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Try this easy cast iron skillet bacon mac and cheese, where everything is cooked in just one skillet. This recipe also has a twist to elevate the classic dish!
Craving a creamy mac and cheese with yummy bacon slices but feeling lazy because of the mountain of dishes to wash afterward? This one-skillet bacon mac and cheese is the answer!
Everything is done in a single skillet, and the inexpensive comfort food is ready in 35 minutes.
This recipe also elevates the classic mac and cheese by skipping a tedious and time-consuming step and using a delicious ingredient on the pasta.
And if in the mood for something smokey, this single skillet dish can easily be transformed into a mouthwatering smoked mac and cheese with bacon.
What Is Skillet Bacon Mac And Cheese?
Skillet bacon mac and cheese is a version of the classic mac and cheese cooked in a skillet. Most versions include an oven, but this cheesy and creamy recipe only needs one skillet.
Using a skillet for mac and cheese saves time and effort in lessening the dishes and equipment to clean afterward.
It also ensures even heat distribution on the dish, so each cheesy bite with generous bacon slices will consistently be delicious and cooked to creamy perfection.
This skillet bacon mac and cheese is already yummy but can quickly elevate into smoked mac and cheese with bacon. Just prepare a smoker and mild hardwood used for smoking meats.
Why You’ll Love This Recipe
The best thing about this one-skillet bacon mac and cheese recipe is everything is done in just one skillet! How often had the idea of washing multiple items after cooking turned off the thought of cooking at home?
Skip deliveries and takeouts and impress loved ones with homemade hearty mac and cheese. Here are what else to expect with this recipe:
- Quick and Easy: This mac and cheese recipe does everything in a single skillet. And if that’s still not enough to convince lazy cooks, this version is also a no-boil mac and cheese for the perfect but effortless pasta bite.
- Versatile for Every Palate: Skillet bacon mac and cheese uses simple ingredients and transforms them into a cheesy and creamy dish with bacon slices cooked to the perfect crisp. But depending on preference, the recipe can have other ingredients like choice spices, grated cheeses, meats, and veggies, and it’ll still be a well-rounded dish.
- Cast Iron Skillet Makes Smoking Easy: Want to impress family and friends with restaurant-quality smoked mac and cheese with bacon? Simply pop the skillet mac and cheese in the smoker for an hour for an intense smoke flavor!
What Does Skillet Bacon Mac And Cheese Taste Like?
Skillet bacon mac and cheese is a sure hit for every palate. Each macaroni shell is covered and filled with creamy, cheesy sauce, and chewing reveals a rich and umami flavor sensation from the bacon slices.
Some people find the typical mac and cheese sauce too overwhelming, but this single skillet recipe with a twist incorporates broth and mustard powder to balance it out.
The bacon slices also give the perfectly cooked pasta the chewiness and crispness in every bite.
And even though this skillet recipe is a lazy or busy person’s dream dinner, it can also be an impressive meal by smoking the skillet. Turn the classic dish into smoked mac and cheese with bacon loaded with flavor to satisfy the sense of smell and taste.
Is Bacon Mac And Cheese Healthy?
Like any other comfort food, mac and cheese is meant to console and provide happiness because it’s usually homemade or associated with good memories. However, the tried and tested classic cheesy and bacony dish is high in calories.
The best thing about this dish also happens to be high in calories and sodium, so it’s better as a treat and enjoyed in moderation.
Skillet mac and cheese can also be a part of a healthier diet with whole foods to provide the body with vitamins and minerals.
However, there’s nothing wrong with enjoying this easy and comforting dish now and then.
It’s also possible to swap some ingredients, like using broccoli florets than pasta and unsweetened nut milk than whole milk to lessen carbs and calories.
What Are The Benefits of Skillet Bacon Mac and Cheese?
The best thing about skillet bacon mac and cheese is it bypasses the tedious cooking process that requires different pots and cooking utensils.
Busy people or those feeling lazy won’t be left with a mountain of dishes to clean.
This skillet mac and cheese recipe with a twist doesn’t need to boil the dry pasta beforehand for the perfect bite, hugged by the yummy cheese sauce. Thanks to the broth, the mac and cheese offers the perfect richness without tasting too oversaturated with dairy.
And finally, the simple and easy skillet bacon mac and cheese can become a versatile base for adding any ingredients desired.
Putting the skillet in the smoker can also turn it into restaurant-quality smoked mac and cheese with bacon!
Ingredients For Skillet Bacon Mac And Cheese
- Macaroni pasta shells – Macaroni noodles are the perfect vessels for the indulgent creamy sauce. This no-boil recipe can also use other types of hollow pasta.
- Whole milk – The base for the creamy cheese sauce to get the perfect silky and rich texture.
- Chicken broth – Instead of boiling the pasta beforehand, cook everything in the skillet and enhance the macaroni flavor with chicken broth.
- Salted butter – The best skillet bacon mac and cheese will have butter for a glossy and mouthwatering sauce.
- Bacon – A guilty pleasure, but it balances the rich and creamy skillet mac and cheese when cooked to crispy-chewy perfection.
- Monterey Jack cheese -The perfect type of cheese for a buttery, gooey, quick, easy skillet mac and cheese.
- Cheddar cheese – Cheddar goes well with any preferred cheese and provides the classic homemade mac and cheese flavor.
- Garlic – Elevate this single skillet bacon mac and cheese by allowing the fragrant garlic to balance the fatty, salty bacon.
- Ground black pepper – Add as much as needed to spice up the rich and cheesy bacon mac and cheese.
- Mustard powder – For the best-ever skillet bacon mac and cheese, add some mustard powder to the sauce to cut the overwhelming creaminess from dairy.
Tools Needed To Prepare Skillet Bacon Mac And Cheese
- Cast iron skillet for cooking everything in this smoked mac and cheese with bacon recipe.
- Wooden spoon for mixing the skillet mac and cheese sauce.
Ingredient Additions & Substitutions For Skillet Bacon Mac And Cheese
Whether it’s the classic skillet recipe or taking it a step further as smoked mac and cheese with bacon, any hollow pasta will work as the perfect vessel for the yummy cheese sauce.
If elbow macaroni shells are unavailable, the tubular penne pasta will also be delicious and easy to cook.
The classic Monterey Jack and sharp cheddar cheese mixture is surely a crowd-pleaser for this skillet bacon mac and cheese.
But gouda cheese is another good melting cheese, especially for smoked mac and cheese with bacon with lots of flavor.
Add some kick to the rich, cheesy skillet bacon mac and cheese with spices like chili powder. Cheddar and Monterey cheeses create the perfect combo with chili or hot sauce.
How to Make Skillet Bacon Mac And Cheese
- 16 oz macaroni pasta shells
- 4 cups whole milk
- 2 cups chicken broth
- 2 tbsp salted butter
- ⅔ lb bacon, sliced widthwise
- 1 cup Monterey Jack cheese, shredded
- 1 cup cheddar cheese, shredded
- 2 cloves garlic, minced
- 1 tsp ground black pepper
- 1 tsp mustard powder
Tools you need:
STEP 1: Cook the bacon in the skillet on medium heat, then add garlic before the bacon slices turn crispy.
STEP 2: Continue cooking the bacon and garlic until the latter becomes fragrant. Set aside and leave the bacon fat in the skillet.
STEP 3: Remove the starch on the dry elbow pasta by rinsing and draining—no need to follow the package directions.
STEP 4: Place the butter, pasta, milk, broth, ground pepper, and mustard powder in the skillet where the bacon was cooked.
STEP 5: Cook to medium heat and mix everything.
STEP 6: Bring the smoked mac and cheese with bacon to a boil and reduce the heat.
STEP 7: Simmer the skillet bacon mac and cheese until the sauce thickens, mixing and stirring frequently.
STEP 8: After 10 to 15 minutes, the hot milk should have reduced, and the mac and cheese sauce should have thickened. Mix a bit of broth in the sauce if the consistency gets too thick.
STEP 9: Add the shredded cheese and cooked bacon to the skillet and mix until the cheese has melted into the creamy macaroni sauce to finish the entire dish of smoked mac and cheese with bacon.
What To Serve With Skillet Bacon Mac And Cheese
This quick and easy one-skillet bacon mac and cheese pasta can be the side or main dish with other yummy meals. For example, roasted broccoli is a perfect side dish to reduce its richness and add nutritional benefits.
If making smoked mac and cheese with bacon with this single skillet recipe, try an easy and light salad with tomatoes, red onions, peppers, mangos, walnuts, and balsamic vinaigrette.
And as for proteins, here are some satisfying and must-try dishes to partner with rich pasta meals:
If you’re looking for something a bit lighter, and with a southern twist, I recommend checking out this Southern Style Tuna Macaroni Salad recipe. This delicious dish combines tuna, elbow macaroni, and a medley of fresh veggies in a creamy, tangy sauce.
Tips About Making Skillet Bacon Mac And Cheese
Not much is needed to perfect this recipe, but these tips might help:
- If the flavorful cheese sauce is too thick, balance it with chicken broth to the desired consistency.
- Boiling dairy can cause the mac and cheese sauce to curdle, so cook below boiling temperature when reducing the heated milk.
- Use a flour and cold water slurry to fix a runny mac and cheese sauce.
How To Store Skillet Bacon Mac And Cheese
This easy skillet bacon mac and cheese can also be enjoyed on the days after it’s made. Here are some refrigerating and freezing secrets:
Fridge: Completely cool the smoked mac and cheese with bacon and transfer to an airtight container. Place it in the fridge for up to two days.
Freezer: Store the leftover skillet mac and cheese for longer in the freezer for three months.
Reheating: Thaw frozen mac and cheese overnight and reheat in the stove over low heat for a couple of minutes before serving.
What Are The 3 Best Cheeses For Mac And Cheese?
The best cheeses for mac and cheese are cheddar for the classic comforting taste, Monterey Jack for a buttery and gooey sauce, and gruyere for a smooth and velvety finish.
What Can I Add To Mac And Cheese To Make It Better?
A cheesy golden brown crust can make the yummy mac and cheese even better. An easy way to achieve this is to mix parmesan cheese, panko crumbs, paprika, and melted butter, then sprinkle the crisp topping over the dish.
FAQ About Skillet Bacon Mac And Cheese
How do you keep mac and cheese creamy?
To keep mac and cheese creamy, it can be revived with a tablespoon of milk or cream per cup of mac and cheese. Reducing the heat while cooking the sauce is also important to get the perfect creamy texture.
What milk is best for mac and cheese?
Whole milk is best for mac and cheese because it quickly creates a thick sauce when reduced.
What seasoning is best for mac and cheese?
Black pepper, chili powder, Italian seasoning, or garlic powder are classic spices for mac and cheese. The extra flavor from any of these will combine tastefully with the dish’s creamy cheese and savory bacon.
Can you add bacon to mac and cheese?
Absolutely, you can add bacon to mac and cheese, as shown in this recipe. Peas, carrots, shredded chicken, and green beans are other amazing additions to mac and cheese.
- Cook the bacon in the skillet on medium heat, then add garlic before the bacon slices turn crispy.
- Continue cooking the bacon and garlic until the latter becomes fragrant. Set aside and leave the oil in the skillet.
- Remove the starch on the uncooked pasta by rinsing and draining.
- Place the butter, pasta, milk, broth, pepper, and mustard powder in the skillet where the bacon was cooked.
- Cook to medium heat and mix everything.
- Bring the smoked mac and cheese with bacon to a boil and reduce the heat.
- Simmer the skillet bacon mac and cheese until the sauce thickens, mixing and stirring frequently.
- After 10 to 15 minutes, the milk should have reduced, and the mac and cheese sauce should have thickened. Mix a bit of broth in the sauce if the consistency gets too thick.
- Add the cheese and bacon to the skillet and mix until the cheese has melted into the sauce to finish the smoked mac and cheese with bacon.
- Use chicken broth to thin the mac and cheese sauce to the desired consistency.
- To keep the dairy from curdling, keep the cooking temperature below a boil when reducing the sauce.
- If the mac and cheese sauce is too runny, thicken it by creating a slurry with a couple of teaspoons of flour and some cold water and stirring this mixture into the sauce.
Nutrition Information:Yield: 8 Serving Size: 1
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 340Total Fat: 25gSaturated Fat: 11gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 13gCholesterol: 82mgSodium: 851mgCarbohydrates: 2gFiber: 0gSugar: 0gProtein: 24g
* Please note that all nutrition information are just estimates. Values will vary among brands, so we encourage you to calculate these on your own for the most accurate results.
Mac and cheese don’t have to be tedious to make at home.
This one-skillet bacon mac and cheese with a twist proves that only a single skillet is needed, and boiling pasta beforehand isn’t even necessary.
Achieve the rich yummy taste of cheddar and Monterey Jack without getting too overpowering by using broth, dry mustard powder, and black pepper to balance the dish.
It’s even versatile enough to turn into a mouthwatering smoked mac and cheese with bacon using an electric smoker for a unique flavor profile.
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