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Dutch Oven Mac and Cheese

Dutch Oven Mac and Cheese brings a new level of comfort to a beloved classic. With its creamy cheese sauce, crispy bacon bits, and tender pasta shells, it works perfectly for potlucks or weeknight dinners.

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overhead shot of homemade dutch oven mac and cheese.

When I’m in need of an easy comfort meal, I love to grab my Le Creuset cast iron Dutch oven and make delicious bacon mac and cheese. This simple dish is an instant crowd-pleaser!

The best part about Dutch oven mac and cheese is that it all comes together in one pot — which means less cleanup and more time to enjoy. 

In fact, it can go straight from the oven to the tabletop for easy serving.

Baked mac and cheese with bacon is a symbol of comfort, whether it’s served during the holiday season, at potluck parties, or simply as a home-cooked meal. 

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It’s hearty enough for a meal on its own, but it complements grilled meats (like this grilled chicken) and roasted asparagus and carrots with ease. 

ingredients needed to make dutch oven mac and cheese

Ingredients and Substitutions

  • Elbow macaroni: you can use small shell noodles instead
  • Bacon: this gives the mac and cheese more flavor, but can be omitted
  • Butter
  • All-purpose flour
  • Milk: preferably whole, but 2% will work too
  • Salt
  • Black pepper
  • Dried nutmeg
  • Sharp cheddar cheese
  • Gruyere cheese: this can swapped out for either Gouda, Monterey Jack, or Colby cheese

How to Make Baked Mac and Cheese with Bacon

A full printable version of this recipe with ingredient measurements is available at the bottom of this post.

STEP ONE: Preheat your oven to 400 degrees F. Cook the pasta to al dente, according to package directions. Drain the pasta and return it to the pot to keep warm.

STEP TWO: In a Dutch oven over medium heat, cook the bacon until it’s crispy. Remove the bacon to a paper towel-lined plate, leaving 2 tablespoons of drippings in the pot.

STEP THREE: Add the butter to the bacon fat and let it melt. Then, whisk in the flour continuously for 1-2 minutes until it turns golden brown.

Cooking bacon in dutch oven until crispy
Adding in milk to roux in Dutch oven.

STEP FOUR: Gradually whisk in the milk, salt, pepper, and nutmeg. Continue cooking for about 5 minutes, whisking often until the mixture thickens. Remove the pot from the heat.

adding in grated cheeses to roux in Dutch oven.

STEP FIVE: Fold in ¾ cup each of the cheddar and Gruyere cheese, adding just a bit at a time until it’s fully melted.

STEP SIX: Add the cooked pasta and bacon, stirring to combine.

STEP SIX: Sprinkle the remaining cheese on top of the pasta.

STEP SEVEN: Transfer the pot to the oven and bake uncovered for 15-20 minutes until the cheese is bubbly and melted on top. Enjoy your delicious homemade mac and cheese!

mixing in cooked pasta and crispy bacon with homemade cheese sauce
Topped cooked macaroni with leftover shredded cheese.

What to Serve With Baked Bacon Mac and Cheese

While Dutch oven mac and cheese is delicious on its own, it’s even better when paired with air fryer BBQ chicken wings and air fried chuck roast.

For a vegetable side dish, consider serving roasted parmesan broccoli or green beans almondine

overhead side view of cheesy mac and cheese in a pot.

Variations for Dutch Oven Mac and Cheese

  • If you’re looking to add a bit more texture to your creamy mac and cheese, add a breadcrumb topping during the last 5 minutes or so of baking.  
  • You can swap out the bacon for other protein sources or add some in with it. Diced chicken or sliced sausage are tasty additions to bacon mac and cheese. Remember to cook them beforehand or utilize leftovers for convenience and extra flavor!
  • Spice it up with chopped jalapeños, red pepper flakes, or buffalo sauce!
  • While the recipe calls for elbow macaroni, don’t hesitate to experiment with mini shells, wheels, or orecchiette. 
using a slotted spoon to serve homemade mac and cheese

More Mac and Cheese Recipes 

closeup of bacon mac and cheese in a pot

How Do I Prevent Mac and Cheese from Getting Grainy?

To prevent grainy mac and cheese, be sure to melt the cheese gradually over low heat while stirring constantly. Add a small handful at a time, waiting until it has completely melted before adding more.

High heat can cause the cheese sauce to break and become grainy, which is not ideal for that creamy texture we want!

cheesy bacon mac and cheese in a bowl

Can I Make Dutch Oven Mac and Cheese Ahead of Time?

Yes! If you’re prepping for the holidays or a large gathering, make it no more than a day in advance. Prepare the recipe as directed, but stop before it goes into the oven

Instead, spoon everything into a foil baking pan and cover tightly. Store the remaining shredded cheese separately, but place both in the refrigerator.

When you’re ready, continue the recipe by adding the cheese and baking. Increase the cooking time by a few minutes to ensure it’s warmed through.

Otherwise, cook your mac and cheese all the way through, then refrigerate leftovers in an airtight container for up to 4 days

baked mac and cheese with cheddar and gruyere in a white bowl

What is the Best Way to Reheat Mac and Cheese?

Baked mac and cheese can go right back in the oven at 350 degrees F until warmed through. 

You can also warm individual portions on the stove with a splash of milk, though the texture will be a bit creamier.

More Pasta Recipes to Try

overhead shot of homemade dutch oven mac and cheese.

Dutch Oven Mac and Cheese

Samantha Erb
Dutch oven mac and cheese is a delicious side dish (or main dish if you're like me). The blend of multiple cheeses provides a rich and gooey texture, while the addition of crispy bacon adds a nice crunch and smoky flavor.
4.67 from 3 votes
Prep Time 5 minutes
Cook Time 40 minutes
Total Time 45 minutes
Course Dinner Recipes
Cuisine American
Servings 8 servings
Calories 537 kcal

Ingredients

  • 16 ounces elbow macaroni or shells
  • ½ pound bacon
  • 2 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • ¼ cup all-purpose flour
  • 3 cups whole milk
  • ½ teaspoon kosher salt
  • ¼ teaspoon black pepper
  • teaspoon nutmeg
  • 8 ounces sharp cheddar cheese shredded, divided
  • 8 ounces Gruyere cheese shredded, divided (or Gouda, Monterey Jack, Colby, etc)

Instructions
 

  • Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F.
  • Cook pasta in a large pot of boiling salted water according to package directions for al dente.
  • Drain the pasta and place it back into the cooking pot.
  • Cook the bacon until crispy in a Dutch oven set over medium heat.
  • Remove the bacon to a paper towel lined plate to drain, leaving 2 tablespoons of the drippings in the pot. 
  • Add the butter to the bacon fat and allow it to melt, then add in the flour and whisk constantly for 1-2 minutes, until golden brown. 
  • Gradually whisk in the milk, salt, pepper, and nutmeg and continue cooking for about 5 minutes, whisking often until the mixture begins to thicken. Remove the pot from the heat.
  • Fold in ¾ cup each of the cheddar and Gruyere, a little at a time, until completely melted.
  • Add the cooked pasta and bacon and stir until well combined.
  • Top the pasta with the remaining cheese, transfer the pot to the oven, and bake for 15-20 minutes, uncovered, until the cheese is bubbly and melted on top.

Nutrition

Serving: 1gCalories: 537kcalCarbohydrates: 27gProtein: 29gFat: 34gSaturated Fat: 17gPolyunsaturated Fat: 14gTrans Fat: 1gCholesterol: 99mgSodium: 970mgFiber: 1gSugar: 5g
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samantha

About Samantha

I’ve always had a love of cooking and creating new recipes, so it only made sense to create a food blog so I could share those recipes with you. This site is designed to provide easy and flavorful recipes with as little ingredients as possible. That means you still get great flavor combinations without all that extra time and effort. Read more...

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