Mac 'n Cheese with Roasted Jalapenos and Pancetta

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  • Level: Easy
  • Total: 1 hr
  • Active: 30 min
  • Yield: 4 servings
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Kosher salt

8 ounces dry pasta of your choice (choose one with lots of nooks for holding sauce, such as cavatappi, shells or elbow macaroni)

2 cups whole or 2 percent milk

1/2 cup half-and-half

4 ounces pancetta or bacon, diced

2 tablespoons all-purpose flour

3/4 cup shredded white Cheddar

1/2 cup shredded fontina

1/4 cup shredded pecorino or Parmesan

4 ounces cream cheese, cubed

2 fresh jalapeno peppers, roasted and chopped


  1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.
  2. Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Add the pasta and cook until slightly less than al dente. Drain the pasta and return it to the pot.
  3. Meanwhile, heat the milk and half-and-half in a small saucepan until it almost simmers. Keep warm.
  4. Place the pancetta in a medium skillet over medium heat and cook, stirring frequently, until crispy, 5 to 6 minutes. Transfer with a slotted spoon to paper towels to drain, leaving the fat in the skillet.
  5. Keep about 2 tablespoons of the pancetta fat in the skillet (pour off any extra) and return the skillet to medium heat. Add the flour and whisk to combine. Cook, stirring, 2 minutes. Gradually whisk in the warm milk mixture. Continue cooking, stirring often, until the sauce is simmering and thickened, 5 to 10 minutes longer, stirring often and lowering the heat if necessary so it doesn't scorch on the bottom.
  6. Remove the skillet from the heat and stir in the Cheddar, fontina and pecorino. Fold in the cream cheese and continue stirring until the cheeses have melted. Taste and season with salt as needed. Stir in the roasted jalapenos.
  7. Add the cheese sauce to the pot with the drained pasta and stir. Transfer the pasta to a 2-quart baking dish or individual ovenproof serving dishes (such as ramekins, French onion soup bowls or mini pie pans). Sprinkle with the pancetta and bake until browned on top and bubbling, 25 to 30 minutes.
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