This creamy, cheesy, gourmet baked mac and cheese with bacon will outshine any mac and cheese you’ve tasted! It is “restaurant-quality” AMAZING, and it couldn’t be simpler to make.
I’m so excited to share this recipe with you guys! Not only is this mac and cheese with bacon incredibly easy and delicious, I also love that it can be made any time of year. It’s deliciously “comforting” during the cooler months and would work well as a main dish, and it’s also perfect as a side dish for your summer BBQ’s. I recently served it with grilled flank steak, green beans, and fresh fruit. My husband took a photo of his plate because it was so spectacular. You know when people make “yummy noises” while they eat? It’s usually subconscious. Well, that was my family with every bite during dinner. This recipe is a WINNER!
Like all good things, it starts with BACON! Hickory Smoked Bacon from Sugardale, to be exact. I often harp on how important good quality ingredients are when cooking, and this recipe is no different! Sugardale has several different types of bacon, and all of them would work wonderfully with this meal. (And if you’re looking for even more recipes to use with bacon, they’ve got lots of great ideas here.)
Cook the bacon in a large skillet until perfectly crispy. Make sure to leave a tiny bit of that delicious bacon grease in the pan for step number 2–the sauce! You know what I love most about the sauce for this mac and cheese? It uses every-day pantry ingredients. Hooray for no extra trips to the grocery store! Separately, these ingredients are ordinary– butter, milk, flour, half and half, cornstarch, mustard, and spices– but combined, they make the BEST, creamy, cheesy homemade sauce for mac and cheese.
Once the sauce is thickened, we add our crumbled bacon and some fresh shredded cheddar cheese. It’s really best to shred your own cheddar cheese, rather than using store bought pre-shredded cheese. Fresh shredded cheese melts easier and tastes better. The same goes for the parmesan cheese used on top. Please, whatever you do, don’t use the powdered bottle of parmesan cheese! Fresh shredded parmesan cheese, always! High quality ingredients make all the difference in the end result truly being “gourmet”.
Add the noodles to the sauce and stir everything together. Look at that creamy, cheesy bowl of pasta! This is the part where you try to keep from devouring it right away. It will be hard. It may take all of your self control. But, patience is your friend. Add the pasta to a casserole dish, and LAYER it! A layer of fresh parmesan cheese, a layer of toasted panko crumbs, and another layer of crumbled bacon, because, well… BACON!!!!! Then pop it in the oven and bake it until hot and bubbly. I doubt you’ll have any left at the end of the meal, but in case you do, leftovers reheat wonderfully! Just cover the pan with tinfoil and re-warm it in the oven. Hope you all enjoy this gourmet mac and cheese with bacon as much as we do!
- 1/2 lb elbow macaroni or other bite size pasta
- 6 slices Sugardale Hickory Smoked Bacon
- 1 Tablespoon butter
- 2 Tablespoon all-purpose flour
- 1 1/2 cups milk
- 3/4 cup half and half
- 1 1/2 teaspoons cornstarch
- 1 1/2 teaspoons Dijon mustard
- 1 1/2 teaspoons chicken bouillon
- 1/2 teaspoon EACH onion powder, garlic powder, dried parsley
- Salt and pepper, to taste
- 2 cups freshly grated sharp cheddar cheese
- 1/2 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese
- 1/2 cup panko breadcrumbs
- 1 tablespoon butter, melted
- 1/2 tablespoon olive oil
- Cook pasta according to package instructions, just until al dente. Don’t overcook! Strain and rinse with cold water. Set aside.
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Lightly grease a 8x8 baking dish.
- Cook bacon in a large skillet over medium heat until crispy, about 5-7 minutes. Remove bacon to a plate lined with paper towels. Remove some, but not all of the grease from the pan.
- Add 1 tablespoons butter to the pan and then whisk in flour. Cook, stirring, for 2 minutes. Reduce heat to low and gradually whisk in milk. Add the cornstarch to the half and half and whisk until smooth. Gradually add it to skillet followed by mustard, onion powder, garlic, powder, parsley, salt and pepper.
- Cook sauce for a few more minutes, just until it begins to slightly thicken. Remove from heat and stir in shredded cheddar cheese. Crumble/chop the bacon and add most of it to the pan, reserving a little for topping later. Add cooked pasta and toss to evenly combine.
- Pour mixture into 8x8’’ baking dish. Sprinkle parmesan cheese on top.
- Add panko, melted butter and olive oil to a skillet (or, I use the pan the pasta was cooked in, just to use less dishes). Cook over medium-high heat, stirring constantly, until crumbs are golden brown. Evenly sprinkle them over mac cheese. Add remaining bacon crumbles on top.
- Bake 15-20 minutes or until bubbly. Serve warm.
Sauce adapted from Carlsbad Cravings
This recipe is in partnership with Sugardale. All opinions are my own.
What’s your favorite dish to add bacon to? Tell me in the comments for a chance to win a $100 Visa gift card!
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