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Jalapeño Bacon Mac n Cheese

I have a small collection of fancy Mac n Cheese recipes here on GoodLife Eats and I thought it was time to add this tasty Jalapeño Bacon Mac n Cheese to the group.

I’ve been wanting to make a baked Mac n Cheese that played off the flavors of recipes like Jalapeño Poppers or Jalapeño Popper Dip for a while. In my opinion, only good things come from pairing Bacon with Jalapeños.

Jalapeno Bacon Mac n Cheese

You may recall seeing a little teaser for this picture when I talked about Reclaiming the Kitchen with Social Support. Since my kids aren’t huge casserole fans, eating dinner with friends is the perfect time for me to experiment with recipes like this.

So, here we are. Jalapeño Bacon Mac n Cheese joins ranks among other cheesy pasta delights such as Southwestern Mac and CheeseBaked White Cheddar Mac n Cheese with Kale and BaconBaked Mac n Cheese with Gruyere and Butternut SquashFontina, Spinach, and Bacon Shells and Cheese and more.

If you’d like to experiment on your own to come up with some fun combos, follow these 4 easy steps to fancy Mac n Cheese.

4 Steps to Fancy Mac n Cheese

It’s time to get creative in the kitchen. Try these four, simple ways towards creative macaroni and cheese recipes. Sure we all love the traditional recipe, but it’s fun to mix things up once in a while.

use different pasta shapes

Embrace your inner child, or appeal to your own children with fun and different pasta shapes. Just because it’s “Macaroni” and Cheese, doesn’t mean you have to actually use macaroni pasta. In fact, I rarely do. Penne is a favorite like in this Jalapeño Bacon Mac n Cheese.

fancy up the cheese

For this Jalapeño Bacon Mac n Cheese I wanted to play off of the flavors of Jalapeño Popper Dip so I used a generous portion of cream cheese along with the Pepper Jack Cheese. I really love the addition of cream cheese because it keeps the sauce nice and creamy – even as left overs this dish didn’t get dried out.

Lacking inspiration?  Check out the Cheesecyclopedia for the wide variety of available cheeses. Then, look up some of your favorites cheeses in The Flavor Bible: The Essential Guide to Culinary Creativity to find complimentary combinations.

add a few mix-ins

Adding accent meats and vegetables turns macaroni and cheese into a delicious, one pot meal with lots of flavor and color.  My two favorite meat mix-ins are ham and bacon. They both go so well with cheesy sauce, but experiment with others as well. In this Jalapeño Bacon Mac n Cheese I’ve added poblano peppers, jalapeños, and bacon.

add a topping

Crushed panko bread crumbs mixed with a little melted butter or crushed  Homemade Sourdough Garlic Butter Croutons make a nice, crunchy topping to any baked Mac n Cheese. You can add dried herbs or minced garlic for extra flavor, too.

Jalapeno Bacon Mac n Cheese

Jalapeño Bacon Mac n Cheese

Yield: serves 8
Prep Time: 10 minutes
Cook Time: 20 minutes
Total Time: 30 minutes

Jalapeño Bacon Mac n Cheese is loaded with poblano peppers, jalapeños, pepper jack cheese, and of course lots of bacon!


  • 10 strips thick-cut bacon, cooked and crumbled
  • 3 tablespoons butter
  • 1 small yellow onion, diced
  • 2 jalapeños, deseeded and minced
  • 1 poblano, deseeded and diced
  • 3 tablespoons flour
  • 3 cups whole milk
  • 8 ounces pepper jack cheese
  • 4 ounces cream cheese
  • dash cayenne, optional
  • dash nutmeg, optional
  • salt and pepper, to taste
  • 1 lb. penne pasta
  • 1/2 cup crushed Homemade Sourdough Garlic Butter Croutons


  1. Cook pasta one to two minutes less than package instructions. Drain and set aside.
  2. In a large French or Dutch oven, melt the butter. Saute the onion for 3 - 5 minutes over medium heat, or until tender and golden. Add the poblano and jalapeños and saute an additional minute or two. Whisk in the flour and cook over medium heat till golden. Slowly whisk in the milk while cooking over medium heat.
  3. Stir in the pepper jack and cream cheese, whisking until melted and creamy. Add the nutmeg, cayenne, black pepper, and salt (if desired).
  4. Bring to a slow simmer, and then stir in the pasta and bacon.
  5. Transfer the pasta mixture to a 3 1/2 quart oven-safe casserole dish or cast iron pan. Sprinkle the top with the crushed Homemade Sourdough Garlic Butter Croutons.
  6. Bake at 375 degrees F on the center rack in the oven for 10-20 minutes, or until the mixture is hot and bubbly and the topping is golden. Serve immediately.


Tip: try this tip for making Perfect Homemade Bacon Bits to use for your cooked and crumbled bacon in this recipe.

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Nutrition Information
Yield 8 Serving Size 1
Amount Per Serving Calories 445Total Fat 28gSaturated Fat 15gTrans Fat 0gUnsaturated Fat 10gCholesterol 79mgSodium 611mgCarbohydrates 28gFiber 2gSugar 6gProtein 20g offers recipe nutritional information as a courtesy and is an estimate only. This information comes from online calculators. Although makes every effort to provide accurate information, these figures are only estimates.

Did you make this recipe?

I’d love it if you let me know what you think! Snap a photo and tag me on Instagram at @goodlifeeats with the hashtag #goodlifeeatsrecipes so I can see what you’re cooking up in YOUR kitchen!

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Nancy @ imadethisdish

Friday 1st of May 2015

Hi Katie! Thanks a lot for sharing this awesome recipe. It's like taking favorite college mac-n-cheese recipe and elevating it to another level! Soooo goood!

bev @ bevcooks

Tuesday 28th of April 2015

Oooooooo I'm going in.