Mac and cheese inspired by the flavors of a jalapeno popper! This is a baked version with elbow macaroni, white cheddar, cream cheese, bacon and jalapenos topped with a buttery, crunchy topping.
It is the most luscious, comforting mac and cheese you will ever eat.
The awesome sauce is made on the stove with a little butter and flour for thickening, milk and all the delicious goodies I mentioned earlier. You pour it over the cooked elbows, top with crushed tortilla chips or bread crumbs, more butter to dot the top and pickled jalapenos.
I like to pour the sauce over the macaroni rather than mixing it all together because, according to my Mom, it makes for a creamier mac and cheese. I learned how to make some of the best mac and cheese from her and this is one of her secrets.
The cream cheese makes it super creamy and helps cool off the pop of heat from the peppers. It’s not super burn-your-tongue spicy but more like a medium, bearable spicy. You can use canned jalapenos or fresh, whichever you prefer, just keep in mind fresh ones can have varying degrees of heat.
This is everything and more you can wish for in a mac and cheese!
It has the richness, the creaminess, the cheesiness and extra ingredients to spice it up so it stands out from the crowd.
Go big or go home.
|Baked Jalapeno Popper Mac & Cheese|| |
- 6 slices of bacon
- 12 ounces elbows
- 3 tablespoons butter, divided
- 1 can (4 ounces) diced jalapenos, drained or 2 tablespoons fresh diced jalapenos, seeds removed
- 2 cloves garlic, minced
- 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
- 2 cups milk
- 1 teaspoon dijon mustard
- 2 + ½ cups shredded sharp white cheddar cheese (or a mix of white and yellow)
- 6 ounces bar cream cheese, at room temperature (regular or low fat)
- ¼ cup crushed tortilla chips or seasoned bread crumbs
- jarred pickled jalapeno slices, for the top
- Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Line a baking pan with foil and lay out the bacon in a single layer. Bake until crispy about 12 - 16 minutes. Drain on paper towels and chop when cool.
- Turn the oven up to 400 degrees F. Butter a 9 x 13-inch casserole pan.
- Cook the elbows to al dente according to package directions.
- Melt 2 tablespoons butter over medium-low heat and add the jalapenos and garlic. Cook 2 minutes then sprinkle the flour over them and cook, stirring, for 2 more minutes.
- Slowly stir in the milk, turn the heat up to medium-high and bring to a simmer. Simmer 3 minutes, stirring often.
- Turn the heat down to low and stir in the mustard and the cheese - a handful at a time. Keep stirring until all the cheese is melted.
- Put the cream cheese in a medium bowl and stir in a few spoonfuls of the cheese sauce at a time, mashing the cream cheese and adding more cheese sauce to melt it, keep stirring until the cream cheese is mostly melted.
- Add it to the pan and stir until smooth and incorporated. Stir in about ⅔ of the bacon.
- Drain the pasta and dump half of it into the baking pan, spreading it over the bottom. Pour half the cheese sauce over it.
- Top with the rest of the pasta and pour the remaining sauce over it.
- Sprinkle the top with crumbs, pickled jalapenos and dot with the last tablespoon butter.
- Bake 25 - 30 minutes until bubbly around the edges and browned on top.
- Sprinkle the rest of the bacon on top to serve.