This bacon gouda mac & cheese is seriously heavenly! It’s rich, creamy, crunchy, and everything you’d want in mac & cheese. My mom always made Ina Garten’s Grown Up Mac & Cheese each year at Thanksgiving! So I decided to make my own version, and dang it is good! It would be such a great side dish for Thanksgiving or you can totally use it as a meal as well (we do!) I love the mix of gouda and sharp cheddar, but you can easily use a different combination. Enjoy!
What you need to make bacon gouda mac & cheese + substitutions:
- Macaroni pasta- I used macaroni pasta to make it classic, but most shapes would work fine here!
- Whole milk- Whole milk works great here for the creaminess. My mom always used to use unsweetened hemp milk but everything else in the recipe the same and you couldn’t even tell! It’s just what we always had in the pantry since she never bought whole milk. One year, my mom accidentally used vanilla hemp milk and let me tell you, the mac & cheese was NOT good so don’t make that mistake!
- Gouda cheese- Gouda is one of my favorite cheeses. It goes SO well in this dish. I found an already shredded gouda at Whole Foods that was delicious, but you can easily buy a block and shred it yourself.
- Extra sharp white cheddar- I love using an extra sharp white cheddar. I used a block of Cabot for this one and got it from Trader Joe’s. If you don’t love the sharp cheddar you can change up the cheese.
- Butter- Everything is better with butter.
- All-purpose flour- This helps to thicken the cheese sauce to create basically a roux.
- Bacon- Do yourself a favor and make the whole package of bacon so you have some leftover for repurposing!
- Sea salt- Salt is the key to everything.
- Paprika- Paprika adds a little color as well as delicious flavor. Spices can make a huge difference in cooking and take something from good to fabulous.
- Black pepper- Just a little spice.
- Nutmeg- You really don’t taste this, but it does really bring out the flavor somehow. I don’t know how it does it but it really makes a difference in this bacon gouda mac & cheese.
- Panko- I just used panko, but you can of course use breadcrumbs as well.
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Alright, let’s get to making the recipe! Enjoy!
Bacon Gouda Mac & Cheese
- 3 cups dry mararoni pasta
- 2 cups whole milk
- 2 cups gouda shredded
- 2 cups extra sharp white cheddar shredded
- 3 tbsp unsalted butter
- 3 tbsp all-purpose flour
- ⅓ cup bacon crumbled (about 4 slices)
- 1 tsp sea salt
- ¼ tsp paprika
- ¼ tsp black pepper
- pinch of ground nutmeg
- ½ cup panko or breadcrumbs for topping
- Preheat oven to 400F degrees.
- To bake your bake in the oven: Line a sheet pan with parchment paper and lay your bacon out without overlapping. Bake in the oven for 15-20 minutes until desired doneness. Once it's done, place bacon slices on a plate lined with paper towels and let cool completely before chopping!
- In a medium pot, bring water to a boil with a generous shake of sea salt. Add in the pasta and cook until al dente. Or until it's soft with a little crunch. Drain and set aside.
- In the same saucepan, heat the milk, butter, and flour. Stir with a whisk and heat but don’t boil. Remove it from the heat. Add in the shredded cheese, paprika, salt, pepper & nutmeg. Make sure the cheese gets fully melted in, you may have to heat it a little to get it all mixed.
- Add the pasta and crumbled bacon onto the sauce mixture. Mix until everything is incorporated well.
- Pour the mac and cheese into a 8×8 oven safe dish. Top with with a layer of panko.
- Bake in the oven for 35-40 minutes until it’s nice and brown! Enjoy!