Jalapeno Popper Mac n’ Cheese


Jalapeno Popper Mac N’ Cheese -comfort food at its best. Spice up a classic crowd-pleaser with hot peppers and bacon. You’ll be thinking about grabbing seconds before you’ve even finished your plate.

I love mac n’ cheese in all forms, but this one is extra special. Smoky bacon and spicy jalapenos take this classic from everyday to extraordinary. And I don’t stop there! To really take things to the next level, finish the dish by baking it in the oven covered with buttery, toasted bread crumbs.

If you’re not a fan of spicy food, you could make this Bacon Macaroni and Cheese instead. It’s just as decadent without any spice. Or, if you want a vegetarian option, add jalapeno to this Smoked Mac and Cheese recipe. Either way, you won’t be disappointed with the ooey-gooey, cheesy results.

casserole dish of mac and cheese with jalapenos and bacon on top

Why This Recipe Works

It’s no secret that Mac N’ Cheese is impossible to resist, even for the pickiest eaters. So try this new take on an old favorite to keep weeknight dinners exciting.

  • Packed full of flavor, this recipe gets better and better with every bite.
  • Crank up the heat or turn it down a notch. Customizing the spice level to fit your family’s preference is easy.
  • A perfect make-ahead recipe, take some stress off your plate by preparing this recipe ahead of time for parties, potlucks, or busy weeknights.
jalapeno popper mac and cheese ingredients

What You’ll Need

  • Pasta – Any short-cut pasta will work for this recipe. You don’t have to adhere to the traditional macaroni shape.
  • Jalapeños – De-seed your peppers for a mild heat rating. The more seeds you leave in the dish, the spicier it’ll be.
  • Bacon – Avoid extra steps and dishes by precooking your bacon in slices, then crumbling it. It’s easy to burn small pieces of raw bacon, so it’s best to cook it in slices.
  • Butter
  • Flour
  • Milk – If you want to lighten up this indulgent dish, use low-fat milk instead.
  • Heavy Cream – You can use half and half for less calories. However, the heavy cream gives the sauce a luscious and rich body.
  • Salt & Pepper
  • Cheddar Cheese – I like to use Sharp Cheddar so the punchy flavor can stand up against the bold bacon and jalapeños. You could reach for reduced-fat cheese if you prefer.
  • Monterey Jack Cheese
  • Pepper Jack Cheese
  • Plain Bread Crumbs – You could replace the bread crumbs with crushed buttery crackers like Ritz or TownHouse to take this recipe to the next level. (Just remember to wear your stretchy pants!)
how to college of making macaroni and cheese

How To Make Jalapeno Popper Mac N’ Cheese

  1. Start by cooking the bacon slices over medium heat. Let the bacon cool, then crumble it, and set aside. Reserve a few teaspoons of the remaining fat.
  2. Next toast the breadcrumbs by adding them to the reserved bacon grease in the pan. Toast over low heat, constantly stirring, until golden in color. Set aside.
  3. Bring a large pot of water to boil and cook your favorite pasta about 2 minutes shy as directed on the box. Drain and set aside.
  4. In the same pan you toasted the breadcrumbs, melt the butter and sauté the jalapeno for 1-2 minutes to soften.
  5. To the butter and jalapeño mixture, whisk in flour. The fat and flour will create a roux that will thicken the sauce. Cook the roux for a minute until blonde in color.
  6. Next, whisk in the milk and cream. Let it simmer for 5 minutes. It won’t thicken immediately, but you’ll notice the consistency change as the liquid comes to a simmer. 
  7. Once the sauce has thickened, you can start whisking in cheese. Add a little at a time, constantly stirring, until it’s all incorporated. Then, mix in the bacon crumbles, cooked pasta, and seasoning.
  8. Transfer the pasta to a large baking dish, and sprinkle the breadcrumbs over the top. Bake in a 350°F oven for 20-25 minutes until bubbly and toasted.
spooning macaroni and cheese out of a baking dish

Recipe Tips

  • If you like things spicy, leave some of the jalapeño seeds intact. The more seeds you use, the spicier the dish will be.
  • Use whole wheat or veggie pasta to add extra fiber and protein to this indulgent meal.
  • Remember to undercook the pasta by about 2 minutes so it can finish cooking in the oven. This way, the pasta won’t overcook and become gummy. Instead, it’ll soak up some cheese sauce and give the dish a rich texture.
Can I scale up this recipe?

This is an easily scalable recipe. Grab a pack of those aluminum pans at the grocery store, and make a huge batch of this mac n’ cheese to keep on hand for whenever you need dinner in a pinch.

Can I make this mac and cheese ahead of time?

Yes! Follow the recipe, then store it in an airtight container. You can cover the dish in aluminum foil and slide it into a freezer bag. It’ll keep for 3 days in the fridge or 3 months in the freezer. Then when you’re ready, you can pop it in the oven and bake it until golden, bubbly, and heated through.

How to store mac and cheese? Can you freeze this?

Store leftovers in an airtight container in the fridge. It’ll keep for 2-3 days. And you can absolutely freeze it! Let it cool and store in the freezer for 3-4 months. Let it thaw in the fridge overnight, and then just pop it in the oven to heat it through.

a bowl of mac and cheese with jalapenos on top

How To Serve Jalapeno Popper Mac And Cheese

  • What goes better with carbs than more carbs? Pair Jalapeño Popper Mac N’ Cheese with warm, soft, and slightly sweet Texas Roadhouse Rolls for a match made in heaven.
  • To round out (and lighten) this rich dish, serve it alongside bright and fresh Sautéed Asparagus.
  • There’s a lot going on in this mac n’ cheese with the addition of jalapeño and bacon, but hear me out. It’s even better if you serve it with a bit of Bruschetta. The tangy, acidic tomatoes cut through the cheese sauce for a flavor explosion. Scoop up some bruschetta and mac on crusty bread, and thank me later.
casserole dish of jalapeno and bacon mac and cheese

More Comforting Dinner Recipes

close up jalapeno mac and cheese for pinterest
Yield: 8

Jalapeno Popper Mac n' Cheese

close up spooning mac and cheese from baking dish

Jalapeno Bacon Mac N' Cheese -comfort food at its best. Spice up a classic crowd-pleaser with hot peppers and bacon. You’ll be thinking about grabbing seconds before you’ve even finished your plat

Prep Time 10 minutes
Cook Time 40 minutes
Total Time 50 minutes

Ingredients

  • 1 pound short cut pasta
  • 2 jalapenos, seeded and diced
  • 10 slices bacon, cooked and crumbled
  • 4 Tablespoons butter
  • 4 Tablespoons all-purpose flour
  • 2 cups milk (any type)
  • 1 cup heavy cream
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon black pepper
  • 2 cups Sharp Cheddar Cheese, grated
  • 1 cup Monterey Jack Cheese, grated
  • 1 cup Pepper Jack Cheese, grated
  • 1 cup plain bread crumbs

Instructions

  1. Preheat oven to 350º F.
  2. Start by cooking the bacon slices over medium heat. Let the bacon cool, then crumble it, and set aside. Reserve a few teaspoons of the remaining fat.
  3. Next toast the breadcrumbs by adding them to the reserved bacon grease in the pan. Toast over low heat, constantly stirring, until golden in color. Set aside.
  4. Bring a large pot of water to boil and cook your favorite pasta about 2 minutes shy as directed on the box. Drain and set aside.
  5. In the same pan you toasted the breadcrumbs, melt the butter and sauté the jalapeno for 1-2 minutes to soften.
  6. To the butter and jalapeño mixture, whisk in flour. The fat and flour will create a roux that will thicken the sauce. Cook the roux for a minute until blonde in color.
  7. Next, whisk in the milk and cream. Let it simmer for 5 minutes. It won’t thicken immediately, but you'll notice the consistency change as the liquid comes to a simmer. 
  8. Once the sauce has thickened, you can start whisking in cheese. Add a little at a time, constantly stirring, until it’s all incorporated. Then, mix in the bacon crumbles, cooked pasta, and seasoning.
  9. Transfer the pasta to a large baking dish, and sprinkle the breadcrumbs over the top. Bake in a 350°F oven for 20-25 minutes until bubbly and toasted.

Nutrition Information

Yield

8

Serving Size

1

Amount Per Serving Calories 571Total Fat 42gSaturated Fat 24gTrans Fat 1gUnsaturated Fat 15gCholesterol 123mgSodium 1056mgCarbohydrates 23gFiber 1gSugar 5gProtein 25g

Nutrition Disclaimer: All information presented on this site is intended for informational purposes only. I am not a certified nutritionist and any nutritional information shared on dinnersdishesanddesserts.com should only be used as a general guideline.

Did you make this recipe?

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© Dinners, Dishes, and Desserts
Cuisine: American / Category: Dinner Recipes

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