Jalapeno Popper Mac and Cheese

Vegetarian

jalapeno popper mac and cheese on blue plate

This jalapeno popper macaroni and cheese is probably the best thing that’s ever come out of my kitchen.

There’s not much more to say about it than that. I mean, I could go on about how how rich and creamy and cheesy it is. How the thick sauce that clings to each piece of pasta tastes like someone just squeezed the guts out of your favorite bar poppers and called it “sauce.” How I kept running back to the kitchen as I waited for the pasta to finish cooking because I couldn’t stop sneaking tastes.

Jalapeno Popper Mac and Cheese 1

Or I could tell you how even though I lightened it up by using vegetable stock instead of cream and reduced fat cheese* instead of full fat cheese, it’s still some of the richest macaroni and cheese I’ve ever tasted. While I certainly wouldn’t call it health food, it’s healthier than most homemade macaroni and cheese. And definitely healthier than eating a plate full of fried jalapeno poppers for dinner.

Seriously, I might as well just stop cooking, because I don’t know if I’ll ever top this one. So I’ll just say this: make this ASAP. You can thank me later.

*Repeat after me: fat free cheese is evil. If you try to use that instead of reduced fat, I take no responsibility in your results. If you want to use full-fat cheese be my guest, but Cabot makes a very nice 50% reduced fat cheddar and pepper jack that melts beautifully and tastes like the real deal.

Jalapeno Popper Mac and Cheese 2

Jalapeno Popper Mac and Cheese

Jalapeno Popper Mac and Cheese

Yield: 4
Prep Time: 20 minutes
Cook Time: 10 minutes
Total Time: 30 minutes

This rich macaroni and cheese captures all the flavor of the jalapeno poppers at your favorite bar or pizzeria — right down to the crispy topping — but without the guilt. This dish has a kick; to prevent it from being too spicy, be sure to remove all of the seeds as well as the white veins from the inside of your jalapenos. I like to use a blend of cheddar and pepper jack, but you can use all cheddar if you prefer.

Ingredients

  • 4 ounces dry Radiatore or other small, ridged pasta (elbow or shell shapes also work well)
  • 1 slice Bacon, diced (optional)
  • 1/4 cup diced Red Onion
  • 1 clove Garlic, minced
  • 8 Jalapeno Peppers, seeded and sliced
  • 2 Tablespoons Flour
  • 1 cup Vegetable Stock
  • 4 ounces Reduced Fat Sharp Cheddar Cheese, shredded
  • 4 ounces Reduced Fat Pepper Jack Cheese, shredded
  • 4 ounces 1/3 Less Fat Cream Cheese, cut into cubes
  • 1/4 cup Bread Crumbs

Instructions

  1. Preheat broiler. Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Cook pasta according to directions on the package. Drain and set aside.
  2. While the pasta cooks, prepare the sauce. Add the bacon, if using, to a wide bottomed pot over medium heat. Cook until crisp — about 7 minutes. Remove the bacon, leaving behind any drippings, and drain on a paper towel.
  3. Add the onion and garlic to the bacon grease and cook until softened — about 3 minutes. (If not using bacon, cook the onions and garlic in 1 Tablespoon of olive oil instead.) Add the jalapenos and cook for another 3 minutes. Stir in the flour. Cook for 1 minute, then add the vegetable stock. Simmer for 5 minutes.
  4. Slowly stir in the Cheddar and Pepper Jack cheeses, adding a little at a time and letting it melt completely before adding more. Stir in the cream cheese. Mix in the crumbled bacon, if using.
  5. Combine the cooked pasta and cheese in a shallow baking dish. Sprinkle a thin layer of bread crumbs over the top. Broil 3-5 minutes, or until bread crumb topping is crispy and golden brown.

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By on September 18th, 2011

About Lauren

Hi, I'm Lauren! I'm a certified plant-based cook and enthusiastic omnivore who loves looking for creative ways to make weeknight meals more nutritious. I'm the author of Heathy Eating One Pot Cookbook and Healthy Meal Prep Slow Cooker Cookbook.

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37 thoughts on “Jalapeno Popper Mac and Cheese”

  1. If only people could appreciate how dangerous gas burning appliances
    can be. A yearly gas safety inspection could save
    lives.

    Reply
  2. This recipe looks great, but I am curious to know if the 4 ounce of pasta was a typo…That is 1/4 of a normal package of pasta and is certainly nooooooo where near enough for 4 servings- 2 ounces is a normal serving size for pasta. Just wanted to make sure before I made it so I would know if I need to increase the amount of the sauce ingredients or just the amount of pasta. Looks great and I can’t wait to try it!

    Reply
    • I think it should say 8 ounces. I use half of a box of pasta when I make it.

      Reply
  3. Dry breadcrumbs are made from dry bread which has been baked or toasted to remove most remaining moisture, and may even have a sandy or even powdery texture. Bread crumbs are most easily produced by pulverizing slices of bread in a food processor, using a steel blade to make coarse crumbs, or a grating blade to make fine crumbs. A grater or similar tool will also do.”

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    Reply
  4. I made this for the secret recipe club reveal today. HUGE hit at my house! Thanks so much for the great recipe 🙂

    Reply
  5. I scaled down the recipe and made a single serving for myself today. I didn’t have veggie stock so I substituted with this white wine and herb chicken broth that I have on hand. I also used shallots instead of red onion and Neufchâtel cheese instead of cream cheese (it’s reduced fat and you can’t even tell the difference). All I have to say is… Holy macaroni! The hallelujah chorus and flights of angels spiraled down from the sky. Cherubs wept tears of joy. I have to be careful with this recipe. My boyfriend would have a sudden realization that he has no choice but to propose on the spot. He’ll think that any creature capable of producing such deliciousness needs to be secured right away. Okay. Maybe I’m exaggerating. But really. Great recipe. 😀

    Reply
  6. I just made this, and wow! It is seriously good. I added some mozzarella mixed with the cheddar and cream cheeses, which gave it a bit of gooey, stretchy cheese action. Yum!

    Reply
  7. Hi everyone,

    For the first time in my live I´m living alone, and as I never cooked before I´m all the time searching in the internet, so I found your blog, it´s amazing, it really makes thing easier for me.
    I use Spanish cheese in my recipes, they are amazing,there are many diferent ones, suitable for all kind of recipes, just have a look at this website and let me know what do you think.
    kind regards
    Ana

    http://www.asturiascheese.com/spanish-cheese

    Reply

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