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baked mac and cheese fresh out the oven
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4.84 from 6 votes

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!
Prep Time10 mins
Cook Time45 mins
Total Time55 mins
Course: Dinner, Main Course
Cuisine: American
Servings: 6
Calories: 759kcal
Cost: £3 / $4

Equipment

  • 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)
  • Whisk
  • Wooden Spoon
  • Cheese Grater
  • Sharp Knife & Chopping Board

Ingredients

  • 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

Instructions

  • 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.

Video

Notes

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 and cayenne pepper. With the same token feel free to increase the amount of hot sauce/cayenne pepper. Personally I tent 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 chillis? - 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 you chilli picking then go for it!
d) Baking Jalapeños - If you've sliced them particularly thin to go on top then consider popping them on half way through, just to prevent them from burning to a crisp.
e) Consistency - I like my mac and cheese quite saucy, especially because it thins out whilst baking. However if you like a 'thicker' mac and cheese consider using 3 cups of milk, but do take into consideration it gets soaked up quite significantly in the oven. 
f) Calories - based on the above measurements divided by 6 people.

Nutrition

Calories: 759kcal | Carbohydrates: 35.58g | Protein: 48.59g | Fat: 46.83g | Saturated Fat: 22.05g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 3.783g | Monounsaturated Fat: 15.344g | Trans Fat: 1.039g | Cholesterol: 158mg | Sodium: 1871mg | Potassium: 649mg | Fiber: 2.8g | Sugar: 10.25g | Vitamin A: 3100IU | Vitamin C: 57.8mg | Calcium: 900mg | Iron: 2.3mg