The best, most creamy and most flavorful macaroni and cheese recipe! My BACON mac and cheese recipe is bound to become a family favorite! This cheesy pasta dish is made with 3 different types of cheese – cheddar, gruyere and cream cheese. The cheese sauce is super creamy and dotted with bits of crispy bacon! Top it off with more bacon bits and chopped parsley for the ultimate comfort food recipe! If you’ve never tried making homemade mac and cheese, this is the recipe to try!
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Ingredients for Mac & Cheese
Here are the main ingredients for this easy pasta recipe!
- Bacon: for adding smoky flavor and tasty bits.
- Elbow Macaroni: the classic pasta choice for macaroni and cheese. You can use any type of pasta though.
- Whole Milk: for the creamy cheese sauce.
- Cheddar Cheese: I like to use sharp, aged cheddar cheese for the most flavor.
- Gruyere Cheese: if you can’t find gruyere cheese, you can use a different cheese, even more cheddar cheese, or parmesan.
- Cream Cheese: soften the cream cheese at room temperature so it’s easier to mix into the cheese sauce.
How to Make Bacon Macaroni & Cheese
- Preparing the Pasta: Making my bacon macaroni and cheese is a breeze and you can have this dish ready in under 30 minutes! I always start this recipe by getting a pot of water boiling for the pasta. I like to use traditional elbow macaroni for my recipe but really, any pasta type will work. Make sure to salt the water generously and cook the pasta to al dente. Drain the pasta and let it stand while you’re making the cheese sauce.
- Preparing the Bacon: Render the bacon slices in a frying pan and then chop the bacon into small bits. For the super creamy cheese sauce, I like to save the bacon fat from rendering my bacon slices. The extra fat adds so much incredible flavor to the sauce!
- Prepare the Cheese Sauce: the easy three cheese sauce is made with a roux and milk base. Roux is a thickener made with equal parts butter and flour. The sauce is made with cheddar cheese, cream cheese and gruyere. Toss the pasta together with the sauce.
- Serve the mac and cheese while it’s still warm!
Making the 3 Cheese Cheese Sauce
- I make my cheese sauce with a simple butter and flour roux base. Roux is a paste of butter and flour combined together, used to thicken the sauce. Cook the roux for at least a minute to prevent the sauce from tasting like raw flour.
- When adding the milk, add it 1 cup at a time and whisk vigorously after each addition. It will look clumpy at first but keep adding the rest of the milk and whisking until it’s smooth. I also like to add a cup of chicken or veggie broth to add more flavor. If you want and extra rich sauce, substitute 1 cup of the whole milk with 1 cup heavy cream.
- Next up, the cheese!! I love to add a good amount of sharp, aged cheddar cheese. It adds the most flavor! I also add a bit of nutty and sweet gruyere cheese. If you can’t find it, try using parmesan, mozzarella or aged white cheddar. And last, cream cheese. The cream cheese makes this cheese sauce extra creamy! If you don’t like cream cheese, mascarpone will also work well for this recipe.
- Cook the cheese sauce over LOW heat to allow the cheese to melt slowly until it’s super smooth and creamy. I recommend using a whisk to break up the cream cheese.
Putting Together the Mac & Cheese
Once the cheese sauce is ready, pour it over the prepared pasta and let it stand for about 5 minutes to thicken. Top with extra bacon bits and chopped parsley for garnish and enjoy the ultimate comfort food recipe! This pasta is best enjoyed fresh, when the cheese sauce is creamy. If you are reheating this dish, I recommend doing so on the stove top and adding a bit of chicken or veggie broth to reconstitute the sauce.
Enjoyed this macaroni and cheese recipe? Check out some of my other pasta recipes that you’re sure to enjoy!
- Skinny Chicken Fettuccine Alfredo – all the flavor without the heavy cream! This pasta is made with juicy garlic chicken and creamy sauce!
- Creamy Mushroom and Chicken Pasta – one of my favorite pasta dishes with juicy chicken and cream sauce!
- Spinach Dip Chicken Pasta – artichoke spinach dip meets chicken meets pasta! Delicious!!
- Classic Beef Stroganoff – the best and creamiest beef stroganoff recipe!
- Creamy Chicken Pot Pie Noodles – chicken pot pie made easy with this noodle dish!
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The Best Bacon Macaroni & Cheese Recipe (video)
- 1 pound elbow pasta
- 4 to 6 slices smoked bacon
- 1/4 cup butter
- 1/4 cup all-purpose flour
- 3 cups whole milk
- 1 cup chicken or veggie broth
- 1 tsp salt
- 1/2 tsp ground black pepper
- 1/2 tsp smoked or regular paprika
- 1/2 tsp garlic powder, optional
- 3 cups grated sharp cheddar cheese
- 1 cup grated gruyere cheese
- 8 oz cream cheese or mascarpone, softened
- 1 tbsp chopped parsley, for garnish
- Bring a large pot of salted water to a rolling boil and add the elbow pasta. Cook the pasta according to box instructions, until the pasta is al dente. Drain the pasta and keep it warm. While the pasta is cooking, prepare the bacon and cheese sauce. Preheat a large saute pan over medium heat. Fry the bacon slices until they're crispy and golden, then remove onto a tray lined with paper towels to absorb excess oil.
- To the pan with the bacon fat, add the butter and allow it to melt over medium heat. Add the flour and whisk, cooking the roux for 1 minute. Once the roux is cooked, begin adding the milk. Add 1 cup at a time and whisk well after each addition. Continue adding the milk, whisking well until the mixture is smooth and clump free. Next, add in the chicken or veggie broth and season with salt, pepper, paprika and optional garlic powder.
- Add in the cheese: cheddar, gruyere and cream cheese. Make sure the cream cheese is softened at room temperature and break it up into small pieces when adding. Turn the heat down to low/medium and cook for 7 to 9 minutes, stirring occasionally until the cheese is completely dissolved. Use a whisk to break up any cream cheese chunks.
- Chop the bacon into small bits and add it to the sauce; reserve a few bits for garnishing the top. Pour the prepared cheese sauce over the cooked pasta and stir. Let the pasta stand for about 5 minutes to thicken, then serve. Garnish the top with more bacon bits and chopped parsley, if desired. This pasta dish is best enjoyed fresh. If reheating, I recommend doing so on the stove top; add extra chicken or veggie broth to reconstitute the sauce.