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Jalapeno Popper Mac N’ Cheese

One could speculate that, like my other recent Mac N’ Cheese recipe, this recipe is also  the result of a pregnancy craving but the truth of the matter is that I love jalapeno poppers. I loved them before I was pregnant, I love them now that I am pregnant, and I’ll probably continue to love them after I am pregnant. The fact that I crave them at 10am is probably because I am pregnant but that is besides the point.  It is this love affair with jalapeno poppers that prompted me to try my hand at jalapeno popper mac n’ cheese. And as it turns out jalapeno poppers and macaroni and cheese make a beautiful combination.

To get the true taste of jalapeno poppers two ingredients were obvious: jalapenos and cream cheese. Getting the crunch right was a bit more of a challenge. Should I try bread crumbs? Croutons? Ultimately I decided on panko because I tend to like jalapeno poppers that are coated in panko. In this dish, the panko bread crumbs added the perfect bit of crunch to the creaminess of the mac n’ cheese.

While I really enjoyed the baked version, if you are short on time and looking for a stove-top variation, I’d recommend cooking the pasta according to package directions, then follow the instructions up until 4. Instead of baking, place the mac and cheese in a bowl and top with crumbled potato chips. It sounds weird but trust me, it’s quite delicious as well.

Jalapeno popper mac and cheese in baking dish.

Jalapeno Popper Mac N' Cheese

All the goodness of jalapeno poppers in Mac N' Cheese form.
5 from 1 vote
Prep Time 15 mins
Cook Time 35 mins
Total Time 50 mins
Course Main Dishes
Cuisine American
Servings 4 Servings



  • 1 lb dried conchiglie pasta
  • 2 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 2 jalapenos diced
  • 2 tablespoons all purpose flour
  • 1 cup milk
  • 1 cup pepper jack cheese
  • 4 ounces cream cheese softened
  • 1/4 - 1/2 teaspoon seasoning salt
  • 2/3 cup panko bread crumbs
  • 2 teaspoons olive oil
  • kosher salt


  • Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
  • Bring a large pot of water to a boil. Cook pasta for 6- 7 minutes or until tender but still has a bite to it. Drain.
  • Melt the butter in the same pot that you cooked the pasta in. Stir in jalapenos and cook just until softened, about 2 minutes. Whisk in flour. Cook 1 minute. Pour in milk. Stir in pepper jack and cream cheese. Cook until melted. Stir in 1/4 teaspoon of seasoning salt. Stir in pasta. Adjust with more seasoning salt if needed.
  • Pour macaroni and cheese into a casserole dish. Sprinkle with panko bread crumbs. Drizzle olive oil over the top. Bake for 15 minutes or until pasta is bubbly. Turn on the broiler and broil for 3 - 4 minutes or until panko bread crumbs have browned. Remove from oven, sprinkle lightly with salt. Serve hot.


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Keywords: Cream Cheese, Food, Jalapeno, jalapeno popper mac n' cheese, jalapeno poppers, mac n' cheese, Macaroni and cheese, Recipe, spicy

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Recipe Rating

  • Reply
    October 9, 2022 at 6:13 am

    5 stars
    This was delicious, a very spicy mac and cheese because of the chopped jalapenos, seeds and all. I made it according to the directions except for having to add maybe a half cup more milk since the sauce as directed was just too thick and “goopy”– and the addition gave it a perfect consistency. Definitely one I’ll be making again!

    • Reply
      October 12, 2022 at 10:16 pm

      So happy to hear that!! Good tip about the extra milk too. :)

  • Reply
    Knight Errant
    February 10, 2014 at 6:07 pm

    Making a variant of this tonight, but I oven roasted the seeded and split jalapenos with a bunch of quarterd and separated onion layers. Tossed them in a little oil, then roasted them. After cooling, I’ll dice them. Also adding rough-diced cooked bacon. ;-)

  • Reply
    June 28, 2012 at 8:17 pm

    Hi Des :) I discovered your wonderful site just this evening and I am so thrilled I did! I am an Englishwoman and my bf is American and he will be here in the UK for July 4th, so I wanted to surprise him by doing some things from home he misses so much. (He lives in the Netherlands atm). He loves cheese and chillies and this recipe looks perfect! There are so many recipe ideas here that have inspired me. Thank you SO much :)

  • Reply
    Christi Niermann
    March 24, 2012 at 6:07 pm

    This is in my oven right now, can’t tell how excited I am. I mixed in some bacon, too. Serious weakness over here for bacon and jalapeños.

  • Reply
    Kacey @ Kacey's Kitchen
    October 21, 2011 at 11:13 am

    I made this last night and it was just as delicious as I thought it would be! I can always count on your blog to find spicy and delicious food! Thanks!

  • Reply
    Andrea A
    October 9, 2011 at 11:07 pm

    I stumbled upon your site and this was the first recipe I saw. I made it today and it was fantastic without being overwhelming. Thank you for sharing this with us!

  • Reply
    Sandra L.
    September 29, 2011 at 9:14 am

    This recipe tasted great. I’m going to keep it in my regular go to recipe file. Thanks!!!

  • Reply
    Lindsay Lehfeld
    September 28, 2011 at 6:55 am

    First of all, this recipe looks delicious! I absolutely love jalapeno poppers (how could I not being from Texas?!) and mac and cheese is my fav. Also, I don’t think I ever congratulated you on expecting your first child – so excited for you both!!

  • Reply
    Jenn's Food Journey
    September 27, 2011 at 5:13 am

    Ok…I am so loving your pregnancy cravings…!!!! I’m making mac and cheese tonight, I might have to change the way I was going with it now!!

  • Reply
    September 26, 2011 at 8:59 am

    Des this looks A-MAZING! I’m making it tonight for dinner. Would it be too wrong to mix in some chopped cooked chard for some more green?

    • Reply
      September 26, 2011 at 4:36 pm

      Xchoi- I think that would be a nice addition! Enjoy :)

  • Reply
    September 23, 2011 at 10:24 am

    I’m anxiously awaiting cooler weather before making some the woderful fall dishes folks have been posting. This is going to be one of them.

  • Des

    Hey! I'm Des!

    Welcome to Life’s Ambrosia where Dinner is served and memories are made. Here you will find over 1000 tried and true recipes for every possible occasion. In the last 10 years, this blog has helped millions of families put dinner on the table and create food memories. Let me help you too.

    Read more »

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