This delicious baked bacon mac and cheese is full of classic comfort food flavors! Enjoy the smoky bacon stirred into the creamy mac and cheese base, all topped with crispy panko. It’s a flavor and texture explosion that you can make for a quick and easy dinner everyone will love!
Why I Love This Bacon Mac and Cheese
I’ve been super busy lately which means I’ve been fixing some really quick and easy meals. However, that doesn’t mean I’ve been skimping out on the joy my family gets out of enjoying a delicious meal together – I’ve just been getting creative!
This creamy bacon mac and cheese is one of our favorites because, well, there’s cheese and bacon in it. Need I say more?
I also added a parmesan panko topping and then popped it in the oven for a few minutes to brown and crisp the bread crumbs. It really takes this meal from “mac and cheese” to Comfort Food! So next time you need a comfort meal, or you just don’t have time for anything else, make this rich macaroni and cheese with smoky bacon to treat your tastebuds!
Key Ingredients for Creamy Bacon Mac and Cheese
One thing I love most about this recipe is that it’s super creamy but it’s crispy and crunchy on the top due to the breadcrumbs! Let me tell you what you’ll need to achieve the ultimate balance between creamy and crunchiness!
Start with elbow macaroni and bacon; you’re going to cook those first!
Then, we have some ingredients that’ll create the thick, creamy, and cheesy texture we all want!
- Half and Half (or whole milk)
- Monterey Jack
- Sharp Cheddar
After you create the creamy base for your mac and cheese, you’ll also need a little extra parmesan and some panko (or bread crumbs) to combine and sprinkle on top before baking.
How to Make Baked Mac and Cheese
Step 1: Preheat and Prep
Preheat your oven to 425 degrees F and grease a 13×9 inch baking dish.
Step 2: Cook Macaroni
Cook your macaroni (or pasta of choice) according to the directions on the package.
Step 3: Fry Bacon and Add Cheese
While your macaroni is cooking, fry your bacon until it’s crisp, and then drain it on paper towels. Saute the onion in the leftover bacon fat along with butter until the onions are golden (if you have enough bacon fat, don’t add butter).
Stir in the flour and cook until it’s smooth, and then slowly stir in half and half. Bring this mixture to a boil and then cook – stirring – for 2 minutes, or until it’s slightly thickened. Add in the grated cheese and crumbled bacon. Reduce the heat to low and stir everything together until it’s smooth.
Step 4: Add Macaroni and Bake
Drain the macaroni and pour it into the cheese mixture. Stir it well to combine and then pour it into the prepared baking dish. Sprinkle on the breadcrumbs, and then bake for 15 minutes, or until it’s bubbly. Enjoy!
Note: I broiled mine for a couple of minutes afterward to brown my bread crumbs more. This is completely optional.
There are so many different things you can try to make your mac and cheese customized to your family. If you’re vegetarian, you can omit the bacon and use roasted broccoli instead. That’d be delicious! (On the other hand, if you want some more veggie content but you’re not vegetarian, keep the bacon and add the broccoli anyway!) You could also omit the bacon and add veggie sausage in its place, but the easiest way to alter this recipe is to omit the bacon entirely and enjoy the creamy mac and cheese on its own.
Playing around with different cheeses is another way you can customize your bacon mac and cheese recipe. You can try anything from gruyere to brie or even smoked gouda to complement the smokiness of the bacon.
More Macaroni Recipes To Try
- Macaroni Cheese Cups
- Macaroni Salad Recipe
- One Pot Southwestern Chicken Macaroni and Cheese
- Creamy Macaroni and Cheese
- Slow Cooker Chili Mac
Baked Bacon Mac and Cheese
- 1 pound uncooked elbow macaroni
- 8 strips bacon
- 1/4 cup chopped onion
- 3 tablespoons butter divided
- 1/4 cup all-purpose flour
- 4 cups 1/2 and 1/2 or whole milk
- 8 oz Monterey Jack cheese grated
- 2 cups shredded sharp cheddar cheese
- 2 cups shredded Parmesan cheese divided
- 1/2 cup bread crumbs or panko
- Preheat oven to 425 degrees F. Grease a 13×9 inch baking dish.
- Cook macaroni according to directions on the package.
- Meanwhile fry bacon until crisp. Drain on paper towels. Saute onion in bacon fat with 2 tablespoons butter until golden. (you need around 4 tablespoons of fat so if you have 4 tablespoons of bacon fat don’t add any butter ) Add in flour and cook until smooth. Slowly stir in 1/2 and 1/2 . Bring to a boil; cook and stir for 2 minutes or until slightly thickened. Add in grated Monterey jack, cheddar, 1 cup Parmesan cheese and crumbled bacon. Reduce heat to low and stir until smooth.
- Drain macaroni and pour in cheese mixture. Stir well to combine. Pour into baking dish and top with more parmesan and panko. Bake for 15 minutes or until bubbly. (I broiled mine for a couple of minutes afterward to brown my bread crumbs some more. Completely optional )