Bacon Mac & Cheese Recipe

Last night I tried a Taste of Home recipe for Bacon Macaroni and Cheese, which looked to me as if it might be EXACTLY the same as a “Mexican Mac & Cheese” I had at a restaurant once, a meal so transporting I remember it to this day. I also remember the price, which was NUTS—$17, at a place where most entrees are under $10. And I could TELL it had VELVEETA in it! One does not charge $17 plus tax and tip for a single serving of a food with Velveeta in it.

Anyway. I found this recipe. But as I was looking it over, I kept checking and double-checking one of the ingredients. Take a look:

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SIX CUPS of uncooked elbow macaroni? SIX cups? That’s nearly 2 pounds of uncooked pasta. (Side note: the box of uncooked pasta says that there are “about 8” half-cup servings of dry pasta in a one-pound box. But even measuring very skimpily, so that the noodles did not quite come up to the edge of the measuring cup, I got three skimpy cups and not even a quarter-cup left over.)

I checked the reviews of the recipe, in case someone said it was WAYYYY too much pasta, or that it was meant to be six cups of COOKED pasta, but no. And six cups of cooked pasta seemed like not ENOUGH pasta. But it was all supposed to fit in a 9×13 pan, and two pounds of cooked pasta is a LARGE AMOUNT of pasta. I could not figure it out, and finally decided to do it CLOSE to the amount of noodles called for, and just see how it went: in the worst-case scenario, I could cook up another batch of the sauce and add it in.

So I measured the six cups skimpily, and then took a dry handful and put it back in the box. And when I added the cooked noodles to the sauce, I left out about a cup and a half of them: I was stirring the noodles in gradually and it was looking SO DRY. And EVEN SO, the mixture BARELY fit in the 9×13 baking dish: even with me packing it down with the spoon, it was ROUNDED UP like a little hill.

And the resulting dish was DEFINITELY over-noodled. It was still very good, and is certainly nearly the same dish I had once at a restaurant (or rather, will be when the over-noodling is corrected), but there was almost no sauce sensation at all: it was flavored noodles, nothing gooey or saucey.

Another clue is that the recipe claimed to make sixteen 3/4-cup servings (presumably intended as a side dish), or twelve cups total, but the seven of us all ate it as a main course for dinner, and I still had two full four-cup containers left over, PLUS half a plateful that had been eaten by a child with a cold so I didn’t save it. Seven people (including two adults and two teenaged boys) did not eat a total of 3.5 cups of pasta.

Well. I highly recommend the recipe, even though it is FAR more work and time and pans than I am usually willing to put into cooking. I think it would be VERY nice as a side dish with chicken; it seemed rich as a main course.

And I also recommend not messing around with the seasonings. My first thought was that I don’t really like onion so I’d skip the green onion and onion powder, and I didn’t think chili powder seemed like a good idea—but the first time I make a recipe I prefer to make it as-written and then tweak it later if needed, so I went ahead and put in the green onion etc. And it was delicious. It did not taste like chili; the onion was not too oniony. It’s spicy and cheesy and bacony. YUM. But next time I’m making it with four cups of uncooked pasta, and we’ll see if even THAT is too much.

12 thoughts on “Bacon Mac & Cheese Recipe

  1. april

    My usual mac and cheese recipe (good ol’ 1960s Betty Crocker) is 2 cups pasta, 2 cups milk, 2 cups cheese. So on first glance it feels like 6 cups pasta/6 cups cheese would be right but also holy heck, that’s a lot of pasta! I think that I would probably add 1/4 cup butter/1/4 cup flour and make a roux and up the milk to 5ish cups … but then I’d still say that’s two pans worth. That’s a LOT of mac and cheese (which, no complaints there!)

  2. Alice

    I have this same problem with a mac & cheese recipe I make for parties/occasions. There is enough sauce to go with the noodles in this case, but the recipe has you cook up like THREE TIMES the amount of noodles that are required and that go with the amount of crust. (They are mac & cheese cups, cooked in muffin tins. So there is both a finite amount of crust made to press into the tins, as well as an estimate of how many muffins-worth you should end up with, and HAHAHAHAHA.)

    The last time I made it, I cut the ratio of noodlage by 50%, and I still ended up with enough extra noodles to cook an entire pan of mac & cheese independently of the crusted muffin tins. WHY RECIPE WRITERS. WHY.

  3. Shawna

    I am enjoying the terms “over-noodled”, “over-noodling” and “noodlage”. That is all.

  4. Lobster

    Swistle…. the thing that stood out to me when I read the recipe was that whoever wrote the recipe is imagining that 1 cup = 4 ounces, when 1 cup = 8 (fluid) ounces. Even considering that things like noodles and shredded cheese and cubed velveeta aren’t fluid, that seems like it would screw up the recipe somewhat.

    1. Swistle Post author

      I did notice one person commenting in a review that she didn’t understand that—but I’m accustomed to cheese being measured by weight rather than fluid ounce. When I buy shredded cheese, the 1-pound bag says it contains 4 cups—so 1 measuring cup of shredded cheese is 4 ounces by weight. The recipe is written that way so that you can measure whether you’re shredding your own (cut 4 ounces off the block and shred that) or using pre-shredded (fill an “8-ounce” cup).

  5. Natalie

    This seems like a hell of a lot of ALL the ingredients, but I’m cooking for 2 adults and a 2yo, not 7, so my perspective is skewed. It does sound yummy.

  6. Squirrel Bait

    This is my absolute favorite mac & cheese recipe. I’m annoyed by all the “Skinny” whatever branding on the website, but the important point is that the food (basically all her food) is DELICIOUS. Pro tip: the whole wheat pasta is an absolute must because it gets mushy if you use the regular kind.

  7. el-e-e

    The jalepenos and pepper jack are what’s doing it for me. Definitely trying this sometime soon. With the recommendations presented here, thanks. My husband and I have reached the age where our taste buds must be changing/weakening, because EVERYTHING is better with jalepenos these days. I always wondered why my Dad over salted everything… now I get it.

  8. Jen

    Swistle, you should try this mac and cheese recipe. You won’t be disappointed. I’ve had people hunt me down to get the recipe. It’s wonderful with jalepenos. That’s how I make it while I’m pregnant and craving spicy food.

    The secret to the awesomeness of this recipe is a hint of smoked gouda. And it’s super fast and easy. No baking. I swear it’s almost as easy as making the boxed stuff.

    Hella Gouda Bacon Mac & Cheese

    1 box of noodles (elbow or rotini or whatever)
    1 package bacon (1 lb) (diced ham can be substituted)
    1 package (2 cups) shredded sharp cheddar cheese
    3/4 cup shredded smoked Gouda cheese
    3 cups heavy whipping cream
    Salt/pepper to taste (optional)
    Optional: ~1/2 cup chopped jalepenos, chopped green onions, sour cream.

    Boil noodles according to package
    While they boil, cook the bacon in a large pan. (You need it to be in bits, so either cut it into bits before cooking, or crumble it after.)
    Remove bacon from pan and pour out the grease. Don’t clean the pan. You want the bacon remnants in there.
    In the bacon pan, add the cream and bring to a simmer for 3 minutes or until slightly thickened. Stir continuously to avoid burning.
    Add in cheddar and Gouda and stir until melted. Add salt/pepper if you want.
    Add bacon bits back to the sauce. Add in jalepenos if using.
    Pour sauce over the noodles and stir to combine.
    Serve and enjoy!

    ps: To be extra gluttonous, add a dollop of sour cream to your bowl. Sounds weird but it’s amazing! Top with green onions too if you’d like!

  9. ButtercupDC

    Hello, Swistle–just popping by to say I made this last night and used a single box of elbow macaroni (uh, whatever the standard box is…a pound?) and I think it came out pretty good. I don’t think the recipe would’ve suffered if I had used another cup of COOKED pasta, but it was fine as it was, fit beautifully in my 9×13″ casserole dish, and didn’t seem overly saucy. Maybe the recipe creators just lost their heads for a moment. Thanks for the recipe and the heads up!

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