Spicy Mac and Cheese is the ultimate twist on great comfort food, using all the best parts of creamy macaroni and cheese and adding a bit of heat. This is the best spicy mac and cheese recipe there is!
Spicy Mac and Cheese
Every home cook needs a great mac and cheese recipe in their back pocket. This Spicy Mac and Cheese uses staple ingredients found in any pantry along with some extras for all the spicy kick you’ll need!
If you don’t like the extra spice, I will tell you how to leave it out and still get a wonderful recipe that the entire family can love! You can also check out my Chick-fil-a Mac and Cheese or my Velveeta Mac and Cheese for non-spicy options.
What do I need to get started?
- Bacon. This adds a wonderful saltiness to the creaminess and the heat.
- Salted butter. I use high-quality butter in all my cooking, like Kerrygold.
- Pickled jalapenos.
- All-purpose flour.
- Chicken stock.
- Hot sauce. Your favorite brand will work just fine!
- Onion powder and garlic powder.
- Salt and pepper.
- Cayenne pepper. The small amount used here goes a long way toward adding heat.
- Cheeses – cheddar cheese and pepper jack cheese.
- Cavatappi pasta. This is my favorite mac and cheese pasta, but you can feel free to use elbow macaroni or your favorite pasta.
- Bread crumbs, for topping. I used these amazing pork rind bread crumbs, but you can use normal bread crumbs.
How to make Spicy Mac and Cheese
Since this is baked mac and cheese, you want to start by preheating the oven. Get a pot of salted water boiling and boil your pasta until it is perfectly al dente.
In a dutch oven or large pot, cook the bacon until the fat is rendered and the bacon is nice and crispy. Once cooked, remove the bacon with a slotted spoon and reserve the bacon fat in the pan. Add the butter. Once the butter is melted, add the jalapenos and cook for 3 minutes over medium heat.
Low the heat to medium-low and whisk in the flour until it’s formed a thick paste. This will create a roux and thicken our cheese sauce. Add the chicken stock and cook for another 5 minutes.
Add in the heavy cream, hot sauce, onion powder, garlic powder, salt, black pepper, and cayenne pepper. Continue to cook over medium-low heat, stirring all the time. Add the cheeses and cook until they melt and the sauce is thickened and fully combined.
Turn off the heat and fold in the cooked pasta and the bacon. Transfer to a baking dish and top with the bread crumbs. Bake for 30 minutes, or until the cheese sauce is bubbling and the bread crumbs have browned.
Leftovers can be stored in an airtight container for up to 5 days. You can reheat in the oven or microwave.
I do not recommend freezing mac and cheese – it doesn’t reheat well due to all the dairy.
This recipe uses a few methods to spice up the mac and cheese.
- Cayenne pepper. A little bit goes a long way to making your dish nice and spicy.
- Jalapenos. This is where most of the heat comes from and adds a big kick.
- Pepper jack cheese. This cheese is spicy on its own and can add a more subtle hint if you leave out the other spicy ingredients.
Tips and Tricks
- To make take out the spice completely and have just a delicious creamy mac and cheese recipe, take out the cayenne peppers and jalapenos. Replace the pepper jack with more cheddar, or a different cheese such as gouda or gruyere.
- If you take out the spices but leave in the bacon and pork rind bread crumbs, you can add BBQ sauce to make a great BBQ mac and cheese.
- Be sure your pasta is boiled only to al dente, so it doesn’t get mushy when cooked in the oven.
A Spicy Mac and Cheese recipe is the ultimate twist on great comfort food, using all the best parts of creamy macaroni and cheese and adding a bit of heat.
- 5 strips bacon, cut into pieces
- 3 Tbsp salted butter
- ¼ cup pickled jalapenos, chopped
- 5 Tbsp all purpose flour
- 2 cups chicken stock
- 1 cup heavy cream
- 1 Tbsp hot sauce
- 1 tsp onion powder
- 2 tsp granulated garlic
- ½ tsp salt
- ¼ tsp pepper
- ½ tsp cayenne pepper
- 8oz cheddar cheese, shredded
- 8oz pepper jack cheese, shredded
- 16oz cavatappi pasta, cooked according to instructions on the box
- 1 cup pork rind bread crumbs, or regular bread crumbs
- Preheat the oven to 375℉.
- In a dutch oven, cook the cut bacon over medium high heat until the fat has rendered out and is crispy. Once cooked, remove the bacon using a slotted spoon and reserve the bacon fat in the pan. Add salted butter and melt, add the chopped jalapenos and cook for 3 minutes over medium heat.
- Lower the heat to medium low and whisk in the flour, cook for 3 minutes. Whisk in the chicken stock and cook until thickened, about 5 minutes. Whisk in the heavy cream, hot sauce, onion powder, granulated garlic, salt, pepper, and cayenne pepper. Continue to heat over medium low heat until simmering, stirring constantly. Stir in the cheddar cheese and pepperjack cheese, continue to stir until fully incorporated.
- Turn off the heat and stir in the cooked cavatappi pasta and cooked bacon and transfer to a prepared baking dish. Sprinkle the pork rind breadcrumbs on top and bake for 30 minutes or until the cheese sauce is bubbling and the breadcrumbs have browned. Let cool for 5 minutes before serving.
To tone down the heat, omit the cayenne pepper, or to make it not spicy at all, omit the cayenne pepper, jalapenos, hot sauce and replace the pepperjack cheese with more cheddar.
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 578Total Fat: 39gSaturated Fat: 22gTrans Fat: 1gUnsaturated Fat: 14gCholesterol: 111mgSodium: 939mgCarbohydrates: 32gFiber: 2gSugar: 3gProtein: 26g