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Mac & Cheese, & Bacon, & Sriracha: 3 indulgent new ways to gussy up our favorite creamy comfort food

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Bacon-jalapeno mac and cheese


Mac & Cheese, & Bacon, & Sriracha: 3 indulgent new ways to gussy up our favorite creamy comfort food

After a long week, or just a hard-earned day, there's almost nothing better than diving into a big bowl of macaroni and cheese. Here at Southern Kitchen, we like our mac and cheese every which way (that swimming pool idea doesn't sound bad actually), and we're always looking for new and exciting ingredients to bring to the table. 

Whether you prefer a big scoop of extra-sharp cheddar, zesty pickled jalapeños or a generous drizzle of Sriracha sauce, we've got your mac and cheese covered. Here are three recipes that cover all of the bases.

Bacon-Jalapeño Mac and Cheese
You can't ever go wrong with bacon, especially in your mac and cheese. We like to pair eight crisp pieces with a full quarter-cup of diced pickled jalapeños in this triple-cheese mac. The piquant peppers complement the Monterey Jack, Gruyère and cheddar just as well as the smoky bacon, making for a totally unique dinner. Even better: this mac and cheese is built upon a simple cream sauce — there's no need to make a roux, temper eggs or even stick a casserole in the oven.  
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Extra Cheesy Mac and Cheese
If you prefer a more demure mac and cheese, look to this baked extra-cheesy version. In it, a cream-based sauce is seasoned with dry mustard, nutmeg and hot sauce to cut the richness, and it gets four whole cups of grated sharp white cheddar cheese. More cheese gets sprinkled on top to form a golden brown, crisp and crackling crust that's sure to bring everyone to the table. This recipe is a great blank canvas for all kinds of additions, including diced ham, peas, lobster, crab, roasted cauliflower, asparagus, broccoli and sweet grape tomatoes.
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Chef Jeffrey Gardner's Morning-After Mac and Cheese
This decadent mac and cheese recipe comes straight from Southern Kitchen's in-house chef, who developed the combination as a cure for late-night adventures he remembers (well, kinda remembers) after working the line early in his restaurant career. Whether you're out at a bar with other restaurant chefs or just had one too many glasses of wine at a dinner party, a bowl of this cheesy, meaty pasta should certainly help settle things down. And sure, hot dogs and bacon together in one dish may sound like a bit much, but don't knock it 'till you try it, especially with a more-than-generous topping of Sriracha sauce.
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Photo Credit (Extra Cheesy Mac): Ramona King
Photo Credit (Morning After Mac): Maura Friedman

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Kate Williams is the former editor-in-chief of Southern Kitchen. She was also the on-air personality on our podcast, Sunday Supper. She's worked in food since 2009, including a two-year stint at America’s Test Kitchen. Kate has been a personal chef, recipe developer, the food editor at a hyperlocal news site in Berkeley and a freelance writer for publications such as Serious Eats, Anova Culinary, The Cook’s Cook and Berkeleyside. Kate is also an avid rock climber and occasionally dabbles in long-distance running. She makes a mean peach pie and likes her bourbon neat.