Over the Top Baked Mac and Cheese with Crab and Bacon


Everyone loves mac and cheese! But do you fall for a lusciously creamy version, or prefer a baked version that gets just a little crunchy on top. If forced to choose, Greg and I fall on opposite sides of this question, but we can respect each other’s side of things. Also, thankfully, there’s no real reason to pick sides here.

We’ve been taking turns revisiting the comfort foods of our childhoods over this past year, and sometimes we take the opportunity to update them a bit. I granted Greg’s wish to make his favorite baked mac and cheese from when he was a kid. This is based on his mom's recipe, but with a few tweaks. He was also having a renewed love affair with crab (evidenced by not one, but two versions of cheesy crab breads here and here) and pimento cheese. Bacon is always welcome at the party in this house, but you can easily leave it off if you prefer. We brought it all together in this super decadent, loaded mac and cheese.

One point I will give to this baked mac and cheese over creamy in-pot versions is that this freezes well, so it’s absolutely worth making in a larger batch, even if you don’t think it’ll all be finished right away. It’s great to have mac and cheese ready to go and on reserve.


Multiple servings gave us the chance to try several different wine pairings, and all worked really well. For this dish, the idea here for me is to pick a wine that refreshing, but with enough weight to match the creamy texture of the dish.

On the first evening, we decided to go with something a little special and chose Massican’s Annia 2016 ($36), a California white wine blend made with Italian varieties Tocai Friulano, Ribolla Gialla, as well as Chardonnay. You can read more about this wine here , which had just the mix of bright fruit and round texture I was looking for.


The next two wines we tried with it were both rosés and they were both delicious matches as well. The first was from Vital in Washington  (sample, $19) , and the second was from Twill Cellars in Willamette Valley,  Oregon ($20). Both resonated with the smoky notes from the bacon and the pimento cheese.

Chardonnay is also a natural match for this dish, but if that’s not your bag, Pinot Blanc would make another great choice.

Baked Mac and Cheese with Crab and Bacon

Baked Mac and Cheese with Crab and Bacon

Servings: 8
By: Nicole Ruiz Hudson
Prep Time: 5 MinCooking Time: 60 MinTotal Time: 1 H & 4 M


  • 16 oz macaroni (or short pasta of your choosing)
  • ½ onion, diced
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 3 to 4 slices of bacon (optional)
  • 8 oz sour cream
  • 16 oz ricotta or cottage cheese
  • 12 oz sharp cheddar
  • 4 oz pimento cheese
  • 1 tsp mustard
  • 2 eggs
  • 8 oz lump crab meat
  • 1 cup peas (frozen or fresh are fine, optional)
  • ¼ cup bread crumbs.
  • Salt


  1. Preheat oven to 350°F.
  2. Cook the macaroni according to package instructions. Drain and set aside.
  3. While the pasta is cooking, sweat the onions over medium to medium-high heat in a pan with a little olive oil and season with salt and pepper. Cook until the onions are nearly translucent – about 8 to 9 minutes. Add the garlic and continue to cook for another couple of minutes. If at any point the onions are starting to brown, add a splash of water to the pan to slow down the cooking. Once the onions and garlic are cooked through, set aside to cool.
  4. Crisp bacon while pasta and onions are cooking. Feel free to choose your favorite method, either by cooking the bacon in a pan on the stovetop, or by laying slices on a baking sheet in the oven and baking at 400°F until crisped through, for about 10 to 15 minutes, flipping once. If using the oven method, remember to set the oven back to 350°F once the bacon is ready. Set aside to cool.
  5. Combine the ricotta, sour cream, cheddar, pimento cheese, mustard, and season with salt and pepper. Taste and adjust seasoning as needed. Whisk the eggs and mix them into the cheese mixture, then fold in the pasta, followed by the crab and peas. Place in a large greased baking dish (I used a 3 qt braiser/casserole dish).
  6. Place the baking dish in the oven and bake for 30 minutes. Crumble up bacon into pieces and sprinkle on top of the macaroni mixture, along with the bread crumbs (feel free to add extra cheese as well if desired), then bake for another 10 to 15 minutes. If you like a crunchier top, place under the broiler for 1 to 2 minutes until starting to brown.
  7. Allow the casserole to set for five minutes. Serve hot.
mac and cheese, crab, bacon
dinner, casserole
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This pic taken after I put the mac and cheese under the broiler to get just a little more toasty. Pick your preference.

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