This Pepper Jack Mac and Cheese is made with a creamy cheese sauce coating cooked macaroni noodles and an extra generous helping of bacon pieces. The bold flavor makes this your favorite comfort food — at its finest! 

If you are looking for more creamy pasta recipes, then you should definitely try my Ricotta Pesto Pasta, Creamy Lemon Chicken Pasta, and my ultra creamy Fettuccine Alfredo

A spoon scooping up bacon topped Mac and cheese.

Why This Recipe Works

  • Ultimate comfort food. Macaroni and cheese is the ultimate comfort food! And this pepper jack Mac and cheese recipe is a fun way to spruce up the classic macaroni recipe into something amazing!
  • Kid- and adult-approved. Mac and cheese is a crowd-pleaser! From kids to adults, you really can’t go wrong with pasta noodles and cheese. But with so many delicious cheeses out there, it’s about time we spruce up the old classic. 
  • Mac and cheese with bacon. My husband loves this pepper jack Mac and cheese with bacon. I mean, it’s kind of a no-brainer husband dish because of the delicious crispy bacon pieces! My husband’s pretty confident that adding bacon would improve any meal. 

Ingredient Notes

Pepper Jack Mac and Cheese ingredients portioned into glass bowls on a white background.
  • Macaroni Noodles: Cooked and drained. If you’re wanting to mix things up and pick a different noodle, see my Recipe Tips section below where I explain the best noodle options to use. 
  • Unsalted Butter: If you have salted butter, you can use that and then cut out some of the salt from the recipe. 
  • Flour: Adding flour will thicken the sauce. 
  • Milk: Any percent will do. This is the base that will make the cheese sauce.
  • Half and Half: This will help the cheese sauce be additionally creamy.
  • Cream Cheese: Cream cheese will make for an ultra creamy sauce.  
  • Pepper Jack Cheese: You don’t have to use pepper jack cheese for the sauce. I love the pepper jack cheese and bacon Mac and cheese combination, so that’s what I’ve shared. Other great options are Colby jack cheese, Monterey Jack cheese, and gruyere cheese. 
  • Bacon: Cook the bacon and cut or crumble it into pieces. The bacon adds the most amazing flavor to the homemade mac and cheese recipe and adds a bit of a bite/crunch to the dish as well. 

Step-by-Step Instructions

  1. Make the sauce. Add 6 T butter to a large pot. Once melted, add the minced garlic and cook for 1 minute. Add in 1/4 cup all-purpose flour and cook for another minute, while stirring. Slowly pour in 2 1/2 cups milk and 1 1/2 cups half and half. Stir until smooth. Once smooth, add 8 oz cream cheese, 1 tsp salt and 1/2 tsp ground pepper. Stir until everything is melted and combined. 
  2. Add the cheese and bacon. Once the sauce is melted and uniform, add in 3 cups pepper jack cheese and 1/2 cup crumbled cooked bacon. Mix to combine. 
A pot with a white sauce in it and chopped bacon being stirred into the mix.
  1. Add in the tender elbow macaroni. Add in the cooked pasta (cooked to al dente according to the package directions) and stir to combine. 
  1. Bake. Transfer the pepper jack mac n cheese into a 9×13-inch baking dish sprayed with cooking spray. Top with additional bacon and the remaining 1 cup of cheese. Bake at 350ºF for 15 minutes or until the cheese on top is melted and the dish is warmed through. Enjoy!

Recipe Tips

If you’re cooking for a small family, cut the recipe in half. This recipe makes a ton! It will serve 14 people.

If you’re looking for a spicier kick to this dish, dice a jalapeño pepper and add it into the recipe. Or if you want to add some veggies into the mix, adding some diced green bell peppers is a great option. 

Half and half is just half part whole milk half part heavy cream. So if you don’t have half and half but you have cream and whole milk, you can just make it with that!

If you aren’t a fan of pepper jack cheese, that’s OK! You can use this same recipe and switch out the pepper jack cheese for something else or use a mix of pepper jack cheese and another type of cheese. Some of my favorite cheeses include sharp white cheddar, Colby jack, Monterey jack, and gruyere. Just be sure to test the cheese together if you’re wanting a combination. Some cheeses go better together than others. 

If you are worried about this being a spicy pepper jack macaroni, just know that the spice is really toned down when combined with all the milk, half and half, and cream cheese. 

Tips to make the creamiest mac ‘n cheese:

If you’re really wanting to take your mac and cheese to the next level, here are some tips: 

  • Cook the pasta in milk — This will make the pasta creamier than if cooked in water.
  • Choose your cheeses thoughtfully — If you’ve ever added parmesan to a pasta sauce, you probably noticed it doesn’t melt very well. If you’re looking for a creamy mac and cheese sauce, be sure to choose cheeses that melt well for the sauce. If there’s a cheese you like but it doesn’t melt well, you can use it as a topper. 
  • Use high milk fat dairy products — This includes cream, half and half, whole milk (instead of 1% or 2%, skim or part-skim milk), plain yogurt (if adding yogurt, make sure it’s plain and sugar free), mascarpone (a creamy Italian cheese) or cottage cheese. The high-fat dairy products in this recipe include half and half, milk and cream cheese, which make this mac and cheese recipe perfectly creamy!
  • Choose a pasta noodle that holds sauce well — When it comes to pasta dishes, it’s all about choosing the best noodles. Noodles that are shaped like cups (such as orecchiette or shells) or have ridges (such as radiatore, cavatappi, rotini, penne, or cavatelli) are good options.
  • If finishing in the oven, don’t over bake — Make sure you don’t over bake the mac and cheese in the oven, since this will remove a lot of the moisture in your dish. 

Make Ahead, Storing, and Freezing

Due to the creamy nature of the sauce, and the melted cheese, I wouldn’t make this pepper jack cheese mac and cheese recipe ahead of time. It doesn’t take that long to make, and it’s much better fresh!

Store leftovers in an airtight container in the fridge, or simply tightly cover the dish with plastic wrap, and store in the fridge for 2-3 days. Reheat in the microwave or cover the pan with aluminum foil and heat in the oven. 

When reheating, it can be helpful to add a little extra milk to to the large pan of mac to help loosen things up and make the sauce saucy again.

I don’t recommend freezing Mac and cheese. I find that pasta that’s been cooked, then frozen and thawed turns out mushy. This recipe is made of mostly dairy. And dairy can separate when frozen and thawed, making the texture of the sauce grainy. 

Recipe FAQs

Can you freeze mac and cheese?

Because of the large diary content in this recipe, I wouldn’t recommend it. Dairy products usually separate when they’ve been frozen. With the cheese, cream and milk in this recipe, there’s a chance the sauce will separate, affecting the texture and flavor. The pasta can also go mushy when cooked, frozen, then thawed. 

What is the best cheese for mac and cheese? 

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The great thing about this dish is it’s so easily customizable! Pick your favorite cheeses, cut a slice or two, and try different cheese combinations. Once you’ve found one you like, use that in the dish! Mashed has a list of different cheeses that go well in mac and cheese and potential flavor combinations. I love the pepper jack cheese and bacon combination, so that’s the one I’ve shared with you. If you find another combination you love, tell me about it in the comments below!

Is pepper jack a good melting cheese?

Yes! It has a high moisture content, making it a great cheese for melting on sandwiches — and in pepper jack mac and cheese, of course!

What can I serve with mac and cheese?

Cooked peas – I share a post on how to cook frozen peas, and I’m not kidding it’ll change your life. Grape Salad, Oven Roasted Broccoli, and Broccoli Caesar Salad are great options as well because they are light — pairing well with a heavier, comfort-like food that is Mac and cheese! 

A close up photo of a spoon scooping out cheesy bacon Mac and cheese.

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Pepper Jack Mac and Cheese topped with chunks of bacon.
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5 from 5 votes

Pepper Jack Mac and Cheese

This is comfort food at it's finest!! This cheesy Mac & Cheese features a creamy pepper jack cheese sauce that's tossed with cooked macaroni noodles. Top everything with a large handful of crispy cooked bacon and this just became the best mac and cheese ever!
Prep Time: 25 minutes
Cook Time: 15 minutes
Total Time: 40 minutes
Servings: 14 servings


  • 1 lb macaroni noodles - cooked and drained
  • 6 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 1 garlic clove - minced
  • 1/4 cup all purpose flour
  • 2 1/2 cups milk
  • 1 1/2 cups half and half
  • 8 oz cream cheese - softened and cut into 1 inch cubes
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground pepper
  • 4 cups pepper jack cheese - shredded, about 14 oz
  • 1 cup bacon - cooked and crumbled, about 8 slices


  • Preheat oven to 350°F. Spray a 9×13 inch baking dish with cooking spray. Set aside. 
  • In a large pot melt the butter. Once melted stir in the garlic and stir for 1 minute more. Stir in the flour and cook for another minute. Slowly pour in the milk and half and half. Once smooth stir in the cream cheese and salt and pepper. 
  • Once melted and combined stir in in 3 cups of pepper jack cheese and ½ cup bacon. 
  • Stir in the cooked noodles. 
  • Transfer the mac and cheese to the prepared baking dish and smooth into an even layer. Top with the remaining cheese and bacon. Bake for 15 minutes or until cheese is melted and the mac and cheese is warmed through. 


Add a bit of milk to the pasta when reheating leftovers. This will help create a saucy texture in the sauce again. 
Nutritional information is based on 1 serving (there are 14 servings in this recipe). This meal will feed a lot of people! 


Calories: 478kcal (24%)Carbohydrates: 30g (10%)Protein: 18g (36%)Fat: 32g (49%)Saturated Fat: 17g (85%)Cholesterol: 85mg (28%)Sodium: 535mg (22%)Potassium: 245mg (7%)Fiber: 1g (4%)Sugar: 4g (4%)Vitamin A: 784IU (16%)Vitamin C: 1mg (1%)Calcium: 342mg (34%)Iron: 1mg (6%)
Course: Main Course
Cuisine: American
Did you make this recipe?Please leave a star rating and review on the blog post letting me know how you liked this recipe! Take a picture and tag @saltandbaker on Tik Tok, Instagram, and Facebook so I can see what you’re making!

Recipe adapted from Chef-in-Training.