TOMATO BACON MACARONI & CHEESE

Tomato Bacon Macaroni & Cheese: Butter with a Side of Bread

I ate lunch at a popular cafe here in Salt Lake City the other day and ordered Tomato Bacon Macaroni & Cheese. Oh my, it was heaven. I decided to run home and recreate the recipe immediately. OK, maybe not immediately, but it was soon after. I couldn’t wait to have it again, it was that good. 

My kids love the out-of-the-box variety, but I was pleasantly surprised when they gobbled this up. It’s gotta be the bacon. Pretty much anything with bacon is amazing, right?

You can serve this dish right after it’s mixed, or you can bake it for 20 minutes and serve. I think I like it best unbaked, but really it’s a toss up. When I bake it, I top it with French’s French Fried Onions, which just makes it that much better. Try it both ways and decide for yourself!

Tomato Bacon Macaroni & Cheese: Butter with a Side of Bread

Tomato Bacon Macaroni & Cheese

  • 1 16-oz box macaroni noodles, cooked el dente
  • 2 TBSP butter
  • 1/4 cup chopped onions or 1 tsp onion powder
  • dash of granulated garlic
  • 1/4 cup flour
  • 2 cups milk {or use 1 12-oz can evaporated milk + 1/2 cup water}
  • 4 cups sharp cheddar cheese
  • 1 cup diced tomato
  • 7-8 slices bacon
  • salt & pepper to taste

Step 1 is to cook your bacon. You can fry it in a pan on the stove. I opted to cook mine in the oven so I could prepare the macaroni and cheese on the stove at the same time. It’s less work, trust me.

Tomato Bacon Macaroni & Cheese: Butter with a Side of Bread
To cook bacon in the oven, preheat the oven to 400 degrees. Line a large jelly-roll pan with foil. This minimizes mess! {I forgot this step when I snapped my picture- doh!} Lay your bacon out strip by strip, trying to minimize overlap. Bake it for about 25 minutes. The time really depends on the thickness of the bacon and how done you’d like it. For this recipe, I wanted it crunchy, so I cooked mine for 30 minutes.
While the bacon is cooking, I boiled the noodles al dente since I planned on baking the dish to finish. If you don’t want to bake it, just cook the noodles to your liking.
Tomato Bacon Macaroni & Cheese: Butter with a Side of Bread
Tomato Bacon Macaroni & Cheese: Butter with a Side of Bread
To prepare the sauce, melt the butter in a saucepan on medium heat. Add the onions and cook for about 5 minutes. While the onions are cooking, make sure you have the milk and cheese close by. Add the flour and whisk quickly, adding in some of the milk and whisking as you go. It will thicken up fast, so keep adding milk and whisking until smooth, until you’ve added all the milk.
Tomato Bacon Macaroni & Cheese: Butter with a Side of Bread
Now add the cheese, about 1 cup at a time, whisking as it melts to combine, until you’ve added all 4 cups and it’s melted and smooth. At this point, you can leave the pan on the stove, but turn off the heat.
Tomato Bacon Macaroni & Cheese: Butter with a Side of Bread
When the bacon is done, crumble 7-8 pieces and add it straight to the cheese sauce. If you don’t mind bacon hands, you can use your fingers to crumble it. Or use a pair of kitchen shears.
Tomato Bacon Macaroni & Cheese: Butter with a Side of Bread
Tomato Bacon Macaroni & Cheese: Butter with a Side of Bread
Add the noodles once they’re done cooking and have been drained. Also add the 1 cup of diced tomato. Now this is the reason I think I prefer the unbaked method- you don’t actually cook the tomato, you just mix it all up with the hot macaroni, cheese and bacon. It still tastes fresh though, which makes it all the more delicious.
Tomato Bacon Macaroni & Cheese: Butter with a Side of Bread
If you’d like to bake it, transfer mac & cheese to 2 baking dishes. Top with about 1/2 cup French’s French Fried Onions and bake at 350 degrees for 20 minutes.

This recipe makes quite a bit- enough for 8-10 people at least. I divided it in two for my family of 6 and froze one meal for later on!

Tomato Bacon Macaroni & Cheese: Butter with a Side of Bread

Enjoy!

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