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Jalapeno Popper Mac and Cheese

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.

Serving spoon scooping Jalapeno Popper Mac and Cheese

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.

Equipment Needed

  • Box Grater– Mac and cheese tastes best when you shred your own cheese. For this recipe, I shred the cheddar but use pre-shredded mozzarella.
  • Pasta Pot- you can boil the pasta in any large pot but this Cusinart Pasta Pot with Straining Cover makes straining the pasta super easy.

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.

Mac and Cheese in baking dish.

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.

How To Serve

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!

Spoon scooping Jalapeno Popper Mac and Cheese.

More Mac and Cheese Recipes

Serving spoon scooping Jalapeno Popper Mac and Cheese

Jalapeno Popper Mac and Cheese

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.

PREP: 20 minutes
COOK: 20 minutes


  • 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 9×13-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.


Calories: 641kcal
Course: Casserole, Main Dish, Side Dish
Cuisine: Southern
Keyword: jalapeno, mac and cheese, spicy

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Baked Jalapeno Popper Mac and Cheese

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18 thoughts on “Jalapeno Popper Mac and Cheese”

  1. really like this recipe, and am so glad to have found it. Like Christen, I also love to experiment with ingredients so after making it with bacon, I made it again and used 18oz of chorizo, shredded Mexican quesadilla, and fresh as well as some sautéed jalapenos. I do not strain the chorizo and it adds a wonderful red-orange hue to the dish.

  2. This is so good! It was a hit with everyone! I want to make it again but wondering if I can assemble it together the night before and bake day of to save time?

  3. Great dish! Me personally……I would cut back a little on the cheeses and cream……..but I know the majority of people like their Mac and Cheese real cheesy so 5 stars!!

  4. It was delicious. when I cooked the jalapenos and onion, I also added some garlic. Then with the sauce, I added some cumin , it was very good.

  5. I’m kinda new to cooking. When you say, 1 pound of pasta, is that before it’s cooked or after? The pasta I buy is usually in 12 oz containers. Does it become 1 pound after it’s cooked or should I start with 1 pound uncooked then cook to the package directions?
    The recipe looks amazing and can’t wait to make it. I have all the ingredients, and a jalapeno plant waiting for me to pull a few from it, but unsure about the pasta amount.
    Thanks for your help.

    1. Just cook 1 lb of noodles. So one pound of uncooked noodles is what you need and then you just cook that up…. good luck it’s very tasty
      I use elbow macaroni

      1. Chris Ransome

        Thank you Sasse,
        Very helpful. I will be putting this together today. I will have to make a couple changes because I’m making this GF. So flour and noodles and panko will all change to GF, but overall it should be the same great taste that everyone is raving about.
        Thanks again.

  6. I make mac and cheese often, and I must say this is one of the best recipes I’ve ever tried. After reading another comment, I used two large jalapenos unseeded, which gave it just the right amount of heat. The sauce remained creamy even after baking 25 minutes, and the panko was the perfect topping. Definitely one I’ll be making again!

  7. This recipe is so good! I was a bit disappointed that the jalapeños I purchased were not very spicy, not the reason for my 4 stars. Next time I will defiantly ad more salt and defiantly more bacon. Because I was hoping for a “kick” from the Jalapeños, I may add some cayenne pepper next time along with a little garlic salt. Otherwise great recipe!!

  8. I love this but, omit the panko, too salty, unnecessary. Wish I could uplod a picture. Used chive and jalapeno cream cheese, and gruyere, and a bit of white cheddar, it’s what I had. I would only use gruyere next time. Yum.

  9. Ashley Hoffmeister

    This was hands down the best Mac and cheese I’ve made. It was so creamy and delicious. I’ll be making this again!

  10. Keri Taylor

    My husband is lactose intolerant could i substitute the cream cheese with sharp cheddar cheese(it contains less lactose)? If so how much would i use?

  11. I made this the other night and added shredded chicken so it was even more main course-like. It went over swimmingly!

    1. good to know! Made it tonight and I think with my adjustments and adding chicken, this will be an amazing main dish

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