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Jalapeño Popper Mac and Cheese

  • Serves: 10
  • Calories: 968
Baked jalapeño popper Macaroni and cheese in a baking dish with a spoon

Jalapeño popper mac and cheese. The name alone gives away how indulgently delicious this dish is. It's perfect for those fall evenings and lazy Sunday afternoons!

Give Us All The Comfort Food

Nothing says “warm up on my couch in sweatpants while we watch football” quite like the indulgence of a classic mac and cheese, except for maybe this jalapeño popper mac and cheese. It’s basically like your two favorite game-watching foods’ love child.

We’ve been looking for an excuse to share this baked macaraoni recipe for a while, so when our partner Fred Meyer asked us to craft a recipe under the guise of game day greats we knew it was time. Before we jump to recipe details, let’s review the basics of a classic baked mac and cheese.

ingredients laid out for jalapeño popper macaroni and cheese

How to Make Homemade Baked Macaroni and Cheese:

If you’re looking to make a spicy baked mac and cheese recipe, we love that you’ve already committed to rich comfort food! So you probably won’t be surprised to see a lot of (ahem) indulgent ingredients on this list! Here’s what you’ll need to get started on the perfect classic mac and cheese:

  • Lots of good-quality, meltable cheeses (think cheddar cheese, Monterey Jack and mozzarella)
  • Whole milk
  • Butter
  • Flour
  • Spices
  • Pasta
  • Panko or breadcrumbs

Keep reading to see how we take a classic baked mac and cheese recipe and give it a few minor upgrades to transform it into jalapeño macaroni and cheese!

jalapeño cheese suave being poured over pasta noodles in a baking dish

How To Make the Best Mac and Cheese!

If you’re making baked mac and cheese with jalapeño, the key to success is making sure there’s not just *enough* creamy, cheesy sauce, but that there is, in fact, extra sauce. As the macaroni and cheese bakes, the pasta absorbs a lot of the cheese sauce. When you set out to make this recipe, it might initially look like you’ve got an unbalanced noodle-to-sauce ratio, but we’re going to ask you to just trust us on this one. It’ll turn out perfectly—promise!

cooked pasta with jalapeño cheese sauce with a spoon in a baking dish

Here’s How to Take Your Mac and Cheese Up a Notch:

By following this simple recipe for baked jalapeño mac and cheese you’ll find that you really can add anything you want to take the flavor to the next level. For this recipe, we are making it a true jalapeño popper mac and cheddar cheese by adding good quality Simple Truth cream cheese, jalapeños and thick cut Simple Truth bacon! Don’t be limited by our concept though. If you feel like experimenting, here’s a list of “add-ins” to try: :

  • Blue cheese + chives
  • Caramelized onions
  • Sautéed mushrooms
  • Crab or lobster
  • Hot sauce
  • Broccoli
baked jalapeño popper macaroni and cheese in a baking dish
a scoop on jalapeno mac and cheese on a spoon with panko bread crumbs

Tools You Will Need:

More Carb-y, Cheesy Goodness.

Baked Jalapeno Popper Mac And Cheese with toasted panko bread crumbs

Game Day, Rainy Day or any Lazy Day

This dish is perfect for them all. When you give this spicy macaroni and cheese recipe a try, we’d love to hear about it! Be sure to snap a photo, add it to your Instagram feed or stories, and tag @themodernproper and #themodernproper.

This sponsored post is written by TMP on behalf of Fred Meyer. The opinions and text are all ours. Thank you for supporting the brands we love.

Jalapeño Popper Mac and Cheese Recipe

Jalapeño Popper Mac and Cheese Recipe

  • Serves: 10
  • Calories: 968

Ingredients

  • 1 lb Elbow macaroni, cooked
  • 2 sticks (1 cup) Butter, divided
  • 1/3 cup Flour
  • 5 cups Simple truth whole milk
  • 2 tsp Salt
  • 2 tsp Garlic powder
  • 1/2 tsp Pepper
  • 3 cups White cheddar cheese, shredded, divided
  • 4 cups Pepper jack cheese, shredded, divided
  • 8 oz Simple truth cream cheese, cubed
  • 1 lb Simple truth bacon, cooked, chopped
  • 8 Jalapeños, seeded and finely chopped, plus more for topping
  • 1 cup Panko

Method

  1. Heat oven to 375 degrees with rack in the middle of oven.
  2. Melt half of the butter in a large saucepan over medium heat. Add flour to melted butter whisking constantly until flour is fully absorbed in butter.
  3. Slowly whisk in milk one cup at a time. (The slower you add the milk quicker the sauce will thicken.)
  4. Once sauce is thick stir in cream cheese along with all grated cheese, reserving 1 cup, until cheese is melted.
  5. Add salt, pepper and garlic powder. Adjust seasoning if needed and add all but 2 tbsp of the bacon and jalapeños and remove from heat.
  6. While the sauce is cooking, cook pasta in a large pot according to package instructions. Stir together the cooked macaroni noodles and the sauce and transfer to a 9 x 13 baking dish, or a large (12-14”) skillet that has been prepped with cooking spray if needed.
  7. In a small skillet melt remaining butter. Remove from heat and toss panko into melted butter.
  8. Top with remaining cheese and buttered panko. Bake in the oven until golden and bubbling, 30-40 minutes.
  9. Once finished top with sliced jalapeños and reserved bacon. Serve warm.