The Cozy Cook

Bacon Mac and Cheese

This Bacon Mac and Cheese has caramelized onions, hickory smoked bacon, and pasta shells smothered in a creamy three-cheese blend. You’ve never had mac and cheese like this before, it tastes like a specialty from a gourmet restaurant!

A white plate with Creamy Bacon Mac and Cheese with shell pasta.

Bacon Mac and Cheese

Warning: It is a little difficult to control yourself around this meal. This is definitely the best mac and cheese I’ve ever had in my life. I can see this being a specialty in a restaurant, people would come from far and wide to have a taste of this, and you can create it right in your own kitchen!

The caramelized onions, gruyere cheese, and hickory smoked bacon give this the gourmet flair that leaves you wanting more, while the cheddar and the Parmesan round everything out to create the creamiest, most flavorful cheese sauce you’ve ever had.

Now that we’re all hungry, scroll down to see how this is made, read through my PRO tips to ensure you have the creamiest cheese sauce, check out the storage information and more!

How to Make It

See recipe card below this post for ingredient quantities and full instructions.

Slice the onions into even, 1/4-inch slices and toss in heated olive oil/butter. Caramelize slowly over medium/low heat. Remove and set aside.

Sliced onions in a skillet before and after caramelizing.

Cook bacon until crispy in a large skillet while the onions caramelize. Remove and set aside. Reserve 4 Tbsp. bacon drippings and heat them in the same skillet. Add flour and whisk for 2 minutes. Add the heavy cream and milk in splashes, stirring continuously.

Crispy bacon next to a skillet with roux for making cheese sauce.

Add the seasonings and hot sauce. Bring to a boil, then reduce to a simmer. Separately, boil the pasta until just al dente and drain.

Reduce heat to low and gradually stir in the shredded cheese. Add the caramelized onions and stir to combine.

Adding shredded cheese and caramelized onions to mac and cheese sauce.

Add the cooked pasta and stir to combine. Garnish with bacon and parsley.

Adding pasta shells to cheese sauce and stirring to make creamy bacon mac and cheese.

Pro Tips

  • Shred the cheese from a block instead of using packaged shredded cheese. It will melt much better and the flavor is superior as well. I use Emi Le Gruyere and Cracker Barrel Extra Sharp Yellow Cheese  in this recipe.
  • Make sure the base of the sauce isn’t too hot when the cheese is added, otherwise the dairy will separate and the consistency will be grainy.
  • If you’re short on time, you can omit the caramelized onions. (Although they add the best gourmet flair!)
  • A variety of pasta options work well with this recipe, macaroni or cavatappi is a good alternative. These are the Colavita pasta shells that I used.
  • I recommend quality, thick-cut bacon with this recipe. You get what you pay for with bacon.
  • You can’t taste the hot sauce or the mustard powder in this recipe, they are there to enhance the other flavors.
  • Gruyere is so delicious in this recipe, but if you don’t have any, you can use all cheddar or a combination of orange/white cheddar. Monterey Jack can also be used.

Storage

  • Store in an airtight container and refrigerate for up to 3 days.
  • This mac and cheese doesn’t freeze/reheat back to it’s original consistency, but that doesn’t stop me from freezing it for easy microwavable lunches.

Overhead view of a white plate with Creamy Bacon Mac and Cheese with a fork.

Tools For This Recipe

(Amazon affiliate links)- Check out all of my kitchen essentials here.

  • This is the skillet I used in this recipe, (and in 90% of my recipes). It’s pricey, but it conducts heat really well and is oven safe. The size is perfect and the quality is great.
  • Box Cheese Grater– Always shred your cheese from a block. Packaged shredded cheese doesn’t melt nearly as well. 
  • Pasta Strainer– This is the one I have and love.

Try These Next

Get My Free Meal Plan

I’ve got a Free Meal Plan with 7 of my super popular recipes (complete with grocery list)! Sign up for my email list and I’ll send it over now along with weekly dinner recipes!

And follow me on FacebookInstagram, and Pinterest!

Tried This Recipe?

Leave a review, I love hearing your feedback! ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐

A white plate with Creamy Bacon Mac and Cheese on it.

Bacon Mac and Cheese

5 from 4 ratings
This Bacon Mac and Cheese Recipe is easy to make on the stove top! It's FULL of flavor from caramelized onions, hickory smoked bacon, and pasta shells smothered in a creamy 3-cheese blend!

Ingredients

Caramelized Onions, Optional

  • 2 large yellow onions
  • 2 Tablespoons butter
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil

Mac and Cheese

  • 6 strips thick-cut bacon, hickory smoked is great
  • 1 lb. medium pasta shells
  • 1/4 cup butter, not needed if you have enough bacon drippings
  • 1/4 cup flour
  • 1 cup heavy cream
  • 2 cups milk
  • 1 teaspoon mustard powder
  • ½ teaspoon dried thyme
  • ¼ teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1 teaspoon hot sauce
  • 1 cup gruyere cheese, shredded
  • 2 cups cheddar cheese, shredded
  • ¼ cup Parmesan cheese, shredded.

Instructions

Caramelize the Onions

  • Slice the onions into even, ¼-inch slices.
  • Heat the butter and olive oil in a medium skillet over medium heat. Add the onions and toss to coat. Let them reduce and caramelize for 40-50 minutes, stirring every few minutes. Reduce heat to low if they start to cook too fast. When they’re caramelized, remove and set aside.

Cook the Bacon

  • While the onions cook: Cut the bacon into thirds, this makes it easy to move them around as they cook for even cooking. Add them to a large, high-walled skillet over low heat and let them cook low and slow until crispy on each side. (Tip: Measure out remaining ingredients while the bacon cooks.)
  • Remove and set aside on a paper towel lined plate. Reserve 4 Tablespoons of bacon drippings. Use butter in place of drippings if you don’t have enough.

Make the Sauce/Cook the Pasta

  • Note: Now is a good time to start boiling salted pasta water for the shells.
  • Heat the bacon drippings over medium heat. Whisk in the flour and stir continuously for 2 minutes.
  • Add the heavy cream in splashes, stirring continuously. Don’t add it too quickly or the roux will break. Add the milk in the same manner.
  • Add the mustard powder, thyme, garlic powder, and hot sauce. Bring the mixture to a boil, then reduce to a simmer.
  • Cook the Pasta until just al dente (refer to package instructions), don’t overcook. Drain.
  • Reduce the heat of the sauce to low and let the base cool slightly. Gradually sprinkle in the cheese, stirring continuously until incorporated. Add the caramelized onions, then the drained pasta. Use a silicone spatula to stir until combined.
  • Roughly chop the bacon and sprinkle it over the mac and cheese. You may stir some of it in as well.
  • Garnish with parsley and serve!

Notes

  • Shred the cheese from a block instead of using packaged shredded cheese. It will melt much better and the flavor is superior as well. I use Emi Le Gruyere and Cracker Barrel Extra Sharp Yellow Cheese  in this recipe.
  • Make sure the base of the sauce isn't too hot when the cheese is added, otherwise the dairy will separate and the consistency will be grainy.
  • If preferred, you can omit the caramelized onions. (Although they add the best gourmet flair!)
  • A variety of pasta options work well with this recipe, macaroni or cavatappi is a good alternative. These are the Colavita pasta shells that I used.
  • I recommend quality, thick-cut bacon with this recipe. You get what you pay for with bacon.
  • You can't taste the hot sauce or the mustard powder in this recipe, they are there to enhance the other flavors.
  • Gruyere is so delicious in this recipe, but if you don't have any, you can use all cheddar or a combination of orange/white cheddar. Monterey Jack can also be used.

Storage:
  • Store in an airtight container and refrigerate for up to 3 days.
  • Creamy Mac and Cheese doesn't freeze/reheat back to it's original consistency, but that doesn't stop me from freezing it for easy microwavable lunches.

Nutrition

Calories: 681kcal, Carbohydrates: 53g, Protein: 26g, Fat: 41g, Saturated Fat: 22g, Polyunsaturated Fat: 3g, Monounsaturated Fat: 13g, Trans Fat: 1g, Cholesterol: 115mg, Sodium: 471mg, Potassium: 355mg, Fiber: 2g, Sugar: 6g, Vitamin A: 1101IU, Vitamin C: 3mg, Calcium: 518mg, Iron: 1mg

Leave a Comment & Rate this Recipe

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Click the Stars to Rate This Recipe




10 comments on “Bacon Mac and Cheese”

  1. Just what I was looking for…very easy and good, thanks!!

    Tiffany
    Phlanx’s Marketing Specialist

  2. very yummy the carmelized onions and bacon made for a tasty combination to the dish thank you for this awesome recipe!

    • I am so happy to hear that Summer! I’m so glad that you caramelized the onions, they add the best flavor! Thank you so much for taking the time to leave a review! -Stephanie

  3. I made this recipe last night because my son loves Mac and Cheese. He hasn’t been feeling the best so I wanted to make him something he would actually eat. He devoured this recipe!!!!! My husband and I loved it too. There’s so much added flavor with the caramelized onions, and of course, the BACON!!! My son requested we make this every night. I can’t do that…but I will certainly put this in my regular rotation!!! It’s amazing!!!!

    • I am so happy to hear that you enjoyed it Ava, it’s always nice to have a thumbs up from the whole family, thank you so much for taking the time to leave a review!! -Stephanie

  4. Can I skip this thyme ? I don’t love the texture. 

  5. This was absolutely fantastic! Everyone went crazy over the gourmet flavor. It was rich (in a good way) and creamy. I pretty much made this exactly as written. I had so much bacon drippings so I was able to omit the butter. Thanks so much for the recipe!

As Seen On…