Jalapeno Popper Mac and Cheese is super creamy and full of bacon, jalapenos, cream cheese and cheddar cheese. Topped with buttery Panko crumbs, it’s baked in the oven until golden brown.
Mac and cheese is the ultimate comfort food. This version contains all the components of a jalapeno popper- bacon, cream cheese, cheddar cheese, and of course, lots of jalapenos. It’s wonderfully salty and cheesy with a spicy kick.
Tips for making Jalapeno Popper Mac and Cheese:
I use cavatappi for this mac and cheese but pretty much any pasta shape will work. Penne, macaroni, and shells are other good choices.
You want to cook your pasta just until al dente. It will cook a little more in the oven.
I use a combination of cheddar cheese and mozzarella which I think is perfect for complementing the cream cheese. You could use Monterey Jack instead of the mozzarella cheese or Pepper Jack if you want to add more heat.
If you want less heat, remove the ribs and seeds from the jalapenos.
The jalapeno pepper is briefly sauteed with some onion and this removes some of the bite from the jalapeno. You could use canned jalapeno or pickled jalapeno instead of fresh.
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!
More Mac and Cheese Recipes:
Jalapeno Popper Mac and Cheese
- 4 tablespoons butter
- 1/2 medium sweet onion, diced
- 2 to 3 jalapeno peppers, finely chopped
- 1/4 cup all-purpose flour
- 1 3/4 cups milk
- 1 1/2 cups heavy cream
- 6 ounces cream cheese, softened
- 2 cups shredded mozzarella cheese
- 2 cups shredded sharp cheddar cheese
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 1/2 teaspoon pepper
- 8 slices bacon, cooked and crumbled
- 1/2 cup Panko crumbs
- 2 tablespoons melted butter
- 1 pound pasta (elbow, penne, cavatappi), cooked according to package directions
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees and lightly grease a 9x13-inch baking dish.
- Melt butter over medium heat in a Dutch oven. Add onion and jalapeno and cook 3 minutes to soften.
- Add flour and cook and stir for 1 minute.
- Gradually whisk in milk and heavy cream. Bring to a simmer and simmer several minutes to thicken.
- Cut cream cheese in to chunks so it will melt faster and add to Dutch oven. Stir until melted.
- Add mozzarella and stir until melted.
- Add cheddar, remove from heat, and stir until melted.
- Stir in salt and pepper.
- Add pasta and bacon and mix in well. You can reserve some bacon to sprinkle on top if you wish. Transfer mixture to prepared baking dish.
- Combine Panko crumbs and melted butter and sprinkle on top. Bake for 20 to 25 minutes.