Jalapeno Popper Mac & Cheese

by Erin

The same creamy macaroni and cheese that I base all my recipes from but with a kick of jalapeno and crunchy bacon!

Jalapeno Popper Mac & Cheese 2

Over the weekend we finally hosted our house warming party. We’ve lived here 4 months, and while there are still walls that need to be painted and decorations to hang, we decided we should do it now or never! The week leading up to it I was anxiously checking the weather every day as there were predictions of rain storms all week and through the weekend. Luckily the weather held off and we had a great day on our patio with friends.

Jalapeno Popper Mac & Cheese 1

I originally thought we would just do finger foods/snacks but Bob wanted to break in the smoker for the season so while he prepared the pork I took to work on the side dishes. I made a classic broccoli salad and a jalapeno popper version of my macaroni and cheese. Same creamy cheddar cheese sauce with some fresh chopped jalapeno and crispy bacon mixed in. I did double the recipe to make sure we had enough and I’m glad I did because we had zero leftovers of anything!

Jalapeno Popper Mac & Cheese 3

Three years ago: June 2016 Stitch Fix #16

Four years ago: Ginger-Nectarine Galette

Five years ago: Creamy Chicken Sausage and Kale Pasta

Six years ago: Smoky Sweet Potato Burgers with Roasted Garlic Avocado Cream

Eight years ago: Veggie Eggs Benedict


Serves 6 as side or 4 as entree


8 oz. favorite pasta shape

2-1/2 cups whole milk, warmed

5 Tbsp unsalted butter

1/4 cup all-purpose flour

1/4 tsp ground cayenne pepper

1/4 tsp smoked paprika

Salt and pepper, to taste

8 oz. sharp cheddar cheese, grated

2 oz. Parmesan cheese, grated

2 oz. cream cheese, room temperature

2 jalapenos, seeded and diced (some slices reserved for garnish, if desired)

4 slices of bacon, cooked and crumbled

1/4 cup Panko bread crumbs


  1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Grease an 11×7-inch (about 2 quarts) casserole dish and set aside.
  2. Cook pasta according to package directions until just barely al-dente (about 1 minute less than recommended cook time). Drain and set aside.
  3. Meanwhile, in a large saute pan over medium heat add butter and melt until frothy. Add flour and whisk until smooth. Continue cooking until it begins to bubble and turn golden, about 2-3 minutes. Slowly pour in milk, whisking vigorously, until all the milk is incorporated and mixture is smooth (will clump but keep whisking).
  4. Continue to cook over medium heat, whisking regularly, until sauce has thickened slightly, about 8-10 minutes. Remove from heat and whisk in cayenne, paprika, and salt and pepper. Slowly add cheeses (except a 1/2 cup mixture of cheddar-Parmesan), a handful at a time, whisking until melted before adding more. Stir in pasta, jalapeno, and bacon until evenly coated.
  5. Pour into the prepared dish. Sprinkle with reserved cheese, Panko, and reserved jalapeno slices over top. Bake for 15 to 20 minutes or until filling is bubbling, then broil for 1 to 2 minutes or until breadcrumbs are golden brown. Remove from heat and allow to cool for 10 minutes before serving.

Source: Adapted from Cheetos Mac & Cheese.

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Susan June 3, 2019 - 10:05 am

This mac and cheese sounds absolutely wonderful. I would probably use just one jalapeño, due to wimpy old stomachs. I’m glad that the weather held off for your party – it’s nice when the weather is cooperative.


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