Creamy Stovetop Mac & Cheese with Bacon and Panko Topping

This was another first for me.  I had never made mac and cheese before, not even the box option, and since I have experienced very good and bad versions, I thought it was out of reach.  Every time we order barbecue from our favorite local BBQ spot, there is always a side order of mac and cheese and since my family enjoys it so much I decided it was time to give it a try.  I had recently purchased The Food Lab book and there are several mac and cheese recipes to choose from and use as a base to make your own mac and cheese creation.  The recipe I chose is great to make with your little one and this time I decided to organize all the ingredients first so my toddler just had to pour and mix, which is a great tip especially when you need to get a recipe made fast and in time for dinner.  I also made two changes to the original recipe linked below, first I cut the recipe in half since my family of 3 doesn’t need 6 plus servings.  Second, I added bacon and a panko topping because my toddler loves bacon and I prefer to have a crunchy texture, but these are options you can add to or leave off.  Customize for your family and enjoy!

Do you have good tip when cooking or baking with your toddler?  I would love to hear about it, leave a comment!


Recipe Adapted from:  The Food Lab’s Ultra-Gooey Stovetop Mac and Cheese


Stovetop Mac and Cheese with Bacon and Panko Topping

Prep Time: 10 mins
Cook Time: 20 mins
Servings: 4- 8oz


  • 1/2 Pound - Elbow Macaroni (8oz)
  • Kosher Salt
  • 6 ounces - Evaporated Milk
  • 1 Large Egg
  • 1/2 Teaspoon - Frank's RedHot™ or other hot sauce
  • 1/2 Teaspoon - Ground Mustard
  • 1/2 Pound - Extra-Sharp cheddar, grated
  • 6 ounces - American cheese, cut into 1/2 cubes
  • 1/2 Teaspoon - Cornstarch
  • 6 Tablespoon - Unsalted Butter, cut into chunks
  • Bacon Topping:
  • 1 Package - Bacon
  • Panko Topping:
  • 1/2 Cup - Panko
  • 1/2 Tablespoon - Unsalted Butter


  1. In a medium sauce pan, add the macaroni and water. Water level should be two inches above the macaroni
  2. Bring the water to a boil, stirring occasionally so the pasta doesn't stick
  3. Once water is at a boil, remove from heat and cover. Let the macaroni stand for 8 minutes or until barely al dente
  4. While the pasta is off the heat, whisk together the evaporated milk, egg, hot sauce and mustard in a bowl until combined
  5. In a second bowl, combine the two cheeses and toss with cornstarch
  6. Once pasta is done, drain the water and return to the stove on low heat with the butter
  7. Once the butter has melted and has coated the pasta, add the milk mixture and combined
  8. Add the cheese and stir until melted
  9. Season to taste with additional salt and hot sauce, if needed
  10. Divide among 8 oz ramekins if desired, or serve straight to the plate. Enjoy!

Additional Info

Bacon Topping: Cook the Bacon in the oven prior to making the mac and cheese. Line a baking sheet with foil, add bacon to the sheet pan and don't overlap, cook at 400 degrees for 20 minutes or until desired crispiness Panko Topping: On medium heat add butter to a frying pan. Once melted add the Panko crumbs. Stir crumbs around until golden brown, about 5 minutes

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