What’s better than mac & cheese? It’s having a spicy bacon version that only uses ONE POT. You’re left with minimal dishes to load and with one pop of the lid you can have this baby transported to a party. Aw, yeah.
Cook The Pasta
Break out a dutch oven (4-5 quarts), fill it with water to boil and cook 1 box of elbow macaroni until al dente or “just” done with a little bite left. We’re sticking with this same pot for the rest of the recipe so don’t worry about any more pots and pans.
While that’s happening measure out and prep the rest of your ingredients. Shred the cheese, open a jar of diced jalapenos, measure out the milk, etc… If you happen to be using whole or sliced pickled jalapenos then take this time to dice them up into bits.
Bacon – as if you’d forget that ingredient.
Drain the cooked noodles and set aside. Put that dutch oven right back on the burner and set the heat on medium. Take about ½ a package of bacon (roughly ½ lbs.) and use kitchen shears to cut it up into bits right into the hot dutch oven. Let the bacon cook until crispy then scoop the bits out onto a paper towel. Pour out (and hopefully store for later!) all that good bacon grease except for 1 tablespoon. You want 1 in there for flavor for the next part!
With the dutch oven back on the burner (and covered in amazing bacon grease) melt 5 tablespoon of butter and add ¼ cup all purpose flour. Let that cook over medium heat for 5 minutes stirring constantly. This is called a roux.
Take a moment to preheat your oven to 375ºF and then jump back to your dutch oven.
Add 3 cups of half n half and stir that all together for another 5 minutes until the mixture thickens. This is called bechamel sauce.
Now we’re ready for the main players!
Drop in 2 cups of the smoked gouda leaving that last ¼ cup aside for the topping. Let that melt right into the bechamel and stirring gently. Then drop 2 cups of sharp cheddar.
Add ½ teaspoon salt and ¼ teaspoon SMOKED paprika, and I do mean smoked. You won’t be sorry. Then add the diced jalapenos and bacon bits (hence why it’s called jalapeno bacon mac & cheese). Taste the sauce – POW! It’s awesome, right?!
Dump all the drained pasta into the cheese sauce giving it a nice tumble around the ooey gooey goodness. Level off the top with a large spoon and sprinkle the last bit of smoked gouda and sharp cheddar all over. It’s ready for the oven! Bake for 15 minutes and you’ve got yourself a one pot meal of jalapeno bacon mac & cheese to remember.
Comfort food for all
I’m a total cheese-lover. I bet you are too. That’s what makes this perfect for parties, a summer bbq, or for warming you up on a cold winter night. Mac & cheese is almost universally appreciated as the #1 comfort food. Throw in that it’s a one pot meal and jalapeno bacon mac & cheese will be a weekly menu must.
Pin for later!
- 1 box elbow macaroni (1lb)
- 5-6 slices thick cut bacon (1/2 lb or ½ package)
- 1 tablespoon reserved bacon grease
- 5 tablespoons butter
- 4 tablespoons all-purpose flour
- 3 cups half n half
- 2¼ cups gouda (divided)
- 2¼ cups sharp cheddar (divided)
- 3 tablespoons diced jalapeños
- ½ teaspoon salt
- ¼ teaspoon smoked paprika
- In a large dutch oven cook elbow macaroni according to package instructions. Meanwhile measure out remaining ingredients. Drain pasta and set aside.
- With dutch oven back on the burner cut bacon into small bits with kitchen shears over medium heat and cook until crispy. Scoop out bits onto paper towel and set aside.
- Remove all but 1 tablespoon of bacon grease and add butter and all-purpose flour to make a roux. Cook on medium heat stirring constantly for 5 minutes. Add half n half and stir until thickened (another 5 minutes).
- Preheat oven to 375 degrees.
- Add 2 cups gouda, stir to combine, and 2 cups sharp cheddar until cheese is totally melted in. Add paprika, salt, diced jalapeños, and bacon. Finally, add cooked pasta and mix together gently. Top with remaining gouda and sharp cheddar and bake uncovered for 15 minutes.