This Spicy Mac and Cheese is loaded with Fresh Jalapeños, 3 different types of Cheese and plenty of Crispy Bacon!
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
- Hot Sauce
- Cayenne Pepper
None of the above 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!
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 baked. 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 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).
How to make Spicy Jalapeño Mac and Cheese (quick summary)
- Fry bacon until crisp, then add jalapeños and fry until soft.
- Melt in butter, then stir in flour until a paste forms.
- Slowly whisk in milk, then add your spices.
- Turn off heat and add your cheese.
- Add your pasta.
- Combine until fully coated.
Baked 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 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 – Jalapeno
- Layer 4 – Oil Spray
Then simply pop it in the oven until golden and bubbly.
If you’ve sliced your jalapeño really thin then you might want to chuck them on half way through, just to prevent them from burning to a crisp.
From there the smell in your kitchen is going to be an absolute blessing! 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
- Buffalo Chicken Mac and Cheese
- Brie Mac and Cheese
- Gnocchi Mac and Cheese
- Roasted Garlic Mac and Cheese
- Chipotle Mac and Cheese
Alrighty, let’s tuck into the full recipe shall we?!
How to make Spicy Jalapeño Mac and Cheese (Full Recipe & Video)
Spicy Jalapeño Mac and Cheese
- Suitably Sized Baking Dish (9"x13" works great)
- Large Deep Pan (for combining mac and cheese)
- Large Pot (for boiling pasta) & Colander
- Jug (for milk)
- Wooden Spoon
- Cheese Grater
- Sharp Knife & Chopping Board
Ingredients (check list):
- 14oz / 400g Elbow Pasta (or other short cut pasta)
- 9oz / 250g Streaky Bacon, diced
- 4 Fresh Jalapeños, deseeded (3 finely diced & 1 sliced into rounds)
- 4 cups / 1 litre Milk, at room temp
- 2 cups / 200g Cheddar, grated
- 2 cups / 200g Mozzarella, shredded
- 1 cup / 80g Parmesan, grated (save half for top)
- 1/2 cup / 30g Panko Breadcrumbs
- 3 heaped tbsp Flour
- 3 tbsp Unsalted Butter
- 1 tbsp Dijon mustard
- 1 tsp Garlic Powder
- 1 tsp Hot Sauce, or to preference
- 1/2 tsp Onion Powder
- 1/4 tsp Cayenne Pepper, or to preference
- Salt & Black Pepper, to taste
- Oil Spray, as needed
- Fry 9oz/250g bacon in a large deep pan over medium heat until your desired texture. Add 3 diced and deseeded jalapeños and fry for a couple of minutes until soft. Drain away excess fat if necessary, then melt in 3 tbsp butter.
- Stir in 3 heaped tbsp flour until a paste forms, then very gradually stir in 4cups/1litre milk until lump free. Add 1 tbsp mustard, 1/2 tsp onion powder, 1 tsp garlic powder, 1/4 tsp cayenne and 1 tsp hot sauce, then allow to bubble until thickened, stirring occasionally. Adjust spice as necessary (more hot sauce and/or cayenne pepper). Important to thicken sauce before adding cheese (step 4), don't add cheese to thicken sauce, will loose flavour and will produce a grainy texture.
- Meanwhile, preheat oven to 200C/390F and cook 14oz/400g pasta in salted boiling water until al dente (take a few mins off the packet instruction, you want it still quite hard).
- Once thickened, turn off heat and stir in 2cups/200g cheddar & mozzarella and 1/2cup/40g parmesan (save other half to top). Taste for seasoning. Stir in your pasta and transfer to a baking dish. It might seem overly stringy/saucy but will smooth out in the oven.
- Top with the rest of your parmesan, 1/2cup/30g breadcrumbs, then the rest of your jalapeño. Finish with by spraying with oil then pop in the oven for 20-25mins or until golden a bubbly.
Quick 1 min demo!
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!