This Jalapeno Popper Mac and Cheese is over the top delicious. Loaded with bacon, sausage, and extra cheese before getting a tender kiss of hardwood smoke. You may not know it yet, but this is your new favorite food. Your death-row last meal request. Are you ready for that kind of commitment? Well then, friend, read on.
I think mac and cheese needs to be indulgent. It is comfort food, after all. So keep that in mind as you read the ingredients list, mmmmk? My favorite thing about this dish (in addition to the awesome flavor) is the ease of preparation. One skillet. No separate pot of hot water or additional baking dishes required. Everything is cooked together, even the noodles, which results in the creamiest mac & cheese to ever hit your tongue. The noodles absorb all of the flavor from the bacon, sausage, and jalapenos while it cooks. Every bite is equally as delicious as the one before.
After spending a couple of years perfecting the Stuffed Jalapeno Popper, I knew it was time to take those flavors and put it in a pasta! I think it is pretty standard to throw some cream cheese in a jalapeno, wrap it in bacon, and call it a jalapeno popper. Alas, simplicity was never my strong suite. I took the base flavors and went a little off course and drove that flavor train into meat depot. I added browned bratwursts, melty cheese, and topped the whole thing with my signature Sweet Rub. They are the best poppers ever, and now all the flavors I love are all floating around in every bite of this Jalapeno Popper Mac and Cheese. I even baked the mac & cheese on my smoker so it would have that same signature smoky flavor as my poppers!
PRO-TIP: If you don’t have a smoker, you can still get a bit of smoky flavor in your mac & cheese. Make sure you buy apple wood smoked bacon at the store! You can follow the rest of the instructions, just skip the smoking step and bake at the same temperature in your oven instead of on your grill.
Final note before you jump in and fulfill all of your wildest food fantasies, mac and cheese is always about preference! My husband prefers mac and cheese straight out of the skillet, no baking time. He likes it extra saucy (which, I mean, duh). I like my mac and cheese baked and a little more set up. You’ve gotta go with what you like! If you’re an extra sauce person, I would recommend giving your jalapeno mac and cheese about 20 minutes on the smoker so it still gets that flavor, but doesn’t get the heat required to get everything set up. If you like it baked, follow the instructions as written below!