This Creamy Bacon Mac and Cheese starts with a creamy, cheesy sauce and is topped with crispy bacon and baked to melty perfection.
It’s an amazing baked macaroni and cheese recipe that will become a family favorite. We love to pair this with Parmesan Roasted Broccoli or Antipasto Zoodle Salad.
It’s so easy to make homemade mac and cheese, it tastes AMAZING and it comes together in just over 30 minutes!
Bacon Mac and Cheese
Mac and cheese is delicious, but the way to level up is with BACON. The cheeses used in this recipe have been chosen for their flavor and melting points.
The combination makes an amazing texture and taste that you’ll love!
Here’s the basic list of ingredients for this easy-baked mac and cheese. As always, you can find the full ingredient list in the printable recipe card below.
- Macaroni Noodles
- Bacon – I prefer thick cut
- Flour – all purpose
- Salt & Black Pepper
- Garlic Powder
- Onion Powder
- Cayenne Pepper
- Rosemary – fresh or dried
- Milk – whole for the best flavor and creamy texture
- Chicken Bouillon
- Gruyere Cheese – smoked gouda works as well
- Sharp Cheddar Cheese
How To Make Bacon Mac and Cheese
This is a simple mac and cheese recipe with a basic sauce as a base. I’ll walk you through how to make it step by step!
Don’t forget to preheat the oven to 350 F, and if not using an oven-safe skillet, prepare a 9×9 casserole dish with baking spray.
Boil a large pot of salted water and add in uncooked macaroni noodles. Cook until tender, about 15 minutes, then drain. Transfer the cooked noodles to a large bowl and toss with 1 Tablespoon of butter. Set aside.
Meanwhile, dice the bacon into small pieces and cook in a large, oven-safe skillet over medium heat until crisp. Once crisp, remove the bacon to a paper towel-lined plate and discard all but 1 Tablespoon of the bacon grease.
MAKE THE ROUX
To the skillet, add the 4 Tablespoons of butter to the bacon grease.
Once melted, whisk in the flour, salt, garlic powder, onion powder, black pepper, cayenne pepper, and rosemary and cook for 1 minute.
WHISK IN MILK
Slowly pour in the milk, while continuing to whisk, making the sauce smooth. Stir in the chicken bouillon until incorporated into the sauce.
PRO TIP: Don’t overcook the milk mixture, or the sauce can become grainy as it sits.
STIR IN CHEESES
Remove the sauce from the heat and stir in 1.5 cups of the gruyere and 1.5 cups of the sharp cheddar cheese. The cheese doesn’t have to melt all the way at this point.
COMBINE SAUCE AND NOODLES
Pour the cheese sauce into the bowl with the noodles and stir to combine.
Place the cheesy noodles either back into the oven-safe skillet or into the prepared casserole dish.
Top with the remaining cheese and sprinkle the top with the crispy bacon. Bake for 15 minutes until cheese is bubbly throughout. Garnish with freshly cracked black pepper and enjoy!
Recipe Tips and Substitutions
The best part about this baked creamy mac and cheese is that it’s so versatile! Here are a couple of tips and ideas you can use to make it your own.
- Make sure to use FRESH grated cheese, not pre-shredded! It can cause the sauce to go grainy due to the additives.
- Substitute fresh thyme for the rosemary for a different flavor profile!
- Use another small pasta such as ditalini or small shells in place of the macaroni for a fun twist.
5 Best Cheeses For Mac and Cheese
I’ve chosen two of my favorites for this version! Here are a few that have a little different flavor, but will still be able to melt at the right temperature and have that ooey-gooey cheese texture. It’s always nice to have a few options to make it your own!
- Cheddar – mild or sharp, white or yellow; cheddar is a staple for mac and cheese.
- Gruyere – excellent buttery flavor and melting cheese.
- Smoked Gouda – very nice melting texture and amazing flavor profile.
- Fontina – milder than gruyere, with a similar buttery flavor and melty texture.
- Monterey Jack – high fat and moisture content that makes it a lovely melting cheese with a mild salty flavor.
More Amazing Skillet Pasta Recipes
If you’re a fan of easy pasta dinner recipes, you’ve come to the right place! I have a few delicious ones for you to try…
- One Skillet Chicken Parmesan Pasta
- Italian Beef Pasta Skillet
- Chicken Zucchini Pasta Skillet
- Shrimp Orzo Pasta Salad
I hope you enjoy this AMAZING Bacon Mac and Cheese as much as we do. It’s definitely a family favorite!
Bacon Mac and Cheese
- 8 oz macaroni noodles, uncooked (2 cups)
- 8 oz bacon, thick cut
- 5 tbsp butter, divided
- ¼ cup all-purpose flour
- 1 tsp salt
- 1 tsp garlic powder
- 1 tsp onion powder
- ½ tsp black pepper
- ¼ tsp cayenne pepper
- 1 tsp rosemary, freshly chopped, or ½ tsp dried
- 3 cups whole milk
- 1 tsp chicken bouillon , I use the paste, Better Than Bouillon
- 2 cups gruyere cheese, freshly shredded
- 2 cups sharp cheddar cheese, freshly shredded
- Preheat oven to 325 degrees F. *If needed, grease a 3 quart baking dish with non-stick spray and set aside. If you're using an oven safe skillet, you do not need to bake it in another dish.
- Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil and add in the uncooked macaroni noodles. Cook until tender, about 15 minutes, then drain. Transfer cooked noodles to a large bowl and toss with 1 tbsp of butter. Set aside.
- Meanwhile dice the bacon into small pieces and cook in a large, oven safe skillet, over medium-high heat until crisp. Once crisp, remove the bacon to a paper towel lined plate and discard all but 1 tbsp of the bacon grease.
- Reduce the heat to medium and add the remaining 4 tbsp of butter to the skillet with the bacon grease. Once melted, whisk in the flour, salt, garlic powder, onion powder, black pepper, cayenne pepper and rosemary and cook for 1 minute.
- Slowly pour in the milk, while continuing to whisk, making the sauce smooth. Stir in the chicken bouillon until incorporated into the sauce. Don't over cook the milk mixture or the sauce can become grainy as it sits!
- Remove the sauce from the heat and stir in 1½ cups of the gruyere and 1½ cups of the sharp cheddar cheese. The cheese doesn't have to melt all the way at this point. Pour the cheese sauce into the bowl with the noodles and stir to combine.
- Pour the cheesy noodles either back into the oven-safe skillet or into the prepared casserole dish. Top with the remaining cheese and sprinkle the top with the crispy bacon.
- Bake for 15 minutes, until cheese is bubbly throughout. Garnish with freshly cracked black pepper and enjoy!
Not sure what I did wrong but my cheese sauce never thickened. I did everything by the recipe, I even pre measured all ingredients before beginning. Very disappointed. It also tasted a little salty.