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Bacon Macaroni and Cheese

Healthier Bacon Macaroni and Cheese Recipe


Healthier Bacon Macaroni and Cheese Recipe. This is my go-to comfort food dinner! If you love classic Macaroni and Cheese but are looking for a healthier version, this one’s for you!

This meal is made in a cast iron skillet and baked in the oven. To make this recipe you’ll need whole wheat elbow macaroni, turkey bacon, panko bread crumbs, Parmigiano Reggiano cheese, bell pepper, onion, fat-free milk, a little flour, and Mexican cheese.

It’s a simple way to bring a big smile to your dinner table. It’s got all the cheesy, bacony goodness you want from a mac and cheese, with a few extras to make you feel good about serving it.

Whether you’re feeding a crowd or just looking for a comforting meal, this Healthier Bacon Macaroni and Cheese has got you covered.

Weight Watchers Points


6 Points (2022/2024 Plan)

MyWW Points: 6 Blue Plan and 7 Green Plan

6 WW Freestyle Points and 7 Smart Points

Close-up view of Healthier Bacon Macaroni and Cheese in a black cast iron skillet, garnished with chopped parsley on top, indicating a crispy breadcrumb topping and a creamy cheese sauce.

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An overhead shot of Healthier Bacon Macaroni and Cheese served in a black cast iron skillet, with a sprinkling of golden breadcrumbs and fresh parsley, showcasing the creamy texture of the dish.


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Close-up view of Healthier Bacon Macaroni and Cheese in a black cast iron skillet, garnished with chopped parsley on top, indicating a crispy breadcrumb topping and a creamy cheese sauce.

Bacon Macaroni and Cheese

Nesting Lane
Healthier Bacon Macaroni and Cheese Recipe a delicious, oven-baked comfort food dinner made with whole wheat pasta and turkey bacon.
5 from 2 votes
Prep Time 25 minutes
Cook Time 35 minutes
Total Time 1 hour
Course Main Course
Cuisine American
Servings 6

Ingredients
 

  • 6 ounces whole wheat elbow macaroni (1¼ cups)
  • 4 slices cooked turkey bacon cut in pieces, divided
  • 2 tablespoon panko breadcrumbs
  • 2 tablespoon grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese divided
  • 1 small red bell pepper finely chopped
  • 1 small onion finely chopped
  • cup fat-free skim milk
  • 1 tablespoon all-purpose flour
  • ½ cup shredded reduced-fat Mexican cheese blend
  • salt to taste
  • cayenne pepper to taste
  • 3 tablespoon chopped scallions (optional)

Instructions
 

  • Preheat your oven to 375°F.
  • Spray a 9-inch cast iron skillet with cooking spray.
  • Boil the pasta in a large pot of salted water, following the instructions on the package, then drain it.
  • In a large nonstick skillet, cook ¼ of the bacon and breadcrumbs over medium heat, stirring often, until the breadcrumbs are toasted, which will take about 3 minutes.
  • Move the breadcrumb mixture to a cup, mix in ½ tsp of Parmesan cheese, and set it aside.
  • Place the red pepper, onion, and the rest of the bacon in the same skillet. Cook over medium heat, stirring from time to time, until the vegetables are soft. This should take about 7 minutes. Then, set them aside.
  • In the same skillet, whisk together milk and flour over medium-high heat until it comes to a boil. Then, lower the heat to medium and keep stirring occasionally. Let it simmer until the mixture gets a bit thicker, about 2 minutes.
  • Take the skillet off the heat and whisk in the cheddar cheese, salt, cayenne pepper, and the rest of the Parmesan cheese.
  • Add the cooked, drained pasta and the vegetable mixture to the skillet and toss everything together.
  • Transfer this mixture to the prepared skillet and evenly sprinkle the top with the breadcrumb mixture.
  • Bake in the oven until you see it bubbling at the edges, which should be around 15 minutes. Then, sprinkle sliced scallions on top.

Notes

Serving Size: 1¼ Cup
6 Points (2022/2024 Plan)
MyWW Points: 6 Blue Plan and 7 Green Plan
6 WW Freestyle Points and 7 Smart Points
We are not associated with Weight Watchers/WW in any way. Double check points on their official calculator.
Refrigeration and reheating: Leftovers can be stored in an airtight container in the refrigerator for a few days. To reheat, add a splash of milk to prevent the mac and cheese from drying out, and gently reheat it in the microwave or on the stove over low heat, stirring occasionally.
Freezing: This dish can be frozen, though the texture of the sauce may change slightly upon thawing. Freeze in airtight containers and thaw in the refrigerator overnight before reheating.
 

Nutrition

Calories: 218kcalCarbohydrates: 31gProtein: 13gFat: 5gSaturated Fat: 2gPolyunsaturated Fat: 1gMonounsaturated Fat: 2gCholesterol: 17mgSodium: 362mgPotassium: 295mgFiber: 1gSugar: 5gVitamin A: 619IUVitamin C: 17mgCalcium: 239mgIron: 2mg
Tried this recipe? Let us know what you think!Mention @nestinglane or tag #nestinglane

Helpful Tips and Tricks

Ingredient Preparation

Chop vegetables finely: This ensures they cook evenly and integrate well into the dish, offering a consistent texture throughout. Plus, finer pieces mean they’ll meld seamlessly with the creamy sauce and pasta.

Measure ingredients beforehand: Known as mise en place, this practice of having all your ingredients measured and prepared before you start cooking can significantly streamline your process. It reduces the risk of forgetting anything and lets you focus on the cooking.

Cooking Techniques and Adjustments

Pasta water: When draining your whole wheat macaroni, consider saving a bit of the pasta water. If your cheese sauce thickens too much after adding the pasta, a splash of this starchy water can help adjust the consistency without diluting the flavor.

Customize your veggies: While the recipe calls for red bell pepper and onion, feel free to add other vegetables you enjoy or have on hand. Spinach, broccoli, or mushrooms could add extra nutrition and taste.

Adjusting the sauce thickness: If your sauce seems too thick before adding the pasta, a little more milk can help. If it’s too thin, letting it simmer a bit longer can reduce it to the right consistency. Remember, it will thicken upon cooling.

Baking Insights

Skillet alternatives: If you don’t have a cast iron skillet, you can assemble the macaroni in any oven-safe dish. Just ensure it’s well-greased to prevent sticking and easy serving.

Baking to perfection: Keep an eye on the dish as it bakes. You’re looking for a bubbly edge and a golden-brown top. Oven temperatures can vary, so your dish might be ready a bit sooner or require a few extra minutes.

Serving Suggestions

Resting time: Let the dish sit for a few minutes after taking it out of the oven. This brief rest allows the cheese sauce to set slightly, making it easier to serve neat portions.

Side dishes: Considering the richness of mac and cheese, serving it with a light, fresh salad could offer a nice contrast. A simple green salad or a vinegar-based coleslaw can cut through the richness and refresh the palate.

Storage Tips

Refrigeration and reheating: Leftovers can be stored in an airtight container in the refrigerator for a few days. To reheat, add a splash of milk to prevent the mac and cheese from drying out, and gently reheat it in the microwave or on the stove over low heat, stirring occasionally.

Freezing: This dish can be frozen, though the texture of the sauce may change slightly upon thawing. Freeze in airtight containers and thaw in the refrigerator overnight before reheating.




A promotional image for Healthier Bacon Macaroni and Cheese, featuring the finished dish in a black cast iron skillet with the title text and website "NESTINGLANE.COM" displayed above.

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