Stovetop Hard Cider Mac and Cheese with Crispy Bacon
This Stovetop Mac and Cheese is oozing with hard cider-infused white cheese sauce and topped with crispy sage bacon bits making it the perfect dish to welcome the fall season! It is full of homey, comforting flavors that will fill your belly and warm your soul!
Hearty soul food!
This is what autumn is all about! As the cooler weather creeps in on us, a comforting bowl of Sweet Potato Soup and Beef and Bean Pumpkin Stew or a warm plate of Butternut Squash Bolognese Pasta is always a welcome sight! And of course, who can say no to Macaroni and Cheese, right? I have made a lot of versions of this classic comfort food, but this Stovetop Hard Cider Mac and Cheese with Crispy Bacon has fall written all over it!
Fall-flavored Mac and Cheese
The cheese sauce in this pasta is infused with hard cider. And if you have not tried cooking using this crisp, sweet apple brew, then you are in for a treat! Hard cider is an alcoholic version of apple cider. It is made by fermenting apple juice, which gives it fruity, sparkly wine-like quality. While cooking burns off its alcohol content, it imparts a delightfully sweet flavor that is so irresistible! Do not forget the sage bacon topping for that savory crunch that perfectly compliments this dish! It is so delicious, that you might find yourself adding it to your list of winter holiday dishes too. Can’t wait for you to try it!
What You’ll Need
Get ready to amp up your usual mac and cheese by adding a few ingredients to the usual list! Next time you are planning to buy hard cider, remember to get some for cooking too!
- Pasta- I used shells to make mine, which is perfect for making mac and cheese. However, feel free to use your favorite pasta too.
- Bacon- chopped and cooked into crisp bits! This is the perfect savory topping for this creamy, apple-flavored mac and cheese!
- Sage- this gives the bacon topping an earthy, minty, and slightly peppery flavor.
- All-purpose flour- is used to thicken the white cheese sauce.
- Hard cider- just like cooking with wine or beer, choose a hard cider brand that you like drinking! If you like it less sweet, use dry cider. Semi-dry, or off-dry varieties have the perfect balance of sweetness and spirit, so these are ideal for cooking.
- Whole milk- gives the cheese sauce a rich taste and creamy texture! You can also use half and half or heavy cream.
- Cheese- I used gruyere and white cheddar cheese for this recipe because they melt and meld perfectly together.
- Kosher salt and freshly ground- to taste.
- Veggie-fy it! You can bulk your mac and cheese up by adding your fave vegetables like broccoli, green beans, spinach, arugula, and peas.
- Choose your cheese. Aside from gruyere and white cheddar cheese, you can opt for other types like gouda, brie, parmesan, goat cheese, fontina, and Monterey Jack.
- Double the apples! If you want to go all out this apple season, add crunchy apple chunks into the mix! Add them together with the sage to toast them lightly and bring out more of their sweetness.
How to Make Stovetop Hard Cider Mac and Cheese with Crispy Bacon
All you need is a pot and a skillet to get this creamy and dreamy mac and cheese on the table. All you have to do is cook the pasta, make the bacon topping and cheese sauce, then get them all together and serve!
- Line a plate with a paper towel where you can place the fried bacon.
- Pull the hard cider and whole milk out of the fridge for at least 30 minutes before cooking to bring them to room temperature.
- Cook the pasta. Fill a large stock pot with water and bring it to a boil. Add the pasta and cook according to the package directions. Once done, reserve 1 cup of pasta water and drain the rest.
- Make the sage bacon topping. Using a large skillet over medium heat, cook the bacon for about 7 minutes or until mostly crisp. Add the sage and cook for another minute. Scoop the bacon and sage bits from the hot oil using a slotted spoon. Place them on the prepared plate to drain off excess oil.
- Make the cheese sauce. Using the same skillet, add the flour and cook for about two minutes or until it turns golden. Make sure to stir occasionally to prevent lumps from forming. Pour the milk and continue to stir until the mixture is smooth and lump-free. Lower the heat and bring the mixture to a simmer and continue cooking and stirring for about four minutes or until thickened.
- Assemble! Remove the skillet from the heat and stir in the shredded cheese. Season with salt and pepper then fold in the cooked pasta and half the bacon and sage mixture.
- Serve and Enjoy! Serve the mac and cheese in the skillet and top with the remaining bacon and sage.
- If the bacon produced too much oil, reduce it until you have about 3 tablespoons left. You don’t want your sauce to become too greasy!
- Use room temperature milk to prevent it from curdling and resulting in a grainy and clumpy sauce.
- Make sure to stir the flour mixture using a wooden spatula consistently to prevent lumps from forming and to keep the bottom from burning.
- If the sauce is too thick add a splash of the reserved pasta water until desired consistency is reached.
Store leftovers in a shallow airtight container and place them in the fridge for 3 to 5 days. You can also keep it frozen for up to three months. If it turns out too dry when reheating, adding a splash of milk will make it creamy again.
Stovetop Hard Cider Mac and Cheese with Crispy Bacon
- 1 pound Favorite short pasta
- 6 to 7 slices Bacon, chopped
- 2 tbsp Fresh chopped sage
- 1/4 cup All-purpose flour
- 3/4 cup Hard cider or chicken stock
- 2 cups Whole milk
- 1 1/2 cups Shredded grueyere cheese
- 2 1/2 cups Shredded white cheddar cheese
- kosher salt and pepper to taste
- Fill a large stock pot with water and bring to a boil. Add the pasta to the water and cook according to package directions. Drain the pasta and reserve about 1 cup of pasta water.
- Next, heat a large skillet over medium heat and the bacon. Cook the bacon, stirring occasionally, until the bacon is mostly crisped, about seven minutes. Add the sage and continue to cook for another minute. Line a plate with a paper towel and using a slotted spoon, spoon the bacon and sage onto the paper towel.
- In the same skillet as the bacon, add the flour and cook, stirring occasionally until the flour is golden for about two minutes. Add the hard cider slowly, whisking to combine with the flour. Next, add in the milk and continue to whisk until there are no lumps. Bring the mixture to a simmer and stir occasionally until thickened, about four minutes.