Ya’ll this homemade bacon mac & cheese might just be the best mac & cheese I’ve ever made! Seriously.
I’ve always wanted to make a homemade mac & cheese but always thought it involved way too much time and effort. Well, it doesn’t.
This mac is super easy – all you do is make a cheese sauce, boil some noodles, make a crumb topping (if you want) and bake it till it’s bubbly.
I figured since I’ve perfected my broccoli cheese sauce (which I’ll have to photograph next time and post), it was time to move onto bigger and better things. Then add bacon.
Everything is better with bacon.
Start by making the panko breadcrumb mixture and heating a skillet over medium heat. Add the butter and let melt fully, then add the panko, chives, and oregano and toss to coat and mix together.
Let cook, stirring constantly, until the panko is just starting to turn golden brown. Make sure to watch it or it will burn fast!
Believe me, I’ve done it more times than I can count.
Remove it from the heat and pour into a heat-safe bowl. Add the parmesan cheese and stir to combine; set aside.
Using the same skillet, you can cook your bacon. Just add the bacon strips to the pan and cook for 2-4 minutes per side or until desired doneness is reached. You do want them a little crispier than normal so they don’t get soggy when stirred into the cheese and pasta mixture.
When the bacon is done, drain and chop up. Set aside.
While you’re making the breadcrumbs you can start boiling your pot of water for the noodles. Just cook them according to package directions until al dente. Then drain, stir in a little butter to prevent the noodles from sticking, add to a very large bowl and set aside.
You can really use just about any small noodle you want here – I’ve made it is penne, elbows, bow ties, etc. and they all work but I just love the classic elbow shape. It makes it feel more like “authentic” mac & cheese.
Preheat your oven to 350° F and prepare a casserole or baking dish by spraying with nonstick cooking spray.
To make the cheese sauce, heat a pot over medium heat and add butter. Let melt and the whisk in the flour. Whisk constantly until the mixture starts to brown slightly. This is going to be your roux.
Slowly pour in the milk and stir to fully combine. Add your garlic powder, paprika, and onion powder and season to taste with salt and pepper.
Bring to simmer then reduce heat to medium-low and start adding your cheese, one small handful at a time, whisking in between each addition and letting it melt fully before adding more.
Once all the cheese is added and melted you should have a decently thick sauce. Let it simmer for a couple minutes more, while still whisking, to thicken just a bit more then remove from heat and pour over the cooked macaroni.
Add the cooked, chopped bacon and stir everything together. Pour into the prepared casserole dish and top evenly with the panko mixture.
Place in the oven at 350° F for 20-30 minutes or until the cheese is bubbly around the edges.
Remove from the oven and let cool for a few minutes before serving.
This dish goes perfectly with our whole smoked chicken that I posted recently. Actually, when my husband wanted to do those chickens again is when I thought I should try making a mac & cheese to go with it.
Turned out perfectly and the guests we had over to help us eat all the food absolutely loved it. So I’d say it’s a winner!
Homemade Bacon Mac & Cheese
- 1 Tbsp unsalted butter
- 1 cup panko breadcrumbs
- 1 Tbsp fresh chives chopped
- 1 tsp dried oregano
- 1/4 cup shredded Parmesan cheese
- 8 slices thick-cut bacon diced
- 1 lb macaroni noodles cooked
- 4 Tbsp unsalted butter
- 1/4 cup all-purpose flour
- 3 1/2 cups milk
- 1/2 tsp ground paprika
- 1/2 tsp garlic powder
- 1/2 tsp onion powder
- 2 cups sharp cheddar cheese grated
- 1 cup white cheddar cheese grated
- 1 cup shredded mozzarella cheese
- Heat a small skillet over medium heat and add butter. Let butter melt fully then add panko, chives, and oregano and toss to combine.
- Let cook, stirring frequently, until panko just starts to brown. Be careful, it will burn fast if you take your eyes off it or don't continue stirring.
- Remove from heat when most of the panko is browned; about 3-4 minutes. Add parmesan cheese and toss to combine. Set aside to cool.
- Preheat the oven to 350° F and spray a casserole style baking dish with nonstick cooking spray.
- If you need to cook the macaroni, add the uncooked macaroni to a large pot of boiling water and cook until al dente; about 8-10 minutes. Drain and toss with a small amount of butter or olive oil to prevent the noodles from sticking.
- In a large skillet, add the diced bacon and cook over medium-high heat, stirring frequently, until cooked through and crispy; about 8-10 minutes. Drain on paper towel lined plate.
- While the bacon is cooking, you can start with the cheese sauce in a casserole pan or a large saucepan.
- Heat the pan over medium and add the butter to melt. Once the butter is melted, whisk in the flour and cook until just turning browned; about 1-2 minutes.
- Pour in the milk slowly while whisking constantly to smooth the sauce. Whisk in the paprika, garlic, and onion powder, then season with salt and pepper.
- Bring to a simmer then reduce heat to low and start adding cheese 1 small handful at a time, continuing to whisk constantly, and letting the cheese melt in between additions.
- Once all the cheese is added and melted, let the sauce simmer for a couple minutes to thicken, while stirring.
- Remove from heat and pour the pasta into the cheese sauce mixture. Add the diced bacon and mix thoroughly to combine everything.
- Pour the mac & cheese into the prepared baking dish and sprinkle evenly with the panko breadcrumb mixture.
- Bake at 350° F for 20-30 minutes until the cheese starts to bubble around the edges.
- Remove from oven and let cool for about 5 minutes before serving.