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❤️ Why you'll love it
- A classic comfort food with just minutes of prep
- Beer flavor adds perfect balance but isn't overwhelming
- Cheap to make and easy to customize
This delicious beer mac 'n cheese recipe is a Southern delicacy that'll fill you up with all its gooey goodness!
Homemade macaroni and cheese is perfect for game day, family dinners, or potlucks—whatever the occasion, this side dish is sure to become the main event!
This is an overview of the ingredients. You'll find the full measurements and instructions in the green recipe card (printable) at the bottom of the page.
- Have fun with your favorite pasta! Elbow macaroni is classic, but shells, cavatappi (the little swirly tubes), and penne are great options, too.
- Sharp cheddar cheese gives your creamy macaroni an elevated flavor (this isn't blue-box stuff!) but you can experiment with mild cheddar, American cheese, or even Pepper Jack for a spicy twist.
- Use any kind of beer you like. Milder cheeses go better with a pale ale. The strong cheese in this recipe tastes great with dark ale or stout.
- Make it heartier by adding meat! Smoked sausage, cooked ground beef, bacon, or leftover shredded chicken work great.
- Feel free to sneak in some veggies to make dinner stretch or add flavor. Experiment with chopped spinach, cooked broccoli, Ro-Tel tomatoes, hatch chiles, diced bell peppers, caramelized onions, and more.
- Out of breadcrumbs? Crushed Ritz crackers will give you a perfect, golden brown crunch on top.
This is an overview of the instructions. Full instructions are in the green recipe card at the bottom of the page.
- Melt butter, whisk in flour, and add beer.
- Add cheese and spices.
- Stir in cooked macaroni.
- Cover with breadcrumbs and bake.
🥫 How to store leftovers
Southern mac and cheese with beer holds up great for a few days—it's not likely you'll have much leftover, though!
Store the mac and cheese in the fridge for up to five days. For best results, warm it over medium-low heat on the stove. Add an extra splash of milk if the creamy sauce gets too thick.
You can also reheat mac and cheese in the microwave. Do so in 30-second increments, stirring in between until hot.
Want to make an easy freezer meal? Leave the breadcrumbs off, then bake as directed and let it cool completely.
Cover the mac and cheese tightly with aluminum foil and freeze for up to two months. When you're ready to enjoy, bake it covered at 350 degrees F oven for 1 hour. Uncover, add your breadcrumbs, and bake for 15 to 20 minutes more.
💭 Things to know
Expert Tip: It might sound surprising, but I recommend overcooking the macaroni a little bit. Not enough to turn it to mush, but slightly more than a la dente. It will soak up more flavor and take on a better baked texture!
- Salt the water very well. It adds great flavor to the noodles.
- After you drain the macaroni, don't rinse it. The pasta needs a little extra starch left over to help the cheesy sauce stick.
- Evaporated milk is the key to really creamy beer cheese sauce. You can use regular milk if you want but you'll miss out on extra richness.
- If you do swap the evaporated milk for regular, let it come to room temperature before mixing it into the roux.
- Don't use pre-shredded cheese—it has ingredients to prevent it from clumping, so it won't melt well. For the creamiest sauce, grate it fresh!
- The key to a good roux is constant whisking. Don't step away for even a few seconds or you risk it burning.
- You can taste test the cheesy sauce before baking the mac. Add salt and black pepper accordingly—you might prefer a little more or less.
Beer cheese mac won't get you buzzed—alcohol burns off while simmering and baking. However, if you don't like to consume alcohol at all, use a non-alcoholic lager. Most grocery store beer sections have started carrying N/A options, so it shouldn't be tough to find.
Nope! Southern mac and cheese is baked without a cover so that the top can get nice and crisp. Baking with tin foil over the pan will make the mac soggy. (The only time you bake it covered is if it's frozen.)
You can, but it's not as good. If you're short on time or money, prep the boxed mix according to package directions. Add it to a greased casserole dish, stir in a cup of cubed sharp cheddar, and top it with the breadcrumbs. Bake at 375 degrees F for about 15 minutes.
📚 Related recipes
- With sweet and savory flavors, Cheesy Macaroni Corn Casserole is cooked in the slow cooker so it's super easy and ready when you are!
- Mac and Cheese with Pulled Pork has the sweet BBQ flavor you love, loads of creamy cheese, and a buttery crunchy topping—it's perfection.
- Also called "Angel Chicken," easy Zesty Chicken Mac and Cheese is a creamy dinner recipe that everyone will love—and I mean everyone!
🍽️ Serve with...
📞 The last word
Southern mac and cheese with beer is creamy, gooey-cheesy like the mac and cheese your kids love but the beer wraps around the flavor and coaxes it to a level that makes your mouth take notice. The classic comfort food that we grew up on has grown up, too.
If you click on the number of servings in the recipe card you can adjust the measurements up or down for the exact number of servings you need. Don't forget that you can click on "add to collection" to save it to your own, private recipe box!
If you love this recipe please give it 5 stars! ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️
Southern Baked Mac and Cheese with BeerPrint Pin Recipe Save Saved!
- 1 pound elbow macaroni or shell pasta
- ¼ cup butter
- ¼ cup flour
- 1 cup evaporated milk, may need a little more if it seems too thick
- 8 ounces beer
- 8 ounces sharp cheddar cheese, grated
- 4 ounces smoked Gouda cheese, grated
- ¼ teaspoon smoked paprika
- ½ cup Panko bread crumbs
- Generous amount of black pepper
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- Preheat oven to 375 degrees F.
- Cook pasta in salted boiling water - about 12 minutes.
- Melt butter in a saucepan over medium high heat.
- Whisk in flour and cook, stirring constantly, until golden – about 2 minutes.
- Add the milk and the beer, whisking constantly.
- Add both cheeses and stir with a wooden spatula or spoon until melted.
- Reduce heat to medium.
- Simmer the cheese mixture for 5 minutes or so – just until it thickens slightly.
- Stir in the pepper and smoked paprika.
- Stir in the cooked macaroni.
- 10. Spoon the mixture into a large, greased iron skillet or casserole dish.
- 11. Top with bread crumbs.
- 12. Bake for 30 minutes or until the dish is bubbling and has browned on top.
- 13. Let stand a few minutes before serving.
- Use evaporated milk. It makes creamy recipes creamier without a lot of extra fat. Our moms and grandmas knew it but it seems to have been forgotten by most of us.
- Use any kind of beer you like. If you use milder cheeses instead of sharp Cheddar you may want to go with a milder beer. Otherwise try the dark beers in this dish.
- Use a variety of cheeses. Sharp cheddar, smoked cheddar or Gouda, some Monterey Jack... experiment with combinations until you come up with something that you really love.
- Overcook the macaroni a little. Oh, not enough to turn it to mush but just past the a la dente stage. It will soak up more flavor and take on a better texture - trust me on this.
- Bread crumbs baked on top take any mac and cheese recipe out of the mundane and into the wow.
- Use a pasta shape that will clutch at the cheese like a shopper with a cashmere sweater at the Neiman Marcus 75% off sale table. Elbows, shells, corkscrews...
- Be sure to salt the water that you're cooking the macaroni in - and salt it well.
Nutrition information is estimated as a courtesy. If using for medical purposes, please verify information using your own nutritional calculator. Percent Daily Values are based on a 2000 calorie diet.
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First published January 9, 2018. Last updated Jun 20, 2023 for better images and editorial improvements.