe adapted from Jubilee: Recipes from Two Centuries of African American Cooking. I received a complimentary copy. 

Would you like to comment?

  1. Sounds like you might have a few picky eaters at your table. Funny. And yes, I'm pretty sure no one has ever turned their nose up at homemade macaroni and cheese. This one looks delicious and I love that it's not too fussy!

    1. Can you believe my son is not a fan of cheese? Mind blowing, lol.

  2. I love mac and cheese. Leftovers? I take a hunk out of the fridge in my hand and eat it cold LOL.

  3. This looks amazing. I love a good mac n cheese recipe!

  4. I've not met a person that didn't love mac and cheese and this one looks absolutely perfect!

  5. I LOVE that this not completely swimming in sauce. That means the noodles have a chance to get all crispy and delicious on the edges. Yum!

  6. You know I had my daughter make cheesy spaetzles last Christmas Eve and that was huge with the all the vegetarian next gen. I'm sure this would be a big hit too.

  7. I heard about this same story of macaroni and cheese this morning on NPR. Thank you for the recipe.

  8. I love the paprika sprinkled on top. This sounds super comforting.


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