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John Legend's Macaroni and Cheese

When musician John Legend visited Martha, he shared this recipe for his favorite Southern comfort food.

John Legend's Macaroni and Cheese


  • 4 tablespoons (1/2 stick) unsalted butter, plus more for baking dish
  • Coarse salt and freshly ground pepper
  • 3 cups elbow macaroni
  • 2 (12-ounce) cans evaporated milk
  • 1/3 cup skim milk
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1/2 teaspoon seasoned salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 2 (8-ounce) packages extra-sharp cheddar cheese, grated
  • 1 (8-ounce) package Monterey Jack cheese, grated
  • Paprika, for sprinkling


  1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Generously butter a 13-by-9-inch glass baking dish; set aside. Bring a large pot of water to a boil; add salt and macaroni. Cook until al dente according to package directions. Drain, and return to pot. Add butter, and toss until pasta is coated and butter has melted; set aside.

  2. In a medium bowl, whisk together evaporated milk, skim milk, and eggs. Add seasoned salt, garlic powder, 1 teaspoon salt, and 1/2 teaspoon pepper; set aside. In another medium bowl, combine cheeses; set aside.

  3. Place 1/3 macaroni in an even layer in the bottom of prepared baking dish; cover evenly with 1/3 cheese. Repeat with remaining macaroni and cheese mixture. Pour milk mixture evenly over contents of baking dish. Sprinkle with paprika. Bake until top layer is lightly browned, 35 to 45 minutes. Let stand 10 to 15 minutes before serving.

Reviews (43)

  • VivNGabe 27 Nov, 2014

    This wonderful recipe needs an updated review! I've been searching for a few years for the perfect mac n cheese recipe that is more of a southern baked variety as opposed to a creamy variety (more like the kind I grew up with). I have to say I have finally found that perfect recipe! It got a thumbs up from the family and they're so happy I made a huge amount so there will be plenty to enjoy with the rest of the Thanksgiving leftovers. Thank you so much for this winning recipe!

  • Snow Kitten 16 Jul, 2014

    Hands down the most incredible Mac n' Cheese I've ever had. I'm just learning how to cook and this was so easy. My entire family loved it and they're hard to please. They even wanted to take the leftovers home for later. Thank you for sharing!

  • NOLAbride2013 20 Apr, 2014

    This is the most amazing mac & cheese recipe ever! Being from the South and newly married, cooking is a BIG deal! This recipe is cheesy, creamy and oh-so-perfect! My husband loves it and can't go a holiday without it (I surprise him with it for regular suppers too!) and my stepchildren, who are THE pickiest eaters in the world, absolutely love this! I did make some changes, however, like using fat free evaporated milk and reduced fat cheese and it comes out fantastic! Thanks John and Martha

  • Mrs Molly 25 Nov, 2013

    I've been making this mac & cheese for several years now and the only complaint I've heard is "Why didn't you make more?" It is definitely a favorite with my family and friends! Thank you Martha and John Legend!

  • rosalieherring 23 Nov, 2013

    Absolutely delicious and relatively easy mac n' cheese recipe. I believe that there is an error in the ingredients though. Only 3 cups of macaroni?? That's completely crazy for three bags of cheese! I followed recipe to the tee the first time and it was cheesy overload (albeit yummy). I nearly doubled the pasta the next time and it was great and seemed like a more appropriate proportion. I do use shells instead of elbow macaroni but can't imagine that accounts for the difference.

  • Carolyn Tilley 16 Nov, 2013

    Have made this recipe since first time I saw on the show. It is the best recipe for mac n cheese. I received raves each and every time I prepare it.

  • Carol Braat 14 Jan, 2013

    This is the BEST recipe for us. I Love the smell when baking too. :) cb

  • ljwaldron 5 Jan, 2013

    Loved it. My cheddar wasn't as sharp as I like, but that's my fault. I also didn't use the skim milk, I wanted to see how creamy it was first. Very easy to make. I will experiment with other cheeses as well, just out of curiosity

  • Jennifer Welker 21 Dec, 2012

    I LOVE THIS RECIPE! I have made it dozens of times and I get so many requests for it. I like to assemble it the night before. That gives the liquid time to absorb into the noodles and I think it makes it taste even better. Lately I have been making this in the Crockpot, which makes it perfect for carry-ins (use a large one). I just assemble the night before and cook on low for 4-5 hours.

  • T1Q 24 Nov, 2012

    If it turned out sweet, you may have used sweetened condensed milk instead of evaporated milk.

  • Kellie McMahan 8 Nov, 2012

    turned out really sweet, anyone else have that problem

  • dsm1967 3 Sep, 2012

    Sorry to say that I didn't get the same results that other reviewers enjoyed. It was just "eh." Not creamy. Ingredients separated. Flavor kind of bland. (I mixed it up the night before. Maybe that was the problem. But other reviewers tried that and it worked.)

  • Strawberry 29 Jul, 2012

    Tasted delicious and was pretty easy to make! :-)

  • millagorilla 12 Dec, 2011


    You might be cooking your cheese/milk at too high a temperature. I would amend the recipe with a bechamel sauce. Mix 2 tbsp butter +2 tbsp of flour in a saucepan over med heat till smooth. Then add milk 1/4 cup at a time and then the rest of the ingredients after that. The bechamel base should give your mac a smoother consistency, with less graininess and curdling.

  • sbarlowholmes 9 Dec, 2011

    Very good, but why does my cheese/milk curdle when it is cooking?

  • cupcakemommy 12 Sep, 2011

    How many "realistic" servings does this recipe produce?

  • bigonfood 20 Jul, 2011

    This is the best m& c. My son is very fussy about his m & c - this made the grade, and my brother in law he is also fussy wanted some to take home, so it was the best!.

  • Brad1 10 Jul, 2011

    99% of the recipe is fine... but after half a stick of butter, 2 cans evaporated milk, 2 large eggs, and a pound and a half of cheese... It's totally ridiculous to add 1/3 cup of skim milk.

    Gimme a break, Martha.

    1/3 cup of water just as fine, as is 1/3 cup of whole milk, or 1/3 cup evaporvated milk, or 1/3 cup of 2%.

    Sheesh. Make your readers spend money on a 1/3 cup?

  • laura100878 31 May, 2011

    This is the best Mac and cheese! This will be my go to Mac and cheese!

  • laura100878 13 Feb, 2011

    This is the best mac and cheese!!

  • heykiwi 4 Jan, 2011

    I made this for the holidays and it was AMAZING! And so easy!

  • zbelly_32 22 Jul, 2010

    I tried this because JL said his family expects him to alway make it, which tells me it is awesome. Now I have been asked for the recipe many times. I love it and don't really like baked mac and cheese.

  • darose62 13 Jul, 2010

    Not what I thought it would be. But then again I should've read the whole recipe before I started making it. I like creamy sauce mac

  • hopeisfound 5 Apr, 2010

    Very good recipe. I forgot the evap milk from the store, so I used 3.5 cups skim milk, 4 tbs all purpose flour adn otherwise followed recipe to a tee and it was perfect.

  • cmarlow41 24 Jan, 2009

    This recipe looks amazing but I was more intrigued by John Legend's more than able kitchen skills! He just kept moving right along, never forgetting a step. Sometimes Martha's guests look like they've never made the recipe that they are demonstrating on the show. Yay, John!

  • jennyb92 22 Jan, 2009

    This is my favorite mac and cheese recipe --- easy, and beyond yummy. Your entire family will LOVE it.

  • BrettC 10 Dec, 2008

    Put it together the night before Thanksgiving and baked it on Thanksgiving. Always a hit.

  • BrettC 10 Dec, 2008

    Put it together the night before Thanksgiving and baked it on Thanksgiving. Always a hit.

  • BrettC 10 Dec, 2008

    Put it together the night before Thanksgiving and baked it on Thanksgiving. Always a hit.

  • BrettC 10 Dec, 2008

    Put it together the night before Thanksgiving and baked it on Thanksgiving. Always a hit.

  • LinaDAngel 26 Nov, 2008

    I've made this 3 years in a row and it's still a hit with my family. Thank you John Legend - both for your extraordinary music and this awesome recipe.

  • Lilmommasrecipes 15 May, 2008

    This is the best Macaroni

  • sdavisblue 4 May, 2008

    I prepared this amazing dish the night before my dinner party and baked it the just before my guests arrived. It was the best mac and cheese my guests have ever eaten and my friends are total foodies. I only added a little mozzarella and topped with shaved parmesean cheese. It was so delicious. Thank you Martha and John Legend for this wonderful dish.

  • mamina51 27 Mar, 2008

    very tasty and easy

  • wittnie 25 Mar, 2008

    this is EXACTLY what i was looking for! its delicious! thank you

  • peggyswain 25 Mar, 2008

    OMG Carried this to our Family Easter celebration and everyone loved it.
    It was the only casserole that was completely gone. Boo Hoo no leftovers to
    carry home.

  • peggyswain 25 Mar, 2008

    OMG Carried this to our Family Easter celebration and everyone loved it.
    It was the only casserole that was completely gone. Boo Hoo no leftovers to
    carry home.

  • nlh114 14 Feb, 2008

    Super easy and super good! My family always askes me to make it!

  • Leahslittleloves 10 Jan, 2008

    This was SOOO Good. You should try it!

  • badgergirly 7 Jan, 2008

    I'm a college student trying to teach myself how to cook. I halved the recipe and it was easy to put together and tasted great. I'll definitely be making this for my roomates!

  • doublethecurls 30 Dec, 2007

    I changed the recipe a bit, substituting the types of cheese used, amount of macaroni, and added ground turkey. Even my kids loved it and asked for seconds, except for one of my twins who isn't a big fan of cheese and opted for a PB

  • wildflower9972 26 Dec, 2007

    DELICIOUS!!!!!!!!!!!! This recipe is very easy to make and the taste is incredible!!

  • danciniyogini 5 Dec, 2007

    This is a great recipe! It reminded me of my childhood. Just try to eat this and not smile!

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