Freshly back from my latest trip to Mexico, Jalapeno Popper Mac and Cheese is on my mind. I absolutely love melding the delightful flavors of Mexico with traditional American comfort foods. And really, who doesn’t enjoy a warm, scrumptious bowl of savory macaroni and cheese made from scratch? So put away that box of mac and cheese and get ready to create your own homemade version. It’s 100 times better than the boxed stuff!
There’s so much to love about this jalapeno popper mac and cheese recipe. The first thing is it’s quick and easy to make! Below is a snapshot of everything you’ll need to create this hearty one-pot macaroni and cheese meal. This recipe can be as spicy or mild as you wish. When you remove the seeds and membrane from a jalapeno pepper, you greatly reduce the heat. But if you prefer to leave out the jalapenos from within the recipe, be sure to include a few slices on top as a garnish. They provide a beautiful, festive pop of color for your finished dish.
If you’re wondering how to make one-pot mac and cheese from scratch, you’re going to love this detailed recipe. The printable version of these instructions is available just a bit farther down the page. After boiling the noodles in salted water until 2 minutes before al dente, drain and set aside. Adjust your oven rack to the middle position and preheat your oven to 350 degrees. To make the cheese sauce for this mac and cheese recipe, start by placing a cast iron skillet (my Staub universal pan is 28 cm) on your stovetop over medium heat. Melt the butter.
Saute the jalapenos for a minute or two and then add in the flour and cornstarch. Stir, stir, stir until the flour is lightly golden brown. Add the milk and heavy cream and quickly whisk the mixture until it’s smooth. Allow these ingredients to simmer and thicken for 3 minutes. Add in the cream cheese and spices. Stir and/or whisk until the cream cheese has completely melted and the cheese sauce is beautifully smooth and thick. Remove the pan from heat. Add in 3/4 of the shredded cheddar cheese and stir, stir, stir until it has melted and become fully incorporated into the cheese sauce. Above is the finished cheese sauce I created for this mac and cheese recipe!
Now it’s time to gently fold in the noodles along with the remainder of the shredded cheddar cheese and half of the chopped bacon. The remaining bacon will be saved for later as a garnish. Transfer the cast-iron pan to the oven. Allow it to bake for 15-16 minutes. Immediately remove from the oven and garnish with the remaining bacon and some fresh slices of jalapeno. Your one-pot macaroni and cheese meal is now ready to serve!
And here’s a closer view of this cheesy deliciousness. Once you taste this Jalapeno Popper Mac and Cheese dish, you’ll know it’s the only macaroni and cheese recipe you’ll ever need! So this week treat your family to a meal they’ll be asking for time and time again.
How to Make Jalapeno Popper Mac and Cheese > Shop This Post
Below are the kitchen tools I used to make this delicious Jalapeno Popper Mac and Cheese recipe. I absolutely love my blue Staub Universal Pan! It’s a piece of high-quality French cookware that’s a joy to cook with. I like that it comes with a glass lid and is so beautiful that you can cook and serve in the same pan. It will look fabulous on your stove and tabletop too. I bought mine at Williams Sonoma, but you can buy yours online from Amazon!
Jalapeno Popper Mac and Cheese
Yield 6 Servings
- 12 slices bacon, cooked and coarsely chopped
- 1 pound Cellentani (corkscrew) pasta
- 3 tablespoons butter
- 2 fresh jalapenos, 1 diced and 1 sliced (garnish)
- 3 tablespoons flour
- 1 tablespoon corn starch
- 1 + 1/2 cups heavy cream (same as heavy whipping cream)
- 1 + 1/2 cups whole milk
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 1/2 teaspoon black pepper
- 4 ounces cream cheese
- 1 pound cheddar cheese, shredded
- In a large pot of very salted boiling water, cook Cellentani pasta according to package directions until 2 minutes before al dente - this is very important! The pasta will be almost done but still firm. Drain water completely. Set cooked pasta aside.
- Adjust your oven rack to the center of the oven. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
- In a wide cast-iron skillet, melt the butter over medium heat. Add the diced jalapeno and saute for 1-2 minutes. Add flour and cornstarch. Continuously stir for 1-2 minutes until flour mixture is lightly golden brown.
- Add heavy cream and whole milk. Whisk to incorporate. Allow mixture to simmer for 3 minutes so it can thicken up nicely.
- Add the cream cheese, salt and pepper. Stir, stir, stir until cream cheese has completely melted, then quickly whisk the cheese sauce until it's thick, smooth and creamy.
- Add 3/4 of the shredded cheddar cheese to the skillet, then immediately remove the pan from heat. Stir, stir, stir until the cheddar cheese is melted and completely incorporated.
- Add the cooked pasta, the remainder of the cheddar cheese, and half of the cooked bacon pieces to the skillet. Gently fold these ingredients into the cheese sauce until everything is fully combined.
- Transfer the cast-iron skillet to the oven and bake for 15-16 minutes. Remove promptly.
- Immediately garnish Jalapeno Popper Mac and Cheese with the remainder of the cooked bacon pieces and the sliced jalapeno. Serve warm. Enjoy!
Courses Lunch, Snack, Dinner
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How to Make Jalapeno Popper Mac and Cheese > Share Your Thoughts
Do you have a favorite comfort food recipe? What do you think about this one-pot macaroni and cheese recipe? I really enjoy eating Jalapeno Popper Mac and Cheese when accompanied by a glass of Martinelli’s sparkling apple cider. It makes any meal feel festive! Share your thoughts in the comments below. I’d love to hear from you.