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Number 1 Best Crack Mac and Cheese With Bacon

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Crack Mac and Cheese – warm, creamy, dreamy, and not to forget cheesy amazingness! Tender macaroni tubes enrobed in creamy, rich cheese sauce, crisp smokey bacon pieces, bright green onion slices, and flavor-enhancing ranch seasoning puts the “crack” in your “mac!”

crack mac and cheese on a black plate

Why “crack,” you ask? It’s simply a tongue-in-cheek reference to how wonderful something is, and this mac and cheese bake will not disappoint! 

 

It might be a challenge to find a child who doesn’t know what Mac n Cheese is. Right along with PB&J’s and hotdogs, these little curved noodles with a vibrant orange cheese sauce are a childhood staple. But what about when you aren’t just feeding the littles?

 

What about when you want a dish that adults will rave about and also make the kids happy? This crack mac n cheese recipe will serve double duty! 

 

 

Why You’ll Love This Crack Mac and Cheese  Recipe

  • Great for potlucks and large get-togethers
  • Kid-friendly
  • Rich, decadent, and satisfying
  • Can be made ahead

Equipment Needed To Make Crack Mac and Cheese

  • 9” x 13” casserole dish or cast iron skillet
  • Large stockpot
  • Large saucepan
  • Whisk

Viking 3-Ply Stainless Steel Stock Pot, 12 QuartViking 3-Ply Stainless Steel Stock Pot, 12 QuartViking 3-Ply Stainless Steel Stock Pot, 12 QuartSTAUB Ceramics Rectangular Baking Dish, 13x9-inch, CherrySTAUB Ceramics Rectangular Baking Dish, 13×9-inch, CherrySTAUB Ceramics Rectangular Baking Dish, 13x9-inch, CherryCast Iron Skillet with Lid - 12Cast Iron Skillet with Lid – 12Cast Iron Skillet with Lid - 12

 

Ingredients For Your Mac And Cheese Bake

  • 4 cups elbow noodles, uncooked
  • 3 Tablespoons Butter
  • 3 Tablespoons Flour
  • 1 1/2 cups Milk
  • 1/2 cup Heavy Whipping Cream
  • 1 Tablespoon Ranch Seasoning
  • 4 to 8 oz Cream Cheese, cut into slices
  • 3 cups Cheddar Cheese, shredded
  • 6 slices Cooked Bacon, chopped
  • 2 Green Onions, sliced thinly
ingredients for crack macaroni and cheese, macaroni noodles,cheese,cream,baconbutter,flour,cream cheese

How To Make Crack Mac and Cheese

  1. Preheat oven to 325F
  2. Grease a 9” x 13” casserole dish or iron skillet. Set aside.
  3. In a large stockpot, melt the butter over medium heat.
  4. Meanwhile, in a separate pot, prepare the macaroni according to package directions.
  5. Once the butter is melted, whisk in flour to form a roux (paste). 
  6. Whisk in the milk and cream and set heat to medium-high.
  7. Whisk in 2 cups of the shredded cheddar cheese as well as the cream cheese (to personal taste) and ranch seasoning Continue whisking as the mixture cooks and thickens to form a cheesy sauce.
  8. Drain off the pasta water but do not rinse.
  9. When the cheese has completely melted into the sauce, pour the sauce over the cooked macaroni.
  10. Add most of the chopped bacon and green onions and stir to combine.
  11. Fold the macaroni and cheese into the prepared casserole dish.
  12. Top with remaining 1 cup of cheese, plus reserved chopped bacon and green onions.
  13. Bake for 25 minutes, or until the cheese on top is browned and completely melted.
cooking cheese sauce in saucepan
adding bacon, cheese and green onions to macaroni

Substitutions and Additions for your Macaroni and Cheese

  • Add in some chopped green peppers.
  • Add a bit of hot sauce to taste for added zing and a bit of heat.
  • You can substitute canned evaporated milk for the cream in your Crack Macaroni and Cheese if you like.

What To Serve/Pair With Your Crack Mac and Cheese Recipe

Crack Mac And Cheese Recipe FAQs

Can I use a different kind of cheese?

Yes, you can use any variety of different cheeses you have on hand; keep in mind the flavor of the cheese you are adding and how it will impact the finished dish.

Chef’s Tip: If you have a choice of cheese (and time) for this dish, it is best to shred block cheese(or use a handy dandy food processor) instead of commercially packaged shredded cheese. Shredded cheeses are known to have fillers and anti-caking agents. While these fillers won’t affect the taste, go for the block for optimum results (and peace of mind)!

How can I avoid mushy macaroni in a crack mac and cheese bake?

Easy-peasy! Don’t overcook the noodles! Since the pasta will continue to cook while baking, it is safe to “undercook” your elbows. Typically noodles that you cook twice are prepared “molto al dente,” this is undercooked in culinary terms.

More familiarly known to most is the term “al-dente,” translated as “to the tooth…” from Italian, which is just another way to say “firm to the bite.”

According to Italians, pasta is supposed to have a bit of firmness when eaten, not soft or limp. (We eat what we like and so should your family!)

Since your question asked how to make sure you don’t have mushy noodles, no matter what you call al dente or molto al dente, for this mac and cheese bake, it is better to slightly undercook your macaroni. The elbow macaroni will continue to cook as it bakes.

Can you smoke crack mac n cheese?

Yes! I’m glad you asked! Smoking mac and cheese recipes are becoming very popular.

Can I make my own dry ranch seasoning mix?

Absolutely! Most pantries will have all the staples you need to make your own dry ranch seasoning mix. Several versions are floating around the internet, but check back soon because I might post my own since this is a popular question!

Why can’t I use bottle ranch dressing instead of a dry ranch mix?

In a word, ewe! 🙂 In all seriousness, if you check the first ingredient in most bottled ranch dressings, it’s soybean oil. Using bottle ranch will dilute the flavor profile you need. Along with muted flavor, you will be adding an oil-based mixture that does nothing to enhance or improve the recipe. 

The use of dry mix in this recipe gives a specific depth of flavor and just the right seasoning. Some homemade versions may vary a bit here and there, but at least you know they won’t contain MSG if you are sensitive to this flavor enhancer.

serving of crack mac and cheese with serving dish in background
crack mac and cheese

Best Crack Mac and Cheese Recipe

Tender macaroni in creamy rich cheese sauce with bacon and green onion.
Print Pin Rate
Course: Side Dish
Cuisine: American
Prep Time: 20 minutes
Cook Time: 25 minutes
Total Time: 45 minutes
Servings: 8

Equipment

  • 9” x 13” casserole dish
  • large pot
  • casserole dish or cast iron skillet

Ingredients

  • 4 cups elbow macaroni uncooked
  • 3 tablespoons butter
  • 3 tablespoons flour
  • cups milk
  • ½ cup heavy whipping cream
  • 1 tablespoon ranch seasoning
  • 8 ounces cream cheese (cut into slices)
  • 3 cups cheddar cheese (shredded)
  • 6 slices bacon (cooked and sliced)
  • 2 green onions (thinly sliced)

Instructions

  • Preheat oven to 325F
  • Grease a 9” x 13” casserole dish or a cast iron skillet. Set aside.
  • In a large stockpot, melt the butter over medium heat.
  • Meanwhile, in a separate pot, prepare the macaroni according to package directions.
  • Once the butter is melted, whisk in flour to form a roux (paste).
  • Whisk in the milk and cream and set heat to medium-high.
  • Whisk in 2 cups of the shredded cheddar cheese as well as the cream cheese and ranch seasoning. Continue whisking as the mixture cooks and thickens.
  • Drain the pasta but do not rinse.
  • When the cheese has completely melted into the sauce, pour the sauce over the cooked macaroni.
  • Add most of the chopped bacon and green onions and stir to combine.
  • Fold the macaroni and cheese into the prepared casserole dish.
  • Top with remaining 1 cup of cheese, plus reserved chopped bacon and green onions.
  • Bake for 25 minutes, or until the cheese on top is browned and completely melted.

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