I love mac and cheese. Who doesn’t? It’s an obvious choice. It’s even more obvious when you add bacon, but why do we always have to be subtle? We don’t. Sometimes, you have to please the people. Bring the people what they want. Bacony-toasted-panko-topped mac. With smoked cheese. And more bacon.


DOP: Reuben McLaughlin | Props: The Food Group | Recipe and food styling: Annabelle Waugh


Smoky Mac & Cheese with Bacon Crumble Recipe

Prep time: 10 min  | Cook time: 15 min | Total time: 25 min | Makes: 6 servings

How can you make the ultimate comfort food even better? This super simple stove-top mac and cheese gets amped up with a rich smoked Cheddar sauce and a crunchy bacon and bread crumb topping.


3 slices thick-cut bacon, chopped

1 cup (250 mL) panko bread crumbs

12 oz (375 g) short pasta, such as small shells, fusilli or farfalle

¼ cup (60 mL) butter

1/3 cup (75 mL) all-purpose flour

3-1/3 cups (850 mL) milk

2 tbsp (30 mL) Dijon mustard

½ tsp (2 mL) each salt and pepper

1-1/2 cups (375 mL) grated extra-old Cheddar cheese

1 cup (250 mL) grated smoked Cheddar cheese



  1. In skillet, cook bacon over medium heat until crisp, 6 to 8 min. Add panko crumbs. Toast, stirring often, until golden, about 4 min. Set aside.
  2. Cook pasta according to package directions until al dente; drain.
  3. Meanwhile, in large saucepan, melt butter over medium heat. Stir in flour. Cook, stirring often, until colour deepens slightly, about 2 min. Gradually whisk in milk. Cook, stirring, until thick enough to coat spoon, about 8 min.
  4. Stir in mustard, salt, pepper and cheeses. Cook, stirring, until cheese is melted and sauce is smooth. Remove from heat.
  5. Stir in cooked pasta until coated. Serve topped with bacon mixture.

Classic Mac & Cheese with Crumb Topping:  Omit bacon and smoked Cheddar cheese. Toast panko crumbs as directed in 3 tbsp (45 mL) butter; set aside. Follow recipe as directed, increasing extra-old Cheddar cheese to 2-1/2 cups (625 mL).

Photo, motion food styling and recipe by Annabelle Waugh



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