Homemade Macaroni and Three Cheeses is creamy, cheesy and delicious.
This side dish contains a “surprise” ingredient that takes taste and texture to another
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EDITOR’S NOTE (November 12, 2022): Published this recipe for the first time on June 5, 2018. Today, I added nutrition facts and updated the disclosure.
DISCLOSURE (SPONSORED): Back in 2018, I accepted a complimentary cast iron skillet from Lodge Manufacturing and used it to make this recipe.
However, I have not been paid to endorse the skillet nor any product pictured on this page. All comments are my own.
Prepare elbow macaroni according to instructions printed on package.
Cook until al dente (firm). Avoid overcooked/mushy noodles.
After cooking the noodles, drain and pour into a buttered casserole dish.
The surprise ingredient is buttermilk (read back story below).
I also add a tablespoon of sour cream. This combo takes the taste
to another level.
I love coarse ground black pepper. Some people don’t like the black specs.
White pepper is an excellent alternative.
Sprinkle thinly sliced or shredded cheese over the top.
Place in HOT oven until cheese melts (8 to 10 minutes).
Remove from oven and stir until evenly combined.
Sprinkle shredded (or thinly sliced) cheeses over top.
Return to oven and bake until bubbly.
BLACK RIND HOOP CHEESE The black rind is sharp cheddar cheese. The red rind is mild. ‘Hoop’ cheese is a firm, dry cheese made directly from milk, with no cream or salt. It’s real cheese with a hearty flavor. I like the Royal Foods brand.
‘Hoop’ is the shaping molds used in making cheese. Made in wedges or large twenty-pound wheels.
Packaged shredded cheese has a special coating to prevent caking… which isn’t tasty in my opinion.
I prefer to purchase blocks of cheese. No problem to shred and/or slice. The taste is worth the extra effort in my opinion.
BACK STORY: HOW I DISCOVERED THE SURPRISE INGREDIENT
Several years ago (2006 or 2007), I had a pleasant conversation with a church member while we were in our separate cars parked in the parking lot. We were waiting for traffic to subside after a powerful service.
Our windows were rolled down while we talked to each other. It was during the summer and the weather was pleasant (not too hot).
At the time, our mega church had over 18,000 members. I had never met this sister.
She provided a delicious nugget of info that would forever change how I make macaroni and cheese.
We talked about Sunday dinner. She asked if I ever used buttermilk to make macaroni and cheese. I said no.
The friendly sister was right when she told me that after I try buttermilk, I’ll never use whole milk again.
I’ve never seen her before or after that day. An angel? I like to think so!
After she told me to try buttermilk, suddenly the traffic lightened up. We said our goodbyes before driving away.
I feel like she was an angel sent from heaven to help me make the BEST Homemade Macaroni and Three Cheeses I’ve ever tasted!
I hope you enjoy the recipe as much as I do.
To obtain calories and nutritional information by weight, visit not included with popular online nutritional calculator myfitnesspal.com.
Copy recipe link in the address bar and add it to their calculator. No need to type each ingredient.
Homemade Macaroni and Three Cheeses
- 1 box (8 ounces) elbow macaroni
- 2 tablespoons unsalted butter not margarine
- 1-3/4 cups buttermilk whole or fat-free
- 1 medium egg, beaten (optional) The beaten egg will help thicken cheese sauce.
- 1 tablespoon sour cream (optional)
- 1/2 teaspoon salt More or less as preferred.
- 1/2 teaspoon coarse ground black pepper More or less as preferred
- 1/4 teaspoon garlic powder
- 1/4 teaspoon onion powder
- 1/4 teaspoon paprika (optional) Smoked or regular
- 1-1/2 cups (or 8 ounce block) medium cheddar cheese, sliced or shredded or use shredded black rind hoop cheese
- 1-1/2 cups (or 8 ounce block) Marbled Colby & Monterey Jack Cheese, sliced or shredded
- French fried onions (optional) for garnish
- Preheat oven to 400 degrees.
- Evenly coat a casserole baking dish or 10" cast iron skillet with 2 tablespoons of melted butter.
- Prepare elbow macaroni according to instructions on package. Cook until al dente (firm). Mushy macaroni noodles not suggested for this recipe. Drain cooked noodles and place in buttered casserole dish or 10" cast iron skillet. Set aside.
- In a medium bowl, combine buttermilk, beaten egg (if using), sour cream, salt (as preferred), coarse ground black pepper (as preferred), garlic powder, onion powder, paprika (if using). Stir until evenly combined.
- Pour mixture in center of baking dish. Stir until evenly combined.
- Top with 1/2 of each block of cheese (shredded or thinly sliced). Cover with foil.
- Reduce oven temperature to 375. Bake 8 to 10 minutes OR until cheese is melted.
- Remove from oven. Stir together melted cheese and noodles. Top with remaining 1/2 blocks of cheese (shredded or thinly sliced).
- Sprinkled crushed French fried onions over the top of each serving (optional).
- Return to HOT oven. Cook another 8 to 10 minutes OR until cheese is bubbly.
- If desired, place under boiler to brown (optional).
- Serve hot.
33 thoughts on “Homemade Macaroni and Three Cheeses”
Looks sooo good!
Saved and gonna try it!
Charlie, I hope you enjoy as much as we do. Thank you for visiting my blog!
Definitely trying this one
Thanx u 4 sharing
Will have to try this, thanks for sharing and happy holidays.
You’re welcome! Thank you for visiting. Please come again. Happy holidays!
I never heard of using buttermilk! I would love to try. Please share the difference you found using buttermilk versus milk?
Hi Bri! Buttermilk is a unique ingredient. Enhances a lot of dishes. Buttermilk makes my Homemade Cream Cheese Pound Cake very moist. Makes mac and cheese creamy and enhances flavor of cheese. Whole milk makes mac thin and bland (in my opinion). I’ve made mac with whole milk and with buttermilk. Dramatic difference. I’ll always use buttermilk. It’s THAT good! Thank you for visiting. Please come again. Happy holidays!
Just made this it’s a winner thx!
Hi Nina! Thanks for sharing your positive experience. Happy holidays!
Is that correct only 8 oz of macaroni pasta?
Hi Bridget! Correct size. Recipe easily doubled. Thanks for visiting. Please come again!
Where’s the mustard and cheese wiz? Add them for more favor. Great recipe.
Hi Tania! Those are two unique ingredients for sure. Thanks for sharing your tips. Thank you for visiting. Please come again. Happy holidays!
Looks and sounds sooo good. Makin my mouth water. I will be making this soon and cant wait to try it. Thanks so much for sharing! Happy holidays
Hi Melissa! Appreciate your compliment! Thank you for visiting. Please come again. Happy holidays!
Dear Beverly, I have been looking for a good recipe for quite some time. Thank you for sharing your recipe and tips with us. I have never made or eaten Mac n cheese before. So wish me luck . I do have a question if I would like to add some shrimps. Am I supposed to cook/ bake them before or do I add them raw in the dish before it goes in the oven?
Hi Sharize! Congrats on making your first mac and cheese. Shrimp sounds like a delish idea. Although I’ve never added shrimp, I love to experiment. If I were to make this, I’d cook shrimp first. Set aside. After removing mac and cheese from oven, I’d allow it to cool slightly before stirring in cooked shrimp. The reason I’d cook shrimp separately is because it cooks fast. Baking with mac and cheese… might cause overcooking (rubbery shrimp). Please let me know how it turns out. Thank you for visiting. Please come again. Happy holidays!
Hi Beverly….I’m from Alabama and just discovered your site….been sitting here looking at some of your Southern recipes and wishing that I could receive your blog on my email because I’m not on any social media sites….such as Facebook, Instagram and Twitter and I don’t plan on getting on anytime in the future. If I can receive on email, I would appreciate it. Thanks
Sylvia, Happy 2020! Many thanks for your interest. Just sent out my first official “recipe email.” I added your email address to my distribution list. Check your emails. Would love to know how you discovered my site!
Want to email recipe of Mac and cheese to try
This is the direct link to the recipe…
Hello I just saw your recipe for mac&cheese using buttermilk..Never used buttermilk, but I will be trying it soon..I have used the 3 cheeses a long with feta cheese and Philadelphia cream cheese..It is delicious .Glad I stumbled on you blog.. I will let you know when I make it
Hello,I am 1st time to your blog..I enjoy trying new recipes. I will be trying this mac& cheese recipe soon.
Hello enjoyed your recipe can you please send it email idont planto engage in any of the other social medias i stick to google or you tube congrats .
Thank you! Delighted to add you to my email list. I send one email each Friday.
Thank u I’m going to try buttermilk I tired whole milk carnation milk it was good but now I’m try buttermilk to thank u . I love trying new things to
Joandria, you’re welcome! Good to try new things. I hope you enjoy mac and three cheeses as much as we do! Thank you for visiting my blog. Please come again.
Thank you for the recipe, just wondering if mac & cheese could be made in slow cooker and how?
Debbie, although I’ve never made mac in a slow cooker, it is a good idea. Thankfully, it can be done because I’ve seen several recipes on Pinterest. Added Slow Cooker Mac ‘n Three Cheeses to my Try List. Thank you for visiting my blog. Please come again!
My husband and I used your macaroni and cheese recipe tonight, our first attempt at homemade macaroni and cheese… It. was. perfect. Thank you so much for sharing such lovely Southern food!
Robin and Paul
(Totally pumped about Pineapple Dump Cake.)
Hi Robin and Paul, thank you for the wonderful comment. I’m inspired and motivated to keep creating recipes. 🙂