SimplyGrand Dishing with Steph: From Yeh to Yah, That’s Good...Smoky Bacon Mac and Cheese!

It was cold day and I was making lunch for the neighbor kids as well as my own, so I decided to try out Molly’s Recipe for Smoky Bacon Mac and Cheese.

I think almost everyone likes mac and cheese (except for my son, who is a cheese snob). What I liked about this recipe was the use combination of smoked Gouda, pepper Jack and Parmesan cheese, and of course, bacon!

Tools and Ingredients:

  • I found all the ingredients I needed at my local Hugo’s.
  • I used my favorite Dutch oven to fry half of the bacon and make the sauce.
  • Stick with Molly’s recommendation to use a whisk, it’s helps when making the sauce.
  • Use a large/deep dish to bake the mac and cheese.

Making the Smoky Bacon Mac and Cheese (p. 99):

I followed Molly’s recipe exactly, the only change I made was to double it. Since I was frying a pound and a half a bacon, I decided to try out two methods of cooking the bacon to save time. I hate frying bacon, and I admit to buying the pre-cooked slices often just to avoid cooking it. But I didn’t want to let Molly’s recipe down, and I wanted to use some really yummy bacon. So, I decided to try out cooking half the bacon in the oven and frying the other half on the stove.

While the bacon cooked, I diced and shredded the cheese. I liked that Molly’s recipe called for the Gouda and pepper Jack to be chopped rather than shredded, it saved time.

I wasn’t finished chopping the bacon when I started making the sauce, so I called my son in to whisk. I added the milk a little too quickly and was worried the sauce would be lumpy, but it turned out perfectly smooth. I was a little skeptical about using the bacon fat to make the sauce, but it was great.

I used a standard Pyrex 9x13 pan, I knew I would be pushing the limits with the quantity that the (doubled) recipe made. I kept an eye on the mac and cheese while it was in the oven and placed a cookie sheet on the rack under the pan to catch the drips for the last few minutes of baking.

I pulled the mac and cheese out of the oven when the edges bubbled, and the top started to brown.

Tips and Tricks:

My pan got a little dark from frying the bacon, I rinsed it out and wiped it off before I used it to make the sauce.

I also poured off the top of the bacon grease and left out the gritty, overcooked bacon bits that were too dark.

Use a big pan, put a cookie sheet under the ban if it starts to look like it will boil over


It was hard to wait five minutes before diving in. I loved the crunch that the panko breadcrumbs added to the top. The recipe was a hit with everyone. My husband heated up the leftovers for dinner that night and said it was his favorite mac and cheese recipe so far. Doubling the recipe was not necessary, I had enough to share with friends. You can’t beat the combination of cheese Molly used in this recipe. And the blend of seasonings was just right.

Baking the bacon really cut down on my time at the stove and proved to me that oven cooked bacon is the way to go in the future. Although my neighbor’s son looked at me like I was crazy for even trying.

Oven Cooked Bacon:

  • Heat your oven to 400°F.
  • Line a deep cookie sheet with aluminum foil, you’ll be happy you did this when it’s time to clean up.
  • Place an oven-safe, flat-square-grid cooling rack on your cookie sheet. This will help make the bacon extra crispy.
  • Lay bacon over the rack in a single layer.
  • Bake on a rack placed toward the lower third of your oven for 15-20 minutes, depending on the thickness of your bacon. (check around 12 minutes)
  • Drain the bacon on paper towels after cooking.

I’m having fun cooking my way through Molly on the Range. Next up is Butter and Salami Pizza (p.129). I have a list of recipes I can’t wait to try, feel free to send me your suggestions at or post to VisitGrandForks on Facebook, Twitter or Instagram.