Jalapeño Popper Mac and Cheese

Story by Natalie
Jalapeño Popper Mac and Cheese
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Jalapeño popper mac and cheese.

The name alone gives away how indulgently delicious this dish is.

Every couple of weeks Holly and I have a massive brain storming session. We combine inspiration from things we’ve eaten on recent adventures, along with things we think everyone should know how to make. This week's conclusion: everyone should know how to make delicious, cheesy, baked mac and cheese.

Jalapeño Popper Mac and Cheese

Give Us All The Comfort Food

I can’t even believe it, but we’re already making comfort food in preparation for the next season. 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 jalapeno popper mac and cheese. It’s basically like your two favorite game watching foods just got married, had a baby, and that baby is about to be your new best friend. Dream sitch, right?

We’ve been looking for an excuse to share this baked mac for a while, so when our partner Fred Meyer, which is a part of the Kroger family of stores, asked us to craft a recipe under the guise of game day greats we knew it was time.

Before we jump to recipe details though, let’s review the basics of a classic baked mac and cheese.

Jalapeño Popper Mac and Cheese

How to make homemade baked mac and cheese:

We’ve recently caught wind of some people augmenting our more indulgent dishes to include less cream or butter, and we promise, we aren’t mad. But, come on guys! It’s mac and cheese! If you’re making this recipe, you’ve already committed to rich comfort food, so don’t skimp on all the good ingredients, because we promise you it does make a difference. Here’s what you’ll need to get started on the perfect classic mac and cheese:

  • Lots of good quality, meltable cheese (think cheddar, monterey, jack, mozzarella)
  • Whole milk
  • Butter
  • Flour
  • Spices
  • Pasta
  • Panko or breadcrumbs

That’s it! Now, from here on out it’s all about the method.

Jalapeño Popper Mac and Cheese

How to make your mac and cheese the best:

If you are making baked mac and cheese the key to your success is in extra sauce. This easy step goes a long way in making you a winner. When you bake mac and cheese the pasta absorbs most of the sauce, so in order to dip into creamy, cheesy pasta (where he noodles aren’t all sticking together) you’re going to have to trust us with our recipe measurements. Yes, it might look like way too much sauce, but is it? No way.

This trick right here, the one where you don’t shy away from lots of sauce, will get you the best creamy baked mac and cheese every single time.

How to take your mac and cheese up a notch:

By following this simple great recipe for baked 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 are a list of things you can add to make it different and exciting each time:

Blue cheese
Chives
Caramelized Onions
Sautéed Mushrooms
Salami
Roasted Bell peppers
Crab
Lobster
Hot sauce
Nutmeg
Broccoli
Really though...sky’s the limit!

Jalapeño Popper Mac and Cheese
Jalapeño Popper Mac and Cheese

If you weren’t ready for game day before, you can feel confident that you are now. And if game day isn’t your thing? Well then you’re covered for rainy days, lazy weekends and days ending in “Y” that call for allllll the comfort food.

Jalapeño Popper Mac and Cheese Recipe

When you decide to give this Jalapeño Popper Mac and Cheese 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 @themodernproperand #themodernproper. Also feel free to leave a comment on this post and be sure to tell your friends where you discovered the recipe.  

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.

More Mac and Cheese Recipes

Slow Cooker Mushroom Mac and Cheese

4 ingredient Stovetop Mac and Cheese

Jalapeño Popper Mac and Cheese Recipe

Serves 8

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. Stir in cream cheese along with all grated cheese, reserving 1 cup.
  5. Add salt, pepper and garlic powder. Adjust seasoning if needed and add all but 2 tbsp of the bacon and jalapeños.
  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.