Mac and Cheese, the ultimate classic comfort food, is a house favorite. Well really a guilty pleasure! For my Bacon Mac and Cheese Casserole, I load it with crispy bacon, cheddar, mozzarella and cream cheeses. The perfect cheesy pasta dish. Topped with crunchy Panko breadcrumbs and baked to a bubbly, golden brown it’s an undeniable indulgence.
I felt like making some Buffalo Chicken the other evening with some pasta on the side and got the idea for this Bacon Mac and Cheese. With a little of that influence coming from Franks Hot Sauce, like in my Baked Crunchy Buffalo Chicken Meatballs, it was my go to for that kick of heat.
Keeping with that crunchy exterior of the meatballs, I made sure to add that aspect as the topping for this Bacon Mac and Cheese Casserole.
Cheeses that are perfect for melting like mozzarella, Monterey jack, cream cheese, and Brie are wonderful all gooey and soft. Dipping your bread in, smothering pasta or all stretchy on top of pizza, it’s all good. The reason for this is the high moisture content. See the proteins are loosely packed with lots of water mixed throughout them, so they liquefy really quick. Unlike hard, low moisture cheeses that contain so little water in them that it’s harder to melt.
That’s why I chose cream cheese and lots of mozzarella with a nice touch of sharp cheddar. Everything better with cheddar – and bacon!
So if you’re looking for a different mac and cheese recipe this version using cream cheese and a little buffalo hot sauce is for you. Feel free to omit the hot sauce if it’s not for you, but I highly recommend it. Watch the video below to see how easy this is to make.
Super cheesy and gooey, loaded with bacon and tender pasta all topped with a buttery, crunchy, golden brown crust.
This recipe first appeared on Kevin Is Cooking August 2017 and has been updated with a new video.
Bacon Mac and Cheese Casserole
- 8 oz elbow macaroni
- 4 slices thick cut bacon
- 6 tbsp butter separated
- 4 tbsp flour
- 2 cups milk
- 1 tbsp hot sauce
- 1 tbsp dijon mustard
- 1/2 tsp kosher salt
- 1/2 tsp black pepper
- 8 oz cream cheese
- 2 cups mozzarella cheese (or Monterey Jack)
- 2 cups cheddar cheese
- 1 cup Panko bread crumbs
- 1/4 cup parsley chopped (loosely packed)
- Preheat oven to 400°F. In a small bowl mix together 2 tablespoons of melted butter, Panko breadcrumbs and chopped parsley. Set aside.
- In a large stock pot boil pasta in heavily salted water per package directions. Drain and toss with 1 tablespoon of olive oil to prevent sticking in a 9x9” square or a 13x9” pan coated with cooking spray. Set aside.
- In a large skillet, render bacon until crispy and browned. Remove bacon and set aside to crumble. Keep bacon fat in pan. Add crumbled bacon to pasta, reserving some to top pasta at serving.
- In same skillet with bacon fat add 4 tablespoons of butter and melt over medium heat. Whisk in the flour and cook for a minute. Add the milk and whisk to mix thoroughly. Whisk in the mustard, hot sauce, salt and pepper. Lower the heat to simmer and cook for 4 minutes, the sauce will thicken.
- Add the cream cheese and stir to melt in the sauce. Add the mozzarella and cheddar cheeses and stir to melt and incorporate. Sauce should be smooth.
- Pour cheese sauce over pasta and bacon and stir to mix in completely. Top with breadcrumb mixture and bake uncovered for 20 minutes until top is golden brown and crunchy.