Bacon Kale Mac n Cheese

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Bacon Kale Mac n Cheese is the ultimate comfort food. It has creamy cheese, salty bacon, and sautéed kale and is topped with buttery, crunchy crushed crackers. Mouth-watering!

Bacon Kale Mac n Cheese

I was challenged to use bacon, kale, oyster crackers, and Sargento Chef Blend 4 State Cheddar in a recipe for a the “Chopped at Home” Challenge. I’ve always been a purist when it comes to my mac n cheese, but I know immediately that I wanted to make Bacon Kale Mac n Cheese with the required ingredients.

packages of Sargento shredded cheddar cheese

My instincts were right, the combination of hearty kale with salty bacon and creamy shredded cheese is a winning combination. Top it with buttery crushed crackers and this is comfort food at its best! It’ll have everyone begging for seconds!

You can serve this recipe as a main course, it’s definitely hearty enough. You may want to serve it as a side. It would be a tasty accompaniment to steak, chicken, or fish.

skillet of cheesy pasta with bacon.

Bacon Kale Mac n Cheese tips

  1. You may substitute any pasta in this recipe. I used shells simply because I had them on hand.
  2. I suggest reading through the recipe a couple of times before beginning. Also, measure your ingredients beforehand. This is not a difficult recipe, but it goes fast at the end.
  3. Although you can substitute different flavors of cheese, I prefer cheddar in this recipe. It pairs nicely with the kale and bacon.
  4. I used the curly variety of kale, it was all that was available to me at the grocery store. You can certainly experiment with the other types.

Bacon Kale Mac n Cheese

Tips on Kale

  1. When choosing kale, look for dark in color and medium in size. The leaves should not have any dark or yellow spots.
  2. Kale is a nutritional powerhouse. It is rich in vitamins A, C, and K as well as high in calcium and iron.
  3. Make fruit smoothies with kale. I was surprised that you can’t taste spinach or kale in smoothies. Use this smoothie recipe and substitute kale and your favorite fruits.

casserole in a cast iron skillet.

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skillet of cheesy macaroni with bacon and kale.

Bacon Kale Mac n Cheese

Creamy cheese, salty bacon, sautéed kale, and topped with buttery, crunchy crushed crackers.
Author: Paula
5 from 15 votes
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Prep Time: 10 minutes
Cook Time: 30 minutes
Total Time: 40 minutes
Servings: 12 servings
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Ingredients

  • 1/2 pound pasta
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 pound bacon
  • 1 shallot minced (about 2 tablespoon
  • 1/4 cup all-purpose flour
  • 2 cups milk
  • 7.5 ounces cheddar cheese
  • 1/4 teaspoon pepper
  • salt to taste you may not need salt since cheese is salty
  • 2 cups kale
  • 1/3 cup oyster crackers crushed
  • 1 tablespoon butter or vegetable oil

Instructions

  • Preheat oven to 375 degrees F.
  • Wash kale and cut into large pieces
  • In a large 10 to 12-inch oven-safe skillet, cook bacon to crisp. Remove from pan and drain. Chop into large pieces. Reserve drippings
  • In a large pot, salt the water and boil the pasta to al dente
  • Remove all but about 1 tablespoon of the bacon drippings. Heat pan to medium, add shallot and kale. Saute 1 to 2 minutes until kale is wilted. Remove to a platter with a slotted spoon.
  • Add 2 to 3 tablespoon more of the bacon drippings to the pan. Add flour, nutmeg, and pepper. Cook 1 to 2 minutes until lightly browned. Add milk and whisk until smooth. Cook until the mixture begins to thicken. Add cheese and stir until cheese melts.
  • Add pasta, kale, shallots, and bacon to the cheese sauce. Gently stir to combine.
  • In a small bowl, add butter or oil to crushed crackers and mix to combine.
  • Top pasta mixture with crushed crackers.
  • Bake at 350°F until the mixture is hot throughout and crumbs begin to brown.
  • Remove from oven, allow to cool 5 minutes. Serve hot.

Notes

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Nutrition

Calories: 275kcal | Carbohydrates: 21g | Protein: 11g | Fat: 16g | Saturated Fat: 8g | Cholesterol: 38mg | Sodium: 473mg | Potassium: 212mg | Fiber: 1g | Sugar: 3g | Vitamin A: 1395IU | Vitamin C: 14mg | Calcium: 195mg | Iron: 1mg
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