Stovetop bacon 'mac and cheese' recipe

Enjoy a twist on a classic with this stovetop 'mac and cheese' recipe. Easy to make, and low cost too, this midweek meal pairs a creamy cheese sauce with smoky back bacon, red pepper, and spinach. Use mature Cheddar for an extra hit of flavour.

  • Serves 4
  • 10 mins to prepare and 20 mins to cook
  • 572 calories / serving



  • 280g penne pasta
  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • 100g smoked back bacon, roughly chopped
  • 1 red pepper, deseeded and finely sliced
  • 2 tbsp plain flour
  • 1 pint semi-skimmed milk
  • 100g medium Cheddar, grated
  • 125g baby spinach



  1. Cook the penne to pack instructions; drain and set aside.
  2. Meanwhile, heat ½ tbsp oil in a saucepan over a medium heat. Add the bacon and fry for 6-8 mins until crisp. Remove with a slotted spoon and set aside on kitchen paper. Add the pepper to the pan and cook for 5-7 mins until softened. Remove from the pan and set aside.
  3. Add 1½ tbsp oil to the pan and, once hot, stir in the flour to combine. Cook for 1 min, then gradually add the milk, stirring continuously. Bring to the boil, then reduce the heat to medium-low and simmer for 2-3 mins until thickened. Stir in the pasta, pepper, Cheddar and spinach and cook until the cheese has melted and the spinach has wilted. Season to taste, then divide between 4 bowls and scatter with the crispy bacon to serve.