Mac and Cheese with Roasted Cauliflower and Smoked Bacon

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This post is kindly sponsored by Skinner™, but the opinions are 100% ours.

We can hardly think of any other dish the brings about so many “oohs” and “ahhs” than this epic take on classic macaroni and cheese.

Everyone wants a little more fun in life and this recipe is guaranteed to deliver just that. We are thrilled to have partnered with Skinner to bring you the ultimate mac ‘n cheese. The roasted cauliflower and crispy smoked bacon put it over the top. Let’s do this!

Mac n cheese with roasted cauliflower and smoked bacon recipe

How To Make Mac ‘n Cheese with Roasted Cauliflower and Smoked Bacon

Quite honestly, just the name of this dish gets us excited.

We’ll get to all the yummy ingredients soon, but we have to start with one of the most important components of mac ‘n cheese: Macaroni!

We always turn to Skinner for our pasta needs. This dish is all about heroic proportions, so we 100% must go with Skinner Large Elbows! And what’s even better, we find them with ease at our local Walmart!

A large blue Walmart bag on its side next to a plate of cooked bacon, a bag of Skinner pasta, and bowls of cheese and bread crumbs.

The combination of roasted cauliflower and smoked bacon is an amazing taste sensation and is key to making this dish epic.

Simply cut the cauliflower into florets, toss with a little oil, salt, and pepper, and then bake until soft and slightly browned, about 20 minutes at 375°F. 

The roasting brings out a slightly nutty taste that matches beautifully with the bacon, bechamel, pasta, and melty cheese.

Mac and cheese with roasted cauliflower and smoked bacon recipe

Skinner Elevates the Flavor Profile

We love cooking with Skinner pasta because the taste and texture are just so good.

As mentioned, we’re using Skinner Large Elbow (12 oz) for this dish. It’s the perfect size to match up with the other bold and amazing ingredients.

Skinner helps us transform mediocre mac ‘n cheese into something that is truly magical.

A man pouring elbow pasta from a bag into a pasta pan filled with boiling water.

In addition to Skinner Large Elbow macaroni, you’ll want to use an awesome melting cheese.

We’re using 2 of our favorite types of melting cheese: Gruyere and Fontina, combined with a lush béchamel sauce.  It forms the basis for the perfect mac ‘n cheese.

And of course, the crunchy and flavorful breadcrumb topping is pure perfection!  Buttery, crunchy, with a hint of garlic.  Mmmmm.

Mac n cheese with roasted cauliflower and smoked bacon recipe

When To Serve

This dish is a joy to serve for any occasion. It’s not difficult to prepare and can be made in advance (up to baking) so as part of a busy weeknight meal is no problem.

But because the dish is always such a huge hit with kids and adults alike, it’s especially great when served with your holiday feast.

We have to say it again: Skinner is the ultimate pasta to create the ultimate macaroni and cheese!

A square white baking dish filled with mac n cheese with roasted cauliflower and smoked bacon sitting next to a bag of Skinner elbow pasta.

We just can’t rave about this dish enough. All the components work perfectly together.

And, it’s fun to put adult-ing on the backburner and unleash your mac-atarian and make a mac ‘n cheese that your loved ones will be requesting time and time again.

Folks, there’s mac ‘n cheese, and then there’s this.

A person using a spoon to scoop out a helping of macaroni and cheese with cauliflower and bacon out of a white square baking dish.

Ready to make the best mac ‘n cheese in the world? Go for it!

And when you do, be sure to take a photo, post it on Instagram, and tag @howtofeedaloon and @skinnerpasta!

A spoonful of Mac and Cheese with Roasted Cauliflower and Smoked Bacon in a white dish

Mac and Cheese with Roasted Cauliflower and Smoked Bacon

This Mac and Cheese with Roasted Cauliflower and Smoked Bacon is pure comfort. It all comes together for the perfect mac 'n cheese. From the toasted bread crumbs, to béchamel, to Gruyere and Fontina cheese, to roasted cauliflower and of course the smoked bacon...it just doesn't get much better than this. Can be made 48 hours in advance, just don't put the bread crumbs on until just before placing in the oven.
Print Pin Rate
Course: Side Dish
Cuisine: French / American
Keyword: how to make macaroni and cheese, mac n cheese
Prep Time: 20 minutes
Cook Time: 1 hour 10 minutes
Total Time: 1 hour 30 minutes
Servings: 12 people
Calories: 362kcal

Equipment

  • 10"x10" or 9"x13" baking dish

Ingredients

  • 1 baguette crusts removed
  • 5 tbsp unsalted butter divided
  • 2 garlic cloves each sliced in half
  • 6 oz Applewood smoked bacon thick slice
  • 1 head cauliflower cut into small florets
  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • Kosher salt and ground black pepper
  • ¼ cup all-purpose flour
  • 2 cups whole milk
  • 1 cup heavy cream
  • 1 tbsp dry mustard
  • 4 oz Gruyere cheese shredded
  • 4 oz Fontina cheese shredded
  • 12 oz Skinner large elbow macaroni cooked according to package instructions

Instructions

MAKE THE BREADCRUMB TOPPING

  • Pulse the bread in a food processor until uniform crumbs appear
  • Heat 1 tablespoon butter in a medium skillet over medium-high heat
  • Swirl the garlic, cut side down, in the melted butter, for about 1 minute, then remove and discard.
  • Add the bread crumbs and cook, stirring frequently, until toasted and lightly browned, about 5 minutes.
  • Transfer to a paper towel-lined plate and lightly season with salt. Set aside.

ROAST THE CAULIFLOWER AND PREPARE THE BACON

  • Pre-heat oven to 375°F.
  • In a large bowl, toss the cauliflower with the olive oil and a pinch of salt and pepper.
  • Place on a baking sheet and bake until soft and beginning to brown, about 15 to 20 minutes. Remove from oven and set aside. Lower oven temp to 350 F.
  • Meanwhile, cook the bacon in a large skillet and crisp.
  • Transfer to a paper towel-lined plate and then coarsely crumble when cool enough to handle. Set aside.

MAKE THE BÉCHAMEL SAUCE

  • In a large sturdy pot (i.e., Dutch Oven), heat 4 tablespoons butter over medium heat.
  • Add the flour and stir with a wooden spoon for 3 minutes.
  • Carefully add in the milk and cream, whisking constantly to fully incorporate. Add the mustard, 1/2 teaspoon salt, and 1/4 teaspoon black pepper. Stir often until thickened, about 3 to 5 minutes.
  • One handful at a time, add the cheese, stirring to melt as you go.
  • Gently fold in the cooked cauliflower and bacon. Stir in the cooked pasta.

FINISH OFF THE MAC AND CHEESE

  • Pour the mixture into the baking dish. Top with bread crumbs.
  • Place in oven and bake for 45 minutes, or until bubbly. Let sit for 5 minutes before serving.

Notes

The dish can be made up to 48 hours in advance, up to baking.  Don't add the breadcrumb topping until just before baking.
Leftovers can be kept in a container with a lid for up to 5 days.  The dish can be frozen, before baking, for up to 1 month.  We don't recommend freezing after baking, as the cheese and cream sauce will lose its texture and creamy taste. 

Nutrition

Calories: 362kcal | Carbohydrates: 18g | Protein: 12g | Fat: 27g | Saturated Fat: 14g | Cholesterol: 75mg | Sodium: 369mg | Potassium: 281mg | Fiber: 2g | Sugar: 3g | Vitamin A: 686IU | Vitamin C: 23mg | Calcium: 237mg | Iron: 1mg
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