bacon mac and cheese featured image
Homemade Bacon Mac and Cheese combines the comforts of the classic creamy meal with the savory crunch of bacon and breadcrumbs. It is so easy to make this decadent dish using simple ingredients that tastes gourmet!
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Table of Contents
  1. Homemade Bacon Mac and Cheese
  2. The Secret to Creamy Mac and Cheese
  3. Why We Love This Recipe
  4. Ingredients
  5. Substitutions and Additions
  6. Recommended Tools
  7. How to Make the Bacon Mac and Cheese
  8. Tips
  9. Storage Tips
  10. Frequently Asked Questions
  11. Other Easy Pasta Recipes
  12. Homemade Bacon Mac and Cheese Recipe

This homemade Bacon Mac and Cheese recipe combine the comforts of the classic creamy meal with the savory crunch of bacon and breadcrumbs to make the ideal indulgence. It is so easy to make this decadent dish using simple ingredients that mix together to create the ultimate gourmet version that tastes grown-up!

bacon mac and cheese hero image

Homemade Bacon Mac and Cheese

My Bacon Mac and Cheese is so much better than anything from a box, not only because it’s made with simple, unprocessed ingredients (nothing chemical-based with artificial dyes and flavors found in that cheese pouch), but also because it is full of flavorful smoked bacon that sits atop pasta that’s been smothered in a creamy 3-cheese blend.

If you’re like me and crave comfort food with a more sophisticated feel, this dish meets my grown-up standards but is still considered “classic” so it won’t scare away the kids!

The Secret to Creamy Mac and Cheese

The secret to creating the perfect made-from-scratch mac and cheese recipe is using a variety of cheeses that melt smoothly and have rich and decadent complementary flavors. And when that creamy, cheesy macaroni mixture is topped with crispy bacon and buttery breadcrumbs, it bakes into the ultimate side or unbeatable main meal with a winning taste and texture combination that elevates the basic to the best!

While there are countless ways to reinvent this comforting dish, I’ve created some other easy mac and cheese recipes that are just as delicious and crave-worthy. Check out my low-carb Cauliflower Mac and Cheese, Crock Pot Mac and Cheese, and my Best Baked Mac and Cheese recipes.

bacon mac and cheese in a bowl

Why We Love This Recipe

  • Quick and easy to make.
  • Creamy, decadent, homemade dish made with real ingredients.
  • Rich, smoky, cheesy flavors with a crispy bacon and breadcrumb crunch.
  • Better than anything made from a box.
  • Delicious comfort food with a grown-up feel.
  • Perfect for potlucks, a holiday side, or a substantial main meal.

Ingredients

  • Flour
  • Butter
  • Milk
  • Garlic powder
  • Salt
  • Pepper
  • Applewood Smoked Bacon, cooked and crumbled
  • Elbow macaroni pasta, cooked according to package
  • Block parmesan cheese
  • Block mild cheddar cheese
  • Block mozzarella cheese
  • Panko bread crumbs
bacon mac and cheese in casserole dish

Substitutions and Additions

  • Pick Your Pasta: You can use any type of short pasta that has curves or hollow centers (they are perfect for catching the delicious cheese sauce). Some ideas include fusilli, corkscrew, or small shells. 
  • Choose Your Cheese: I love the 3-cheese combination in this recipe, but feel free to swap out one of them for colby jack, Monterey Jack, provolone, or gruyere.
  • Gluten-Free: If you follow a gluten-free diet, don’t get discouraged because this Bacon Mac and Cheese is very easy to make without gluten. Use any gluten-free pasta, substitute flour with gluten-free flour, and use gluten-free bread crumbs instead of Panko bread crumbs.
  • Milk: I find that whole milk works best for the creamiest sauce, but you can also use half and half or low fat milk.
bacon mac cheese in a spoonful
  • Cheese grate
  • Mixing bowl
  • Measuring tools
  • Medium saucepan
  • Whisk
  • 9×13 inch baking dish

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How to Make the Bacon Mac and Cheese

It is so easy to make this homemade Bacon Mac and Cheese using simple, unprocessed ingredients and tastes better than any version from a box. With its delicious smoky bacon flavor and Panko topping crunch, this is the ultimate comfort food with an extra special feel.

  1. Mix together grated cheese and set bowl aside.
    Pro Tip: Reserve 1½ cups of the cheese mixture for the roux. I highly recommend using freshly grated cheese for this recipe. Pre-shredded cheeses are coated with starches or cellulose to help prevent clumping and they don’t melt as smoothly.
  2. Melt butter over medium heat and whisk in flour.
    Mix together grated cheese. Melt butter, milk and add flour in a pan
  3. Slowly add milk to the pan, stirring constantly.
  4. Add garlic powder, salt, and pepper and stir until smooth.
  5. Reduce the heat to low and and whisk periodically until sauce has thickened.
  6. Add the reserved cheese mixture and stir until melted and smooth.
    Pro-Tip: Make sure the base of the roux sauce isn’t too hot when the cheese is added, otherwise the dairy will separate and the consistency will be grainy.
    add milk and garlic powder, salt, and pepper into the pan
  7. Remove pan from heat and fold in cooked pasta until fully coated in cheese sauce.
  8. Pour pasta into a 9×13 inch baking dish.
    put pasta into the cheese mixture and pour into baking pan
  9. Spread remaining cheese mixture over the pasta and then cover the cheese with bacon.
    Pro-Tip: Reserve and set aside ¼ cup bacon crumbles before you top the cheese in the baking dish.
    Spread remaining cheese mixture over the pasta and then cover the cheese with bacon.
  10. In a separate bowl, melt 1 T butter and stir in Panko bread crumbs and reserved bacon.
  11. Sprinkle the topping evenly over the macaroni and cheese.
    sprinkle breadcrumbs on top of the cheese and bacon
  12. Bake at 375 degrees Farenheit for 20 minutes or until golden brown.
    bacon mac and cheese

Tips

  • I highly recommend using freshly grated cheese for this recipe. Pre-shredded cheeses are coated with starches or cellulose to help prevent clumping and they don’t melt as smoothly.
  • I find that whole milk works best for the creamiest sauce, but you can also use half and half or low fat milk.
  • Make sure the base of the roux sauce isn’t too hot when the cheese is added, otherwise the dairy will separate and the consistency will be grainy.

Storage Tips

  • To Store: Store leftovers in the refrigerator for up to 3 days in a sealed container.
  • To Freeze: Bacon Mac and Cheese can be frozen in an air-tight container for up to 3 months. Thaw overnight in the fridge before reheating in the oven.
  • To Reheat: To reheat from frozen, allow it to thaw overnight in the refrigerator and bake until warmed through and the cheese is bubbly on top.
bacon mac cheese in a spoonful

Frequently Asked Questions

What is the best cheese to use for a homemade mac and cheese recipe?

The key to making a perfect macaroni and cheese is using cheese that melts well. I like to use a combination of cheddar, parmesan, and mozzarella because they melt well, taste great together, and gives this dish a nice color. You should avoid the extra sharp-aged cheeses. Aged cheeses tend to separate or get oily when heated and do not melt well.

Can I make this recipe ahead of time?

You can make this recipe 1-2 days ahead of time. Simply follow the recipe until just before baking. Allow it to cool, cover it tightly, and store it in the refrigerator until ready to serve. You can also store it in the freezer, covered in foil for up to 3 months.

How do I get my cheese sauce to be smooth and creamy?

The secret to a smooth, non-grainy, thick sauce is a good butter/flour roux, which is a basic thickener. The flour and butter should be whisked until there’s zero grainy-ness left.

What should I serve with my Bacon Mac and Cheese?

If you are serving your Bacon Mac and Cheese as a side, it pairs perfectly with smoked BBQ, like ribs and pork. Another great option is serving as a Thanksgiving side dish alongside your turkey. If it is your main meal, I like to serve it with a simple tossed salad or a steamed veggie.

bacon mac cheese in a bowl

Other Easy Pasta Recipes

5 from 1 vote
bacon mac and cheese featured image

Homemade Bacon Mac and Cheese

Serves — 10
Homemade Bacon Mac and Cheese combines the comforts of the classic creamy meal with the savory crunch of bacon and breadcrumbs. It is so easy to make this decadent dish using simple ingredients that tastes gourmet!
Prep Time 25 mins
Cook Time 20 mins
Total Time 45 mins

Ingredients
  

Roux:

  • 3 tbsp flour
  • 3 tbsp butter
  • 2 cups milk
  • ¼ tsp garlic powder
  • ¼ tsp salt
  • ¼ tsp pepper

Casserole:

  • 16 oz Applewood Smoked Bacon (1 package) cooked and crumbled, divided
  • 16 ounce box elbow macaroni pasta cooked according to package
  • 8 ounce block parmesan cheese divided
  • 8 ounce block mild cheddar cheese divided
  • 8 ounce block mozzarella cheese divided

Topping:

  • ½ cup Panko bread crumbs
  • 1 tbsp melted butter

Instructions
 

  • Preheat the oven to 375 degrees.
  • Grate the blocks of parmesan, mild cheddar, and mozzarella cheeses and place in a large bowl. Mix to combine and set aside. Reserve 1½ cups of the cheese mixture for the roux.
  • In a medium saucepan, melt 3 Tablespoons of butter over medium heat. Whisk in 3 Tablespoons of flour.
  • Slowly add 2 cups of milk to the saucepan, stirring constantly. Add the garlic powder, salt, and pepper and continue stirring until smooth.
  • Reduce the heat to low and and whisk periodically until sauce has thickened.
  • Add the reserved 1½ cups of the grated cheese mixture. Stir until melted and smooth.
  • Remove from heat. Fold in the cooked macaroni pasta until well coated in the cheese sauce.
  • Next, coat a 9×13 inch baking dish with non-stick spray. Pour the macaroni and cheese sauce mixture into the pan.
  • Spread the remaining grated cheese mixture over the macaroni. Reserve and set aside ¼ cup bacon crumbles. Spread the remaining bacon evenly over the cheese.
  • In a small bowl, melt 1 Tablespoon of butter. Add ½ cup of Panko bread crumbs and ¼ cup of the reserved bacon. Stir to combine. Sprinkle the topping evenly over the macaroni and cheese.
  • Bake for 20 minutes or until golden brown.

Jenn’s Notes

Storage: 
  • To Store: Store leftovers in the refrigerator for up to 3 days in a sealed container.
  • To Freeze: Bacon Mac and Cheese can be frozen in an air-tight container for up to 3 months. Thaw overnight in the fridge before reheating in the oven.
  • To Reheat: To reheat from frozen, allow it to thaw overnight in the refrigerator and bake until warmed through and the cheese is bubbly on top.
Tips:
  • I highly recommend using freshly grated cheese for this recipe. Pre-shredded cheeses are coated with starches or cellulose to help prevent clumping and they don’t melt as smoothly.
  • I find that whole milk works best for the creamiest sauce, but you can also use half and half or low fat milk.
  • Make sure the base of the roux sauce isn’t too hot when the cheese is added, otherwise the dairy will separate and the consistency will be grainy.

Nutrition Info

Calories: 684kcal | Carbohydrates: 41g | Protein: 31g | Fat: 44g | Saturated Fat: 22g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 4g | Monounsaturated Fat: 15g | Trans Fat: 1g | Cholesterol: 104mg | Sodium: 1113mg | Potassium: 226mg | Fiber: 1g | Sugar: 3g | Vitamin A: 794IU | Vitamin C: 1mg | Calcium: 611mg | Iron: 1mg
Jennifer Fishkind

About Jenn

Jenn is a mom to three beautiful boys, wife to an amazing husband, social influencer and blogger. I love all things easy recipes, easy crafts, all things hacks, traveling EVERYWHERE and feeding my Pinterest addiction!

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