Square image of a spoonful of chicken and bacon mac and cheese being scooped out of pan. Cheese is stretching.

Chicken and Bacon Mac and Cheese

When you need that cheesy creamy goodness of Mac and Cheese but want a little something extra, this version with chicken, bacon and tomato totally hits the spot!
Course Dinner
Cuisine American
Keyword autumn, Comfort Food, pasta, pasta bake
Prep Time 15 minutes
Cook Time 40 minutes
Total Time 55 minutes
Servings 6 people
Author Nicky Corbishley

Ingredients

  • 1 1/2 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 large onion peeled and chopped
  • 3 chicken breasts chopped into bite size chunks
  • ½ tsp salt
  • ½ tsp pepper
  • 3 cloves garlic peeled and minced
  • 2 tbsp tomato puree paste if you're in USA
  • 400 g tin of chopped tomatoes
  • 1 tsp granulated sugar
  • 1 litre hot chicken or vegetable stock
  • 300 g elbow macaroni
  • 90 ml double heavy cream
  • 100 g grated cheddar cheese
  • 100 g grated mozzarella cheese
  • 8 rashers cooked chopped streaky bacon
  • 3 tbsp panko breadcrumbs
  • 1 tbsp freshly chopped parsley to serve optional

Instructions

  • Heat the oil in a large frying pan and add the onion. Cook on a medium heat for 5 minutes, until the onion starts to soften.
  • Add the chicken, then cook for 5 – 6 minutes until the chicken is sealed.
  • Add the salt, pepper, garlic and tomato puree. Stir everything together so that the tomato paste coats the chicken.
  • Add in the tinned tomatoes, sugar and stock. Stir and bring to the boil, then add in the macaroni.
  • Stir together, bring back to a gentle simmer and place a lid on. Simmer for 13-15 minutes, checking and stirring a couple of times during cooking, until the macaroni is cooked.
  • Once the macaroni is cooked, stir in the cream and sprinkle on half of each of the cheeses, followed by all of the bacon.
  • Stir together. Mix the remaining cheese with the panko and sprinkle on top.
  • Place under the grill (broiler) for 5-6 minutes until golden brown.
  • Sprinkle on the chopped parsley and serve!

Notes

Can I make it gluten free?

Yes! Use gluten free macaroni and gluten free breadcrumbs and you're good to go. Gluten free pasta is pretty good these days, so it'll still taste great.
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Can I make it ahead?

Yes, make it up until the point where you've just sprinkled on the breadcrumbs and cheese. Then cool, cover and refrigerate for up to a day. Heat in the oven at 190C/375F for about 25 minutes until hot througout. You may need to cover with foil for the last 5-10 minutes if it starts browning too much.
Note: the Mac and Cheese will be a little less saucy if you make it ahead, as the pasta will absorb more of the liquid. You can add an extra 120ml (half cup) of stock when cooking the pasta to ensure it's still saucy.
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Will it freeze?

Yes, make up until the point where you've just sprinkled on the breadcrumbs and cheese. Then cool, cover and freeze. Defrost overnight in the refrigerator and heat in the oven at 190C/375F for about 25 minutes until hot throughout. You may need to cover with foil for the last 5-10 minutes if it starts browning too much.
As per the instructions above, it's a good idea to add an extra 120ml (half cup) of stock when cooking the pasta to ensure it's still saucy (as the pasta will absorb more liquid when than if it's eaten right away).
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Other flavour ideas:

  • Replace the bacon with sliced jalapenos for a spicy version.
  • Replace the chicken and bacon with cooked chorizo and peppers for a Mexican take.
  • Replace the meat with lightly fried mushrooms and leeks for a veggie version. Sprinkle on crushed nachos for the last minute of cooking for extra flavour.
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Nutritional Information is per serving.

Nutritional Information

Calories: 652kcal | Carbohydrates: 48g | Protein: 43g | Fat: 30g | Saturated Fat: 13g | Cholesterol: 137mg | Sodium: 1291mg | Potassium: 808mg | Fiber: 2g | Sugar: 5g | Vitamin A: 695IU | Vitamin C: 10.8mg | Calcium: 271mg | Iron: 2.4mg
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