Jalapeño Bacon Quinoa Mac n’ Cheese

This Jalapeño Bacon Quinoa Mac n Cheese is a delicious twist on a classic. It combines your favorite mac n’ cheese flavor with jalapeño and bacon and uses quinoa instead of noodles for a gluten free, healthier alternative! 

Prep: 30 minutesCook: 30 minutesTotal: 1 hour
Fat 27 Carbs 38 Protein 7
Yield 6 servings 1x


  • 1.5 cups quinoa, rinsed and uncooked
  • 3 cups chicken broth/vegetable broth
  • 2 cups 1% milk (or any kind of milk)
  • 2 tablespoons tapioca starch or corn starch
  • 4 jalapeños, diced
  • 1 medium onion, diced
  • 1 pound of bacon (~ 10 strips)
  • 1 tablespoon garlic, minced
  • 1/2 teaspoon paprika (for sprinkling)
  • 1/2 pound of white cheddar cheese, shredded (about 3 cups)
  • salt and pepper, to taste


  1. First, preheat oven to 350ºF and spray a casserole dish with nonstick cooking spray.
  2. Next, in a medium-size pot bring 1.5 cups of quinoa and 3 cups of chicken broth to a rolling boil. Then, reduce heat to low and cover. Let cook for about 15 minutes or until all liquid is dissolved, set aside.
  3. While the quinoa is cooking, prep veggies. Dice jalapeños and onion. Set aside.
  4. In a large frying pan, cook bacon (I did it in 2 separate batches). Turn burner to medium/high heat and cook each side for 3-4 minutes. Transfer to a paper towel-lined plate and dab the grease off. Let cool for about 5 minutes before chopping into small pieces. Set aside.
  5. Once you are done cooking the bacon, transfer the grease into a mason jar. Then, using the same pan, sauté onion, jalapeños, and garlic in the leftover bacon grease on medium/high for about 3-5 minutes. Set aside.
  6. Prepare cheese sauce by placing 2 cups of 1% milk (or any kind of milk) in a medium-size pot. Add in 2 tablespoons of tapioca starch, stir, and bring to a boil. Turn down to medium and let cook for about 8 minutes, or until the milk starts to thicken (make sure you stir often!). Add in shredded cheese and mix until smooth.
  7. Transfer quinoa, veggies, and bacon (Leave some out to sprinkle on top) into the sauce. Mix. Transfer into casserole dish and sprinkle additional cheese and diced bacon on top. Place in the oven for 10 minutes to let the cheese melt.
  8. Let cool for about 10 minutes. Serve with a sprinkle of paprika.

Nutrition Facts

Serving Size: 1/6 Calories: 521 Sugar: 7 Sodium: 773 Fat: 27 Carbohydrates: 38 Fiber: 4 Protein: 7
Author: Lee Hersh