A pan of this homemade macaroni and cheese can be on your dinner table in no time at all. A creamy cheese sauce and crumbled bacon makes this Broccoli Mac and Cheese a great comfort food meal on a chilly day.
This week I made another mac and cheese recipe with ingredients I had in the fridge. This easy pasta dinner got rave reviews in my home, and I am sure it will in yours too!
Why You Will Love This Pasta
Baked mac and cheese is the perfect comfort food. There is something about those cheesy pasta noodles that just makes everything right.
- This bacon pasta is easy to make.
- So creamy and delicious!
- A Ritz cracker topping gives it a yummy crunch.
- Easy to customize with other veggies.
- Great way to get everyone to eat their greens.
The best thing about this baked broccoli mac and cheese is that you can prep everything ahead of time, then bake it until it is hot and bubbly on the evening you want to serve it.
Get ready to make a pan of cheesy bacon mac and cheese just by using a few simple ingredients from your pantry and refrigerator.
- Pasta Noodles - We just used the classic elbow noodles in this recipe, but feel free to use any small pasta shape that you like.
- Broccoli - Fresh broccoli florets cut into bite sized pieces is best.
- Bechamel Sauce - A combination of butter, flour, milk, and Greek yogurt create a thick creamy sauce.
- Cheese - For the freshest creamiest sauce, I recommend using freshly grated cheddar cheese. The pre-shredded store bought cheese at the store has a coating on it to prevent clumping, but it also slows down the melting process.
- Bacon - You can buy thick cut bacon and cook it yourself or buy the pre-cooked bacon. FYI: If you buy the already cooked bacon, heat it in the microwave to crisp it up.
How to Make Broccoli Mac & Cheese
Take your cheesy macaroni and cheese to a whole new level by adding a bacon broccoli element. It is full of flavor and so easy to make.
Boil the Noodles
Fill a large pot with water and bring it to a boil. Add the noodles and cook the macaroni to al dente.
Add the broccoli florets when the pasta has 2 minutes left to cook. Drain off all the water and set aside.
Make the Cheese Sauce
Melt butter in a large pot. Whisk in the flour and black pepper. Let the mixture cook for a few minutes.
Slowly whisk in the milk and let it simmer until thickened. Do not let it boil. Add the yogurt and shredded cheese slowly and stir until melted and creamy. Remove the pan from the heat.
Assemble and Bake
Add the drained pasta, broccoli, and crumbled bacon to the pot. Stir everything together until it is coated and creamy.
Spoon the mac and cheese into a baking dish and top with more shredded cheese and crumbled Ritz crackers.
Place the baking dish in a preheat oven and bake until the pasta is hot and bubbly. Serve immediately by itself or with some delicious parmesan chicken tenders.
In the Refrigerator - Place the leftover mac and cheese into an airtight container and refrigerate 3-5 days. Reheat single servings in the microwave.
In the Freezer - Place the pasta in freezer bags or containers and freeze for up to 2 months. Thaw overnight in the refrigerator.
To Reheat - Reheat single servings in the microwave. You can also reheat the mac and cheese in a large pot on the stovetop. Pasta tends to absorb liquid, so you will need to add a splash of milk before reheating. Stir as it heats up to combine everything again.
As a Freezer Meal - Spray a tinfoil casserole dish with nonstick spray. Spoon the finished pasta into it and let cool.
Top with cheese and crackers, then cover tightly and freeze for later. Do not bake it! Thaw the casserole in the fridge 24 hours before baking it.
Tips and Tricks
- For the richest cheese sauce, use a higher fat milk. Whole milk is actually the best.
- You can also use a bag of frozen broccoli instead of fresh. Stir it into the hot pasta mixture and let it heat up before putting everything in the oven.
- Don't like broccoli? Try adding frozen peas.
- Change up the flavor of the macaroni and cheese by using different flavors of cheese. Other ones that would be great are Velveeta, Monterey Jack, Colby Jack, Gouda.
- Make the pasta heartier by adding shredded chicken or cooked hamburger meat.
- For stovetop broccoli mac and cheese, skip the crumb topping and serve it from the pot.
- Serve this pasta recipe as a main course, or serve it as side dish with pulled pork or this oven roasted Tri Tip.
If your sauce is too thin, stir more shredded cheese into the mixture and let it melt and thicken.
Yes, use a gluten free flour and gluten free noodles in place of the regular ones that the recipe calls for.
Elbow macaroni is the traditional choice for mac and cheese. Any small pasta with holes or crannies are great for a cheesy sauce to cling to.
Other Pasta Recipes
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*The post for Bacon Broccoli Mac and Cheese was first published January 2015. It was updated with new pictures and more info in November 2022.