Everything you love about jalapeno poppers paired with a rich and creamy mac and cheese to deliver a spicy zing of comfort food.
This Jalapeno Popper Mac and Cheese works great as a side dish, but it is hearty enough to eat as a main dish. You could leave out the bacon to make it vegetarian.
It’s the ultimate mac and cheese for spicy food lovers!
What is in Jalapeño Popper Mac and Cheese:
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 making 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 cheddar cheese which I think is perfect for complementing the cream cheese. You could use Monterey Jack instead or Pepper Jack if you want to add more heat.
- If you want less heat, remove the ribs and seeds from the jalapenos.
- For a vegetarian version, omit the bacon completely.
- For a meatier version, add some extra bacon. Also, 1 ½ cups of shredded chicken make a great addition to the bacon as well!
Can this Mac and Cheese be made ahead of time?
- Make as directed, minus the panko topping (but do not bake), transfer to a baking dish, and cool completely. Cover tightly with foil and refrigerate 1-2 days ahead.
- Before baking, let the dish sit on the counter for 30 minutes.
- Top with panko and bake at recipe temperature for 25-35 minutes, or until hot and bubbly.
More Mac and Cheese Recipes:
Jalapeño Popper Mac and Cheese
- 3 ½ c macaroni noodles uncooked
- 8 tbsp butter
- 6 tbsp all-purpose flour
- 1 ½ c milk
- ½ c heavy whipping cream
- 4 oz cream cheese cut into pieces
- 2 c sharp cheddar or monterey jack cheese
- ½ tsp garlic powder
- 4 oz pickled jalapeños drained
- 6 slices bacon cooked and crumbled
- ¼ c panko breadcrumbs
- Prepare the macaroni noodles according to package directions as you prepare the cheese sauce. Drain when done, but do not rinse.
- Place 6 Tablespoons of the butter in a large pot over medium heat.
- Once butter is melted, stir in the flour to form a paste.
- Whisk in the milk, ensuring the flour mixture dissolves completely.
- Add in the heavy whipping cream, cream cheese and 1 ½ cups of the cheese. Stir occasionally until cheeses are completely melted.
- Chop all but a few of the jalapeño peppers, reserving a few for garnish.
- Stir in the garlic powder, the chopped jalapeños, and most of the bacon, reserving some for garnish.
- Fold the macaroni and cheese into an 8" x 8" casserole dish.
- Preheat oven to 350F.
- In a skillet over medium heat, melt the remaining 2 Tablespoons butter.
- Once melted and hot, stir in the breadcrumbs and toast until golden. Remove from heat.
- Sprinkle remaining cheese over the macaroni and cheese, followed by the toasted breadcrumbs and reserved bacon and jalapeños.
- Bake for 20-25 minutes until cheese is fully melted and as browned as you'd like.