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Bacon White Cheddar Pesto Mac and Cheese

Rated as 4.37 out of 5 Stars

"A rich and bacon-y variation of the tradition macaroni and cheese pasta dish."
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45 m servings 563
Original recipe yields 8 servings


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  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; 30 50.7 23.1 76 548 Full nutrition

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Read all reviews 15
  1. 19 Ratings

    Rated as 5 out of 5 Stars
    Rated as 4 out of 5 Stars
    Rated as 3 out of 5 Stars
    Rated as 2 out of 5 Stars
    Rated as 1 out of 5 Stars
Most helpful positive review

Definitely more of a pasta 'bake' than mac and cheese. I added more milk than originally called for and it was still dry. I also halved the pesto and should have doubled the bacon.

Most helpful critical review

To be honest, I really didn’t like the bacon in this. I’d change it to chicken instead. The flavor is pretty good but the bacon kills it for me. All in all I like the pesto white cheddar mix.

Most helpful
Most positive
Least positive

Definitely more of a pasta 'bake' than mac and cheese. I added more milk than originally called for and it was still dry. I also halved the pesto and should have doubled the bacon.

After reading the reviews, I added a little less milk because we prefer a creamy mac and cheese. In addition, I added a little less pesto so as to not mask the cheese flavor. It came out perfe...

I'm not sure if I should rate this a 5 or 4 star. I made some small changes by using penne and not elbow macaroni. I read the reviews about the sauce being too thin and reduced the milk to 1 cup...

We really liked this, but I do have to agree with the other reviewer that said this was more like a pesto pasta bake than a mac and cheese. Next time, I'm gonna make my usual mac and cheese sauc...

I love pesto and love mac & cheese, so, this seemed like the perfect combination! It had a great pesto flavor, but, didn't really taste like a "mac & cheese"to me. The cream sauce is much thin...

Followed the recipe exactly and it turned out amazing! Definitely making this again. Thought I made enough for 2 days of leftovers, but it was so good I ate it in 1.

I did play with this some - but not too much. Mostly I played with the consistency of the cheese sauce to get it nice and thick (so added a fair amount more flour, but then also added a bit more...

We really enjoyed this! It was a great "grown-up" twist on regular mac & cheese. I replaced the regular milk with half & half, using about a cup and a half, in addition to the heavy cream.

A new fav! I followed suggestions from other posters and lessened milk and pesto. It was delicious. I made a double recipe for the future dinners.