clock clock iconcutlery cutlery iconflag flag iconfolder folder iconinstagram instagram iconpinterest pinterest iconfacebook facebook iconprint print iconsquares squares iconheart heart iconheart solid heart solid icon
Mac and cheese topped with crispy bacon pieces in a shallow white bowl, next to a linen napkin and a sprig of rosemary.

Bacon Mac and Cheese with Rosemary

  • Author: Jessie
  • Prep Time: 10 minutes
  • Cook Time: 25 minutes
  • Total Time: 35 minutes
  • Yield: Serves 4
  • Category: Pasta
  • Cuisine: Italian-American


A quick and easy stovetop mac and cheese with bacon, rosemary, and white cheddar.


  • 3/4 pound pasta (we used cavatappi noodles)
  • 4 strips thick-cut bacon, diced
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 3 sprigs fresh rosemary, leaves removed and roughly chopped (about 3 Tablespoons)
  • 3 Tablespoons all-purpose flour
  • 2 cups milk
  • kosher salt and pepper to taste
  • 2 1/2 cups shredded white cheddar cheese


Cook the pasta:

  1. Cook pasta in a large pot filled with very salty water until al dente. Drain and set aside.

Cook the bacon:

  1. Return pot to stove over medium heat. Add diced bacon and cook, stirring frequently, until crispy.
  2. Use a slotted spoon to remove bacon to a paper towel-lined plate. Leave the bacon fat in the pot: This will be the fat that we use to build our roux! You want about 3 Tablespoons of bacon fat left in the pot; if you have quite a bit more than this, feel free to spoon a bit out.

Build the sauce:

  1. Add garlic and rosemary to the pot with your bacon fat. The bacon fat will be quite hot: keep an eye on the garlic and stir frequently to ensure it doesn't burn (you can reduce the heat or turn it off entirely for a minute if you need to). Cook until garlic has softened and rosemary is fragrant, about one minute.
  2. Add flour to pot and stir to form a paste. (This is our roux, which will help the sauce thicken. Don't worry if the bacon fat foams up a bit or looks different than a traditional flour-and-butter roux here!)
  3. Whisk milk into roux a little at a time, whisking constantly to work out any flour lumps. Whisk in a pinch of salt and some fresh cracked black pepper.
  4. Bring sauce to a low simmer and cook, stirring frequently, for 6-10 minutes until it thickens.
  5. Remove pot from heat and stir in shredded cheese. Stir until cheese has melted.
  6. Add cooked pasta to sauce and stir to combine. Taste and add salt and pepper as needed. Top with crispy bacon and serve immediately.


Shred your own cheese if you can: Store bought shredded cheeses are often coated with preservatives that prevent them from melting smoothly.

Additions and Substitutions. Add more garlic or rosemary if you like. Use 1 teaspoon dried garlic in place of the fresh garlic. Use 1 Tablespoon dried rosemary in place of fresh rosemary. If you omit the bacon, use 3 Tablespoons butter in place of the bacon fat to make the roux. Add chicken, sausage, or ham for extra protein. Stir in broccoli, spinach, kale, butter beans, roasted butternut squash, or cauliflower to make this a bit heartier. Substitute up to 1 cup of the milk for chicken stock, beer, or white wine. Replace some or all of the white cheddar cheese with fontina, parmesan, havarti, cream cheese, gruyere, or goat cheese. Use our favorite Magic Cauliflower Cream in place of the flour and milk if you like.

To make this a baked mac and cheese, cook the pasta until it's a few minutes less than al dente, then prepare as directed and transfer to a casserole dish. Top with toasted bread crumbs, extra cheese, and the crispy bacon and bake at 400° F for 15-30 minutes until the top is crispy. For a full guide to baking mac and cheese, check out Mac and Cheese 101

Keywords: pasta, comfort food, side dish