Creamy Bacon Mac and Cheese

LAST UPDATED: Nov 23, 2020 | PUBLISHED: Nov 19, 2020 | By:

Bacon Mac and Cheese is the ultimate comfort food: a grown up version of the classic childhood dish we all know and love. It’s rich, hearty and full of creamy, craveable flavor!

Mac and Cheese is always a favorite, but throw bacon into the mix and it’s an over the top delicious dinner or side dish!

A white baking dish full of bacon mac and cheese, wooden spoon scooping at the edge.

You can make this baked bacon mac and cheese in a dutch oven for easy cleanup! Plus, it gives your mac extra bacon flavor, because the bacon grease helps create the roux for the creamiest, cheesiest sauce!

If you love mac and cheese, you’re going to love it even more with bacon! The saltiness adds savory flavor and makes the dish hearty and oh-so-comforting. It’s blended with fresh shredded cheddar and gruyere along with milk and heavy cream to create an incredible sauce.

A serving of baked bacon mac and cheese on a white plate.

You don’t have to bake it if you want to skip the crumb topping, but you’ll want to! It makes it out of this world amazing!

I’m a lover of all things pasta, and when you throw extra cheese into the mix it’s my dream come true! Don’t skip my incredible mac and cheese cups, along with this amazing truffle mac and cheese recipe.

A white pan full of macaroni and cheese with bacon.

The buttery crumb topping gives it a delicious crunch in every bite. This Mac and Cheese with bacon is the ultimate crowd pleasing side dish for the holidays! It will warm up even the chilliest of days!

This recipe was originally published January 2014. Updated with new photos, video and tips November 2020.

A serving of baked bacon mac and cheese on a white plate.

Why You’ll Love Mac and Cheese with Bacon

  • Creamy
  • The crumb topping – the flavorful crunch is irresistible!
  • You can make it now and bake it later
  • Hearty
  • Great dinner or side dish!
  • It’s a crowd pleaser! You know they’re going to ask for seconds with this family favorite!
  • Make from pantry staples. Chances are you have everything you need to make this savory dish!
Ingredients for bacon mac and cheese spread out on a white marble surface.

Bacon Mac and Cheese Ingredients

  • Pasta – Use classic elbow noodles, corkscrew, cavatappi, fusilli or cellentani.
  • Bacon – The star of the show. Bacon adds a little salty flavor to this savory dish. I prefer to use center cut bacon for less fat and grease.
  • Butter – Unsalted is preferred since bacon is so salty.
  • Garlic – pre-minced (bought in the produce section of your grocery store) or freshly minced garlic cloves.
  • Flour – All purpose flour to make the roux.
  • Milk and Heavy Cream – Evaporated milk can be substituted to provide creaminess without the fat.
  • Cheese – Cheese is the main ingredient in this easy dish, so it’s important to let it shine. Use a block rather than pre-shredded for the creamiest mac and cheese. I like to use a combination of cheddar and gruyere, but you can use Monterey jack, mozzarella, gouda, parmesan, and even soft cheeses including brie, cream cheese, blue cheese and goat cheese.
  • Seasoning – Salt, pepper, paprika and onion powder.
A white baking dish full of bacon mac and cheese, wooden spoon scooping at the edge.

Crumb Topping

  • Panko – Fine bread crumbs toast to make a crunchy crumb topping.
  • Oil – Melted butter, olive oil or canola oil.
  • Parmesan – Fresh grated parmesan adds a hint of toasted cheesy flavor to the crumb topping.

Variations

A serving of baked bacon mac and cheese on a white plate.

How to Make Bacon Mac and Cheese

  1. Prep – Preheat oven and grease baking dish.
  2. Prepare Pasta – Slightly undercook noodles, drain and set aside.
  3. Cook Bacon – Fry bacon and cut into bits.
  4. Make Crumb Topping – In a small dish, combine panko, parmesan and oil.
  5. Make Sauce – Create a roux, add cream and bring to a low boil, remove from heat, fold in cheese, seasonings, cooked pasta and bacon. Toss with sauce and top with panko.
  6. Bake – Bake until bubbly and golden brown.
A white pan full of macaroni and cheese with bacon topped with panko.

In a Slow Cooker

  1. Eliminate heavy cream and add 1 can evaporated milk.
  2. Whisk milk, flour and seasonings in a 5-6 quart slow cooker.
  3. Add uncooked pasta and 4 cups of shredded cheese.
  4. Cook on low until pasta is tender, approximately 3 to 4 hours.
  5. Meanwhile, fry bacon and cut into bits.
  6. Fold in bacon and top with remaining cheese.
  7. Cover and cook until cheese is thoroughly melted.
A serving of baked bacon mac and cheese on a white plate.

Love a deliciously comforting side dish like this one? Don’t miss my gratin dauphinois potatoes and our family favorite sweet potato casserole!

Serving Suggestions

A white pan full of macaroni and cheese with bacon.

Tips

  • Prepare pasta al dente (slightly undercooked) so that the noodles hold up when stirring the sauce.
  • Use fresh grated cheese. Cheese from a block is higher quality and doesn’t have anti-caking agents that prevent it from melting smoothly.
  • Remove sauce from heat before adding cheese. This will make the sauce incredibly smooth and creamy (and prevent grittiness).
  • Add a little cheese at a time. This allows it to melt thoroughly.
  • Use the highest fat milk you have.
  • Use high quality ingredients for gourmet flavor.
  • Make it one dish! You can prepare the noodles and sauce in the dutch oven, combine and put it directly in the oven for easy cleanup!
  • For even more bacon flavor, use bacon grease to make the roux.

Keep it Warm

  • Turn off oven. Store covered in oven up to 20 minutes or at 180 degrees F to store longer.
  • Alternatively, you can transfer this mac and cheese to your slow cooker after baking, to ensure you get the toasted topping and keep it at the perfect temp for serving!
A white pan full of macaroni and cheese with bacon.

Make Ahead

To make Mac and Cheese with Bacon ahead, prepare and instead of putting it in the oven, cover and refrigerate up to 4 days or freeze up to 3 months before baking.

To reheat from frozen, thaw in the fridge and bake as directed.

Shortcuts

  • Use bacon pieces rather than fresh cooked bacon. You won’t notice the difference!
  • Prepare everything in a dutch oven for easy cleanup.
  • Cook your pasta and grate your cheese the day before you’re baking and serving.
What is the best cheese to use for macaroni and cheese?

Select a cheese that melts well. Mild cheddar, sharp cheddar, gruyere, gouda, Monterey jack are all great choices. Avoid aged cheddars. They tend to separate when melting.

What can I add to mac and cheese?

All the things! Bacon mac and cheese is an amazing combo, but you can use other proteins like baked chicken, steak and blackened chicken too! Season your mac and cheese with any of your seasoning blends, like Fiesta Ranch, Cajun Seasoning, Zesty Italian, and so many more!

A serving of baked bacon mac and cheese on a white plate.

How to Store

  • Room Temperature – Don’t leave out more than two hours.
  • Refrigerate – Store in an airtight container up to three days refrigerated. Add a touch of heavy cream or milk to reheat.
  • Freeze – Store in an airtight container up to three months in the freezer. Transfer to refrigerator to thaw before reheating.

How to Serve

One of the most amazing things about Bacon Mac and Cheese is that it looks great right out of the oven!

  • You can garnish with fresh herbs (chives, green onion, parsley or thyme) if you wish.
  • Serve directly from your casserole dish or dutch oven.
  • Top with extra chopped bacon for more decadent flavor and color!

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A white baking dish full of bacon mac and cheese, wooden spoon scooping at the edge.

Bacon Mac and Cheese is a savory upgrade from classic mac. I hope you enjoy this incredibly creamy recipe, too!

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More Easy Recipes

A white baking dish full of bacon mac and cheese, wooden spoon scooping at the edge.

Bacon Mac and Cheese

Julie Blanner
Bacon Mac and Cheese is the ultimate comfort food: a grown up version of the classic childhood dish we all know and love. It's rich, hearty and full of creamy, craveable flavor!
5 from 1 vote
Prep Time 5 mins
Cook Time 15 mins
Bake Time 30 mins
Total Time 50 mins
Course Entree, Side Dish
Cuisine American
Servings 12
Calories 679 kcal

Ingredients
  

Pasta

  • 16 ounces pasta

Bacon

  • 6 slices bacon or bacon pieces

Crumb Topping

  • cups panko breadcrumbs
  • 4 tablespoons butter melted or olive oil or canola oil
  • ½ cup parmesan grated

Sauce

  • 6 tablespoons butter
  • 1 tablespoon minced garlic
  • cup all purpose flour
  • 3 cups whole milk
  • 1 cup heavy cream
  • 4 cups cheddar cheese shredded
  • 2 cups gruyere shredded
  • teaspoons onion powder
  • ¼ teaspoon paprika
  • salt and pepper to taste

Instructions
 

  • Preheat oven to 350°F. Grease 9×12 casserole dish.
  • In a skillet, fry bacon. Cut into bits.
  • Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Add pasta. Prepare noodles al dente. Drain, drizzle with oil to prevent sticking and set aside.
  • In a small bowl, combine panko, butter or oil and parmesan. Set aside.
  • Melt butter in large saucepan or dutch oven over medium heat. Add garlic and sauté 1 minute.
  • Whisk in flour. Whisk continuously until golden, about 1 minute.
  • Gradually whisk in milk and heavy cream until smooth. Whisk about 5 minutes.
  • Add onion powder, paprika and pepper.
  • Remove from heat. Gradually whisk in cheeses until smooth.
  • Fold in bacon and pasta. Stir until well combined. Transfer to casserole dish or bake in dutch oven.
  • Spread panko mixture evenly over the top.
  • Bake approximately 30 minutes or until bubbly and golden brown.

Notes

Make In a Slow Cooker

  1. Eliminate heavy cream and add 1 can evaporated milk.
  2. Whisk milk, flour and seasonings in a 5-6 quart slow cooker.
  3. Add uncooked pasta and 4 cups of shredded cheese.
  4. Cook on low until pasta is tender, approximately 3 to 4 hours.
  5. Meanwhile, fry bacon and cut into bits.
  6. Fold in bacon and top with remaining cheese.
  7. Cover and cook until cheese is thoroughly melted.

How to Store

  • Room Temperature – Don’t leave out more than two hours.
  • Refrigerate – Store in an airtight container up to three days refrigerated. Add a touch of heavy cream or milk to reheat.
  • Freeze – Store in an airtight container up to three months in the freezer. Transfer to refrigerator to thaw before reheating.

Nutrition

Calories:679kcalCarbohydrates:41gProtein:28gFat:45gSaturated Fat:26gCholesterol:132mgSodium:624mgPotassium:278mgFiber:2gSugar:5gVitamin A:1321IUVitamin C:1mgCalcium:652mgIron:1mg
Did you Make This Recipe?Mention @JulieBlanner
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