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A skillet of jalapeno popper mac and cheese topped with crispy breadcrumbs, cilantro and bacon.

Jalapeno Popper Mac and Cheese

This jalapeno popper mac and cheese is a creamy and spicy blend with four cheeses, bacon, jalapenos and a crispy topping. The ultimate macaroni and cheese recipe!
Course Main
Cuisine American
Prep Time 20 minutes
Cook Time 20 minutes
Total Time 40 minutes
Servings 8
Calories 588kcal
Author Sara Welch


  • 2 tablespoons butter
  • 2 tablespoons flour
  • 2 cups water
  • 3 1/2 cups milk
  • 1 pound short pasta such as cavatappi or elbow macaroni
  • 3/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon onion powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon black pepper
  • 3 cups shredded white cheddar cheese can also use Monterey Jack or regular orange cheddar
  • 1 cup white American cheese shredded or diced
  • 2 ounces cream cheese
  • 8 slices bacon cooked and crumbled
  • 1/2 cup minced jalapenos fresh or pickled, remove seeds and veins to keep the heat level down
  • 1 cup panko breadcrumbs
  • 1/4 cup grated parmesan cheese
  • 1/4 cup melted butter
  • 2 tablespoons chopped cilantro
  • additional bacon and jalapenos for garnish optional


  • Melt the butter in a large pot over medium heat. Add the flour, then whisk until combined, about 30 seconds.
  • Pour in the water and whisk until smooth and just thickened. 
  • Add the milk and whisk until combined. 
  • Stir in the macaroni, salt, garlic powder, onion powder and pepper, then bring the mixture to a simmer.
  • Cook for 8-10 minutes, stirring occasionally, until pasta is done.
  • Turn the heat to low, then stir in the cheddar, American and cream cheeses. Keep stirring until the sauce is smooth.  Stir in the jalapenos and bacon.
  • Preheat the oven to 400 degrees.
  • In a medium bowl, mix together the panko breadcrumbs, parmesan cheese and butter. Sprinkle the mixture evenly over the macaroni.
  • Bake for 10 minutes or until topping is light brown. Sprinkle with cilantro and serve, garnished with additional bacon and jalapenos if desired.


Calories: 588kcal | Carbohydrates: 55g | Protein: 27g | Fat: 29g | Saturated Fat: 21g | Cholesterol: 103mg | Sodium: 780mg | Potassium: 376mg | Fiber: 2g | Sugar: 7g | Vitamin A: 995IU | Calcium: 497mg | Iron: 1.7mg