16 Classic Elbow Pasta Recipes Beyond Mac And Cheese

Fried Mac and Cheese Bites
Photo: Will Dickey

Elbow pasta, often referred to as macaroni, is the foundation of two specific Southern classics that we cannot live without: macaroni salad and macaroni and cheese. They are versatile and seasonally-appropriate and show up at all occasions, from Thanksgiving dinner to summer cookouts. While some may consider this shape somewhat childish, it is more refined than you think. The elbow shaped pasta lends itself to absorb just the right amount of dressing or cheesy goodness depending on the recipe. While most of these recipes are either pasta salads or variations on macaroni and cheese, we’ve got a few unique ideas you might not have even known about from pudding to casserole.

01 of 16

Macaroni Pudding

Macaroni Pudding
Victor Protasio; Prop Styling: Heather Chadduck; Food Styling: Erin Merhar

We've upped the ante on your traditional macaroni and cheese and transformed it into Macaroni Pudding. Even though it seems a bit fancier, it's actually quite simple to assemble.

02 of 16

Tabitha Brown's Vegan Mac And Cheese

Tabitha Brown's Vegan Mac and Cheese

Greg DuPree, Food Styling: Chelsea Zimmer, Prop Styling: Audrey Davis

Everyone can enjoy mac and cheese at the table with Tabitha Brown's Vegan Mac And Cheese. A thoughtful combination of a russet potato, butternut squash, and more makes this dish rich and creamy without the cheese.

03 of 16

Bacon-Ranch Pasta Salad

Bacon-Ranch Pasta Saladba
Micah A. Leal

A packet of ranch seasoning goes a long way in Bacon-Ranch Pasta Salad. Not only does this recipe make enough to feed your entire party, it also comes together in just two steps, making it an incredibly simple dish.

04 of 16

Macaroni Pie

Macaroni Pie
Antonis Achilleos

Are you ever in need of mac and cheese that can be easily sliced? Well, this recipe might just be what you've been looking for. The extra buttery crust might seem like a strange addition, but it just makes this classic even more delicious.

05 of 16

Stovetop Macaroni And Cheese

Southern Living Stovetop Mac and Cheese in the pan ready to serve

Morgan Hunt Glaze; Food Stylist: Chelsea Zimmer; Prop Stylist: Christine Keely

All of the recipes on this list should be accessible for most any home cook, but our Stovetop Macaroni And Cheese might just be the easiest. Everything comes together on the stove and every bite is nostalgic.

06 of 16

Classic Macaroni Salad With Ham

Classic Macaroni Salad with Ham
Jen Causey

Come cookout time, next to the burgers and ribs belongs Classic Macaroni Salad With Ham. We simply cannot get enough of this salad, with the fresh bite of pepper and the creaminess of the dressing.

07 of 16

Cajun Mac And Cheese

Cajun Mac And Cheese

Jen Causey; Food Stylist: Margaret Dickey

Looking to make mac and cheese your entire meal? This recipe is your answer. It has everything from sausage to veggies.

08 of 16

Best-Ever Macaroni And Cheese

Best-Ever Macaroni and Cheese
Photographer: Stacy K. Allen. Food Stylist: Ruth Blackburn, Prop Stylist: Christina Daley

We take our words very seriously here at Southern Living, so when we tell you a recipe is the best ever, you better listen. What makes this macaroni stand out? The heavy cream.

09 of 16

Sloppy Joe Casserole

Sloppy Joe Casserole
Southern Living

Maybe you remember seeing Sloppy Joe Casserole in your lunchroom cafeterias or summer camp socials, but this version is something everyone will enjoy. It's the perfect dinner for a weeknight.

10 of 16

Fried Mac And Cheese Bites

Fried Mac and Cheese Bites
Will Dickey

Several restaurant chains serve these delicious bundles of goodness, but you can make them at home for the perfect dinner party or sleepover snack. We roll them in panko to get a crunchy layer on the outside.

11 of 16

Classic Make-Ahead Macaroni And Cheese

Classic Make-Ahead Macaroni And Cheese
Photographer: James Ransom; Prop Stylist: Christine Keely; Food Stylist: Ruth Blackburn

If you've got a big crowd coming in for the holidays or a family reunion, this recipe will save you from doing too much day-of. You put this recipe together the night before and them top with breadcrumbs and bake when you're ready to serve.

12 of 16

Herbed Breadcrumb-Topped Macaroni And Cheese

Roasted Broccoli Macaroni and Cheese
Victor Protasio; Prop Styling: Ginny Branch Stelling; Food Styling: Emily Nabors Hall

Breadcrumbs might be a slightly controversial addition to your mac and cheese, but we find they add another layer of goodness to this family favorite.

13 of 16

Baked Mac And Cheese With Bacon

Baked Macaroni And Cheese With Bacon

Alison Miksch; Food Stylist: Karen Rankin; Prop Stylist: Josh Hoggle

Melty cheese meets its match with crispy bacon in our Baked Mac And Cheese With Bacon. A medley of cheeses makes this recipe rich enough to be enjoyed at even the most elegant of dinner parties.

14 of 16

Roasted Tomato Macaroni And Cheese

Roasted Tomato Macaroni and Cheese
Photo: Victor Protasio; Prop Styling: Mary Clayton Carl; Food Styling: Emily Nabors Hall

Two Southern favorites are better than one, and our Roasted Tomato Macaroni and Cheese is just the thing your barbecue needs this summer. We bake the tomatoes to give them added roasted flavor.

15 of 16

Navi Kitchen Tikka Masala Macaroni And Cheese

Navi Kitchen Tikka Masala Macaroni and Cheese
Greg Dupree, Food Styling: Mary Claire Britton, Prop Styling: Kathleen Varner

Add a little extra spice and flavor to your dinner with the Navi Kitchen Tikka Masala Macaroni And Cheese. Cardamom, cinnamon, cloves, and other spices add next level flavor.

16 of 16

Uncle Jack's Mac-And-Cheese

Uncle Jack's Mac-and-Cheese
Hector Sanchez

One of the reviewers for this recipe says this recipe is almost an exact copy of their Southern Grandmother's recipe, and we couldn't be more flattered. This version comes from Pam Rawlinson in North Augusta, South Carolina.

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