My jalapeno popper mac and cheese features creamy pasta loaded with crispy bacon and spicy jalapenos. This decadent main dish tastes like your favorite bar food.
It tastes like my favorite appetizer but is totally acceptable to eat for dinner.
It Is Great For
- Game Day
- Weeknight Dinner
- Father’s Day
Why I Love This Recipe
- Tons of Bacon: This recipe uses a full pound of bacon you guys! We also use bacon grease to saute our peppers, it adds SO much flavor.
- Super Creamy: Velveeta and cream cheese are a match made in heaven.
- Crunchy Topping: The crispy breadcrumbs contrast beautifully with the creamy pasta.
Ingredient Notes and Shopping Tips
- Jalapenos: Remove the ribs and seeds if you want to make it less spicy. Pickled jalapenos can also be used in a pinch.
- Pasta: While mac and cheese is typically made with macaroni noodles, you can use other shapes. I used Camanelle which literally means little horn. Rotini, cavatappi, or even mini shells would also work.
- Cheese: If possible shred your own cheese. Store-bought versions contain ingredients like cornstarch to prevent the shreds for sticking together. This can lead to an uneven melt or even graininess.
- Milk: Use whole milk for the creamiest result.
- Bacon: Save time on this recipe by using microwave bacon. I like Hormel Black Label best.
- Bread Crumbs: I like to use seasoned panko breadcrumbs for the ultimate crunch.
How To Make Jalapeno Popper Mac and Cheese
- Prep Work: Preheat the oven and boil pasta.
- Fry: Fry bacon. Save drippings to saute jalapenos.
- Make the sauce: Melt butter, add milk. Stir in cheeses. Fold in bacon and jalapenos.
- Bringing it all together: Toss sauce and pasta.
- Top: Top with breadcrumbs mixed with butter.
- Bake: Bake for 15-20 minutes.
- Line pan: Line pan with nonstick foil to make cleanup a breeze.
- Cook Pasta Al Dente: Cook pasta using the box direction for al dente. You don’t want it fully cooked as it will continue to soften in the oven.
- Season Pasta: Season pasta water with salt, as it is the only chance you get to add flavor to the noodles. I also sometimes cook my pasta is leftover broth for a major flavor boost.
- If your breadcrumbs get too brown too quickly, cover your pan with foil.
More Mac and Cheese Recipes To Try
Bacon Jalapeno Popper Mac and Cheese
- 1 Pound Dried Pasta I used Campanelle
- 5 Tablespoons Butter Divided
- 2 Cups Milk
- 8 oz. Sharp Cheddar Cheese Shredded
- 8 Ounces Velveeta Cheese Cubed
- 4 Ounces Cream Cheese Softened
- 1 Pound Bacon Diced
- 5 Jalapenos Ribs and Seeds Removed, Sliced
- 1 Cup Bread Crumbs
- Salt and Pepper To Taste
- Preheat oven to 350º F. Cook pasta according to the box directions until al dente. Drain and set aside.
- In a large sauce pan cook bacon until crisp. Drain grease, reserving ~1 Tablespoon. Drain bacon on paper towels.
- Saute jalapenos for 4-5 minutes or until softened.
- In a large saucepan, melt 2 tablespoons butter. Stir in milk until heated.
- Stir in velveeta, cream cheese, and shredded cheese. Stir until cheeses are completely melted. Season with salt and pepper to taste.
- Fold in bacon and jalapeno. Toss with pasta until combined.
- Pour into a 9x13 inch pan. In a small bowl, combine remaining 3 tablespoons of butter with bread crumbs. Pour over pasta.
- Bake for 15-20 minutes.
Adapted via I’m Bored Let’s Go