This ultra creamy bacon mac and cheese recipe is quick and easy to make on the stovetop and is great as a side dish or a comforting and indulgent main dish.
Why this Recipe Works
Mac and cheese is a classic family favorite that everyone loves. It's often baked with a crunchy topping like my classic baked macaroni and cheese. But this stovetop mac and cheese recipe is a quick and easy version with the addition of smokey bacon to take it to the next level. It's perfect for an easy 20 minute weeknight meal.
What cheese to use for mac and cheese
For this bacon macaroni and cheese I like to use a mixture of three cheeses. Sharp cheddar adds the classic yellow color and cheddar bite. Gruyere adds a mild nutty flavor. And Parmesan adds a bit of saltiness. To add even more creaminess I add in a little bit of cream cheese as well.
Other great options are smoked gouda, mozzarella, colby, and pepper jack. These will all add slightly different flavors to the dish. Avoid aged cheeses which typically do not melt as well.
How to make bacon mac and cheese
- Begin by cooking your pasta in boiling water according to the package instructions. Then drain and set aside.
- While the pasta water is coming to a boil, cut your bacon into 1 inch strips. Cook in a skillet over medium heat for around 7-8 minutes until crispy. Transfer to paper towels to drain and set aside.
- To make the cheese sauce, start by making a roux. Melt your butter over medium heat then whisk in the flour. Cook for 1 to 2 minutes, stirring frequently, until lightly golden brown.
- Whisk in the milk and cream and continue whisking for around a minute to ensure there are no lumps. Simmer for 3 to 4 minutes until thickened.
- Add the shredded cheeses in 1 to 2 cup batches and stir until melted. Repeat with the remaining cheese. Then stir in the cream cheese, mustard, salt, and pepper.
- Stir in the cooked pasta and bacon then serve.
Can I use store bought shredded cheese?
The key to the best mac and cheese with a smooth and creamy cheese is shredding your own cheese. Pre-shredded cheeses are coated with starches or cellulose to help prevent clumping. These also prevent proper melting and often result in a grainy texture. They will work in a pinch but it's definitely worth a few extra minutes to shred your own.
What to serve with bacon mac and cheese
This perfect mac and cheese with bacon is awesome as a main dish but also a great side dish.
- It pairs perfectly with smoked BBQ like ribs and pork.
- It's also awesome with meatloaf and many other classic comfort food dishes.
- Another great option is serving as a Thanksgiving side dish alongside smoked turkey or classic roasted turkey.
More easy weeknight meal ideas
- One Pot Cheeseburger Pasta
- Creamy Tuscan Chicken Pasta
- Easy Creamy Chicken Marsala
- Easy Salisbury Steak with Mushroom Gravy
Creamy Bacon Mac and Cheese
- 1 lb elbow macaroni
- 6 slices bacon, cut into 1 inch strips
- 3 tbsp butter
- 3 tbsp flour
- 3 cups milk
- 1 cup heavy cream
- 2 cups shredded cheddar cheese
- 2 cups shredded gruyere cheddar cheese
- 1 cup shredded Parmesan cheese
- 4 ounces cream cheese
- 1 teaspoon dry mustard
- 1 teaspoon salt
- ½ teaspoon pepper
- Cook pasta for 8-10 minutes in salted boiling water then drain and set aside.
- While the pasta cooks cook the bacon in a skillet over medium heat until crisp then drain on paper towels and set aside.
- Melt the butter in large pot over medium heat. When the foaming subsides add the flour and stir to combine. Continue to stir frequently until light golden brown, about 1-2 minutes.
- Add milk and cream and whisk until well combined and there are no lumps. Bring to a low simmer and cook for 3-4 minutes until thickened, then add the shredded cheeses in batches 1-2 cups at a time, stirring until each batch is fully melted and smooth. Finally, stir in the cream cheese and season with the dry mustard, salt, and pepper.
- Add your cooked pasta and bacon stir until combined.
* All nutrition information we provide are estimates based on third party calculators. We encourage you to calculate these on your own for accurate results.