The BEST Jalapeño Popper Mac and Cheese you’ll ever try! Extra creamy, loaded with bacon, cream cheese, jalapeños, and kicked up a notch with TABASCO® Sauce, this delicious and easy mac and cheese is sure to be a new favorite! Bacon lover? Make sure to try this Baked Bacon Cheese Dip and Slow Cooker Green Beans with Bacon!
Sponsored by TABASCO® Brand.
Jalapeño Popper Mac and Cheese
What is more comforting that mac and cheese? I mean, nothing, right? Creamy, cheesy, loaded with yummy carbs – it’s seriously the ultimate comfort food.
Last year I shared these Easy Jalapeño Popper Bites that were loaded with bacon and I still have dreams about that yumminess. I decided it was high time to turn it into some mac and cheese. Boom!
What’s In This Jalapeño Popper Mac and Cheese Recipe
This jalapeños popper mac and cheese recipe features all the components of a jalapeño popper that we all know and love:
- cream cheese
- crunchy panko topping
- and BACON!
Tips for the Best Baked Jalapeño Popper Mac and Cheese
- Using block cheese is the way to go when you’re making mac and cheese. The pre-shredded cheese is coated and won’t melt properly. Grate it yourself for the best results.
- Cook your pasta to slightly less than al dente, about one minute shy is perfect – that’s about 7 minutes for macaroni.The reason is that this is baked mac and cheese so the pasta will continue to cook in the oven.
- I used elbow pasta but really, any tubular, short pasta will work.
- The roux is super important to getting the creamiest cheese sauce. Three things to look for:
- The roux (equal parts butter and flour) is whisked together until bubbly and golden.
- Whisk in cold milk – not warm – to prevent the flour from clumping.
- Cook the roux, stirring nearly constantly, until you see bubbles on the surface and then continue cooking for an additional 2 minutes before adding the cheese. This will keep the sauce from turning grainy.
You’ll notice this recipe calls for two jalapeños. I removed the seeds and membranes before dicing which cuts down on the heat a bit. I mean, this is Jalapeño Popper Mac and Cheese so a little heat should be expected. If you’re like whaaaat? Bring on the spicy! Keep the seeds and membranes intact and dice away OR add another jalapeño.
I further tame those spicy jalapeños by sautéing in butter. This also serves another purpose as it gives the cheese sauce amazing flavor. I add back in a little heat and lots of flavor by adding in some TABASCO® Sauce.
Homemade Macaroni and Cheese: What Kind of Cheese Should I Use?
For this recipe, I kept the cheeses more mellow so the cream cheese flavor would have a chance to shine through, emphasizing it’s jalapeño popper roots. While I frequently use Gruyere, the flavor is just too strong for this mac and cheese recipe. The combination of cheddar cheese and mozzarella works perfectly. Other cheese that work: jack cheese or pepper jack for a little zip, American and Velveeta as well for a creamier cheese sauce.
More Easy Dinner Recipes To Try
- Easy Chicken Stir Fry Recipe
- Slow Cooker Shrimp Boil
- Easy Lazy Day Lasagna
- The BEST Homemade Baked Mac and Cheese
- The BEST Tater Tot Casserole
How To Make Jalapeño Popper Mac and Cheese
The BEST Jalapeño Popper Mac and Cheese
- 16 oz elbow macaroni cooked (or other tubular pasta)
- 1 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
- 6 tbsp unsalted butter
- 2 jalapeños seeded, membranes removed, and diced
- 1/3 cup all purpose flour
- 3 cups whole milk
- 1 cup heavy whipping cream
- 6 oz cream cheese cut into cubes
- 2 tsp TABASCO® Sauce
- 4 cups sharp cheddar cheese shredded
- 1 1/2 cups mozzarella cheese shredded
- 12 oz bacon cooked and crumbled
- 1 1/2 cups panko crumbs
- 4 tbsp butter melted
- 1/2 cup Parmesan cheese shredded
- 1/4 tsp smoked paprika or regular paprika
- Preheat oven to 350F. Lightly grease a 9 x 13 baking dish and set aside. Combine shredded cheeses in a large bowl and set aside.
- Cook the pasta one minute shy of al dente according to the package instructions. Remove from heat, drain, and place in a large bowl.
- Drizzle pasta with olive oil and stir to coat pasta. Set aside to cool while preparing cheese sauce.
- Melt butter in a deep saucepan, dutch oven, or stock pot. Add diced jalapeños and cook for 2 minutes, stirring frequently.
- Whisk in flour over medium heat and continue whisking for about 1 minute until bubbly and golden.
- Gradually whisk in the milk and heavy cream until nice and smooth. Continue whisking until you see bubbles on the surface and then continue cooking and whisking for another 2 minutes.
- Whisk in cream cheese and TABASCO® sauce.
- Add two cups of shredded cheese and whisk until smooth. Add another one and a half cups of shredded cheese and continue whisking until creamy and smooth. Sauce should be nice and thick.
- Stir in the cooled pasta until combined and pasta is fully coated with the cheese sauce.
- Pour half of the mac and cheese into the prepared baking dish. Top with remaining 2 cups of shredded cheese, two-thirds of the bacon and then the remaining mac and cheese.
- In a small bowl, combine panko crumbs, Parmesan cheese, melted butter and paprika. Sprinkle over the top and bake until bubbly and golden brown, about 30 minutes.
- Top with remaining bacon and slices of jalapeños if desired. Serve immediately.
For all appetizer recipes, go HERE.
For all dessert recipes, go HERE.
Sign up to get emails when I post new recipes!
For even more great ideas follow me on Facebook – Pinterest – Instagram – Twitter – Bloglovin’.