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Southern Cooking: Baked Macaroni and Cheese and Dunbar Macaroni


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

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 the macaroni mixture.
  6. Begin baking in a 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

My brother's Mac & Cheese Burger

My brother's Mac & Cheese Burger

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 an 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 and 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 a 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.

© 2009 rmcrayne

Thanks for Reading! Leave a Comment.

Kristen Howe from Northeast Ohio on March 12, 2015:

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

Rachel L Alba from Every Day Cooking and Baking on January 10, 2015:

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.

Nancy McClintock from Southeast USA on February 07, 2013:

This is a keeper. Thanks for sharing.

rmcrayne (author) from San Antonio Texas on January 10, 2013:

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

Beth37 on January 10, 2013:

Your killin' me girl.

rmcrayne (author) from San Antonio Texas on April 15, 2011:

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

Kitty Fields from Summerland on April 07, 2011:

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 (author) from San Antonio Texas on November 23, 2010:

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.

Kari Poulsen from Ohio on November 14, 2010:

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 (author) from San Antonio Texas on November 09, 2010:

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

Kari Poulsen from Ohio on November 02, 2010:

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

Kari Poulsen from Ohio on November 02, 2010:

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

rmcrayne (author) from San Antonio Texas on March 10, 2010:

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

askjanbrass from St. Louis, MO on March 10, 2010:

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 (author) from San Antonio Texas on March 09, 2010:

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

dragonbear from Essex UK on March 06, 2010:

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

rmcrayne (author) from San Antonio Texas on January 09, 2010:

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!

Holle Abee from Georgia on January 09, 2010:

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

rmcrayne (author) from San Antonio Texas on December 30, 2009:

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

Susan Keeping from Kitchener, Ontario on December 30, 2009:

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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