Jalapeño Bacon Quinoa Mac and Cheese

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This Jalapeño Bacon Quinoa Mac and Cheese is a delicious twist on a classic. It combines your favorite mac and cheese flavors with jalapeño and bacon and uses quinoa instead of noodles for a gluten-free dish! 

quinoa mac and cheese in a dish topped with jalapenos and bacon

Say Hellooooo to Spicy Mac and Cheese

This spicy take on mac and cheese is not only delicious, it’s gluten free! We love the flavor combo of jalapeños and bacon (have you tried our bacon wrapped jalapeño poppers?!) and then you throw deliciously creamy cheese into the mix, and you really do have an ultimate dish.

Plus, we love that this recipe is GF thanks to using quinoa instead of a traditional noodle. Looking for a more classic mac and cheese recipe? We’ve got that, too 😀

jalapeños, onions and garlic sautéing in a dutch oven

What You Need

To make this jalapeño bacon quinoa mac and cheese, you’ll need the following ingredients. Looking to turn up the heat in this recipe? Or make it a little less spicy? We’ll give you a few recos for that below as well. You’ll need:

  • Uncooked quinoa
  • Broth (chicken or vegetable will work!)
  • White onion
  • Minced jalapeños
  • Bacon
  • White whole wheat flour
  • 2% milk
  • Greek yogurt
  • Shredded cheddar cheese
  • Chopped kale
  • Salt & pepper
ingredients for jalapeno bacon quinoa mac and cheese, ready to be made in your kitchen

You Choose the Level of Spice!

When it comes to the spicy level of this dish, it’s all up to you! Which is really great for those of you who enjoy the flavor of jalapeños, but not necessarily the heat level that comes with the seeds.

So, this recipe calls for 2 small or 1 large jalapeños with the seeds REMOVED. The reason we remove the seeds is because the majority of the spicy heat in jalapeños is stored in the seeds themselves. This means that if you remove the seeds from the jalapeños, you’ll have a much more mild pepper.

If you’re looking for a little extra spice in this dish, feel free to add a few seeds to the pot from the jalapeños to the pot when you add in the sliced jalapeños. If you like a lot of extra spice, get crazy and put a ton of seed in your mac. You do you!

How to Make Quinoa Mac and Cheese — Step by Step

  1. First, prepare your quinoa: Place uncooked quinoa and broth in a medium saucepan and heat over medium/high heat. Once boiling, reduce heat to low and cover. Let simmer for around 15 minutes or until all liquid has absorbed. Once cooked, set the cooked quinoa aside.
  2. Next, sauté veggies: heat 1 tablespoon olive oil in a large pot or Dutch oven over medium/high heat. When the olive oil is fragrant, add onion and sauté for 1-2 minutes. Then, add minced garlic and continue to sauté until the onions are translucent. Lastly, add in minced jalapeños and cook for 2-3 more minutes.
  3. Now, make the cheese sauce: Add 1/4 cup of olive oil to the pot with the jalapeños in it. Then, sprinkle in white whole wheat flour and sauté with a wooden utensil until a paste forms. Whisk in milk and continue to heat over medium/high heat until thickened. This will take 2-3 minutes. Once the milk is thick, add in Greek yogurt and whisk. Then, add in 1/2 cup a cheese at a time and whisk until all cheese is melted. Finally, add in salt and pepper and mix it all to perfection.
  4. Add in the kale: Once everything is smooth, add in packed kale and continue to stir over the heat until the kale has wilted.
  5. Time for the quinoa: Stir in cooked quinoa.
  6. Serve & enjoy: Serve immediately topped with chopped up cooked bacon, and additional slices of fresh jalapeños if you want to spice it up even further.
cheese sauce with fresh kale added in, ready to be mixed together for quinoa mac and cheese
cheese sauce with wiled kale for quinoa mac and cheese

Store this quinoa mac and cheese in an air-tight container in the fridge for up to 3-5 days.

The key to reheating this quinoa mac and cheese is to add a little moisture (milk works great!) since the quinoa will continue to absorb moisture even after it’s originally cooked, and to reheat low and slow to avoid the cheese and Greek yogurt from breaking down and changing texture.

OVEN DIRECTIONS

If you have time to reheat your quinoa mac and cheese in the oven, that is a great method! Simply add a little milk (start with a tablespoon, and go up from there depending on how much mac you’re reheating!), and stir thoroughly before covering an oven-safe dish and placing in the oven at 350°F.

You’ll need 10-20 minutes of reheating time, depending on how much quinoa mac you’re reheating.

quinoa mac and cheese in a dutch oven, ready to be served

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  • 1.5 cups uncooked quinoa
  • 3 cups broth (chicken or vegetable)
  • 1/4 cup + 1 tablespoon olive oil, divided
  • 1/2 medium white onion, minced
  • 1/4 cup minced jalapeños, seeded (~2 small jalapeños or 1 large)*
  • 1/3 cup white whole wheat
  • 2 cups 2% milk
  • 1/2 cup Greek yogurt
  • 3 cups shredded cheddar cheese
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground pepper
  • 4 cups chopped kale, packed
  1. First, prepare quinoa. Place uncooked quinoa and broth in a medium saucepan and heat over medium/high heat. Once boiling, reduce heat to low and cover. Let simmer for around 15 minutes or until all liquid has absorbed. Set aside.
  2. Next, heat 1 tablespoon olive oil in a large pot or Dutch oven over medium/high heat. When the olive oil is fragrant add onion and sauté for 1-2 minutes. Then, add minced garlic and continue to sauté until the onions are translucent. Add in minced jalapeños and cook for 2-3 more minutes.
  3. Now, make the cheese sauce. Add 1/4 cup of olive oil to the pot with the jalapeños in it. Then, sprinkle in white whole wheat flour and sauté with a wooden utensil until a paste forms. Whisk in milk and continue to heat over medium/high heat until thickened. This will take 2-3 minutes. Once the milk is thick, add in Greek yogurt and whisk. Then, add in 1/2 cup a cheese at a time and whisk until all cheese is melted. Finally, add in salt and pepper and mix.
  4. Once everything is smooth, add in packed kale and continue to stir over the heat until the kale has wilted.
  5. Stir in cooked quinoa.
  6. Serve immediately topped with cooked bacon*.
  • This recipe was updated on January 26, 2021. For the original recipe CLICK HERE.
  • Jalapeños: if you like it extra spicy, feel free to add a few seeds to the pot.
  • Bacon: we topped this quinoa mac and cheese with cooked bacon, diced.

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

Author: Category: Lunch and DinnerMethod: Stove TopCuisine: American

Keywords: quinoa mac and cheese

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