Loaded mac and cheese is an indulgent dish that's filled with macaroni, cheddar cheese, sour cream, and bacon. Rich and creamy, this stove top mac and cheese is ready in just 30 minutes and makes the perfect comfort food meal.
Mac and cheese is a family favorite side dish. Why not try my loaded mac and cheese with your next weeknight meal?
This mac and cheese is made on the stovetop and ready in less than 30 minutes. Plus, it's super creamy, rich, and filled with flavor.
My loaded mac and cheese is made with sharp cheddar cheese, sour cream, bacon, and topped with green onions. If you love mac and cheese and bacon, this recipe is for you!
Ingredients and substitutions
- Macaroni - Can be substituted with any medium sized pasta. Shells or penne are great options.
- Butter - Can be salted or unsalted.
- All-purpose flour - Necessary to make a roux, along with the butter, which thickens your cheese sauce.
- Seasoning - Salt, pepper, and paprika add flavor to the cheese sauce.
- Milk - Use whole milk for a richer, thicker cheese sauce. A higher fat milk also helps prevent the sauce from getting grainy or curdling. I do not recommend using 1% or skim milk in this recipe. Whole milk can be substituted with half & half for an even richer sauce.
- Shredded cheese - I used sharp cheddar cheese, but gruyere or monterey jack are great alternatives. I highly recommend buying a block of cheese and grating it yourself. Most pre-shredded cheeses are coated in a powder to prevent clumping. When melted, it adds a grainy texture to the sauce.
- Bacon - Cooked and crumbled bacon can be substituted with store bought bacon pieces.
- Sour cream - Adds tang and creaminess to the cheese sauce.
- Green onion - Adds a bit of crunch and freshness to an otherwise rich and heavy dish.
Best cheese for mac and cheese
There are many cheeses that work well in mac and cheese. I like to use sharp cheddar cheese because it melts easily and makes the perfect cheese sauce.
As far as melty cheese goes, I also like using white cheddar, monterey jack, parmesan cheese (especially for alfredo sauce), and Gruyère.
If you're interested in learning more, check out this article: 15 Best Cheeses for Mac and Cheese.
Freshly shredded cheese
The most important part about cheese for your mac and cheese? Make sure your cheese is freshly shredded. Meaning, purchase a block of cheese, then shred it at home.
Many pre-shredded cheeses you'll find at the store are coated in powder to prevent clumping. While I don't mind using this cheese for taco night, it's not ideal for mac and cheese. That powder adds a grainy texture to your cheese sauce. Who wants that to happen? No one!
Go for the block of cheese instead, get out your box grater (or food processor) and spend a minute grating cheese. It's worth it!
Loaded Mac and Cheese
- 6 ounces macaroni, uncooked
- 2 tablespoons unsalted butter
- 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
- 1 cup whole milk
- ½ teaspoon salt
- ¼ teaspoon paprika
- ⅛ teaspoon black pepper
- 8 ounces sharp cheddar cheese, freshly shredded
- ¼ cup sour cream
- ½ cup cooked and crumbled bacon, or bacon bits
- 2 green onions
- In a pot of boiling, salted water, cook macaroni according to package directions for al dente pasta. Drain and set aside.
- In a saucepan over medium heat, melt butter. Add flour and whisk to combine, creating a paste. Cook for 1 minute. Add milk and whisk constantly to combine. Continue cooking for about 1-2 minutes, or until mixture thickens slightly.
- Reduce heat to low. Add salt, paprika, and pepper. Stir to combine. Add shredded cheese and stir until cheese is melted and fully incorporated. Remove from heat.
- Add sour cream and stir to incorporate. Add drained macaroni and bacon pieces (optionally, reserve a small amount for topping) and stir to combine.
- Rinse and dice green onions. Plate your macaroni and cheese. Top with green onions and any additional toppings you'd like - reserved bacon pieces, a dollop of sour cream, or more shredded cheddar cheese.
- For this recipe you'll get about 4 servings as a main dish, or 6 servings as a side dish. Calories shown are for servings as a main dish with 4 servings.
- ½ cup of bacon pieces = about 8 slices of cooked bacon
- I highly recommend only using freshly shredded cheddar cheese from a block. Pre-shredded bagged cheeses are coated in anti-clumping powders that will cause your sauce to become grainy when melted.