Imagine it: creamy, cheesy, carby goodness topped with crispy, salty, and savory bits of bacon. Drooling yet? This Vintage Bacon Mac and Cheese recipe is a comforting, old-school dish that won’t ever go out of style.
This recipe is inspired by Tillamook Creamery in Oregon. If you haven’t visited, it is worth a visit! You can see the cheese being made in real-time in their factory, they have fun hands-on activities and memorabilia that tells the story of their dairy, and (best of all) there are not only cheese samples but there is an entire food hall where you can indulge to your heart’s content.
One of the specials they feature on occasion is a vintage bacon mac– a classic mac and cheese topped with bacon and extra sharp white cheddar. This recipe is our homemade rendition of this amazing dish. It’s decadent and comforting, and the bacon adds a little extra something that other mac and cheese recipes don’t have.
How to Make Bacon Mac and Cheese
Making this dish is incredibly easy. From start to finish it only takes a little over half an hour.
First, cook the pasta until al dente. A good rule of thumb is to subtract a minute or two from the cooking time on the box. If you want an extra creamy mac and cheese, only use 12 oz of the pasta instead of the whole box.
While the pasta is cooking, make a roux with your butter and flour, then add the milk slowly. You’ll let that thicken for a bit, then add in the spices and most of your grated cheddar.
Next, you’ll combine the sauce and pasta in a baking dish, top with the rest of the cheddar, and bake until the cheese is golden and melty.
Once the mac and cheese is done, top it with bacon bits and serve!
This recipe only calls for eight ingredients total– so use good quality ones to get the best results. Make sure you use high-quality cheddar and bacon, as these two ingredients add the bulk of the flavor to this dish. This recipe was developed using Tillamook White Cheddar Cheese, but you can use your favorite brand of white cheddar.
Do not buy pre-shredded cheddar (unless it is freshly shredded at your local dairy or deli counter). Packaged pre-shredded cheese has a coating that makes it hard to melt smoothly. Opt to grate your cheese right from the block into the pot for optimum silkiness.
What to Serve with Bacon Mac and Cheese
Bacon mac and cheese can be a stand-alone dish but can also be a fantastic side for a bbq or potluck. Serve it alongside any grilled meats, burgers, or hot dogs for a yummy and nostalgic meal. If you want to serve the mac and cheese as your main, pair it with something lighter like a veggie or salad. Or, just eat a big old bowl of mac and cheese! No judgment here.
If you make this recipe, let us know. We’d love to hear your thoughts over on Instagram. Enjoy!
Vintage Bacon Mac N’ Cheese
- 1 lb. penne pasta
- 4 Tbs. unsalted butter
- ¼ cup flour
- 3 cups whole milk
- ½ – 1 tsp sea salt or kosher salt
- dash of paprika
- 20 oz. (about 5 cups) grated sharp white cheddar, divided
- 1 lb. thick sliced bacon, chopped
- Preheat the oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. Cook the penne pasta until al dente.
- While the pasta is cooking, melt the butter in a large dutch oven. Once melted, whisk in the flour and cook for 1-2 minutes as you continue to whisk. Slowly whisk in the milk and cook until the sauce thickens (about 10 minutes), stirring frequently. Remove from heat.
- Add ½ teaspoon of the salt, paprika, and 4 cups of white cheddar to the dutch oven and stir until all of the cheese is melted. Taste and if needed, add remaining ½ teaspoon of salt.
- Fold the penne into the melted cheese mixture and pour into a 9×13 baking dish. Sprinkle with the remaining cup of cheese and bake uncovered for 20 minutes. While Mac and cheese is baking, cook the bacon and set aside.
- Once the Mac and cheese is finished baking, remove from oven and sprinkle with bacon. Serve immediately or cover with foil until ready to serve.