Carbonara Mac and Cheese is simply the things that dream are made of. Pasta, cheese and bacon. Need I say more? This pasta is creamy, cheesy and one of the best mash ups of some of my favorite comfort foods.
What is Carbonara?
Carbonara is one of my ABSOLUTE favorite pasta dishes. Carbonara is an Italian pasta dish that consists of a sauce made from egg and cheese. There is usually some sort of pork added to it, such as bacon or pancetta, and it is seasoned with black pepper. Another simple dish using simple ingredients, but it packs a TON of flavor. The sauce is also extra rich and creamy because it’s made with eggs.
Carbonara Mac and Cheese
Way back when I was in college and living in Arizona, I remember going to a restaurant that served a carbonara style macaroni and cheese. It was soooo good and I have always wanted to re-create it. This mac and cheese is made with shell style noodles. Not the mini ones, but medium sized ones. It’s perfect for mac and cheese because they can hold all of the yummy sauce so well. Thick cut bacon is rendered down until crispy and then some of the bacon fat is used to make the sauce, along with flour, milk, cheese and egg. I season my sauce with nutmeg, salt and pepper and mix it with the cooked shells. Then, add that crispy bacon back along with some more cheese and voila! The best Carbonara Mac and Cheese you have ever tasted.
Tips for Making Carbonara Mac and Cheese
There are a couple of things I want to point out that will help make this dish a breeze:
- When cooking your bacon pieces, make sure you remove them after they just start to look crispy. There will be some carry over cooking and if you wait until they are too crispy, they will burn.
- Make sure you remove the sauce from the heat while you temper in the eggs so that the sauce doesn’t burn.
- Make sure you temper the eggs into the sauce! Tempering the eggs into the sauce will allow them to come up in temperature slowly so they do not scramble. This is done by simply taking a small amount of the sauce (1/4 cup should do) and mixing it thoroughly into the beaten eggs. Then, slowly add the eggs mixture back into the sauce while mixing continuously so it heats gently. Once it is mixed in completely, continue to whisk it while heating the sauce on low. This will make sure the eggs are cooked, but done slowly enough so they don’t scramble and the sauce remains creamy.
Carbonara Mac and Cheese
- 1 pound shell shaped pasta
- ½ pound thick cut bacon, diced
- 2 Tablespoons all purpose flour
- 2 cups whole milk
- 2 large eggs, slightly beaten
- 1 cup shredded sharp white cheddar cheese
- 1 cup grated parmesan cheese, divided
- ½ teaspoon ground nutmeg
- 1 teaspoon kosher salt
- ½ teaspoon ground black pepper
- Cook pasta according to package instructions. Drain and set aside.
- In a medium sauté pan over medium high heat, cook bacon for 10-15 minutes or until crispy. Remove bacon pieces from the pan and let drain on a paper towel. Drain all of the grease, except 2 Tablespoons from the pan.
- Sprinkle the flour into the reserved bacon grease and whisk to combine. Continue to whisk and cook for 1 minute.
- While whisking, slowly add milk. Continue to whisk and cook mixture until it thickens, approximately 5 minutes.
- Remove the sauce from the heat and take approximately ¼ cup of the sauce and add it to a small bowl with the egg mixture, while mixing continuously. This will help bring the temperature of the eggs up slowly, so they do not scramble when you add them into the pan. Once the egg is mixed with the ¼ cup of sauce, add it all back to the pan, whisking continuously. Cook the sauce over medium low heat while continuing to whisk for 5 additional minutes. Remove from the heat and whisk in cheddar cheese and ½ cup of the parmesan cheese. Add in nutmeg, salt and pepper and stir to combine.
- Put cooked pasta in a serving dish and pour finished sauce over the top and mix until the sauce covers all of the pasta. Sprinkle finished pasta with remaining parmesan cheese and crispy bacon pieces.
I hope you enjoy this Carbonara Mac and Cheese as much as our family does. It’s truly one of my favorites! If you want some more of our families favorite comfort food dishes, check out these ones below:
- Cast Iron Chicken Pot Pie
- Roasted Chicken & Broccoli Alfredo
- Italian Style Meatloaf with Marinara
- The Perfect Classic Italian Lasagna