Pasta | Side Dishes

Garlic, Bacon, and Beer Macaroni and Cheese

Garlic, Bacon, and Beer Macaroni and Cheese has pub cheese, bacon, and garlic for a ridiculously good bacon and mac and cheese of your dreams. This baked mac and cheese with bacon has become a cult classic in our home and just might be the best gourmet mac and cheese recipe ever. Try it once, and you will be hooked.

side view of finished bacon macaroni and cheese plated on a white dish; remainder of the mac n cheese is in the background in a cast iron skillet (zoomed view)

This recipe was originally posted July 2014 and updated October 2019 for content and photos.

FIST BUMP!! This is just about one of the most mind-blowing things I have ever made, so I would get out the fat-pants if I were you. Because you are going to love this. The best bacon mac and cheese recipe ever.

Why? Because:

side view of a wooden spoon scooping up a bit of the beer mac and cheese

In case you were not aware, I take cooking with beer pretty seriously. Check out these 41 Recipes that Prove Beer is the Best Ingredient as evidence.

Reasons to love beer macaroni and cheese with bacon:

  1. Garlic
  2. Bacon
  3. Beer
  4. Macaroni and Cheese.

Just let that sink in for a minute. Am I right? ..YES.

It is so obvious – why didn’t I think of this macaroni and cheese ages ago! I made this to go with a fourth of July dinner, along with Whole Grilled Snapper and Grown-up Berry Shortcake, and this creamy mac ‘n cheese just made the whole day…

collage of 2 photos; butter and flour to make the roux; then adding the thyme and garlic (top down view)

…of course, in addition to time with my family, Florida sunshine, fireworks, celebrating the birth of our nation, yada-yada-yada.

Now I have to warn you, this is crazy garlicky and hoppy in an awesome, cheesy, crazy garlicky, cooked-in-beer-sort-of-way. Holy depth of flavor! So you have to commit.

You have to go for it and just make this. Just do it. Because it is awesome …Then write me and tell me about it ?.

dark stout beer being poured into a measuring cup

Where did this bacon and mac and cheese recipe come from:

This recipe is a modification, adaptation, conglomeration of a couple of my favorite recipes and ingredients.

What we do is take my traditional Macaroni and Cheese and add elements from my Cheddar Beer Pumpernickel Bread Dip – namely, beer and pub cheese. Then also garlic and bacon and WHOOOP. We are happy happy.

Other than those additions, plus a little fresh thyme, this is a standard macaroni and cheese recipe: make roux, add milk, add cheese.

All of my macaroni and cheese recipes are around that foundation, I just mess with the ingredients ratios and add fun flavors like here.

view to show the pub cheese

What are the steps to making Garlic, Bacon, and Beer Macaroni and Cheese?

  1. Cook the pasta.
  2. Make the cheese sauce.
  3. Transfer the macaroni with the cheese sauce to a bake dish.
  4. Top with crunchy bacon topping.
  5. Bake and enjoy.
finished cheese sauce with bacon pieces floating on top

What is pub cheese?

Pub cheese is a soft, spreadable cheddar cheese served commonly in New England where I grew up. I remember it being served as a favorite local restaurant with crackers instead of a bread basket while we waited for our food to be cooked.

To buy it, you can find it in the grocery store in either the dairy or specialty cheese sections. I have never had a hard time getting it, but I have had to try different recipes because what is sold varies across the country.

In Massachusetts, we get Wispride. In Florida, I get Kaukauna. At Walmart (so, literally everywhere), we can get Merkts.

(Note: with the Wispride and Kaukauna brands, get the regular variety, not the varieties with port wine. That’s a different thing.)

I have used all of these varieties in this recipe and they all work the same, so I recommend them all equally. I once tried President pub cheese, and that is the only one that I do not recommend for this recipe.

macaroni being added to the cheese sauce, top down view in a saucepan

What can be substituted for the beer?

Honestly, the flavor of the beer kinda makes this dish the sexy thing it is. And I serve this to my kids with no issue, because the alcohol cooks off as it bakes.

That said, yes you can substitute chicken or vegetable stock for the beer and have yourself a yummy plate of Garlic and Bacon Mac n Cheese.

collage of three photos: bacon, panko, and thyme in a white bowl; side view of melted butter pouring into the bowl; combined ingredients with a spoon in a white bowl to show the finished topping

Can bacon mac n cheese be made ahead?

Yes! BUT (there’s always a but, right?), if you do, I recommend adding an additional 1/4 cup milk to keep this creamy when reheated.

I don’t recommend adding additional beer because A) 3/4 cup is plenty for the flavor and B) stout beer is dark beer and we don’t want brown macaroni and cheese.

cast iron skillet, side view showing the topping being sprinkled on with a spoon to the mac and cheese

Can this recipe be made vegetarian?

Yes again! Just sub out the bacon for tempe bacon. Chop and fry it up with a little oil, and you are good to go vegetarian.

What dishes go with macaroni and cheese with beer?

Goodness, so many! First, Garlic, Bacon, and Beer Macaroni and Cheese can be served as a side dish or as your main event.

If serving baked mac and cheese with bacon as a side, I recommend grilled pork or chicken be served. If serving as a main course, I suggest light sides, especially salads, because this recipe is so rich. Here are some suggestions…

On the other hand, this mac recipe is legitimately perfect for football watching, in which case serve it with whatever the hell you like.

side view of a wooden spoon scooping up a bit of the beer mac and cheese

Handy Tips for Making Bacon Mac n Cheese

  • Dried thyme can be substituted for the fresh, but if you do so reduce to use a 1/4 tsp in the cheese sauce and a couple pinches in the topping.
  • To ensure our macaroni and cheese with beer comes out nice and creamy, take care not to overcook the cheese sauce so that it gets too thick. Pretty much anytime I make mac n cheese anymore, I cook until the cheese is mostly melted, but not all the way because the hot pasta will melt the rest when added.
  • Take care when starting the cheese sauce: get the butter and flour going, then add the garlic and let it cook a bit before adding the milk and beer. If you forget the garlic, don’t just add it later raw. Cook it briefly in a little oil, then add to the sauce.
top down view of the cooked bacon macaroni and cheese in a large cast iron skillet

So that’s it kids. Garlic, Bacon, and Beer Macaroni and Cheese, the best mac and cheese recipe ever. Like I said, try it once and you will be hooked.

For more macaroni and cheese recipes, check these out

Garlic, Bacon, and Beer Macaroni and Cheese. This recipe has to happen in your life. #recipe #food #macaroniandcheese #beer #cheese #bacon

Click the P for Pinterest at the bottom of this post to save this recipe. If you make it, post on Instagram and tag @ericasrecipes.

Garlic, Bacon, and Beer Macaroni and Cheese | EricasRecipes.com

Garlic, Bacon, and Beer Macaroni and Cheese

Erica
Garlic, Bacon, and Beer Macaroni and Cheese. Try it once, and you will be hooked.
5 from 11 votes
Prep Time 10 mins
Cook Time 40 mins
Total Time 50 mins
Course Main Course, Side Dish
Cuisine American
Servings 6 people
Calories 492 kcal

Ingredients
  

  • 6 strips bacon cooked and crumbled, divided
  • 4 Tbsp unsalted butter divided
  • 3 Tbsp all-purpose flour
  • 2 large cloves garlic minced
  • 1 ½ tsp fresh thyme leaves divided
  • 2 cup milk
  • ¾ cup stout beer such as Guinness
  • 1 tsp kosher salt
  • pinch fresh cracked pepper
  • 2 cup shredded sharp cheddar cheese
  • ½ cup sharp cheddar cheese spread See Notes
  • 8 oz elbow macaroni
  • ½ cup panko breadcrumbs
  • garnish: fresh thyme leaves and couple pinches barbecue seasoning such as Chef Prudhomme's, McCormick, or my Grilling Rub for Chicken

Instructions
 

  • Heat oven to 350°F. Bring a large pot of water to a boil.
  • In a medium saucepan, heat 3 Tablespoons butter with the flour over medium heat, whisking until bubbly. Cook 2 minutes.
  • Add the garlic and 1 teaspoon thyme, and cook an additional minute. Slowly whisk in the the milk and beer.
  • Heat, stirring constantly, a couple minutes until warm and a little steamy.
  • Reduce heat to medium-low, add both cheeses, salt, and pepper, and cook, whisking, until smooth. Remove from the heat. Stir in half the bacon.
  • Cook the macaroni to al dente according to package directions in salted water (note that this can be done while making the cheese sauce). Drain pasta and add to the cheese sauce. Transfer to a 2-qt baking dish.
  • In a small saucepan, melt the remaining 1 tablespoon butter. Add the panko, remaining 1/2 teaspoon thyme, and remaining bacon. Sprinkle over the macaroni.
  • Bake at 350°F for 20-25 minutes until bubbly. Serve garnished with fresh thyme leaves and a pinch of barbecue seasoning. Yield: 6-8 servings.

Notes

By sharp cheddar cheese spread, I’m talking about the pub-type spreadable cheese, found in the dairy aisle, that comes in a tub. I have tried Wispride, Merkts, and Kaukauna brands, and they all work for this recipe.

Nutrition

Calories: 492kcal (25%) | Carbohydrates: 28g (9%) | Protein: 22g (44%) | Fat: 31g (48%) | Saturated Fat: 18g (113%) | Polyunsaturated Fat: 1g | Monounsaturated Fat: 2g | Cholesterol: 91mg (30%) | Sodium: 776mg (34%) | Potassium: 179mg (5%) | Fiber: 1g (4%) | Sugar: 8g (9%)

Calorie count is purely an estimate calculated using an online application to serve as a guide and not to be taken as accurate nutritional information. Percent Daily Values are based on a 2,000 calorie diet.

Keyword bacon and mac and cheese, bacon mac and cheese, baked mac and cheese with bacon, beer mac and cheese
Tried this recipe?Leave a comment below and let me know!

~✿♥✿~

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