For this month's Mac of the Month, I am pleased to present Jalapeno Popper Mac and Cheese! It's an excellent combination of two foods that are already delicious on their own, so I expected great things by combining them...and this dish did NOT disappoint!
You know when you bite into a jalapeno popper you get to enjoy all the elements of it in one bite? That's one of the things I love about this jalapeno popper mac and cheese.
In each bite you get jalapeno, breadcrumbs, and cream cheese. Using all that cream cheese really helps make the mac and cheese sauce similar to jalapeno popper filling! I thinkkkkk you'll agree this is one of the creamiest mac and cheese dishes you've EVER tried!
This mac and cheese (like all of my recipes!) is vegetarian, even though I know a lot of people like their jalapeno poppers with bacon. But I don't think you'll miss the bacon in this! Here's a great recipe for baked vegetarian jalapeno poppers from Cookie and Kate.
Tips for Making Jalapeno Popper Mac and Cheese
- I know I probably sound like a broken record by now, but it's so important to shred your own cheese instead of buying shredded cheese! Your mac and cheese just won't be as creamy with pre-shredded cheese. I wrote more about the difference between shredded cheese and block cheese here.
- I use panko breadcrumbs for the topping but you can also use regular breadcrumbs if you want. Just be sure to keep an eye on your mac and cheese when it bakes so the crumbs don't burn on top.
- This recipe should serve between 4-6 people. If you have leftovers, they keep well in the fridge for a few days. I recommend reheating in the oven so the topping stays crunchy.
- When you're cooking for fewer/more people you can divide or multiply the ingredients pretty easily!
- I buy a jar of sliced jalapenos and just cut the slices into diced pieces. Remove the seeds first. You can also buy whole jalapenos and dice and de-seed those if you'd like.
Jalapeno Popper Mac and Cheese
Combining all the best elements of jalapeno poppers (jalapenos, cream cheese, and breadcrumbs) with mac and cheese makes for one of my favorite mac and cheese recipes of all time.
For the Mac and Cheese
- 3 cups uncooked macaroni noodles
- ¼ cup butter for the roux
- ¼ cup flour
- 2 cups milk or cream for a richer dish
- 1 cup cream cheese cut into cubes
- ½ cup mozzarella shredded
- ½ cup white cheddar shredded
- ½ teaspoon onion powder
- ½ teaspoon garlic powder
- ½ teaspoon salt or more, to taste
- 1 tablespoon diced jalapenos use more for a spicier dish
For Breadcrumb Topping
- 1 tablespoon butter melted
- ½ cup panko bread crumbs
- Preheat to 375F. Put a large pot of salted water on to boil and cook macaroni noodles for one minute less than package directions (since they'll go in the oven after). Set aside.
- Grate cheese, dice jalapenos, cut cream cheese into cubes, and set aside. Begin to melt 4 tablespoon (¼ cup) of butter in a saucepan on medium heat.
- When the butter is melted, add the diced jalapeno, garlic powder, onion powder, salt, and pepper. Cook on medium-high until soft, about 4-5 minutes. Stir regularly.
- Next, add the flour to the melted butter mixture. Once the butter and flour are mixed and begin to form a paste, SLOWLY add the milk and cream. Stir constantly!
- Once the roux is gently bubbling and has thickened up a little bit, add the cubed cream cheese and cook on low heat for a few minutes until melted. Once the cream cheese has melted, turn off the heat. Now, add shredded cheese and stir gently, allowing the remaining heat in the roux to melt the cheese - this stops it from getting stringy.
- In a bowl, mix ½ cup of panko breadcrumbs with 1 tbsp. of melted butter.
- When the roux and macaroni are done, combine in a greased baking dish. Top with panko mixture and bake at 375F for about 15 minutes, or until the top is lightly golden. Keep an eye on it so the breadcrumbs don't burn.
- Serve, and enjoy!
Before you go, don't miss some of my other Mac of the Month Recipes! You can also search "mac of the month" to see all of them.
Can't wait to hear what you think of this recipe!!!
xo - C
PS. Have a great idea for a mac of the month recipe? I'm always open to suggestions! Let me know in the comments below.
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