Luby’s Cafeteria Macaroni and Cheese

If you like creamy mac and cheese, don’t miss this one! Luby’s Macaroni and Cheese is so much better than the stuff that comes in the blue box.

homemade Luby's macaroni and cheese in a serving dish and small bowl

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Creamy Mac and Cheese

If you like creamy mac and cheese, don’t miss out on this copycat mac and cheese recipe! Luby’s Macaroni and Cheese made in your kitchen is much better than the stuff in a box!

Luby’s Mac and Cheese is one of the dishes always on their menu. But if you can’t get to Luby’s, you can still prepare Luby’s Macaroni and Cheese just like Luby’s does, but in your own home.

This southern macaroni and cheese recipe is simple and has a unique ingredient. It calls for dry milk and water instead of regular milk.

Maybe you grew up going to Luby’s and had their mac n cheese every time. But then they closed their doors in your area. So, if you haven’t been able to eat this in years, you can now make this stovetop mac and cheese at home. This dish comes out super awesome every time!

The Luby’s Story

Bob Luby’s first restaurant dates from 1947 in San Antonio. He wanted to serve good, fresh food in a comfortable setting people would enjoy and wish to return to time and time again – a place that feels like home.

The idea was a good one because it caught on. This Texas-based eatery has a loyal fan base for a good reason – their food is delicious!

Why Is American Cheese the Best Cheese for This Recipe?

You may have noticed that some cheeses melt better than others. In fact, there’s a scientific explanation for why. This is good to know because gooey melted cheese is the key to certain dishes – fondue, macaroni and cheese, pizza, and quesadillas.

Yet certain cheeses make really bad choices for these dishes because they simply do not melt well or they get unpleasantly stringy.

American cheese sometimes gets a bad rap. People say it’s too processed or it’s not “real” cheese. However, one thing is absolutely true – American cheese somehow melts to the perfect consistency and tastes so good!

This is why American cheese definitely has a place in many recipes. It’s ideal for this copycat cafeteria mac and cheese recipe.

Ingredients for creamy homemade macaroni and cheese

Here’s what you need to make perfect mac and cheese:

  • Dry elbow macaroni
  • Nonfat dry milk
  • Flour
  • Butter
  • Water
  • American cheese – You can get block American cheese at the deli counter
  • Salt
Luby's macaroni and cheese ingredients

How to Make Luby’s Macaroni and Cheese

Here are the simple steps for this Luby’s recipe:

  1. Cook macaroni according to the package directions. Drain.
cooked elbow macaroni in a strainer
  1. Combine dry milk, flour, and butter in a large bowl.
  2. Gradually add boiling water, stirring constantly.
  3. Add cheese and stir until smooth, about 2-3 minutes.
cheese sauce for homemade Luby's macaroni and cheese
  1. Add cooked macaroni to cheese sauce and stir to combine.
  2. Transfer to a lightly greased baking dish.
  3. Cover with foil and bake at 350°F for 25 minutes.
  4. Remove foil. Sprinkle shredded cheese on top. Bake until the cheese melts.
  5. Serve and enjoy!
baked macaroni and cheese in a baking dish and small bowl

How to Store and Freeze Baked Mac and Cheese

Storing: Allow the mac and cheese to cool to room temperature. Transfer it to an airtight container or cover the dish with plastic wrap or aluminum foil. Store it in the refrigerator for up to 4 days.

Freezing: Transfer the cooled mac and cheese to airtight freezer-safe containers or heavy-duty freezer bags. If using a container, press a piece of plastic wrap directly onto the surface of the mac and cheese before sealing to prevent freezer burn. It will last in the freezer for up to 3 months.

How to Reheat Mac and Cheese

From the refrigerator:

  • Oven: Preheat your oven to 350°F. Transfer the mac and cheese to an oven-safe dish if it’s not already in one. Cover with aluminum foil and bake for 20 to 25 minutes, or until heated through. If you’d like, you can remove the foil during the last 5 to 10 minutes to let the top get a bit crispy.
  • Microwave: Transfer a serving of mac and cheese to a microwave-safe dish. Cover with a microwave-safe lid or plastic wrap, leaving one corner open to vent. Microwave on medium power for 1 to 2 minutes, stir, then continue heating in 30-second intervals until heated through.

From the freezer:

  • Thawing: For best results, thaw frozen mac and cheese in the refrigerator for 24 hours before reheating.
  • Oven (without thawing): Preheat your oven to 350°F. Cover the mac and cheese with aluminum foil and bake for 45 minutes, or until heated through. If desired, remove the foil during the last 10 to 15 minutes to let the top become crispy.
  • Microwave (thawed): Follow the same steps as reheating from the refrigerator but expect slightly longer reheating times.

Reheating Tips:

  • When reheating, if you find the mac and cheese a bit dry, you can stir in a splash of milk or cream to bring back its creamy texture.
  • Always check the internal temperature of the dish to ensure it has reached 165°F before consuming.
homemade Luby's macaroni and cheese in a pan and bowl

Love Macaroni and Cheese? Try these Recipes

Best Luby’s Copycat Recipes

Be sure to take a look at more copycat restaurant side dishes and comfort food recipes.

homemade Luby's macaroni and cheese in a serving dish and small bowl

Luby’s Macaroni and Cheese

Luby’s Macaroni and Cheese is creamy and easy to make at home.
5 from 17 votes
Print Pin Rate Add to Collection
Course: Side Dish
Cuisine: American
Keyword: Luby’s Cafeteria Macaroni and Cheese
Prep Time: 15 minutes
Cook Time: 25 minutes
Total Time: 40 minutes
Servings: 8
Calories: 431kcal


  • 16 ounces dry elbow macaroni
  • 2 tablespoons nonfat dry milk
  • 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
  • 1 tablespoon melted butter
  • 1 1/4 cups boiling water
  • 3 cups shredded American cheese divided use
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt


  • Cook the pasta according to thepackage directions. Drain and set to one side. 
  • Heat oven to 350 degrees.
  • In a large bowl, mix the dry milk, butter, and flour. Gradually add the boilingwater, beating constantly. 
  • Add 1 cup of cheese and continue beating until the mixture is smooth andcreamy. 
  • Stirin the macaroni, one more cup of cheese, and salt. 
  • Transferto a lightly-greased 2-quart baking dish. Tightly cover with foil and bake at 350 degrees for 25 minutes. 
  • Remove the foil and sprinkle withthe remaining cheese. Put back in the oven for 1 minute, or until thecheese melts.


Calories: 431kcal | Carbohydrates: 46g | Protein: 17g | Fat: 19g | Saturated Fat: 10g | Cholesterol: 56mg | Sodium: 977mg | Potassium: 229mg | Fiber: 1g | Sugar: 3g | Vitamin A: 580IU | Vitamin C: 0.2mg | Calcium: 584mg | Iron: 1.2mg

About Stephanie Manley

I recreate your favorite restaurant recipes, so you can prepare these dishes at home. I help you cook dinner, and serve up dishes you know your family will love. You can find most of the ingredients for all of the recipes in your local grocery store.

Stephanie is the author of's Dining Out in the Home, and's Dining Out in the Home 2.

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Reader Interactions


  1. Diana Medina

    I did not see this recipe before making my Lubys mac &cheese. It is almost the same as this recipe except I used 8oz of pasta/2cups/half a 16 oz bag /( however you want to look at it!)
    It turned out much like the restaurant Mac.
    I baked only until the cheese on top melted. It was heated thru well enough from the stove.
    This recipe is a basic Mac & cheese. Just how we like it!

  2. Royanne

    5 stars
    The recipe was spot on! Thank you for posting this. I have been in search of this recipe for a very long time as other Mac and cheese recipes have not been creamy. I actually halved the recipe as it is just my husband and I. The hubby loved it! Will be making it again!

  3. Amy

    The actual Luby’s recipe for their Macaroni and Cheese is this:
    8 oz (2 cups) dry elbow macaroni
    2 tbsp nonfat dry milk
    2 tbsp all-purpose flour
    1 tbsp butter or margarine, melted
    1 ¼ cups boiling water
    3 cups (12 oz) shredded American cheese
    ¼ tsp salt

    1. Cook macaroni according to package directions. Drain.
    2. Heat oven to 350F.
    3. In large bowl, mix dry milk, flour, and butter. Gradually add boiling water, beating constantly. Add 1 ½ cups of the cheese and continue beating until smooth and creamy. Stir in macaroni, 1 cup of the remaining cheese, and salt. Transfer to lightly greased 2 quart baking dish. Cover with foil.
    4. Bake 25 minutes.
    5. Remove foil. Sprinkle with remaining ½ cup cheese. Continue baking 1 minute or until cheese melts.

  4. Brent

    5 stars
    Y’all are TFF I’ve been a lot of things in my life from cook to engineer and finishing as a 11Bravo witch stoped my taste test of life sooner than I wanted but looking for a mac and cheese recipe for my daughter I stumbled upon this argument over measurements that made me laugh, if your so small of a person as to blame someone else for your screw up, sh*t takes the time to comment on it every one who reads this know’s you we all have met prickless wanders just like you. Next time just ask mommy to make the blue box for you.

  5. Christopher

    It’s 2 cups of dry elbow macaroni. I just put 16oz equals a pound in dry measure. I should have snapped. The box says 1 lb so I cooked it all. This makes a super dry tasteless casserole. Fix your recipe and spare me the pastas are different semantics to defend your error. That made me trust your error. You are indeed wrong.

    • Christopher

      16oz equals how many cups, ……2cups

      I’m just hungry and pissed I confused weight with cup volumes, but’s if you aren’t thinking about cups, and instead thinking about dry measure, you will find 160z equals a pound. You see 1lb on the box. It’s confusing. Just say 2 cups dry macaroni …penne be damned lol

      • Stephanie

        So I am a little confused Christopher, I never stated the pasta measurement was 2 cups. If we were measuring water it would be 2 cups equals 16 ounces. When I measured out pasta from the box a 16-ounce box Barilla pasta equaled about 3 1/2 cups. I know you said don’t give you any semantics, but volume and weight can be different.
        I till make a note to retest the recipe for dryness and blandness as you stated.

        Thank you for your comments.

  6. BG

    I grew up going to Luby’s and had their mac n cheese every time! They’ve closed their doors in my area, so I haven’t been able to eat this in years. Thanks to you, I can now make it at home. It comes out super awesome every time! Thank you so much for allowing me to have this at home. It brings back all the great memories too!

  7. elizabeth sanders

    i just put it in the oven. The sauce tasted DELICIOUS. I have been wanting to try this recipe for years. I typically make the sauce on the stove. I ended up with A bunch of powdered milk and immediately thought of this recipe.thanks for sharing it.

  8. Amelia L Adair

    I have NEVER used American cheese in my backed Mac and cheese! Cheddar, Monteray Jack, usually 2 types of cheddar.

    • PUGSY

      5 stars
      We’re talking about LUBY’S Mac and cheese, not yours. American cheese is what it Luby’s uses. If you have an issue with the cheese, don’t make it.

  9. kimberlyc

    The real recipe is Community Nurse Macaroni and Cheese, which was developed to teach women how to make nutritious meals for their families–it contains eggs and dry milk. Just search it—not a secret, I’ve seen it published more than once in Texas .

  10. nk

    I did not like how this recipe turned out. Not much favor. I just need to find a recipe that works well for bush Alaska because I only have powered and almond milk.

    • Stephanie

      I am sorry this recipe didn’t work for you. Do you have American cheese where you are? Why not melt some of that type of cheese with a little milk and pour over pasta. I would add about 1/4 cup of milk to 1 pound of cheese.

    • Cecelia Mercer

      Change the cheese to one with a flavor you like. Also add a pinch of dry mustard and some paprika, both of which increase flavor. And don’t forget to salt the water in which you cook the macaroni.

  11. dk

    Every other Luby’s macaroni and cheese recipe online says 8 oz dry with the same other ingredient measurements. Eight oz dry has come out right the two times I’ve made it. Easier to follow recipe if you state the dry measurement instead.

      • John

        16 ounces by weight does not make sense. An ounce is a measure of volume – not weight. 16 ounces of one substance may weigh differently than 16 ounces of another substance.

        16 ounces and 2 cups are exactly equivalent. You can have 16 ounces (2 cups) of feathers of 16 ounces (2 cups) of lead. It’s simply a measure of volume.

        GFsark’s question was equally nonsensical because, again, 16 ounces “by weight” makes no sense at all.

      • Gilbert

        Probably does not make sense to you because you do not do the food buying and you have no idea how pasta is packaged. Probably should instruct you to buy “a box of macaroni “

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