Jack Daniels Mac and Cheese is the grown up comfort food of your dreams! Tender pasta, peppered bacon, tons of cheese, and of course, bourbon whiskey. Now you can drink your whiskey and eat it too!!
Macaroni and cheese has to be the #1 comfort food. Not only that, it’s a simple and quick go-to dish.
Plus, it’s really easy to customize with extra ingredients. Have a little bit of leftover ham or Italian sausage in the fridge? Stir it into the cheese sauce for a boost of protein!
Of course, adding crispy bits of bacon makes for the ultimate comfort food of all time! Bacon mac and cheese?? Yes, please!
For the flavors of cheesy mac in a different form, make mac and cheese quesadillas. They’re a fun twist for taco night!
Or, go with bite-sized finger foods – make bacon mac and cheese bombs!
Jack Daniels Mac and Cheese
Needless to say, I have a lot of unbelievable twists for the traditional macaroni and cheese recipe. But out of all the versions, I am especially proud of this most recent creation – Jack Daniel’s Whiskey Mac and Cheese with Bacon.
Seriously, how can anything with bacon in it be a bad thing?! Plus, this grown up mac and cheese recipe makes the most sensational and scrumptious game day food!
This meal is ready to eat in just 30 minutes, and I know you are going to love it! Whether you use straight up bourbon or bourbon whiskey, it’s unlike any cheesy pasta you have ever eaten.
Cooking with Jack Daniels Whiskey
Jack Daniels whiskey cooks down to leave the perfect smokiness, some maple, and a hint of woodiness to recipes, and to me that means it is the perfect partner with bacon!!
After cooking with bourbon whiskey to make recipes for bbq sauce, pork chops, whiskey glaze, pulled pork, and SO many cocktails, it’s the perfect time to use it in the best comfort food ever – this boozy bacon Jack Daniels mac and cheese recipe!!
Ingredient Notes and Substitutions
Oodles of ooey gooey cheese, 12 ounces of hickory smoked peppered bacon and a collection of spices will wake up your taste buds and leave you completely satisfied makes this the best grown up mac and cheese of your life.
Here are the primary ingredients in Jack Daniels mac and cheese. You can see a full ingredient list in the recipe card at the bottom of the post.
- bacon– I use hickory smoked peppered bacon, but any variety will work. Obviously, one with a smoky flavor is what you want to look for.
- unsalted butter– If all you have on hand is salted butter, use it. But, don’t add any extra salt to the dish. The salty bacon will add plenty on its own.
- Tennessee whiskey– If you’re not a whiskey drinker but you have some beer on hand, that works too. It just doesn’t have quite the kick that whiskey has.
- chicken broth (or stock)– In a pinch, go ahead and use vegetable stock
- all-purpose flour– If you need a gluten free option, any brand of gluten free 1:1 all purpose flour will be fine.
- milk– I use whole milk
- extra-sharp cheddar cheese– For this recipe, we use white cheddar
- smoked provolone cheese– Smoked cheese is definitely what you want to use to get the smoky flavor in the cheese sauce
- Asiago cheese– Yep, three kinds of cheese go into this dish. Cheesy to the max!
- elbow macaroni– This is the classic noodle shape, but feel free to use any small pasta shape that you like. Small shell pasta is a great substitute.
Alcohol substitutions: You can substitute another liquid for the whiskey. Beer, Kentucky bourbon, or chicken broth would be best.
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Jack Daniels Mac and Cheese Recipe Tips
Doubling the recipe: The recipe may be doubled. Simply use 2 times the ingredients and follow cooking directions. The sauce will thicken as it cools. If the sauce is too thick, add milk, 1/2 cup at a time, until it reaches your desired consistency.
Storing and Reheating Whiskey Mac and Cheese
Store any leftover bacon mac in a covered container in your fridge. It keeps well for up to 5 days.
Freezing instructions: Allow the dish to come to room temperature before freezing. Place in a resealable plastic bag or container.
If using a container, press a small piece of plastic wrap over the top to avoid freezer burn. If frozen, will keep for up to 6 months.
Before reheating frozen macaroni and cheese, first allow it to thaw in the fridge.
Reheating instructions: Add leftover macaroni and cheese to a pot with milk. Heat until warmed through, adding 1/2 cup of milk at a time until desired consistency is reached.
With love, from our simple kitchen to yours.
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Jack Daniels Mac and Cheese + Video
- 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt, plus more for pasta water
- 8 ounces dry elbow pasta
- 12 ounces hickory smoked peppered bacon, uncooked
- 2 tablespoons unsalted butter
- 1/2 cup bourbon whiskey, preferably Jack Daniels
- 1/2 cup chicken broth
- 1/4 cup all-purpose flour
- 1/2 teaspoon smoked paprika
- 1 teaspoon garlic powder
- 1/2 teaspoon New Mexico chili powder
- 1 tablespoon chili pepper paste
- 1/2 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
- 2 cups milk
- 4 ounces sharp cheddar cheese, shredded
- 2 ounces smoked provolone cheese, shredded
- 2 ounces Asiago cheese, shredded
- croutons, for garnish
- Bring an 8-quart pot filled with water to a boil over high heat. Once it boils, add a handful of salt and uncooked pasta. Reduce heat to medium high and cook uncovered for 10 minutes, or to al dente (has a bite to it). Drain and set aside.
- While the pasta cooks, warm a large 12” skillet over medium-high heat. Using clean kitchen shears, cut bacon into bite size pieces over the skillet and let them to fall into the pan. Stir occasionally as needed. Cook until bacon is crisp, about 8 minutes.
- While the bacon is cooking, shred cheeses and prepare remaining ingredients.
- Once bacon is cooked through, use a slotted spoon to transfer bacon to a bowl. Reserve 2 tablespoons of bacon drippings in the pan, and discard the rest. *Wipe away any grease from the side of the skillet to avoid flame ups.
- Add butter to reserved bacon drippings in the skillet over medium heat When the butter melts, add flour and whisk to combine. Add spices, chili paste, Worcestershire, whiskey, and chicken broth. Whisk to combine and allow mixture to simmer for 3 minutes, whisking occasionally to help pick up the bits on the bottom of the pan. Add milk and whisk to combine. Bring back to a bubble and add cheeses. Stir until cheese melts and sauce is smooth.
- Add cooked pasta and bacon to sauce, and stir to combine. Cook for 5 minutes over medium heat, until sauce thickens and the pasta has a chance to absorb some of the sauce.
- Sprinkle with croutons, if desired. Serve and enjoy!
All nutritional information is based on third party calculations and is only an estimate. Each recipe’s nutritional value will vary depending on the ingredients used, measuring methods, and portion sizes.
Originally published February 2014. Updated and republished June 2022.
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