Imagine creamy mac and cheese, crispy smoky bacon, and the mellow kick of Tennessee whiskey combined in one game-changing dish. That is Jack Daniel's Bacon Mac and Cheese, and we can't wait to share our favorite recipe with you! Plus, we'll add some healthier variations for guilt-free indulgence.

What You'll Need

  • cast iron skillet
  • cheese grater
  • measuring cups
  • colander
  • large pot with lid
  • Chef's knife
  • cutting board
  • whisk
  • cooking tongs
jack daniel's bottle on wooden background

Ingredients

  • 4 slices smoked provolone cheese, sliced
  • 1 cup sharp cheddar cheese, grated
  • ¼ cup asiago cheese, grated
  • 4 slices American cheese, sliced
  • ½ cup chicken broth
  • 1 package peppered bacon
  • 3 tbsp butter, unsalted
  • water
  • 2 tsp garlic powder
  • ½ cup Jack Daniel's whiskey
  • 1 tsp smoked Spanish-style paprika
  • 1 tsp chili powder
  • 2 cups whole milk
  • 1/3 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1 box uncooked elbow pasta (16 oz)
  • 2 tbsp breadcrumbs
  • salt (we prefer pink Himalayan sea salt)

Instructions

Step #1: Pasta Perfection

Heat 5 quarts of lightly salted water over high heat in large pot. Once boiling, add pasta and cook to al dente according to box directions, about 7 minutes. Drain with colander, and set aside.

crispy cooked bacon

Step #2: Beautiful Bacon

Heat skillet over medium-high heat. Slice bacon into thin strips, then slice again and again until it becomes bite-sized bits. Cook until crispy, flipping occasionally, according to package directions. Remove and set aside.

Step #3: Special Sauce

Lower skillet to medium heat, leaving bacon drippings in pan. Add butter and melt. Whisk to combine, then add spices and flour. Whisk again. Add whiskey and chicken broth, and mix. Heat until boiling for about 2 minutes, stirring occasionally. Now, add the milk and cheese, heating and whisking until cheese has melted and sauce is smooth. If too runny, add a bit more flour, if too thick, add more milk. Pre-heat oven to broiler mode (500 degrees).

Step #4: Cool Combination

Lower skillet to medium-low heat. Combine cooked pasta and bacon with sauce. Stir until sauce is evenly distributed and the pasta and bacon are coated in creamy goodness. Cook, stirring occasionally, for about 2 minutes.

baked mac and cheese

Step #5: Baked Breadcrumbs

Sprinkle top of mixture with breadcrumbs, then place under broiler for 3 minutes until golden brown. Remove from heat, and serve immediately!

Healthier Variations

If you want to enjoy this delectable recipe with less calories and more nutritional punch, here are some simple substitutions we've tested. Use skim milk rather than whole milk, consider low-fat cheese or less cheese, and use turkey bacon as an alternate to traditional bacon. Additionally, vegetable broth or low sodium chicken broth could be used instead of chicken broth, and lentil or chickpea pasta is a great wheat pasta substitute.

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