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Baked White Mac + Cheese with Bacon

November 16, 2023
Shanika | Orchids + Sweet Tea

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Indulge in the ultimate comfort with our Baked White Mac + Cheese with Bacon--- Perfect as a main dish or a standout side on any table! Creamy, dreamy, and loaded with irresistible flavors, it's a cheesy delight you won't want to miss!

Baked White Mac + Cheese with Bacon

One-of-a-kind melty Baked White Mac + Cheese with Bacon--- Experience the velvety blend of mozzarella + cream cheese entwined with the rich, crispy candied bacon, all nestled in delicious shell pasta. It's a dish that steals the show as a comforting main course or shines brightly as a standout side dish on any table especially during the holiday season! Gluten-free + Vegan Option.

Up close shot of mac + cheese with a spoon.

What Makes This Baked White Mac + Cheese with Bacon SO Special?

When it comes to cozy, indulgent eats, mac + cheese takes the cake. And when you toss in candied bacon--- GAME OVER. Creamy, cheesy, and just all-around cozy goodness. Y'all know I'm a Southern girl at heart, and mac n cheese holds a special place in my heart hence the abundance of mac + cheese recipes on my site. This Baked White Mac + Cheese with Bacon recipe may just be the winner as my new family favorite.

This recipe? It’s a winner whether you serve it as a side dish or the main event. It’s that kind of soulful, feel-good food that brings everyone together. Super easy, takes just 45 minutes, and oozes Southern charm with its cheesy, gooey inside and that irresistible crispy outside. Guaranteed to be a hit with any crowd! Plus there is a gluten-free + vegan option so everyone can enjoy!

If you're on the hunt for everything mac and cheese, I've got you covered! From the Easy Vegan Pumpkin Mac + Cheese and Baked Vegan Buffalo Mac + Cheese to the Easy KFC Mac + Cheese Bowl [Copycat] and, of course, my newest addition Southern Baked Gnocchi Mac + Cheese definitely give them a try next!

Jump to:
Ingredients on a brown wood table.

How To Make Baked White Mac + Cheese

Preparing mac and cheese involves 4 essential steps--- Make your candied bacon if you're using it, boil the pasta until it's 'al dente---then make the creamy cheese sauce; next, craft a crispy breadcrumb topping and bake to golden perfection.

Ingredients

Here is everything you need to make this Baked White Mac + Cheese with Bacon:

MAC + CHEESE:

  • Pasta. Use your favorite pasta shape. (I like to use medium or large shells, elbow pasta, or Lumache pasta)
  • Unsalted butter. Adds richness and flavor to the cheese sauce.
  • Organic all-purpose flour. Helps thicken the sauce, providing a creamy consistency.
  • Sea salt + black pepper. Enhances the overall flavor.
  • Garlic powder: Provides a mild garlic aroma and taste.
  • Mustard powder: Adds a hint of tanginess.
  • Onion powder: Offers a gentle oniony flavor without the texture of fresh onions.
  • Almond milk. (You can use whole milk or your fave plant-based milk)
  • Organic cream cheese. Softened at room temp.
  • Mozzarella cheese. Shredded or grated.

TOPPING:

  • Mozzarella cheese: Adds an extra layer of cheesy goodness to the topping, creating a gooey and golden crust.
  • Organic breadcrumbs or Crushed Ritz crackers : Contribute a crispy texture and a delicate, toasty flavor to the dish. You can use homemade or store-bought breadcrumbs.!
  • Candied bacon. I have a whole post dedicated to how to make delicious candied bacon!

SHOP MY FAVORITE BAKEWARE ITEMS AND ACCESSORIES FOR THIS MAC + CHEESE!

Here, I’ve curated a list of cooking + baking essentials that I use to achieve my favorite baked goods or cooked meals, especially with this Baked White Mac + Cheese with Bacon. Everything from my fave dutch pot/oven, wooden spoons, immersion hand-blender, mixing bowls, and more. SEE THEM HERE!

Cooked pasta shells in a white bowl being held.

What is Candied Bacon?

Candied bacon is bacon that's been sweetened to perfection. Picture crispy, smoky bacon strips coated in a mouthwatering layer of caramelized brown sugar + maple syrup. It's that perfect blend of sweet and savory, with a delightful crunch. Candied bacon is the ultimate treat for bacon lovers and those looking to add a delicious twist to their meals. Some refer to it as million-dollar bacon---it's playfully named because it's so scrumptious, it's like a flavor sensation that hits the jackpot!

Why Should You Make Baked White Mac + Cheese with Bacon?

  • It’s absolutely delicious----creamy + velvety!
  • The perfect side or main meal
  • Cheesy & crispy
  • Bold flavors that will tantalize your taste buds.
  • Easy weeknight meal--Simple preparation + minimal ingredients
  • crowd-pleasing combination that will have everyone coming back for seconds.
  • Family-friendly (Well, everyone in my family seems to love it, Haha.)
Chopping of bacon on a cutting board using a knife.

Tips + Tricks For Ultra Delicious Mac + Cheese!

  • Avoid pre-shredded cheeses---Opt for shredding your own cheese instead of relying on pre-shredded varieties from the store. Pre-shredded cheese often contains preservatives and might not melt as smoothly as freshly shredded cheese.
  • Invest in good-quality ingredients--- They can truly elevate the dish! Particularly, opt for high-quality bacon and cheese. Using premium ingredients can take your dish from good to gourmet, making a noticeable difference in the final taste.
  • Cook your pasta 'al dente' for that ideal texture--- It'll continue cooking a bit in the oven, so avoid overcooking it initially.
White mac and cheese sauce in a black skillet and a black spoon.

Adding More Protein

If you'd like to add protein to this Baked White Mac + Cheese with Bacon dish, it's easy to do, regardless of your diet!

PLANT-BASED PROTEIN OPTIONS:

  • Crispy seared or baked tofu cubes
  • Roasted chickpeas
  • Crumbled stir-fried seitan
  • Crumble vegan bacon on top
  • Sautéed cauliflower florets or broccoli
  • Sautéed asparagus, Brussels sprouts, etc.

MEAT-BASED PROTEIN OPTIONS:

If you're a seafood lover, feel free to swap out the chicken for these delightful options!

Assembled mac and cheese in a green skillet being held on a brown wood table.

Best Types of Cheese for this Baked White Mac + Cheese with Bacon

Even though this Baked White Mac + Cheese with Bacon is based on using mozzarella + cream cheese you can also switch things up and add a new flare to it's flavor profile by adding any of the following grated cheeses:

  • Fontina
  • Sharp cheddar
  • Monterey Jack
  • Gouda
  • Mozzarella
  • American cheese
  • Havarti
  • Parmesan cheese
Baked mac and cheese in a green skillet topped with bacon.

How Do You Elevate Mac + Cheese?

When it comes to elevating the taste and flavor of mac + cheese, it's all about the seasoning. I love adding herbs + seasonings for added flavor and it usually consists of salt, black pepper, garlic powder, smoked paprika, mustard powder, and cayenne pepper. Just by adding these handful of seasonings, you're guaranteed to be satisfied.

What Can I Add to This Baked White Mac + Cheese with Bacon?

I like to add some extra texture to creamy dishes like this Baked White Mac + Cheese with Bacon recipe. While the ingredients in this creamy dish are perfect as is, I wanted to share a few more ideas of ingredients that you can add in case you make this gnocchi recipe more than once and want to switch things up!

Other ingredient ideas include:

Up close shot of baked mac and cheese in a skillet with a spoon.

Choosing Your Perfect Pasta

You can use any type of pasta that you like in this Baked White Mac + Cheese recipe. That is what makes this recipe so adaptable!

I love using shells because it does a beautiful job of embracing and holding onto the cheesy sauce. But any of these pasta varieties would work for this dish -

  • Macaroni --For a more traditional feel.
  • Pappardelle
  • Tagliatelle
  • Fettuccine
  • Penne
  • Spirals
  • Ravioli or gnocchi would also go wonderfully with this sauce combo!

I would recommend tossing with tongs to ensure that longer varieties of pasta is fully manageable and fully coated. You can also use gluten-free pasta, whole-wheat pasta, or even zoodles for a low-carb option!

Baked mac and cheese in a green skillet with two spoons.

What to Eat + Serve Baked White Mac + Cheese With?

When it comes to most pasta dishes (including this Southern Baked Gnocchi Mac + Cheese dish), I often enjoy them with a side of bread of some sort. Most times, I make my own homemade Garlic Bread, however, you can choose to spruce things up with many other options such as:

Here's the thing. This Baked White Mac + Cheese recipe is so delicious and flavorful that you can honestly enjoy it all by itself. Seriously, the tender shells + cheesy creamy sauce with the crispy golden topping is everything! So, feel free to dig in and savor every single bite. It's a dish that stands tall on its own!

Baked mac and cheese in a bowl with two forks.

Common Q + A's For Baked White Mac + Cheese with Bacon

How to store baked mac + cheese?

Leftovers can be stored in an air-tight container in the refrigerator for 3-4 days and reheated when ready to serve. To re-heat, add each serving to the oven, microwave, or stovetop until warmed through. 

Can I use another flour to thicken the sauce?

Yes! If you don’t want to use all-purpose flour, feel free to substitute with regular starch or arrowroot starch, tapioca flour, which all act as a thickening agent.

How to make this mac and cheese recipe gluten-free?

To ensure that this recipe is GF, be sure to use GF-friendly pasta, breadcrumbs, and flour.

Can I make this mac and cheese recipe vegan?

Absolutely! To make this Mac + Cheese vegan, simply substitute cheeses with dairy-free shreds and use vegan butter and omit bacon. Also, check out my Vegan Mac + Cheese recipe.

More Delicious Comfort Food Recipes to Try

If you are a fan of this Baked White Mac + Cheese with Bacon, then you will also love these cozy recipes for the entire family:

MADE OUR RECIPE(S)?

If you tried this Baked White Mac + Cheese with Bacon recipe or any other recipe on my website, please please leave a 🌟 star rating and let me know how you go in the 📝 comments below. And don't forget to tag @orchidsnsweettea_ on Instagram and hashtag it #orchidsandsweettea! I love hearing from you!

Up close shot of baked mac and cheese in a skillet with a spoon.

Baked White Mac + Cheese with Bacon

November 16, 2023
5 from 1 vote
One-of-a-kind melty Baked White Mac + Cheese with Bacon--- Experience the velvety blend of mozzarella + cream cheese entwined with the rich, crispy candied bacon, all nestled in delicious shell pasta. It's a dish that steals the show as a comforting main course or shines brightly as a standout side dish on any table especially during the holiday season! Gluten-free + Vegan Option.
Prep Time: 15 minutes
Cook Time: 30 minutes
Total Time: 45 minutes
Serves: 6 servings

Ingredients

MAC + CHEESE:

  • 1 (16 oz.) package Your favorite pasta shape (I like to use medium or large shells, elbow pasta, or Lumache pasta)4 Tbsps unsalted butter
  • 2 Tbsps unsalted butter
  • 2 Tbsps organic all-purpose flour
  • ½ teaspoon sea salt
  • ½ teaspoon black pepper
  • ½ teaspoon garlic powder
  • ½ teaspoon onion powder
  • ½ teaspoon mustard powder
  • 1 ¼ cups Almond milk (You can use whole milk or your fave plant-based milk)
  • 4 oz. organic cream cheese, softened at room temp.
  • 2 cups organic mozzarella cheese, shredded or grated

TOPPING:

  • 1 cup organic mozzarella cheese, shredded or grated
  • 1 cup breadcrumbs or Ritz crackers
  • 2 cups chopped candied bacon

Instructions

BOIL THE PASTA:

  • Bring a large pot of water to a boil with a pinch of salt and add shells, elbow pasta, or Lumache pasta and cook according to packaging, about 8-10 minutes in most cases. Once cooked, drain, and lightly toss in olive oil (to prevent sticking together), cool and set aside.

MAKE THE MAC + CHEESE:

  • In a deep skillet over medium-high heat, add butter and let it melt. Once melted, add flour, salt, black pepper, garlic powder, onion powder, and mustard powder, whisking until combined and "paste-like".
  • Slowly pour in the milk, whisking frequently until lump-free, about 2-3 minutes. Add the softened cream cheese, stirring until everything becomes smooth and creamy. Reduce the heat to medium-low and add in the mozzarella cheese, stirring (using a wood spoon or spatula) until fully melted and smooth, about 2-3 minutes.
  • Add in the cooled pasta and stir together until well coated, combined, and creamy! Remove from the heat and top the mac and cheese with mozzarella cheese and/or breadcrumbs until completely covered.
  • Bake on the center rack for 20-25 minutes or until the tops are golden brown, the sides are bubbly, and the mac and cheese center has set. Remove from oven, top with chopped candied bacon (if using) and serve immediately.
  • Serve immediately with your favorite side and main dishes.
  • Bon Appetit!

Tips & Tricks

  • STORAGE: Leftovers can be stored in an air-tight container in the refrigerator for 3-4 days and reheated when ready to serve. To re-heat, add each serving to the oven, microwave, or stovetop until warmed through. 
  • FLOUR: If you don’t want to use all-purpose flour, feel free to substitute with regular starch or arrowroot starch, tapioca flour, which all act as a thickening agent.
  • GLUTEN-FREE OPTION: To ensure that this recipe is GF, be sure to use GF-friendly pasta, breadcrumbs, and flour.
  • VEGAN OPTION: To make this Mac + Cheese vegan, simply substitute cheeses with dairy-free shreds and use vegan butter and omit bacon. Also, check out my Vegan Mac + Cheese recipe.

Nutrition

Calories: 72kcal | Carbohydrates: 4g | Protein: 4g | Fat: 5g | Saturated Fat: 3g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 0.5g | Monounsaturated Fat: 1g | Trans Fat: 0.2g | Cholesterol: 12mg | Sodium: 395mg | Potassium: 64mg | Fiber: 0.3g | Sugar: 1g | Vitamin A: 128IU | Vitamin C: 0.1mg | Calcium: 132mg | Iron: 0.2mg

DID YOU MAKE THIS recipe?

Tag @orchidsnsweettea_ on Instagram and hashtag it #orchidsandsweettea

Xx, Shanika in script writing

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