Paula Deen Mac and Cheese Recipe


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Paula Deen’s Mac and Cheese is a rich and creamy macaroni and cheese recipe. There’s a splash of extra flavor from cayenne and mustard powder that’s sure to make it a hit with the whole family.

Paula Deen’s Mac And Cheese

Paula Deen’s mac and cheese is super easy to pull together, and it’s a total favorite with the kids as well! Loaded with creamy American cheese and freshly grated cheddar, it’s the epitome of cheesy goodness. The mustard powder adds an extra pop of flavor, and the pepper brings a subtle kick.

It’s seriously the creamiest, cheesiest mac and cheese you’ll ever make! Plus, since it’s quick and easy, it’s perfect for those busy weeknights. It’s really the ultimate comfort food!

You can enjoy it as a main dish or serve it as a side with your favorite home cooking, like barbeque or fried chicken. It can also easily be made ahead of time and heated up when you’re ready to serve.

You can also add your own spin to this recipe. Feel free to experiment with different types of cheese, like gruyere, fontina, or gouda, or add some extras like bacon or tomatoes. If you’re a fan of spice, a dash of cayenne pepper will give it a nice kick. The possibilities are endless!

If you love Paula Deen’s recipes, be sure to check out Paula Deen’s Banana Pudding and Paula Deen’s Green Bean Casserole while you’re here! They’re both delicious takes on the classics with tons of 5 star reviews.


Elbow Macaroni: Elbow macaroni is the perfect shape for holding onto our cheese sauce, ensuring every bite is packed with flavor.

Butter: A key player in our sauce, butter adds that rich, creamy depth that makes this dish so decadent.

Large Eggs: While optional, eggs provide added richness and help to thicken the sauce. When the eggs emulsify, they create an even creamier and more luxurious sauce.

Heavy Cream or Evaporated Milk: Either one will be delicious and create a creamy dish! Heavy cream is, well, creamy! It’s the richest dairy product you can use in terms of fat content, which means it’s going to give your mac and cheese a lush, velvety texture. Its taste is also more neutral, so the flavor of the cheese you use will be front and center in your dish.

On the flip side, evaporated milk has about 60% of its water content removed, which makes it thicker and creamier than regular milk but less fatty than heavy cream. It lends a certain richness to dishes but in a more subtle, less decadent way. Evaporated milk also has a slight caramelized flavor due to the evaporation process. This can add an unexpected depth and a touch of sweetness to your mac and cheese, complementing the savory cheese beautifully.

Salt and Black Pepper: Salt enhances all of the flavors while pepper adds just a hint of spice and depth to the flavor.

Mustard Powder: A secret weapon in the world of mac and cheese. It adds a subtle tanginess that contrasts beautifully with the rich, creamy sauce.

Cheddar Cheese and American Cheese: This dynamic duo creates a perfectly balanced, cheesy flavor profile – sharp yet creamy.

Gruyere or Fontina (Optional): Gruyere is my favorite optional addition because it has a creamy and nutty flavor, with a creamy and stretchy texture – perfect for mac and cheese! Fontina’s also a delicious option because it has an incredible creamy flavor and texture.

Cayenne Pepper (Optional): For those who like a little kick! It’s optional, but highly recommended.

The labeled ingredients for Paula Deen mac and cheese.

Alternative Ingredients

Feel free to get creative with this recipe! For a smoky twist, try using smoked gouda instead of cheddar. If you’re a fan of heat, add a dash of hot sauce or some diced jalapenos. For a bit of crunch, sprinkle some toasted bread crumbs on top before serving. And if you’re a meat lover, adding crispy bacon bits will take this mac and cheese to a whole new level!

How To Make Paula Deen Mac And Cheese

Prepare the Pasta: Start by boiling your elbow macaroni. Once it’s cooked to your liking, drain the pasta and return it to the pot. (See the recipe card below for the full printable instructions.)

Prepare the Butter: Next, add your butter to the pot with the macaroni. Stir it around until the butter is fully melted and each piece of pasta is covered in buttery goodness.

Boiling the pasta until al dente then draining and adding butter.

Prepare the Cream Mix: In a separate bowl, combine your eggs (if using), heavy cream or evaporated milk, salt, black pepper, mustard powder, and a dash of cayenne pepper (if using). Whisk everything together until it’s well mixed.

Adding heavy cream, mustard powder, salt and pepper to a small mixing bowl and whisking together.

Combine the Pasta and Cream Mix: Now, pour your cream mixture into your pot of buttered macaroni. Give it all a good stir to make sure everything is well combined.

Add the Cheese: Add your shredded cheddar cheese, slices of American cheese, and Gruyere or Fontina (if using) to the pot.

Adding the cream mixture to the cooked noodles then adding in American cheese.

Stir until thickened: Keep stirring until all the cheese has melted and your sauce has thickened. See the recipe card below for the full written instructions, including ingredient amounts, and helpful tips, etc.

Stirring in the American cheese until fully melted.

Pro Tips

  • For a stronger cheese flavor, try using sharp cheddar or gruyere.
  • If you’ve got a little extra time, try baking your mac and cheese for a deliciously crispy top layer. 
  • The best mac and cheese is served hot and fresh!

What Is the Best Cheese Combo for Homemade Mac and Cheese?

The best cheese combo for homemade mac and cheese really depends on your own personal taste. However, a classic combination is Cheddar and American cheese, like Paula Deen uses in her recipe. Cheddar provides a strong, sharp flavor, while American cheese gives that creamy, melt-in-your-mouth texture we all love.

Why Add Milk to Mac and Cheese?

Milk is a key ingredient in mac and cheese because it forms the base of your cheese sauce. It helps to create a smooth, creamy sauce that perfectly coats your macaroni. Whether you use whole milk, heavy cream, or even evaporated milk like in our recipe, this is one ingredient you can’t skip for that classic, creamy mac and cheese.

A close up showing the cheesy creamy texture of the mac and cheese pasta.

Is It Better to Make Mac and Cheese with Milk or Water?

While you’ll need water to boil your pasta, when it comes to the cheese sauce, milk is the way to go. It creates a much richer, creamier sauce than water ever could. So, stick with milk for that dreamy, creamy mac and cheese we all crave.

Why Do You Need Evaporated Milk in Mac and Cheese?

Evaporated milk is a great ingredient for mac and cheese because it’s creamier and richer than regular milk. It also has a slightly caramelized flavor that adds a lovely depth to your dish. But if you don’t have evaporated milk on hand, regular milk or heavy cream will still do the trick.

A small serving of mac and cheese in a white bowl on top of napkin.

What Makes Mac and Cheese Better?

Use a Variety of Cheeses: Using more than one type of cheese can add depth to the flavor of your mac and cheese. A combination of sharp cheddar, gruyere and fontina is a classic mix that offers a balance of tanginess, creaminess, and savory notes.

Add Spices: Simple spices like paprika, black pepper, and garlic powder can elevate the taste of your mac and cheese. A hint of nutmeg can also add a unique touch.

Include Extras: Incorporating extras like crispy bacon, sautéed onions, green peas, or diced tomatoes can provide additional flavor and texture.

Use Quality Pasta: The macaroni is just as important as the cheese. Using good quality pasta can make a significant difference in the overall taste and texture of the dish.

Bake it: Baking your mac and cheese with a breadcrumb topping can add a crunchy texture that contrasts nicely with the creamy pasta.

Use Heavy Cream: Using heavy cream instead of milk can make your mac and cheese even richer and creamier.

Should You Rinse Pasta for Mac and Cheese?

Generally, it’s best not to rinse your pasta for mac and cheese. The starch on the surface of the pasta helps the sauce stick to it, so you get more cheesy goodness in every bite.

An overhead image of a small serving of creamy mac and cheese with a fork to the side.

What’s the Best Pasta for Mac and Cheese?

Elbow macaroni is the classic choice for mac and cheese, and for good reason. Its shape is perfect for holding onto the cheese sauce. But feel free to get creative! Other pasta shapes like shells or cavatappi can also work well.

How Does Paula Deen Make Mac and Cheese?

Paula Deen’s mac and cheese is a classic comfort food recipe. It’s made with elbow macaroni, butter, eggs, heavy cream or evaporated milk, cheddar cheese, American cheese, and a sprinkle of mustard powder. It’s all cooked together until the cheese melts into a rich, creamy sauce. The result is a decadent, delicious dish that’s sure to become a family favorite.

A fork with mac and cheese showing how creamy the texture is.

Why Is My Mac and Cheese Grainy?

Grainy mac and cheese is often the result of overcooking the sauce. Be sure to cook your sauce over medium heat and remove it from the stove as soon as the cheese has fully melted.

Can I Make Mac and Cheese Ahead of Time?

Yes, you can prepare the dish up to a day in advance and store it in the fridge. When you’re ready to serve it, just heat it up on the stove or in the microwave.

A mac and cheese scoop on a serving spoon in a large pot.

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A Pinterest pin image with a picture of Paula Deen mac and cheese, with title text at the top.

Dinner Recipes

If you like this recipe, be sure to check out all of our other pasta recipes. Some reader favorites are:

Yield: 4 servings

BEST Paula Deen Mac and Cheese Recipe

The best Paula Deen mac and cheese recipe.

Paula Deen's Mac and Cheese is a rich creamy blend of macaroni, cheeses, cayenne, and mustard. It’s sure to be a hit with the whole family.

Prep Time 10 minutes
Cook Time 12 minutes
Total Time 22 minutes


  • 2 cups elbow macaroni (8 ounces)
  • 3 Tablespoons butter
  • 2 large eggs (optional, see notes*)
  • 3/4 cup heavy whipping cream (or evaporated milk)
  • 1 teaspoon fine sea salt
  • 3/4 teaspoon ground black pepper
  • 3/4 teaspoon mustard powder
  • Pinch of cayenne pepper (optional)
  • 1 1/2 cups freshly shredded cheddar cheese (6 ounces)
  • 8 slices American cheese
  • 1/2 cup Gruyere or Fontina cheese (optional, see notes**)


  1. Bring a large pot filled with salted water to a rolling boil. Add the elbow macaroni and cook it according to the package instructions. After the macaroni is cooked, drain off the water and put the macaroni back in the pot.
  2. Place the pot with the cooked macaroni over medium heat. Add the butter and stir until the butter has melted and the pasta is evenly coated.
  3. In a separate medium-sized bowl, combine the eggs (optional), heavy cream or evaporated milk, salt, black pepper, mustard powder, and a dash of cayenne pepper (also optional). Use a whisk to mix all these ingredients together.
  4. Pour the cream mixture into the pot with the macaroni. Stir to combine.
  5. Add the shredded cheddar cheese, slices of American cheese, and Gruyere or Fontina (if using) to the pot. Keep stirring the macaroni on medium heat until the cheese melts into the mixture and the sauce thickens, giving it a creamy consistency. This should take about 3 minutes.
  6. Serve the mac and cheese hot and enjoy!


*Eggs: I prefer the texture without eggs, but you can use them if you’d like. The version I photographed did not use eggs.

**Gruyere or Fontina: I love adding Gruyere to this recipe. Paula Deen doesn’t call for it in her original recipe, but I think it’s a super delicious addition. Feel free to leave it out though! It’s definitely a more elevated flavor, so if you’re making it for kids, it’s probably better without it.

Storage: Store any leftovers in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 3 days.

Reheating: To reheat, microwave the mac and cheese in a microwave-safe dish, stirring occasionally until heated through. Alternatively, reheat on the stovetop over low heat, stirring frequently to prevent sticking.

Nutrition Information:

Serving Size:


Amount Per Serving: Calories: 839Total Fat: 56.4gCarbohydrates: 47.3gFiber: 2gSugar: 4.1gProtein: 35.7g

Nutrition information isn’t always accurate.


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Whether it’s for a cozy family dinner or a comfort food fix, this Paula Deen mac and cheese recipe is sure to be a hit.

The best Paula Deen mac and cheese recipe.

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