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Bacon/ Cheese/ Hearty Dinners/ Pasta/ Spice

Spicy Jalapeño Mac and Cheese

September 20, 2018 (Last Updated: October 27, 2022) by Chris Collins

This Spicy Mac and Cheese is loaded with Fresh Jalapeños, 3 different types of Cheese and plenty of Crispy Bacon!

scooping out spicy mac and cheese from baking dish with cheese pull

Spicy Mac and Cheese

I don’t know about you, but I douse pretty much anything edible in hot sauce, mac and cheese FULLY included. So creating a spicy mac and cheese makes complete sense to me. Having said, that I was conscious not to just chuck in some hot sauce or chilli flakes and be done with it. In such case, I’ve added a range of spicy ingredients which together actually add a delicious flavour to the dish.

What makes this Spicy Mac and Cheese ‘Spicy’?

  • Fresh Jalapeño – Most are deseeded and placed INSIDE the mac and cheese, then we’ll slice one and place it ON TOP of the mac and cheese.
  • Mustard – I recommend using Dijon.
  • Hot Sauce – My favourite is Cholula!

None of the above is used just for the sake of it, but actually to create a really deep and complex spicy flavour. All measurements are adjustable, so fear not if you only like a mild spice. With the same token it’s an easy recipe to ramp up the spice too, so feel free to do so!

close up shot of mac and cheese in skillet

Jalapeño Mac and Cheese

The jalapeños are a key ingredient in this spicy mac and cheese, not only for their obvious spice but also for their gorgeous flavour. Jalapeños are notorious for working well with cheese and this recipe is no exception.

Fresh versus Jarred Jalapeño

My vote is for fresh if you can! I find you sometimes get a mild taste of the brine from the jarred jalapeños. They are also quite soft in the jar already and can go mushy after baking. Having said that, if you find ‘firmer’ pickled jalapeños and pat off as much brine as possible you’ll be fine!

Can I use other Chillis?

I tend to stick with jalapeños for the flavour and the fact they’re not too spicy. However, if you’re good with your chillis, and know and love a particular variety, you can sub if you want.

In terms of the other ingredients for jalapeño mac and cheese, you’ll need a 3 cheese combo of cheddar, mozzarella and parmesan. Some bacon, because is a mac and cheese a mac and cheese without bacon?! And alongside the spices we discussed, some onion/garlic powder for extra flavour and your mac and cheese staples (milk, flour, pasta, etc).

Skillet vs Baking Dish

I originally made this by combining everything in a regular pan, and then transferring it to a baking dish to bake. More recently I’ve moved to use a cast-iron skillet, where everything can be made and baked in the same pan. No difference in result – just whatever’s easiest for you!

Process shots: fry bacon and jalapeño (photo 1), melt butter then add flour (photo 2), stir (photo 3), stir in milk then add mustard, hot sauce and seasoning (photo 4), stir in cheese (photo 5), add pasta (photo 6).

6 step by step photos showing how to make spicy mac and cheese

Top Tip #1 – Ensure your milk is at room temp to ensure the sauce doesn’t clump up.
Top Tip #2 – Make sure you only boil your pasta until al dente. You want it still a bit hard or it’ll go mushy in the oven.

Baked Jalapeño Mac and Cheese

For me, a mac and cheese ain’t a mac and cheese unless it’s baked. I don’t know why but it always makes me a little sad when I see mac and cheese in a pan and then served up straight away. Baking it in the oven enhances those cheesy flavours so much. PLUS, you get a gorgeous crispy top.

Baked Mac and Cheese Topping

  • Layer 1 – Parmesan
  • Layer 2 – Breadcrumbs
  • Layer 3 – Oil Spray
  • Layer 4 – Jalapeno

Process shots: stir in pasta (photo 1), top with parmesan, breadcrumbs and oil spray (photo 2), bake then add jalapeños (photo 3), bake again (photo 4).

4 step by step photos showing how to bake jalapeno mac and cheese

Serving Spicy Mac and Cheese

From there the smell in your kitchen is going to be an absolute blessing! I recommend tucking in right away; the longer it sits the drier it gets. Trust me, you’re going to fall in love with this recipe 😋

If you’re looking for more recipes using fresh jalapeños then definitely check out my Crispy Baked Jalapeño Poppers and Jalapeño Popper Loaded Potatoes! If you’re looking for more mac and cheese goodness then give these recipes a ganders:

Best Mac and Cheese Variations

Alrighty, let’s tuck into the full recipe shall we?!

Spicy mac and cheese with bacon in a bowl with cheese pull

How to make Spicy Jalapeño Mac and Cheese (Full Recipe & Video)

baked mac and cheese fresh out the oven

Spicy Jalapeño Mac and Cheese

This Spicy Mac and Cheese is loaded with Fresh Jalapeños, 3 different types of Cheese and plenty of Crispy Bacon!
4.78 from 9 votes
Print Pin Rate
Servings (click & slide): 6
Course: Dinner / Main Course
Cuisine: American
Prep Time: 10 minutes
Cook Time: 45 minutes
Total Time: 55 minutes
Calories per serving: 759kcal
Cost per serving: £3 / $4


  • 12" Oven-Safe Skillet, or Large Regular Skillet + Baking Tray
  • Large Pot & Colander (for boiling pasta)
  • Jug (for milk)
  • Wooden Spoon
  • Cheese Grater
  • Sharp Knife & Chopping Board

Ingredients (check list):

  • 14oz / 400g Elbow/Spiral Pasta (or of course macaroni)
  • 9oz / 250g Streaky Bacon, diced
  • 4 Fresh Jalapeños, (3 deseeded finely diced & 1 sliced into rounds)
  • 4 cups / 1 litre Milk, at room temp
  • 2.5 cups / 250g freshly grated Cheddar
  • 1.5 cups / 150g freshly shredded Mozzarella
  • 1 cup / 80g freshly grated Parmesan (save half for top)
  • 3/4 cup / 45g Panko Breadcrumbs, or enough to lightly cover everything
  • 3 heaped tbsp Flour (2oz/60g)
  • 3 tbsp Butter
  • 1 tbsp Dijon mustard
  • 1 tbsp Hot Sauce, or to spice preference
  • 1 tsp Garlic Powder
  • 1/2 tsp Onion Powder
  • Salt & Pepper, to taste
  • Oil Spray, as needed


  • Fry bacon in a large oven-safe skillet over medium heat until crispy with the fat rendered (or regular pan then transfer to baking dish later). Add 3 diced and deseeded jalapeños and fry for a couple of minutes until soft.
  • Melt in the butter then stir in the flour to form a roux. Very gradually add in the milk, stirring as you go to avoid lumps (can use a whisk if required). Add mustard, hot sauce, onion & garlic powder and a good pinch of salt & black pepper. Allow to gently simmer for around 5 mins until the sauce thickens and begins bubbling.
  • Meanwhile, preheat oven to 200C/390F and cook pasta in salted boiling water until al dente (take a few mins off the packet instruction, you want it still a little hard).
  • Turn off the heat for the sauce and stir in all of the cheddar & mozzarella and half of the parmesan. It will be quite stringy at this point, but it smooths out once the pasta is tossed through and everything has baked. Taste for seasoning/spice and adjust if needed.
  • Drain pasta and stir through the sauce. If you're using a baking dish transfer everything now. Top with parmesan, followed by breadcrumbs and a very liberal spray of oil. Place in the oven for 10mins, then swiftly remove and sprinkle over the sliced jalapeños. Place back in the oven for another 10-15mins, or until golden, bubbly and visibly crisp on top. Serve with more hot sauce if desired!

Quick 1 min demo!


a) How spicy is this Mac and Cheese? - Really difficult to say as everyone has different spice thresholds. As it is, with the measurements given, I'd put it at a 'medium'. But it's all down to preference and completely in your control. If you find it spicy enough already with just the jalapeños then you can omit the hot sauce. With the same token feel free to increase the amount of hot sauce. Personally, I tend to use around a tbsp of hot sauce and drizzle over more when serving.
b) Can I use pickled/jarred Jalapeños? - I actually tend not to for two reasons: first if they're already quite soft and tend to go a little mushy when baked. Second is sometimes some of the vinegary taste lingers around in the sauce. It's not a total deal breaker if you've only got jarred jalapeños but do try and find fresh if you can! 
c) Can I use other chillies? - Flavour-wise jalapeños are definitely best to take on cheesy flavours. Also difficult to know how spicy certain chillis are going to be. But if you're confident with your chilli picking then go for it!
d) Cheese - Make sure you use fresh cheese (not the pre-grated packet stuff) otherwise it may come out grainy. Also important to take the pan off the heat when stirring in the cheese for the same reason.
e) Updated Recipes - Updated on 27th Oct '22 with a few tweaks. Omitted cayenne pepper and increased hot sauce to 1 tbsp instead of 1 tsp. Decreased the mozzarella from 200g to 150g and increased the cheddar from 200g to 250g. Very minor tweaks, still delicious as it was before. Oh, and a new video above!
f) Calories - based on the above measurements divided by 6 people.

Your Private Notes:


Nutrition Facts
Spicy Jalapeño Mac and Cheese
Amount Per Serving
Calories 759 Calories from Fat 421
% Daily Value*
Fat 46.83g72%
Saturated Fat 22.05g110%
Trans Fat 1.039g
Polyunsaturated Fat 3.783g
Monounsaturated Fat 15.344g
Cholesterol 158mg53%
Sodium 1871mg78%
Potassium 649mg19%
Carbohydrates 35.58g12%
Fiber 2.8g11%
Sugar 10.25g11%
Protein 48.59g97%
Vitamin A 3100IU62%
Vitamin C 57.8mg70%
Calcium 900mg90%
Iron 2.3mg13%
* Percent Daily Values are based on a 2000 calorie diet.
Nutrition is based on the absence of salt unless stated as a measurement in the ingredients. Cost is worked out based on ingredients bought from UK supermarkets, then divided by the number of servings. In both instances these values are just for guidance. Please check out my FAQ Page for more info.
Tried this recipe?Show me how you got on by tagging @dontgobaconmyheart_ on IG and #dontgobaconmyheart
Looking for more?You'll find plenty more delicious comfort food like this in my Debut Cookbook 'Comfy'

Got leftovers? Check out my Mini Leftover Mac and Cheese Quesadillas!

6 quesadillas stacked on each other on wooden block

If you loved this Spicy Mac and Cheese recipe then be sure to Pin it for later! Already made it or got a burning question? Give me a shout in the comments below and pick up your free ecookbook along the way!





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Recipe Rating


  • Reply
    October 8, 2023 at 6:43 pm

    4 stars
    This recipe is amazing! We used oriechette pasta because we didn’t have elbow macaroni, and it was pretty good! We also soaked our breadcrumbs in some butter to avoid the oily taste. Our only issue was that we got a bit of a grainy texture due to not removing from the heat.

    • Reply
      Chris Collins
      October 9, 2023 at 10:43 am

      Thanks so much for the review, Michaela! Glad it was still enjoyed even though it wasn’t taken off the heat 🙂 C.

  • Reply
    January 16, 2022 at 11:35 pm

    Is it an option to assemble the mac and refrigerate for dinner the following evening? I’d add the breadcrumbs/Parm/jalapeno topping when ready to put in the oven. Thanks in advance!

    • Reply
      Chris Collins
      January 17, 2022 at 10:06 am

      It is best made fresh, but if you want to prep ahead you can. I recommend tossing the cooked pasta in a dollop of butter and allowing it to cool before combining with the sauce. This will prevent the pasta from absorbing the sauce and bloating. Then cover and refrigerate. When baking you’ll prob need to add another 10mins or so of cooking at 180C/350F covered, then uncover and bake as instructed, just ensure the centre heats through properly. That or bring it to room temp before baking. Hope this helps!

  • Reply
    C Wright
    August 23, 2021 at 8:25 am

    5 stars
    My method:
    Chop jalapeño and black olives put in bowl
    Fry up bacon in big pot put in the bowl
    Pour off excess fat
    Fry up garlic and onions put in the bowl
    Make cheese sauce similar to recipe in the
    Same pot
    Add macaroni and bowl of stuff
    The rest is the same
    Worked out well
    Pass the wife like test

    • Reply
      Chris Collins
      August 25, 2021 at 12:07 pm

      Sounds great! Thanks so much for the review 🙂

  • Reply
    Amber Jordae Elliott
    January 29, 2021 at 10:26 pm

    5 stars
    This was a fab recipe. I swapped mozzarella and parmesan for pepper jack and cheddar. Only baked for 17 minutes. Perfectly creamy center and crunchy exterior. Thank you!

    • Reply
      Chris Collins
      February 1, 2021 at 6:04 pm

      That’s awesome to hear, Amber! Thanks so much for the review 🙂 Chris.x

  • Reply
    March 11, 2020 at 2:32 pm

    5 stars
    Was very good… enjoyed that it have flavour, not bland like most macaroni and cheese recipes

    • Reply
      Chris Collins
      March 11, 2020 at 3:17 pm

      That’s awesome to hear! Glad it went down well 🙂

  • Reply
    February 6, 2019 at 3:55 pm

    4 stars
    I think I will opt to replace the mozzarella with more cheddar. The mozzarella just makes it way too stringy to spoon out and difficult to eat. Otherwise, I love the complex flavors!

    • Reply
      February 6, 2019 at 5:18 pm

      Glad you love the flavours, Susan! You’re right, I love it super stringy but understand why you’d want more cheddar! Thanks coming back and sharing your feedback 🙂

  • Reply
    September 21, 2018 at 3:29 am

    5 stars
    I absolutely love homemade mac and cheese! Your spicy version with bacon sounds delicious, I can’t wait to try it!

    • Reply
      September 22, 2018 at 2:44 pm

      Enjoy!! 🙂

  • Reply
    September 21, 2018 at 3:02 am

    5 stars
    I too am a sucker for mac and cheese! The addition of lots of spicy goodness in this classic dish make it even better.

    • Reply
      September 22, 2018 at 2:43 pm

      Cheese and spice is such an awesome combo!

  • Reply
    September 21, 2018 at 2:29 am

    5 stars
    First of all, I love the name of your blog because I love everything a little more with a healthy addition of bacon. Secondly, you’re so right about baking the cheese topping! So much better!

    • Reply
      September 22, 2018 at 2:42 pm

      Haha, life is so much better with bacon right!?

  • Reply
    September 21, 2018 at 12:56 am

    5 stars
    I love homemade mac n cheese!! Especially with the added spice and crunch on top!!!

    • Reply
      September 22, 2018 at 2:42 pm

      Allllll about the crunch!!