Southern Cooking: Baked Macaroni and Cheese and Dunbar Macaroni

Updated on November 30, 2016
rmcrayne profile image

Rose Mary's mother and all of her aunts are great Southern cooks. She likes to think she's not so bad herself.

Our Christmas dinner Baked Macaroni Cheese Pie.  Family photo.
Our Christmas dinner Baked Macaroni Cheese Pie. Family photo.
Mac & Cheese topped with bacon
Mac & Cheese topped with bacon | Source

Macaroni and Cheese is a staple of all good Southern dinners. I’m talking large holiday dinners of our extended family, church dinners, covered-dish dinners, or what I like to call "Eatin’ Meetin’s." And I’m talking baked macaroni and cheese, not Kraft out of the box. Actually, in my family we call it "cheese pie." Great cheese pie has milk and eggs, which cooks into a custard- or soufflé-like texture. It’s never better than fresh and hot out of the oven when the texture is perfect.

This Southern staple is one of those things that everyone makes, but no one has a recipe. I usually made cheese pie for my clinic’s holiday meal during my Air Force years. I was usually not the only Southerner, so it was a popular item. I now make it every year for Thanksgiving at my friend Josie’s.

Since I only make it at Thanksgiving and Christmas, each year’s project was somewhat stressful. No one wants to take a flop to a large gathering. One year, I decided to work on putting together a recipe. I measured everything, then adjusted the ingredients based on my results. This recipe is what I make to take to gatherings of 20 or more people. Growing up, I always thought my Aunt Pat’s cheese pie was the best. Aunt Pat is gone now. My mom told me recently that she thought mine is the best! What a feeling!

Baked Macaroni and Cheese


  • 6 cups cooked elbow macaroni
  • 1 stick butter
  • 4 eggs, beaten
  • 3 cans evaporated milk
  • 12 oz Cracker Barrel sharp cheese, shredded or cubed
  • 12 oz Cracker Barrel extra sharp cheese, shredded or cubed


  1. Cook elbow macaroni and drain. Pour into a large casserole dish, about 6 quarts, that has been greased or sprayed.
  2. Cut butter into pieces, and combine with noodles to melt.
  3. Mix cubed or shredded cheese evenly through macaroni. My mom and I always use Cracker Barrel cheese, 2 varieties, but any good cheese will do. Cooper cheese and Land O’ Lakes are also good, affordable brands.
  4. Pour beaten eggs over macaroni.
  5. Add milk to macaroni mixture.
  6. Begin baking in preheated 350 degree oven. Bake cheese pie for 40 minutes, then remove, stir thoroughly and return to oven.
  7. Turn oven temperature up to 400 degrees. Bake cheese pie for additional 40 minutes. The top of the cheese pie should be golden brown, and the sides brown and crispy. The center of the pie should be soft with a soufflé-like texture of the milk, eggs, and cheese.

Fresh out of the oven, Baked Macaroni and Cheese.  Note the souffle-like texture.  Family photo.
Fresh out of the oven, Baked Macaroni and Cheese. Note the souffle-like texture. Family photo.
Quick cook version in large pan
Quick cook version in large pan | Source
My brother's Mac & Cheese Burger
My brother's Mac & Cheese Burger | Source

Downsized Cheese Pie

We like to have leftover cheese pie at our house, usually to make Dunbar Macaroni (see below). This does not always happen when we take it to a large gathering! You can make a small version for small dinners with 2 cups cooked macaroni, 1 can of milk, 2 eggs and 8 oz of cheese. I would reduce the baking time to about 20 to 30 minutes at 350, and 20 minutes at 400.

I’ve also made this smaller version in a 11” X 13” pan in order to be able to cook it very quickly. Sometimes I put an extra egg &/or less cheese to have a slightly less rich tasting dish. This will hold together a little better. My brother made a mac & cheese burger once using this version.

Dunbar Macaroni

One of the primary reasons we like to have leftovers at our house is to make Dunbar macaroni. This was one of my favorite school lunches when I was in elementary school.


  • 1/3 to ½ of a large 6 cup Cheese Pie, leftover, or 1 recipe of the small 2 cup pie
  • 2 lbs hamburger
  • 1 can spaghetti sauce, about 25 oz
  • 1 can diced tomatoes, about 15 oz


  1. Brown hamburger in dutch oven pot. Drain if needed.
  2. Add tomatoes and spaghetti sauce.
  3. Bring to low boil. Simmer 45 minutes to 1 hour on low.
  4. Add chunks of leftover cheese pie. Chunks will be easier to separate as they warm up. Heat until thoroughly warm.

Dunbar Macaroni.  Family Photo.
Dunbar Macaroni. Family Photo.

Questions & Answers

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    • Kristen Howe profile image

      Kristen Howe 3 years ago from Northeast Ohio

      Great recipes. I would love to try then both and swap the hamburger meat with ground chicken or turkey. Voted up!

    • Rachel L Alba profile image

      Rachel L Alba 3 years ago from Every Day Cooking and Baking

      There's nothing like home made macaroni and cheese and I think the southern recipes are the best. I will be making this recipe for my family for sure. Thanks for sharing your recipe.

      Blessings to you.

    • nancynurse profile image

      Nancy McClintock 5 years ago from Southeast USA

      This is a keeper. Thanks for sharing.

    • rmcrayne profile image

      rmcrayne 5 years ago from San Antonio Texas

      Thanks for reading and commenting Beth. I just made the baked macaroni and cheese and the Dunbar macaroni in the last couple weeks.

    • profile image

      Beth37 5 years ago

      Your killin' me girl.

    • rmcrayne profile image

      rmcrayne 7 years ago from San Antonio Texas

      Thanks for visiting kitty. Did you try the Dunbar Macaroni yet?

    • kittythedreamer profile image

      Nicole Canfield 7 years ago from Summerland

      ohhh, i love homemade mac n' cheese, though i've never heard of dunbar mac' n cheese! now i want to try it badly! maybe i'll make some for sunday dinner! thanks for sharing. voted up.

    • rmcrayne profile image

      rmcrayne 7 years ago from San Antonio Texas

      Potatoes never crossed my mind. You'll have to let me know if you try it- you go first! My brother made a mac & cheese this morning for his work T'giving dinner. We'll have to do another Thursday for our usual T'giving dinner at our friend Josie's.

    • k@ri profile image

      Kari Poulsen 7 years ago from Ohio

      Not only me, but all of the family agreed, it's wonderful! I was wondering, have you ever tried it with potatoes instead of noodles? It seems like it may make a killer au gratin recipe also. :D

    • rmcrayne profile image

      rmcrayne 7 years ago from San Antonio Texas

      K@ri I am tickled that you tried my recipe and enjoyed it!

    • k@ri profile image

      Kari Poulsen 7 years ago from Ohio

      It's delicious! Thanks for the recipe. It was easy to follow and wonderful to eat! :D

    • k@ri profile image

      Kari Poulsen 7 years ago from Ohio

      OK, I'm off to try this! Thanks! :D

    • rmcrayne profile image

      rmcrayne 8 years ago from San Antonio Texas

      askjan please come back and let me know how it was!!

    • askjanbrass profile image

      askjanbrass 8 years ago from St. Louis, MO

      For some reason I've been dying to make homemade macaroni and cheese lately, but I don't have a recipe. What a great coincidence I happened to come across your post. This looks like a great recipe, and I'll probably be trying it very soon.

      Thanks for sharing!

    • rmcrayne profile image

      rmcrayne 8 years ago from San Antonio Texas

      Thanks for the visit dragon. Tis a guilty pleasure indeed.

    • dragonbear profile image

      dragonbear 8 years ago from Essex UK

      Oh! What can I say - duly bookmarked! What a bowl of sheer pleasure 'n tasty comfort food!

    • rmcrayne profile image

      rmcrayne 8 years ago from San Antonio Texas

      habee, your mission, should you decide to accept it, is to make this Mac and Cheese. Let me know how it goes. Then of course your wheels will start turning on how to put your own touch on it. Then write a hub. Then we can link to each other! Win-win!

    • habee profile image

      Holle Abee 8 years ago from Georgia

      I've never made REALLY good mac and cheese. I needed this! Thanks! BTW, could you pass me a plate via my monitor??

    • rmcrayne profile image

      rmcrayne 8 years ago from San Antonio Texas

      Thanks for reading UW. I promise this is a great recipe!

    • Uninvited Writer profile image

      Susan Keeping 8 years ago from Kitchener, Ontario

      I love macaroni and cheese and was actually looking for a good recipe. I'll have to try one of these.


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