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Spicy Chicken and Bacon Mac

I've been working to perfect a creamy, spicy mac and cheese for years. After adding smoky bacon, chicken, jalapenos and spicy cheese, this is the ultimate! I use rotisserie chicken and precooked bacon when I'm pressed for time. —Sarah Gilbert, Aloha, Oregon
  • Total Time
    Prep/Total Time: 30 min.
  • Makes
    6 servings


  • 1-1/2 cups uncooked cavatappi pasta or elbow macaroni
  • 3 tablespoons butter
  • 3 tablespoons all-purpose flour
  • 1-1/2 cups heavy whipping cream
  • 1/2 cup 2% milk
  • 1 teaspoon Cajun seasoning
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon pepper
  • 2 cups shredded pepper jack cheese
  • 2 cups shredded cooked chicken
  • 6 bacon strips, cooked and crumbled
  • 1 jalapeno pepper, seeded and chopped
  • 1 cup crushed kettle-cooked potato chips or panko bread crumbs


  • Cook pasta according to package directions for al dente; drain. Preheat broiler.
  • In a 10-inch cast-iron or other ovenproof skillet, heat butter over medium heat. Stir in flour until blended; cook and stir until lightly browned, 1-2 minutes (do not burn). Gradually whisk in cream, milk, Cajun seasoning, salt and pepper. Bring to a boil, stirring constantly. Reduce heat; cook and stir until thickened, about 5 minutes. Stir in cheese until melted. Add pasta, chicken, bacon and jalapeno; cook and stir until heated through. Sprinkle chips over top.
  • Broil 3-4 inches from heat until chips are browned, about 30 seconds.

Test Kitchen tips
  • If your family likes spicy foods, add more Cajun seasoning or jalapeno pepper.
  • Cavatappi is a tube-shaped pasta in the shape of a corkscrew.
  • Nutrition Facts
    1 cup: 673 calories, 50g fat (28g saturated fat), 175mg cholesterol, 705mg sodium, 26g carbohydrate (3g sugars, 1g fiber), 32g protein.

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    Average Rating:
    • Robert
      Sep 1, 2020

      Simple, delish. It's a keeper.

    • kredhead
      Feb 6, 2020

      Yummo. I made it and its really, really good! Another keeper recipe. I made an incredible, spicy cheesy rasta pasta by subbing jerk seasoning for cajun. Sauteed the chicken in jerk spice too. Used a whole 1lb box of pasta-this spiral style is key for standing up to cheesy clingy goodness. I added more of everything

      Nov 22, 2019

      Based on the reviews, I just printed out this recipe to make with the leftover turkey from Thanksgiving. Will let you know if it's just as good as you all say it is! Also wondering and will maybe try to substitute shrimp or lobster pieces for the chicken...hmmm, may have to try that first.

    • pajamaangel
      Oct 22, 2019

      No comment left

    • rebelwithoutaclue
      Sep 9, 2019

      Really enjoyed this Mac 'n Cheese. Substituted crawfish meat for the bacon. Had crawfish on hand but no bacon. Who lives like that? haha

    • Tanya
      Jun 6, 2019

      I have been searching for a mac n cheese recipe like this my whole life. Would not change a single thing. Seriously we are total foodies and this is sooo good. Super creamy and the sauce doesnt break, it's not dry. Perfect noodle selection too. So good.

    • Susan
      Feb 19, 2019

      I made this on Saturday for my boyfriend's 47th birthday bash; we hosted around 40 people so I doubled the recipe. I made a GINORMOUS spread on a 12' long table and out of all the food I made, this dish received the most praise! I was asked for the recipe multiple times throughout the evening. Within an hour and a half, this dish was gone. A few changes I made: I used margarine, as a hate butter. I also sauteed 1/2 a vidalia onion (finely chopped) before adding the flour. I disagree with other reviewers that the sauce was too thick... I felt it was perfect. I doubled the cajun spice, used a little extra bacon, and crumbled jalapeño kettle chips on top. Another change I made was that I sauteed everything in a non stick skillet, then transferred to a casserole dish and baked on 350° for 35 minutes.... it was unreal. In fact, it was so good that since there were zero leftovers, my boyfriend's actual birthday was that Sunday and I made a second (smaller) batch for the two of us... ohhhh myyyy gooooodnesss!!! SO GOOD. This is a once-in-a-while treat; a very rich comfort food. I will make this again, for parties or for a special occasion. Thank you for the fantastic recipe!!

    • ginny3235
      Feb 11, 2019

      Made this for lunch today for my 2 adult sons and I. FANTASTIC! We all loved it. One of my sons (the career chef) diced the jalapeno very small, so it was well distributed. Two comments, one is that the sauce was too thick, had to add more 2% milk before adding mac, etc. I would use half and half or part that and part 2% milk next time. No whipping cream. (less expensive too). The other comment is that I thought it would be good to add 1/2 cup chopped onion to the butter a couple of minutes before adding flour so I did that and it was a good addition. I have already had to copy the recipe for my son - one lives here so doesn't need it. This had great presentation, flavor, texture - what more could we want? Yummy!! Fortunately there were only three of us and I served a salad with it, so we have some left for the two of us. This was good enough to be a company dish or even potluck - but you better prepare copies of the recipe!!

    • Debglass11
      Oct 24, 2018

      Macaroni, cheese, chicken, bacon and jalapeno? What could be better? We loved this dish. I doubled the amount of pasta, so increased the other ingredients accordingly. This mac

    • Lynne
      Oct 22, 2018

      OMG!!! I have made this twice in the last 2 weeks and well received both times. First time was for a potluck, and I made as directed with a few tweaks.Since I was traveling with this, I made it in casserole dish and did not add chips until I arrived at venue in order to keep them crisp. I also found I needed to add an additional 1/2 cup milk to loosen up the sauce because I was going to bake in oven and didn't want it to dry out. I assembled it the night before and baked for 35 minutes until hot and bubbly the day it was needed. This was a huge hit! Second time making it was last night at home for husband. I cut the recipe in half and used jarred sliced jalapenos in place of fresh because it was what I had on hand. I also added a bit of the brine to the white sauce and cheese. I found I still needed to add a bit more milk to make it ooey gooey over the top yum! This is a great one panOMG!!! I have made this twice in the last 2 weeks and well received both times. First time was for a potluck, and I made as directed with a few tweaks.Since I was traveling w skillet meal that goes together quickly using rotisserie chicken and precooked bacon. I used jalapeno kettle chips on top. Yummy, yummy, yummy! Lynne, Volunteer Field Editor