Dish up this delicious and cheesy Bacon Mac and Cheese for quick and easy dinner that is family-friendly. In this recipe, tender pasta and crispy bacon are smothered together in a homemade cheese sauce.
In this Article:
When you combine bacon, macaroni, and cheese all together in one dish, you know it’s gotta be good! To finish off this macaroni and cheese, top it with bread crumbs and more bacon, then let it bake a bit longer in the oven.
This Bacon Mac and Cheese recipe is…
- Made from scratch
- An easy dinner idea
- Baked in the oven
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How to Make Bacon Mac and Cheese
- Preheat the oven and cook your pasta to al dente.
- Cook your bacon, remove excess grease, then chop into pieces.
- In the same pan from the bacon, begin mixing the cheese sauce ingredients.
- Stir in pasta and part of bacon. Mix well to incorporate ingredients.
- Top dish with bread crumbs and remaining bacon, and bake as directed.
- Dish up a cheesy pasta dinner!
Full directions for how to make Bacon Mac and Cheese are in the printable recipe card at the bottom of the post.
Helpful Tips for Making Bacon Mac and Cheese
Al Dente Pasta
When you cook your pasta on the stovetop, don’t cook the pasta too long. Aim for al dente, as you will also be baking the pasta in the oven. Only cooking to al dente will keep your noodles firm and chewy, not mushy from overcooking.
If you own an oven-proof pan, you can assemble the toppings in the pan you are cooking with. That way you use less dishes! Just bake the mac and cheese in the same pan as directed.
If you don’t have an oven proof pan, simply transfer the mixture to an oven-proof casserole pan before baking.
Freshly Grated Cheese
I love using freshly grated cheese in macaroni, because it helps to create a creamier texture. Pre-shredded cheese has extra starches that cause the cheese to break down differently than freshly shredded cheese. You will find that bagged cheese will become oily and not melt together as well.
Variations to Bacon Mac and Cheese
Instead of bacon, you can dice up some ham and use it instead. Ham is a tasty and hearty pairing that will really be a hit!
Broccoli or Cauliflower
Chop fresh broccoli or cauliflower to mix in with the pasta. This will help add more flavor and nutrients to the dish. Plus, the veggies will help stretch the serving sizes!
You are welcome to swap out any of the varieties of cheeses if you want. I did a mix of Monterey Jack, cheddar, and parmesan. Feel free to play around with the flavors. For example, sharp cheese will add more of a bite, and Pepper Jack will add a spicy kick, etc.
Bacon Mac and Cheese FAQs
What if I don't have Panko bread crumbs?
If you do not have panko bread crumbs, you can swap them for classic bread crumbs, crushed chips, or even crushed saltines. Or you could even leave your mac and cheese plain on top, with only one extra layer of shredded cheese.
How should you store mac and cheese?
If you do not eat all your pasta right away, you can store your leftover cheesy macaroni in the fridge for 3–4 days. You can then reheat the dish in the microwave or the oven when you're ready to eat it again.
Can you freeze leftovers?
Since there is a lot of dairy in this recipe, the sauce may separate a bit if it is frozen. The pasta will also get softer and break down a bit during the freezing and thawing process. Because of these factors, I don't really recommend freezing leftover macaroni and cheese.
Bacon Mac and Cheese
- 4 cups dried macaroni
- 8 strips bacon
- 1 cup chicken broth
- 1 cup milk
- 1 cup heavy cream
- ½ cup cream cheese softened
- 1 tsp garlic powder
- salt and pepper to taste, about ½ tsp each
- 1 cup cheddar cheese shredded
- 1 cup Monterey Jack cheese shredded
- ½ cup parmesan cheese shredded
- 1 cup panko breadcrumbs or more to taste
- Preheat oven to 400°F.
- Cook pasta according to package directions until al dente; set aside.
- In a large ovenproof skillet, cook bacon until crisp, then transfer to a paper towel-lined plate to drain the excess grease.
- In the same skillet with the bacon grease, add chicken broth and deglaze the pan, scraping any bits off the bottom with your spoon.
- Add milk, heavy cream, garlic powder, salt, and pepper to the pan and heat until cream cheese is completely incorporated and mixture is smooth.
- Add the cheddar cheese, monterey jack cheese, and parmesan and continue to heat over medium until the cheese is melted and the mixture slightly thickens—about 5–10 minutes.
- Add the pasta and crumble 6 strips of the cooked bacon into the mixture, then stir to coat.
- Spread panko breadcrumbs over the top of the noodles, then crumble all remaining bacon on top.
- Bake macaroni and cheese in preheated oven for 15–20 minutes or until topping is golden brown and cheese is bubbling.
- The panko breadcrumbs add a delicious crisp top to the dish, but they also absorb a lot of the sauce when you use 2 cups of breadcrumbs. To make a saucier mac and cheese, just use 1 cup of breadcrumbs.
- If an oven-proof skillet isn't available, make the cheese sauce in a saucepan, then transfer the mixture to a 9x13 oven-proof casserole dish and follow instructions.