This deluxe mac & cheese recipe blends three cheeses and crispy bacon for a special holiday side dish you'll want to make again and again. Originally published November 2015. Last updated August 2022.
The holidays are ripe for busting out those showstopper dishes that call for love and care on the ingredient list, which is why I developed an extra cheesy mac & cheese recipe with bacon for you. Let's get into the delicious details.
And if you're looking for special Thanksgiving side dish recipes, try these, too.
Is Macaroni and Cheese a Soul Food Recipe?
The short answer is yes. The baked Black folks macaroni & cheese recipe that would become an icon of American cuisine, originated with James Hemmings. Hemmings was an African American man who was enslaved as Thomas Jefferson's classically trained chef. This soul food mac and cheese with bacon builds on centuries of Black culinary tradition and ingenuity.
What You'll Need for this Recipe
My three cheese mac recipe comes together with just a handful of ingredients. Here's what to add to your grocery list.
- Cavatappi Pasta
- Garlic Powder
- Mild Cheddar Cheese
- Mimolette Cheese
- Salted Butter
- Sharp Cheddar Cheese
- Small Pasta Shells
- White Pepper
As far as tools, you'll need a skillet or dutch oven to make the cheese sauce in. Grab an oblong pan to bake up macaroni and cheese with crispy edges, as well as a food processor with a disc attachment for shredding the cheese.
Shredding Cheese for Mac & Cheese
Shredded cheese is ideal form to use when making homemade mac and cheese but the pre-shredded kind you might pick up at the grocery store isn't the best choice. I always recommend shredding the cheese yourself.
Use a food processor with a shred disc attachment to shred cheese quickly. At the press of a button and in just a few minutes, you can shred several cups of cheese for making special mac and cheese for Thanksgiving or any occasion. I use this same trick to make my browned butter mac and mini mac & cheese cups.
How to Crumble Bacon Easily
My mom taught me a simple, time-saving tip for making crispy bacon bits at home. It's fabulous in this recipe and you can use it others, too.
- Cook bacon to desired crispiness (I have instructions for baking bacon in the oven in the recipe card below).
- Use paper towels or newspaper to soak excess up grease.
- Fold and ball up the paper with the bacon inside.
- Unfold to reveal bacon pieces. Repeat, for smaller pieces.
What to Serve with Mac & Cheese with Cavatappi Pasta
I have a full soul food holiday recipe lineup of dishes that pair well but if you're whipping up this mac for a weeknight meal, match it with a couple of the dishes below!
And sharing is caring so be sure to pin this cheddar bacon mac and cheese and follow me over on Pinterest. Thanks for reading!
Three Cheese Mac Recipe
Classically decadent three-cheese mac & cheese topped with crumbled bacon
- 12 ounces bacon
- ½ cup salted butter melted
- ⅜ cup flour
- 2 cups milk I use unsweetened almond milk
- ¼ teaspoon white pepper
- ½ teaspoon garlic powder
- 2 cups mild cheddar cheese shredded
- 1 cup sharp cheddar cheese shredded
- ¼ cup mimolette cheese shredded
- 16 ounces cavatappi pasta cooked just shy of al dente (about 6-7 minutes)
- 10 ounces small pasta shells cooked just shy of al dente (about 6-7 minutes)
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Place bacon on a non-stick or greased cookie sheet and bake for about fifteen minutes or to desired level of crispiness.
Remove from oven and place on a plate layered with newspaper to soak up excess grease.
Once bacon is cool enough to handle, crumble up the paper into a little ball. When you unfold it, the bacon should be crumbled into pieces and perfect for sprinkling over mac and cheese. Repeat, as needed, for smaller pieces.
Meanwhile, add butter to a large skillet or dutch oven over medium heat. Allow to melt completely.
Stir flour into melted butter as you would to start a roux. Slowly whisk in milk until mixture is uniform and free of lumps.
Reduce heat to medium low, stir in white pepper and garlic powder, and bring mixture to a light boil.
Stir in cheese about a half cup at a time until smooth and uniform cheese sauce forms.
Mix cooked pasta into cheese sauce until evenly coated then transfer into a prepared oblong pan.
Cover with foil and place in oven to bake for 25 minutes. Remove foil and return to oven to bake uncovered for about 10 minutes or until edges are golden brown and crispy.
Remove baked mac n cheese from the oven. Garnish with crumbled bacon and serve.