I love that this jalapeño popper Mac and cheese is really versatile. Like things extra spicy? Maybe a little more mild. Want a vegetarian Mac and cheese? Or how about some extra protein? I’ve got you covered!
The panko topping on this Mac and cheese is optional, but I really like it since it really brings home that “jalapeño popper” flavor and texture!

I hope you give this comfort food classic with a twist a try soon!

This tasty baked Mac and cheese recipe is bursting with bold jalapeño popper flavors!
  • 1 tsp olive oil
  • 1/2 cup panko breadcrumbs
  • 1 box (16 oz) dried short cut pasta (cavatappi, elbow, rotini, penne, etc)
  • 4 Tbsp unsalted butter
  • 2-3 fresh jalapeños, seeds and ribs removed, diced
  • 1/3 cup diced yellow onion
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1/4 cup all-purpose flour
  • 2 cups heavy cream (or half and half)
  • 1 cup whole milk
  • 4 oz cream cheese, softened to room temperature (and cubed)
  • 2 cups shredded mozzarella cheese, divided
  • 2 cups shredded or diced white American cheese, divided
  • 1 tsp kosher salt
  • 1/2 tsp black pepper
  • 1/2 tsp ground cumin
  • 8 slices bacon, divided
  1. In a small saucepan, heat 1 tsp olive oil over MED heat. Add panko and stir around until coated and panko is starting to brown. Set aside.
  2. Preheat oven to 350 F degrees. Lightly grease a 3 qt baking dish (like a 9x13 pan), and set aside. Boil a large stockpot of water and cook pasta until 1 minute shy of al dente. Drain and toss pasta in a drizzle of olive oil to prevent sticking.
  3. Add butter to a large saucepan and heat over MED heat. Add jalapeños and onion, and cook 2 minutes. Add garlic and cook 1 minute, stirring often.
  4. Add flour and stir to combine. Cook 1-2 minutes to get rid of the raw flour taste. Pour in heavy cream and milk, whisking to combine so lumps from the flour mixture are gone. Cook several minutes until thickened, stirring very often.
  5. Add in cream cheese and stir until it's melted into the sauce. Add in most of the mozzarella and white cheddar cheese, stirring until it's all melted. Add spices (salt, pepper, cumin) and stir. If you notice the sauce getting TOO thick, add in a splash of milk and stir.
  6. In a large mixing bowl, add cooked pasta, cheese sauce, and most of the bacon. Stir it all together and pour into prepared baking dish. Top with remaining mozzarella and white American cheeses and remaining bacon. Sprinkle with the toasted panko and bake, uncovered, for 15 minutes.
  7. Serve hot, garnished with additional sliced jalapeños, and parsley or cilantro if desired.

Powered by Blogger.