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Jalapeno Bacon Mac and Cheese

by Amy D

Jalapeno Bacon Mac and Cheese is creamy and cheesy, with a spicy jalapeno kick and smoky crispy bacon! A one pot recipe that starts on the stovetop and moves to the oven for a simple but wow dish.  

A serving of Jalapeno Bacon Mac and Cheese is removed from a cast iron skillet.

Hey all you mac and cheese lovers, this one is for you!  

A blue and white bowl full of jalapeno bacon mac and cheese next to a skillet.
This mac and cheese is a simple recipe that can be made completely in one pan! I make it my trusty cast iron skillet. That thing gets used ALL the time in my kitchen.  It makes a perfect and easy side dish to go alongside burgers, bbq, or sloppy joes. Really it goes well with just about anything, but I am a mac and cheese lover. And did I say side dish? Let’s not box ourselves in, if you want to eat nothing but jalapeno bacon mac and cheese, who’s to judge? 

  • You can make this recipe with canned jalapenos or with fresh chopped jalapenos and they will both work great. I made the batch in the pictures with canned jalapenos because I didn’t end up having enough fresh jalapenos on hand and it was during corona virus lockdowns so I didn’t want to make a trip to the grocery store for just one jalapeno pepper. 
  • If you’re using fresh jalapenos the only difference is you’ll add the fresh jalapenos earlier in the recipe so they can soften and cook down a bit. 
  • Don’t have panko bread crumbs? You can use regular bread crumbs or try crushed crackers instead! 
  • And always, always, always feel free to experiment with the varieties of cheese you put in your mac and cheese. The best mac and cheese I’ve ever made in my life was just a random assortment of leftover packages of cheese I had sitting in the fridge and unfortunately I’ve never been able to quite replicate it again. 

A close up image that shows the browned bread crumbs, bacon and jalapenos topping the macaroni and cheese.

 

How to make Jalapeno Bacon Mac and Cheese:

You’ll start by frying up approximately 10 slices of bacon. Remove the bacon to cool, crumble and reserve for later.  Remove all but 2 Tablespoons of the bacon grease.  Now if you’re using fresh jalapenos, add them to the bacon grease and cook over medium heat for a few minutes until the peppers start to soften. If not, continue to the next step. 

Next you’ll make a roux by adding flour and whisking until the flour and bacon grease is smooth, bubbly, and well combined. Flour is stirred into the bacon grease to make a roux.

Add the chicken broth and again whisk until the mixture is smooth with no lumps and slightly thickened. Add the milk, salt, pepper, garlic powder, and onion powder and give it a stir.  Next comes the macaroni. Bring the mixture to a simmer and cook for 8-9 minutes. This will be getting cooked again in the oven, so we just need to cook our macaroni to the point of  al dente. The macaroni is added to the mixture.

Reduce the heat to low and add all your cheeses along with the bacon and canned jalapenos (if you are using canned instead of fresh.) The cheeses, jalapenos and crumbled bacon are added to the cooked macaroni.

Stir until the cheese is melted and everything is combined. Heat and stir until the cheeses have melted.

Make your panko topping and sprinkle it over the top of the mac and cheese. Place it in a preheated oven and bake for 15-20 minutes or until the bread crumbs are golden brown and toasted. 

*Alternately if you need to hasten this recipe along you can place the skillet under the broiler until the bread crumbs have browned, just be careful because it will burn easily!

A close up image that shows the browned bread crumbs, bacon and jalapenos topping the macaroni and cheese.

Jalapeno Bacon Mac and Cheese

Yield: 8
Prep Time: 10 minutes
Cook Time: 30 minutes
Total Time: 40 minutes

Jalapeno Bacon Mac and Cheese is creamy and cheesy, with a spicy jalapeno kick and smoky crispy bacon! A one pot recipe.

Ingredients

  • 10 slices of bacon
  • 2 Tablespoons bacon grease
  • 2 Tablespoons all purpose flour
  • 2 cups chicken broth
  • 1 quart milk
  • 1 pound elbow macaroni
  • 3/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon onion powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon black pepper
  • 2 cups sharp cheddar, shredded
  • 1 cup mozzarella, shredded
  • 2 ounces cream cheese
  • 1 (4 ounce) can chopped jalapenos or 1/2 cup fresh diced jalapeno*
  • 1 cup panko breadcrumbs
  • 1/4 cup melted butter
  • ½ tsp parsley

Instructions

    1. In a large oven proof pan fry 10 slices of bacon until crisp. Remove the bacon to paper towels to drain grease and cool. Crumble bacon and set aside.
    2. Reserve 2 tablespoons of bacon grease to make a roux. Heat the bacon grease over medium heat. If you're using fresh jalapenos add them to the bacon grease and cook a few minutes until the peppers begin to soften. If you're using canned jalapenos simply continue on to the next step.*
    3. Add the flour to the bacon grease and whisk until the mixture is bubbly and combined. 
    4. Whisk the broth into the roux and cook until it's smooth and slightly thickened. 
    5. Add the milk to the mixture, along with the salt, pepper, garlic powder, and onion powder.
    6. Stir in the macaroni and bring to a simmer. Simmer for 8-9 minutes or until the macaroni is cooked al dente. Meanwhile, preheat the oven to 375 degrees. 
    7. Reduce the heat to low and add all the cheeses, canned jalapenos (if using canned instead of fresh) and crumbled bacon to the macaroni. Stir until the cheese is melted and smooth.*
    8. Prepare the topping by mixing together the panko bread crumbs with butter and parsley. 
    9. Sprinkle the topping over the macaroni and cheese and place in the oven. Bake for 15-20 minutes at 375 degrees or until the panko is golden brown. 

Notes

*Please note the different times to add the jalapenos depending on whether using fresh chopped peppers or canned jalapeno peppers.

Instead of baking, you may also place the panko topped macaroni and cheese under the broiler until the topping has browned. Just be careful not to let it burn.

Did you make this recipe?

Please leave a review or a photo! I'd love to hear your feedback!

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Jalapeno Bacon Mac and Cheese is creamy and cheesy, with spicy jalapenos and crispy bacon! A one pot dish that starts on the stove and finishes in the oven.

Try serving your mac and cheese with one of these easy main dishes! 

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