Spicy Bacon Mac & Cheese | How to Be Awesome on $20 a Day

Spicy Bacon Mac & Cheese

Dinner Pasta

This Spicy Bacon Mac & Cheese is a favorite in our house. Loaded with lots of spicy chilies plus crispy bacon, how could it not be? Get into it.

Spicy Bacon Mac & Cheese | How to Be Awesome on $20 a Day

As I write this, the sun is streaming through my bay windows, and the dog is sleep under our areca palm. I’m in the middle of my third week of working from home, and for the first time, I feel tempted to go outside. I still don’t especially want to talk to anyone, but it would be nice to go for an aimless walk without a mask. Without the stress of having to dodge people who don’t move over on the sidewalk. And without the panic every time my nose itches. Without the guilt.

I am far from ready to return to normal. I’m still reveling in the free time. The mental space to create and dream and be inspired. The time to actually relax at the end of the day knowing all my tasks are done. And there’s still time leftover to actually enjoy myself and just be alive and actually get excited for tomorrow. Is there a way we can keep this space without thousands of people dying? Why has it come to this?

Spicy Bacon Mac & Cheese | How to Be Awesome on $20 a Day

Oof, that got philosophical. I thought we were here to talk about mac and cheese. Get over yourself. Spicy Bacon Mac & Cheese is an outstanding way to put a smile on your face and make your forget about anything else that might be going on in the world. All your attention will be absorbed by the gooey cheese, the comforting carbs, the crispy bacon, and the building heat. Oh, plus a gorgeous crunchy topping of panko breadcrumbs to bring the texture. We’ve got it all.

How to make Spicy Bacon Mac & Cheese

You’re going to glance at this recipe and think that it’s complicated, but I assure you it’s not. There are just a few things that have to be cooked separately and brought together at the end. Really all we’re doing is chopping and stirring, but I do recommend you get someone to help you with the dishes. I cut down on one dirty pot by making the cheese sauce in the same skillet we sautee the chilies in. I also made this more picky eater friendly by chopping the chilies really small, but you can leave them chunkier if you like.

Basically all you have to do is cook some pasta, sautee some veggies, make a cheese sauce with butter, flour, milk, and cheese, then stir it all together. Transfer it to a casserole dish, sprinkle the top with panko breadcrumbs and parmesan cheese, then let the whole thing come together in the oven until bubbly and lightly browned. Do let it sit for a few minutes to cool so you don’t burn your mouth on molten cheese. I’ve done this too many times. Please allow me to save you this pain.

Spicy Bacon Mac & Cheese | How to Be Awesome on $20 a Day

Life is strange at the best of times. We can embrace it or fight against it. I say, make it awesome and make Spicy Bacon Mac & Cheese for dinner.

Spicy Bacon Mac & Cheese

Recipe by ReneeCourse: DinnerCuisine: AmericanDifficulty: Easy


Prep time


Cooking time



Spicy Bacon Mac & Cheese has gooey spicy cheese, fresh chilies, and crispy bacon. It’s completely awesome.


  • 8 ounces of your favorite short pasta such as elbows

  • 3 slices bacon

  • 3 small green or red chilies, such as jalapenos or serranos, chopped small

  • 2 tablespoon butter

  • 2 tablespoons all-purpose or plain flour

  • 1-1/2 cups milk, preferably whole milk

  • 1-1/2 cups shredded cheddar cheese

  • 1/4 teaspoon onion powder

  • 1/4 teaspoon red pepper flakes

  • 10 grinds black pepper

  • 1/3 cup shredded parmesan

  • 1/3 cup panko bread crumbs


  • Preheat your oven to 325 F (160C) and lightly spray a 2 quart casserole dish with non-stick spray.
  • Put a large pot of water on to boil. Once it reaches a rolling boil, add salt and pasta. Cook one minute less than package instructions to be sure your pasta is al dente. Drain.
  • While your pasta is cooking, get on with the rest. In a medium skillet over medium heat, cut your three strips of bacon in with scissors and cook to desired crispness level. Remove bacon to a paper towel lined plate, then drop your chopped peppers into the hot bacon grease. Sautee for about five minutes to soften the peppers a bit.
  • Once your chilies are softened, turn the heat down to low, and add the butter. Once it’s melted, sprinkle in the flour. You may need a tad extra if you had lots of bacon grease still in the pan. You want the a pasty mixture.Whisk the butter and flour together for minute or two until it starts to smell nutty.
  • Slowly whisk in the milk about a quarter cup at a time. Whisk your mixture until it’s smooth before adding more milk. Once all your milk is added, bring the mixture to a bubble to thicken. Next, stir in the cheese until it’s just melted. Finally, stir in the onion powder, red pepper flakes, and pepper. Give it a taste to see if it needs salt, but remember, we still have bacon and Parmesan cheese to add in.
  • Combine your drained pasta and your sauce in the skillet if there’s space to stir everything together. Combine them both in the big pot if you need to, but I hate to lose any cheese sauce by doing it this way. Stir in the crispy bacon as well. Transfer this mixture to your waiting casserole dish.
  • Sprinkle the Parmesan cheese and the panko breadcrumbs over the top and pop the whole thing in the oven for about 40-45 minutes until it’s bubbly and golden brown on top.
  • Allow your mac and cheese to cool for at least 10 minutes before serving.

If you need more mac and cheese in your life, I suggest you try this Buffalo Chicken Mac & Cheese. You’ll love your damn mind.

Oh, and let’s hang out on Instagram. I want to see what you’re cooking. If you make this recipe be sure to tag me and use the hashtag #awesomeon20.

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