Smoky Bacon Mac and Cheese
Serves: 6
  • 1 pound elbow macaroni
  • 4 cups 2% milk
  • 8 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • ½ cup all purpose flour
  • ½ teaspoon ground mustard
  • ½ teaspoon smoked paprika
  • ¼ teaspoon chipotle chile pepper
  • ½ teaspoon ground pepper
  • ½ teaspoon iodized salt + ½ tablespoon kosher salt
  • 11 ounces cheese – double cream gouda, smoked gouda, and 2% sharp cheddar
  • 8 slices bacon, cooked
  • ⅔ cup panko breadcrumbs seasoned with ½ teaspoon smoked paprika, salt, and pepper
  1. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees.
  2. Boil the pasta until al dente in salted water, according to package directions. Drain and rinse with cool water to stop the cooking. Set aside.
  3. Heat the milk in a medium saucepan over medium-high heat until it just comes to a simmer, then turn off the heat and set aside.
  4. In a large, heavy-bottomed saucepan, melt the butter over medium heat. Add the flour, ground mustard, smoked paprika, chipotle chile pepper, ground pepper, and salt and whisk constantly for 3 minutes. Remove from the heat.
  5. While whisking constantly, slowly add the hot milk to the flour mixture until evenly combined and smooth. (It will get very thick when you first add the milk, then thin out.)
  6. Return the saucepan to medium-high heat. While whisking constantly, cook until the sauce thickens and coats the back of a spoon, about 2 to 3 minutes.
  7. Remove from heat and stir in cheese just until melted and smooth. Taste the cheese sauce and adjust salt and pepper levels as desired.
  8. Add pasta, cheese sauce, and bacon to a casserole dish and stir well to combine.
  9. Season panko breadcrumbs with smoked paprika, salt, and pepper. Top mac and cheese with seasoned panko.
  10. Bake for about 25-30 minutes, until the mac and cheese is bubbling and slightly browned on top.
Recipe by Bluegrass Bites at