A little bit of naughty, a little bit of nice, and a lot of portion control. That’s my approach to food. 😂 So when I decided to make some mac and cheese and put bacon in it, I knew that I had to at least throw some broccoli in there as well. It was a reasonable compromise because bacon and broccoli go really well together and the broccoli adds some much needed texture in this ooey-gooey One Pot Bacon Broccoli Mac and Cheese. Now let’s just see if I can do that portion control part…
Evaporated Milk Cheese Sauce Magic
I first tried this evaporated milk cheese sauce method a few weeks ago when making the skillet macaroni and cheese recipe from Daniel Shumski’s book, Will It Skillet? This super fast, easy, and absolutely fool-proof method of creating a smooth and silky cheese sauce is my new favorite. So this time, I swapped out the butter for bacon fat, changed up the seasoning, and added broccoli and crumbled bacon. The result was fantastic. But do I really need to even say that? BACON.
If you’re looking for a mac and cheese recipe that uses a traditional roux-based sauce, be sure to check out my Extra Cheesy Homemade Mac and Cheese recipe.
More Mac and Cheese Recipes:
- Miracle Mac and Cheese
- Creamy Pesto Mac with Spinach
- Jalapeño Popper Mac and Cheese
- White Cheddar Mac and Cheese with Chicken and Broccoli
- Green Chile Mac and Cheese
One Pot Bacon Broccoli Mac and Cheese
- 1/2 lb. frozen broccoli florets ($1.05)
- 4 oz. bacon ($1.43)
- 8 oz. medium cheddar ($2.50)
- 1/2 lb. pasta ($0.50)
- 1 cup evaporated milk ($1.19)
- 1/2 tsp smoked paprika ($0.05)
- 1/2 tsp hot sauce ($0.05)
- 1/2 tsp Dijon mustard ($0.02)
- 1/4 tsp salt ($0.02)
- Prepare the ingredients before beginning because the process goes quickly once it's begun. Thaw the broccoli florets and chop them into small bite-sized pieces. Slice the bacon into small pieces. Shred the cheddar cheese.
- Cook the pasta according to the package directions (boil 7-10 minutes, or until al dente). Drain the pasta in a colander and set it aside.
- Return the pot to the stove, add the bacon, and cook over medium to medium-low heat until the bacon is brown and crispy (about 5 minutes). Use a slotted spoon to remove the bacon from the pot, leaving the grease behind.
- Add the evaporated milk, smoked paprika, Dijon, hot sauce, and salt to the pot with the bacon grease. Stir to combine and allow it to heat through (it should heat quickly as the pot will be very hot from cooking the bacon).
- Once the evaporated milk is hot, turn the heat to low and begin whisking in the shredded cheddar, one handful at a time, waiting until the cheese is fully melted before adding the next handful. Once all of the cheese has been melted into the sauce, taste the cheese sauce and adjust the salt or hot sauce if desired. If the sauce becomes too thick, simply stir in one to two tablespoons of the remaining evaporated milk in the can.
- Return the cooked pasta, crispy bacon (crumble into smaller pieces if desired), and chopped broccoli to the pot with the cheese sauce. Stir to combine. Serve immediately.
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Scroll down for the step by step photos!
How to Make Bacon Broccoli Mac and Cheese – Step by Step Photos
Prepare the ingredients for the mac and cheese before you begin, because the process goes quickly once started. Thaw and chop 1/2 lb. frozen broccoli florets into small bite-sized pieces. Next time I’ll even chop them a bit smaller than in the photo above.
Shred 8oz. medium cheddar cheese.
Slice 4 oz. bacon into small strips. I generally only use a small amount of bacon in a recipe (enough to give flavor, but not enough to make the recipe super expensive). So, if I buy a 12oz. package like this, I’ll divide it into three sections, use one, and freeze the other two for later.
Cook 1/2 lb. pasta according to the package directions, then drain it in a colander and set it aside (this is a one pound bag, so I used half of it).
Return the pot to the stove, turn the heat down to medium or medium-low, add the bacon, and sauté it until it is brown and crispy. Use a slotted spoon to remove the bacon pieces from the pot, leaving the bacon grease behind.
To the bacon grease add 1 cup evaporated milk, 1/2 tsp smoked paprika, 1/2 tsp Dijon mustard, 1/2 tsp hot sauce, and 1/4 tsp salt. Stir to combine and dissolve the browned bits off the bottom of the pot. Allow the evaporated milk to heat through. It should heat very quickly as there isn’t much in the pot and the pot should be rather hot from cooking the bacon.
Once the evaporated milk is very hot, turn the heat down to low and begin to whisk in the shredded cheddar, one handful at a time. Make sure the cheese is fully melted in before adding the next handful. If the sauce gets too thick, add a tablespoon or two of the remaining evaporated milk from the can (there should be about 1/2 cup left in the can).
Once all the cheddar is melted into the sauce, you can taste it and adjust the salt or hot sauce to your liking.
Finally, return the cooked and drained pasta, crispy bacon, and chopped broccoli to the pot with the cheese sauce. You may want to crumble the bacon a little further before adding it back in.
Stir until everything is coated in cheesy bacon-y goodness!!
And that’s it. The most delicious One Pot Bacon Broccoli Mac and Cheese EVER.
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How do you cut the bacon packaging in thirds? Just with your regular knife?
The third image of the step-by-step photos (under the recipe card) gives a visual of how to cut the bacon. We just use a sharp regular or serrated knife — or clean kitchen shears, which is what I typically use if I don’t have the knife out anyway, and then I can toss them in the dishwasher instead of handwashing my knife!). The scissors are also a great option if you’re concerned your chef’s knife isn’t sharp enough to make it through the packaging. But if that’s the case, I would suggest investing in a new one or a knife sharpener! ~Marion :)
I’m sure I already know the answer to this, but would this be doable with spaghetti squash instead of pasta? The water content of the squash might cause the sauce to split, but I figured I would possibly pour the sauce over the spaghetti squash with each serving rather than mix it all in
I think your instincts are spot on. I would probably add the sauce on top just to be safe as well! :)
I have been making a variation of this without the hot sauce and paprika for a few years now (since, at the time I first made it, it was something for my then four year old to also enjoy) and it is still a favorite around here! Although, when I started cooking it today, I realized that I had forgotten to grab a new pack of bacon at the store. In a pinch, I used a bit of butter to substitute the bacon grease and we topped with real bacon bits (commonly for salad) that we had on hand and had picked up for less than $2 for the bag. Not exactly the same, since I normally cook the bacon until it is very crispy for the different texture, but it was still a good, and cheap, alternative!
For some reason when I did this recipe there curdling .. Do you know what I could’ve done wrong?
It’s hard to say without having been there to see your actual process. You used evaporated milk and not regular milk, correct? The other possibility is that the milk was boiling? You want it hot, but not boiling.