The best bacon mac and cheese recipe has arrived, and it's so delicious that the whole family will fall in love with the smoky flavors and creamy cheese sauce. This heart-warming one-pot dish is packed with comforting ingredients like pasta, cheddar cheese, and bacon, and it's super easy to make.
⭐ Why this recipe works
Baked mac and cheese is always a winning recipe in any cheese-loving household, but if you love crispy bacon as well, then this bacon mac and cheese recipe is on another level!
It takes 1 hour and 15 minutes to make it, but don't let that put you off because the whole dish is prepared in one pot using wholesome pantry ingredients, plus the whole family will thank you for it after tasting the delicious yumminess.T
exture-wise, the ingredients become soft and creamy when baked in the oven combined with the crunchiness of the golden breadcrumbs and the spicy notes from the jalapeno - it all balances perfectly with the indulgent cheddar cheese sauce.
This bacon mac and cheese recipe doesn't get much creamier and cheesier than this! It's an instant success story when you have many kids to feed. They LOVE it, and the whole dish costs less than 10 dollars.
If you want to learn more about how to bake bacon you should read my easy step by step guideline.
🍽 Key Ingredients
Most of the ingredients found in bacon mac and cheese are probably already in your cupboards, then all you need is a pot to cook them in.
Dairy: The milk and butter are used to make the cream sauce, and it's important to use full-fat milk if you want a creamier texture.
Pasta: You want to use small tubular macaroni pasta with mac and cheese rather than larger varieties like rigatoni because the small macaronies absorb all the delicious sauce.
Cheese: I use a sharp and white cheddar cheese mixture because they taste fenomenal and melt well.
Pasta - The best pasta for mac and cheese is small shaped with holes like the elbows, shells, and tubular macaroni pasta.
Dairy - The sauce is milk-based with flour to thicken it and become creamy, but you can substitute 1 cup of milk for 1 cup of cream to the milk mixture for a creamier texture.
🔪 How to make
Bacon mac and cheese is the perfect one-pot family meal to make on a winter's evening, and you can learn how to make it with my guided instructions and helpful top tips.
Apart from boiling the pasta, the rest of the cooking takes place in a large stove pot.
- Bring a pan of water to a boil and cook the pasta for 8 minutes or 2 minutes before the package instructions. Drain it and leave it for later.
- Deseed and diced the jalapeno into small pieces.
- Remove the crusts from the bread and cut them into small cubes.
- Cut the bacon strips into pieces.
Preheat your oven to 350 Fahrenheit (175 degrees Celsius ) and grease a casserole dish.
Melt 2 tablespoons of butter, and mix it with the bread cubes in a small bowl.
Cook the bacon pieces in a heavy-bottomed pot over medium heat until crispy; transfer the bacon bits to a paper towel to remove the excess bacon fat.
Add the remaining butter and diced jalapeno to the pot for 2 minutes.
Then whisk in the flour, constantly stirring for another 2 minutes.
Slowly pour in the milk and whisk simultaneously until all the milk is added and the sauce has thickened. Drop the heat to simmer for 5 minutes and remove from the heat.
Add salt and pepper to taste and stir in the shredded cheddar cheese (leave ½ cup for the top) until melted and well combined.
Stir in the cooked bacon pieces and the cooked pasta, then transfer the mixture to the baking dish.
Spread the bread pieces and remaining cheese over the top and bake in the preheated oven for 25-30 minutes until the cheese has melted and the bread turns golden brown.
Allow it to cool for 5 minutes and then serve.
Avoid using mozzarella cheese as there is no distinct flavor and extra mature cheddar as it doesn't melt very well.
The cheese sauce
Make sure to whisk the sauce and shredded cheese off the heat to incorporate it well. Otherwise, if you whisk the cheese in while the pot is on the heat, it will become grainy rather than smooth.
You want to choose quality thick-cut bacon for this recipe if you can. You want to cook bacon in small cubes rather than thin pieces for frying because it makes a difference to the overall texture and flavor.
📖 Recipe Variations
Three delicious bacon mac and cheese variations use the same recipe and are equally easy to make.
Lobster mac and cheese
Give your mac and cheese and upgrade with some lobster meat. Adding cooked lobster meat to the mixture makes it feel extra special to impress your friends and family.
Smoked mac and cheese
This variation is truly amazing if you have a smoker hanging around. Cooking bacon mac and cheese in the smoker gives the dish tons of smoky flavor, and it's perfect as a side dish for BBQs.
Cheetos bacon mac and cheese
If you love Cheetos, then this variation is definitely worth making. Instead of breadcrumbs for the topping, it uses crushed Cheetos mixed with shredded cheese for a super crunchy cheesy topping.
🥗 What to serve with
Bacon mac and cheese is served as a filling family dinner or a tasty side dish. Here are some of my favorite recipes to serve with mac and cheese recipes.
If you have ever been to IKEA, you may have tried their irresistible Swedish meatballs. IKEA meatballs are famous worldwide because they're so tasty and pair well with cheesy and creamy recipes like mac and cheese.
Who doesn't love a good slice of meatloaf for dinner! And if you love BBQ sauce and bacon, then you will enjoy making BBQ bacon-wrapped meatloaf & BBQ bacon cheeseburger meatloaf. They are easy to make and taste amazing with mac and cheese.
Two classic recipes served on the same plate!
Sloppy joes and mac and cheese are a match made in heaven. This combination is a favorite with kids, and it makes for a filling family meal with a side of mac and cheese.
🙋 Frequently Asked Questions
What is the best cheese to use for mac and cheese?
To make the best mac and cheese recipes, you must use a cheese that melts well and has a strong flavor like sharp cheddar cheese, gruyere, or Monterey Jack. It's also worth noting that it needs to be grated in to melt quicker.
🧊 Storing and ♨️ Reheating
Bacon mac and cheese is ideal for keeping leftovers refrigerated to eat later and freezing for a midweek meal.
Fridge: Transfer the cooled leftovers to an airtight container and place it in the fridge for up to 3 days.
Freezer: If you intend to freeze bacon mac and cheese, it's best to portion it into small aluminum trays and add the breadcrumb topping.Since the recipe is cream and cheese-based, it will not freeze very well, and the consistency changes upon reheating, so it's best to freeze it before baking it in induvial aluminum trays.
Reheating: To reheat leftover mac and cheese from the fridge, transfer the ingredients to a baking dish, and bake it for 10-15 minutes at 350 degrees Fahrenheit until piping hot.
Using aluminum trays with lids for freezing unbaked mac and cheese is perfect for packed lunches when a microwave or oven is available. Defrost them overnight in the fridge and microwave the mac and cheese for 5 minutes or in the oven for 15-20 minutes until piping hot.
🍳 Related recipes
If you love my bacon mac and cheese recipe. Try one of these fantastic dinner recipes for your next meal.
👪 Serving Size
This bacon mac and cheese recipe is perfect for large families as it gives you 8 servings in a large baking dish or split the mixture into individual aluminum trays for meal prep and freeze them.
🎥 Watch how to make it
Love this recipe? Please leave a 5-star 🌟rating in the recipe card below and/or a review in the comments section further down the page.
Try one of my comfort dinner recipes for your next family meal! And if you have any questions, I'm here to help!
Creamy Bacon Mac and Cheese
- 6 tablespoon butter - divided
- 4 slices white bread - crusts removed
- 10 strips bacon - cut into pieces
- 2 jalapenos - seeded and diced
- 4 tablespoon flour
- 4 cups milk
- 2 cups white cheddar - shredded
- 2 ½ cups sharp cheddar - shredded and divided
- 1 lb pasta - short or tubular cooked about 2 mins less than package directions
- salt and pepper - to taste
- Pre heat your oven to 350 F (175 C) and grease a medium baking dish. (I used a large pie pan)
- Melt 2 tablespoon of the butter and in a small bowl toss it with the bread pieces then set aside.
- Cook the bacon in a heavy bottomed pot. When cooked, remove it to a paper towel lined plate to drain.
- Remove most of the bacon grease from the pot, but leave any bits that are stuck to the bottom.
- Add the 4 tablespoon butter and jalapeno and cook over medium heat for about 2 minutes, scraping up the bacon bits.
- Whisk in the flour, and cook - whisking constantly - for about 3 minutes.
- Slowly whisk in the milk and cook, stirring constantly, until thickened and just about to simmer - about 5 minutes, then remove from heat.
- Generously add salt and pepper and stir in the white cheddar and two cups of the sharp cheddar - stir until melted, then fold in the bacon and the pasta.
- Pour the pasta into the prepared dish, toss the bread pieces with the remaining ½ cup of sharp cheddar and spread over the top.
- Bake for about 25 - 30 minutes, until bubbly and the breadcrumbs are golden brown.