Macaroni and Cheese Casserole with Bacon

"I often think that if I spent a week following my toddler, doing exactly what he does, I would lose half an a**  [butt] cheek on each side." This  quote from First Time Mom and Dad made me laugh so hard, I had to share it!  It is funny because it is SO true!

My little one, Hannah has been pretty active. She is now  four years old, but her moves continue to amaze me. I mean, she leaps like a frog with no effort! A short walk from the living room to the kitchen turns into laps around the kitchen island. She'll break in song and dance anytime, no matter who's watching. And why simply walk to the store entrance, isn't it better to skip? Even when Hannah chooses to walk around "sensibly," she remains a busy body moving toys from one room to another. I do think I could easily loose a few pounds just by following her around. In fact, if my hubby caught on to this idea, he might prefer canceling my gym membership 🙂

We can agree that kids know how to have fun. The simplest things inspire them to move. And the simplest things give them joy. So, I thought I could reach in and perhaps inspire that inner child in all of us today with a twist on kids' favorite dish, mac & cheese.

Today's dish is an easy big kid macaroni and cheese casserole. You will love the "adult" twist on mac & cheese with bechemal sauce, Gruyere and Parmesan. I snuck in spinach, basil and bacon. I LOVE bacon; in fact, I am a bit addicted to it. Every bite of this casserole is filled with flavorful gooey comfort. I hope you try it soon.

Just curious, what was your favorite meal as a child? Let me know in the comments.

Let's make some mac & cheese:

Preheat oven to 400F.

First, cook pasta according to package instructions. Mine cooked in about 9 minutes in salted boiling water. When done, drain and set aside in a large pot.

Meanwhile prep ingredients. Chop bacon in small pieces. Roughly chop baby spinach and basil and set aside.  Shred about two cups of Gruyere cheese and prepare another cup of grated Parmesan cheese.

Chopped bacon Chopped spinach Basil leaves

In a cast-iron/ large heavy skillet, begin to brown bacon on medium-high heat, tossing occasionally. When bacon crisps and browns nicely, remove from skillet with a slotted spoon. Place on paper towel to drain.

Pieces of bacon cooking in a skillet Cooked bacon pieces draining on a paper towel

With the bacon fat, begin to make bechamel sauce. First, cook flour briefly in the bacon fat on medium-low heat.

Flour added to skillet with remaining bacon fat

Raise heat to medium and begin to add room-temperature milk, one-cup-at-a-time, whisking continuously to avoid lumping.

Milk added to skillet and whisked

Add nutmeg, garlic powder and salt. Cook for another 7 minutes or so, stirring occasionally, until mixture becomes smooth and begins to thicken.

Nutmeg, garlic powder and salt added to skillet

Stir in Gruyere cheese and ½ cup of grated Parmesan cheese.  Turn heat off and let sauce thicken to a nice creamy cheesy bechamel.

Grated Parmesan cheese added to skillet Cheese whisked into flour mixture

Combine spinach and basil with the pasta.  Add the bechamel sauce and combine well to coat pasta. Add bacon and mix some more.

Contents of skillet poured over spinach Pot of spinach and sauce mixed together Bacon added to mixture in the pot

Place in one large baking dish or divide in oven-safe individual-sized dishes or ramekins. Top with remaining Parmesan cheese.

Extra Parmesan cheese added to top of spinach mixture and added to a baking dish

Bake in 400F heated-oven for 20 minutes. Turn broiler on for a brief three minutes, watching carefully as top of casserole crisps and browns nicely. Remove from oven.

Enjoy this big kid macaroni and cheese casserole, savoring every bite like a kid would 🙂

Spoon of Macaroni and Cheese Casserole with bacon

Don't forget to add our quick and simple Mediterranean salad next to this casserole!

Looking for more bechamel casseroles? You may like our zucchini bechamel casserole.

Be sure to subscribe to this blog. Lots of Holiday recipes cooking! Don't miss out.

Print
clock clock iconcutlery cutlery iconflag flag iconfolder folder iconinstagram instagram iconpinterest pinterest iconfacebook facebook iconprint print iconsquares squares iconheart heart iconheart solid heart solid icon
Macaroni and Cheese Casserole Recipe

Big Kid Macaroni and Cheese Casserole Recipe


Description

Here is an easy big kid macaroni and cheese casserole. You will love the "adult" twist on mac & cheese with bechemal sauce, Gruyere and Parmesan. Every bite of this casserole is filled with flavorful gooey comfort.


Ingredients

Scale
  • 1 lb elbow macaroni
  • 6 strips good black forest bacon, chopped
  • 6 oz fresh baby spinach, roughly chopped
  • 15 basil leaves, roughly chopped
  • salt

For Cheesy Bechamel Sauce:

  • 4 cups milk, room temperature
  • ½ cup flour
  • 2 cups Gruyere cheese, shredded
  • 1 cup Parmesan cheese, grated, divided
  • ¼ tsp ground nutmeg
  • ¼ tsp garlic powder
  • pinch of salt
  • fat from bacon

Instructions

  1. Preheat to 400F.
  2. Cook pasta according to package instructions. It should take about 9 minutes or so in salted boiling water.
  3. In a large heavy skillet, brown chopped bacon on medium-high heat. When bacon crisps up nicely, remove with a slotted spoon and place on paper towel to drain.
  4. In the same skillet, using the bacon fat, begin to prepare bechamel sauce. Brown flour in bacon fat for about 4 minutes or so on low/medium-low heat until it turns golden in color. Raise heat to medium and add room-temperature milk one-cup-at-a-time whisking continuously. Season with a pinch of salt, nutmeg, and garlic powder. Cook for another 7 minutes, stirring occasionally,until mixture is smooth and begins to thicken. Stir in Gruyere cheese and ½ cup Parmesan. Remove from heat and let sit to thicken into a creamy cheesy bechamel.
  5. Combine pasta with spinach and basil.
  6. Add bechamel sauce and mix well to coat pasta. Mix in crispy bacon.
  7. Place in a baking dish, or divide in oven-safe individual-sized dishes or ramekins. Top with remaining Parmesan cheese.
  8. Bake in 400F heated-oven for 20 minutes or so. Turn broiler on briefly and watch as top of the macaroni and cheese casserole turns crispy and slightly golden-brown. Remove from oven. Serve warm.
  9. Add a simple salad next to this casserole. You may also like our zucchini bechamel casserole.

Notes

  • Visit the Mediterranean Dish store to purchase our all-natural or organic spices. Create your own 6-pack or 3-pack of your favorites!
  • Prep Time: 10 mins
  • Cook Time: 35 mins
  • Category: Entree
  • Method: Baked
  • Cuisine: Italian

Keywords: Macaroni and Cheese, Mac n' Cheese, Easy Macaroni and Cheese, Casserole

Try these delicious recipes:

Simple Pasta and Peas with Pancetta

Greek Lemon Rice

Lemon Garlic Shrimp

Shrimp with Tomato and Feta

Italian Baked Chicken

Please share this recipe. If you have not yet subscribed to this blog, I invite you to join me for a fun culinary ride. Subscribe today!

Share it with the world

I'm Suzy; born and bred right on the shores of the Mediterranean. I'm all about easy, healthy recipes with big Mediterranean flavors. Three values guide my cooking: eat with the seasons; use whole foods; and above all, share! So happy you're here...
Learn More

Get our best recipes and all Things Mediterranean delivered to your inbox.

Leave a comment

Your email address will not be published.

Recipe rating

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

Comments

  1. ooh lovely! I usually want my mac and cheese with something, but you've made it a complete meal! Love it! Pinning now....

  2. Mac and Cheese has to be my all time favourite comfort food.. and definitely something I am craving now after seeing your delicious images! Pinned!

    1. Thalia! I am totally with you, I love mac n' cheese myself. There is nothing like the comfort of gooey cheesy pasta 🙂
      BTW, I just started a group pinterest board. If you want to contribute, follow themeddish on pinterest and let me know so I can invite you! Your delicious desserts would be a great addition.

  3. That looks like the most perfect mac and cheese! I will Never be too old for cheesy, creamy, crunchy on top noodles 🙂

  4. You are so right! Kids do know how to have fun!
    These photos and this recipe are amazing.
    Very well done!

    Cheers! - Ice