What’s better than macaroni and cheese? Macaroni and Cheese with Bacon!
With a good dose of three cheeses- sharp cheddar, herbed goat cheese and Parmigiano Reggiano and a generous handful of crispy bacon- I can easily call this the best Macaroni and Cheese recipe ever- this Macaroni and Cheese with Bacon. What are the key ingredients for making the best macaroni and cheese recipe ever? I’ll let you in on my secrets!
There should be plenty of crispy bacon!
With a good mac and cheese recipe, the more cheese added- the better!
There should be plenty of seasoning to give it flavor.
A crispy crumb topping is the best!
How to make Bacon Macaroni and Cheese:
The complete, printable recipe is at the end of this post.
You must begin with a creamy base sauce (this one uses whole milk instead of cream, so it’s not quite so insane), and those cheeses melt right into it.
Once that cheesy sauce is all hot and thick and creamy, add in ad dente cooked pasta and a bunch of crispy, cooked bacon.
That’s it! Then just pour it into a large casserole dish. It’ll look a lot like soup at this point. This is why the pasta is only cooked al dente (slightly firm), since it will have the opportunity to soak up more liquid when this bad boy is baked. Sprinkle the whole thing with some extra garlicky, buttered breadcrumbs too.
30 minutes later, your Bacon Macaroni and Cheese will come out looking all bubbly and toasted like this.
This is the best macaroni and cheese recipe ever. When this thing is baking, the scent of garlic fills the house. Those garlicky, toasted breadcrumbs are delicious on top, and the garlic doesn’t overwhelm the dish.
The tangy flavors of the goat cheese and the sharp cheddar are excellent choices, and I love the addition of fresh thyme and red pepper flakes. Do I need to mention the bacon? That’s the icing on the macaroni and cheese, right there… the bacon. Enjoy!
Recipes Using Bacon:
- Bacon Wrapped Scallops
- Apple Bacon Salad
- Bacon Jam
- Bacon Burgers with Balsamic Caramelized Onions
- Green Beans with Bacon
Macaroni and Cheese with Bacon
- 2 medium garlic cloves, minced
- 3 tablespoons finely chopped parsley
- 6 slices white bread, crusts removed and torn into pieces
- 2 tablespoons butter, melted
MAC and CHEESE:
- 12 ounces center cut bacon, chopped into 1-inch pieces
- 3 tablespoons butter
- 1 pound pasta (elbows or shells), cooked until very al dente (still the slightest bit crunchy or 2 to 3 minutes less than the suggested cooking time on the box)
- 5½ cups whole milk, heated until warm
- ½ cup all purpose flour
- 1½ tablespoons chopped fresh thyme
- 1 teaspoon mustard powder
- 1 teaspoon red pepper flakes
- ¾ teaspoon kosher salt (or more to taste)
- ½ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
- ¼ teaspoon ground nutmeg
- 4 cups (12-ounces) shredded sharp white cheddar cheese, divided
- 8 ounces herb and garlic flavored Chevre cheese (goat cheese), crumbled
- ½ cup grated Parmigiano Reggiano cheese
- Preheat the oven to 375°F. Butter a 3 to 4 quart casserole dish.
PREPARE THE CRUMBLY TOPPING:
- In the bowl of a food processor fitted with a steel blade, add the garlic and parsley; pulse until they’re minced. Add the bread pieces and pulse until the bread turns into crumbs and the mixture is combined. Pour in the butter and pulse until mixed in. Remove the breadcrumbs to a bowl and set aside.
PREPARE THE MAC and CHEESE:
- In a large skillet, sauté the bacon until it is almost crisp. Remove the bacon to paper towels to drain.
- Spoon out the grease from pan, reserving about 1 tablespoon of the bacon drippings. Add 3 tablespoons of butter to the bacon drippings and heat to medium. When the butter sizzles, add the flour and cook, stirring, for 1 minute. Slowly pour the hot milk into the flour-butter mixture while whisking. Continue cooking, whisking constantly, until the mixture bubbles up and becomes thick. Remove the pan from heat and stir in the thyme, mustard powder, red pepper flakes, salt, pepper and nutmeg. Then stir in 3 cups of cheddar and the Chevre and Parmigiano cheeses.
- Stir the cooked pasta and cooked bacon into the cheese sauce. Pour the mixture into the prepared casserole dish. It will be soupy. Sprinkle the remaining cheddar onto the top, followed by the herbed breadcrumbs.
- Bake until browned on top, about 30 minutes. Check at 15 minutes to make sure the breadcrumbs aren't browning too quickly. (If they are, just place a sheet of foil loosely over the top). Transfer the dish to a wire rack to cool for 5 minutes before serving.
- You can easily halve this recipe to serve 6 instead of 12.
- This recipe is also fun prepare in 12 individual sized ramekins.
- Leave out the bacon to make this a vegetarian dish
- Leftovers are wonderful; just reheat in the oven or microwave.