Bacon White Cheddar Pesto Mac and Cheese


A rich and bacon-y variation of the tradition macaroni and cheese pasta dish.

Prep Time:
10 mins
Cook Time:
35 mins
Total Time:
45 mins
8 servings


  • 1 (16 ounce) package elbow macaroni

  • ½ cup basil pesto sauce, purchased or homemade

  • 6 slices bacon

  • 2 tablespoons butter

  • 2 garlic cloves, minced

  • 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour

  • 2 cups milk

  • ½ cup heavy cream

  • salt and pepper to taste

  • 8 ounces grated white Cheddar cheese

  • ¼ cup panko bread crumbs

  • ¼ cup grated Parmesan cheese


  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C). Grease a 2 1/2- or 3-quart baking dish.

  2. Bring a large pot of lightly salted water to a boil. Cook elbow macaroni in the boiling water, stirring occasionally until tender yet firm to the bite, 8 minutes. Drain. Transfer pasta back to pot; cover and keep warm off heat.

  3. Place bacon in a large skillet and cook over medium-high heat, turning occasionally, until evenly browned and crisp, about 10 minutes. Drain bacon slices on paper towels. Crumble.

  4. Place butter and minced garlic in a saucepan over medium-high heat; stir until butter is melted. Whisk flour into butter mixture, and continue whisking until flour starts to turn golden brown, about 1 minute. Slowly add milk, heavy cream, salt, and pepper to the saucepan, whisking until there are no lumps. Bring to a boil, stirring frequently. Reduce heat to medium.

  5. Stir grated Cheddar cheese into the cream mixture, stirring until the cheese is melted. Add basil pesto sauce and half of the crumbled bacon; stir. Transfer mixture to pot with cooked elbows; stir to combine. Pour into prepared baking dish.

  6. Mix panko bread crumbs and Parmesan cheese together in a bowl. Sprinkle topping evenly over macaroni and cheese.

  7. Bake in preheated oven until bubbly and just starting to brown, about 20 minutes. Top with remaining half of bacon.

  8. Preheat the oven's broiler. Place baking dish under broiler until browned, 1 to 3 minutes. Garnish with chopped basil.

Cook's Note:

I used Barilla® Elbows and Barilla® Traditional Basil Pesto.

Nutrition Facts (per serving)

563 Calories
30g Fat
51g Carbs
23g Protein
Nutrition Facts
Servings Per Recipe 8
Calories 563
% Daily Value *
Total Fat 30g 38%
Saturated Fat 15g 77%
Cholesterol 76mg 25%
Sodium 548mg 24%
Total Carbohydrate 51g 18%
Dietary Fiber 2g 8%
Total Sugars 4g
Protein 23g
Vitamin C 2mg 8%
Calcium 438mg 34%
Iron 3mg 16%
Potassium 340mg 7%

* Percent Daily Values are based on a 2,000 calorie diet. Your daily values may be higher or lower depending on your calorie needs.

** Nutrient information is not available for all ingredients. Amount is based on available nutrient data.

(-) Information is not currently available for this nutrient. If you are following a medically restrictive diet, please consult your doctor or registered dietitian before preparing this recipe for personal consumption.