Take 5 is a PEOPLE Food series with a mission: Get a star-worthy meal (or dessert or cocktail) on your table in either 5 minutes or using only 5 ingredients. Each recipe has been bravely tested, tasted and approved by our food editors for your eating pleasure. If you’re hungry for more recipes, we’ve got you covered.
Look, we are not opposed to boxed mac and cheese. It’s cheap, easy, and you are lying to yourself if you say it doesn’t taste good.
All we’re saying is it’s actually just as easy to make it from scratch. Contrary to what most recipes call for, you actually don’t even have to make a béchamel sauce (not that there’s anything wrong with that).
Using this one-skillet method, you actually cook the pasta directly in milk. As the noodles cook, they release their starches, creating a creamy sauce. For good measure, we added some jalapeños and bacon here, because we just can’t help ourselves.
Watch the video above to see how we did it, then follow the recipe below to make it yourself at home.
Skillet Jalapeño Bacon Mac ‘n’ Cheese
4 bacon slices, chopped
1 lb. pasta shells
3 ½ cups whole milk
3 ½ cups sharp cheddar cheese
2 jalapeños, sliced
1. Add bacon in a large skillet over medium heat and cook, stirring occasionally, until crispy, about 7 minutes. Transfer to a plate lined with a paper towel, reserving some fat in the skillet.
2. In the same skillet with the bacon fat, add the pasta and toss to coat. Pour in the milk, 2 cups water, salt and pepper, then bring to a boil. Cover and reduce the heat to medium-low. Simmer, stirring occasionally, until the pasta is cooked, about 10 minutes.
3. Remove from heat and stir in the cheese. Add reserved bacon and sliced jalapeños and serve.