This Chipotle Mac and Cheese is loaded with smoked bacon and smoked paprika to add a gorgeous smoky flavour. It’s ultra cheesy, spicy and bursting with flavour!
Chipotle Mac and Cheese
Another day, another absolute cheesefest of goodness. That’s right folks, it’s that time again where I take a perfectly acceptable meal (mac and cheese) and turn it into something completely uncalled for, but quite frankly something you’ll never live without again. This week’s star ingredient – the humble chipotle chilli.
Cheese and spice go together like a match made in heaven. Chipotle not only offers the spice component, but also adds a huge amount of gorgeous smoky flavour too. For this recipe we’ll be using chipotle paste, which you’ll find in most mainstream supermarkets/grocery stores.
Can I use chipotle powder instead?
Sure! I find the paste tends to give you a deeper, richer flavour, but powder will sub just fine.
Smoky Mac and Cheese
This mac and cheese is spicy, but like I mentioned ealier it has a gorgeous smoky twang too. Here’s where the smokiness comes from:
- Chipotle Paste
- Smoked Paprika
- Smoked Bacon
You could also use smoked cheese too, but I find the smokiness from the above 3 ingredients to be sufficient. There’s a fine line between ‘smoky’ and ‘this tastes like a cigar’… But hey, some people like cigars! 🤣
Anywho, let’s talk bacon i.e the back bone of this blog and everything involved with it.
You’ll want to start off by frying the bacon (photo 1) and rendering out as much fat as possible. The fat will not only add flavour, but help start the roux when the flour is mixed in. Also draining away bacon fat is a chargeable offence in most circumstances. I don’t make the rules.
Once you’ve rendered the fat (photo 2), melt in butter (step 3) and stir in flour (photo 4) until a paste forms (photo 5) then gradually pour in milk (photo 6).
Alongside the smoked paprika and chipotle paste, I like to add onion and garlic powder to this mac and cheese, as I do in nearly all my mac and cheese recipes. You know, just for that little something something.
In terms of what cheese to use I’ve kept it fairly simple here with a combo of cheddar and mozzarella. I did test this recipe with a few different cheese varieties, but it all gets a bit much with the chipotle trying to shine through past the intense cheesy flavour. Keep it simple.
Once you’ve stirred in the seasoning (photos 7 & 8), turn off the heat and stir in your cheese (photo 9) then add in your macaroni (photo 10).
Baked Mac and Cheese
From there it’s just a case of plonking it all in a baking dish, topping with breadcrumbs and throwing in the oven like a rugby ball (jokes please don’t do that). I recommend using Panko breadcrumbs (Japanese breadcrumbs) as they are larger and lighter compared to regular breadcrumbs (i.e EXTRA cripsy.)
Because really, a mac and cheese ain’t a mac and cheese unless it’s baked. Again, I don’t make the rules.
One that golden bubbly goodness is out the oven, waste no time in tucking in! This mac and cheese is hearty enough to hold it’s own as a main dish by itself, but if I’m serving it as a side I usually add a portion of crispy baked chicken tenders (or deep fried spicy chicken tenders 😈)
If you’re looking for similar recipes to this then check out full collection of mac and cheese recipes!
Mac and Cheese Variations
- Brie Mac and Cheese
- Buffalo Chicken Mac and Cheese
- Roasted Garlic Mac and Cheese
- Spicy Jalapeño Mac and Cheese
- Gnocchi Mac and Cheese
Alrighty, let’s tuck into the full recipe for this chipotle mac and cheese shall we?!
How to make Chipotle Mac and Cheese (Full Recipe & Video)
Chipotle Mac and Cheese
- Deep 12" Skillet & Wooden Spoon
- Sharp Knife & Chopping Board
- Large Pot & Colander
- Jug (for milk)
- 8" x 12" Baking Dish (or similar size)
- Serving Spoon
Ingredients (check list):
- 14oz / 400g Macaroni
- 4 cups / 1litre Milk, at room temp
- 9oz / 250g Bacon, diced
- 3 cups / 300g Cheddar, grated
- 1.5 cups / 150g Mozzarella, grated/shredded
- 3 heaped tbsp Flour
- 3 tbsp Unsalted Butter
- 1-2 tbsp Chipotle Paste
- 1 tsp EACH Smoked Paprika, Garlic Powder
- 1/2 tsp Onion Powder
- 1/2 cup / 30g Panko Breadcrumbs, or as needed (see notes)
- Salt & Pepper, to taste
- Oil Spray, as needed
- In a pan over medium heat add your bacon and fry until nice and crispy with the fat full rendered. Keep bacon fat in the pan and melt in 3 tbsp butter, then stir in 3 heaped tbsp flour until a paste forms.
- Gradually pour in 4cups/1litre milk, making sure you frequently whisk to ensure no lumps form. Ensure it has thickened before adding cheese (step 4), if it's still a very watery consistency the cheese will turn grainy and lose it's flavour. If the sauce is still watery once all the milk is poured in just simmer and stir until it begins to thicken.
- Meanwhile, cook 14oz/400g pasta in salted boiling water until only JUST cooked. You want it still a bit hard. Pre heat oven to 200C/390F.
- Add into the sauce: 1-2 tbsp chipotle paste, 1 tsp smoked paprika and garlic powder, 1/2 tsp onion powder and salt & black pepper (to taste). Give it a good stir then turn off the heat. Stir in cheddar and mozzarella until fully melted. It may seem overly stringy at this point but it will smooth out once the pasta is added/when it's baked.
- Stir in your al dente pasta until completely combined, then pour into a baking dish. Sprinkle over enough breadcrumbs to cover the top then liberally spray with oil.
- Pop in the oven for 20-25mins for until golden and bubbly.
Quick 1 min demo!
Your Private Notes:
Got leftovers? Check out my Mini Leftover Mac and Cheese Quesadillas!
If you loved the Mac and Cheese recipe then be sure to pin it for later! Already made it or got a question? Give me a shout in the comments and pick up your free ecookbook on the way!