Bacon Pasta

This Bacon Pasta Recipe is sassy, saucy, cheesy, creamy addictive comfort food you will CRAVE! Perfect for all those busy weeknights!

This Bacon Pasta is guaranteed to become a family favorite with its intoxicating aroma, smoky, salty, porky-sweet flavored, shatteringly crispy bacon and cozy, comforting, luxurious sauce.  It’s made with loads of fresh garlic and crispy bacon enveloped in a creamy, cheesy sauce spiked with blistered cherry tomatoes, Italian seasonings, salty Parmesan and sweet, buttery Gouda (may sub cheddar).  You can keep the Bacon Pasta recipe simple or pump it up with shrimp, chicken or any veggies of choice such as broccoli, bell peppers, or asparagus.  Your family will love this easy indulgent pasta dinner with a side of Garlic Bread or Buttery Breadsticks and fresh Green Bean Salad.

Easy pasta dinners are weeknight heroes we all need more of, especially with school starting again. If you’re looking for more weeknight wins with adults and kids alike, you’ll love Homemade Mac and Cheese, Weeknight Spaghetti, Creamy Basil Chicken and OrzoChicken Spaghetti,  Bruschetta Chicken Pasta, and Creamy Chicken Pesto Pasta.

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WHY THIS Bacon Pasta RECIPE WORKS

This Bacon Pasta is every bit as dreamy as it sounds. The pasta is swaddled in an intoxicating creamy homemade béchamel sauce that is 1000X better than any version out there.  Here’s why:

  • it boasts heaps of thick-cut, salty, bacon that’s cooked low and slow so it’s extra crispy 
  • half of the bacon is added directly to the pasta for flavor and the remaining half is added as garnish so it maintains its addictingly crispy texture
  • both fire roasted diced tomatoes and fresh cherry tomatoes are used for a contrasting depth of flavor and texture
  • the pasta is adeptly seasoned with loads of fresh garlic and Italian seasonings
  • the sauce is infused with nutty salty Parmesan and buttery Gouda that melts like a dream
  • the easy pasta recipe takes just over 30 minutes to cook, most of which is hands of sizzling of the bacon
  • and did I say bacon already?

Why this easy pasta is the best!

This Bacon Pasta is creamy, cheesy, customizable and SO GOOD, but the true star of this recipe and the key to its extravagant deliciousness is the incomparable bacon.  The recipe starts by frying up some bacon in a skillet.  As it cooks, the bacon releases its juicy, smoky-sweet bacon-y fat that’s used to sauté the garlic and in turn form the base for the scrumptious, bacon-infused béchamel sauce.

The sauce utilizes my favorite base of creamy sauces – chicken broth + cornstarch + heavy cream or milk instead of using all heavy cream. The cornstarch thickens the sauce and the chicken broth adds a depth of flavor, which means you can splurge and enjoy more Bacon Pasta!

bacon pasta with tomatoes, garlic and Parmesan on a white plate

what bacon is best for bacon pasta?

You want to use thick cut bacon so it cooks up crispy and hearty, and most importantly, doesn’t get lost when tossed with the pasta.  Use a bacon that you know you like the flavor of like hickory smoked or go more neutral.  Keep some bacon stocked in the freezer so you’re always prepared to make this easy pasta dinner!

Can I use Turkey bacon?

You don’t want to use turkey bacon in this recipe because there won’t be enough leftover flavorful bacon drippings to use to make the base of the béchamel sauce.  You can use turkey bacon and then use butter and/or oil (or a combo) instead of the bacon drippings as the base of the sauce, but then you are missing out on some serious bacon flavor.

What pasta should I use?

  • Recommended pasta:  spaghetti or bucatini (thick spaghetti-like pasta with a hole running through the center). I love how the long silky noodles cradle the silky sauce. I don’t recommend angel hair pasta as it’s a little thin to hold up against the sauce in my opinion. 
  • Different pasta shapes:  fettuccine is also fabulous.  You may also use short pastas such as penne, fusilli, etc. if that’s all you have on hand but they don’t deliverer the same luxurious, slurpilicous experience.  Go spaghetti if you can.
  • Pastas types:  use classic spaghetti, whole-wheat spaghetti or gluten free spaghetti.  I haven’t tried it with zoodles or spaghetti squash but I imagine it would work well.

INGREDIENTS FOR bacon pasta Sauce

This sauce for the Bacon Pasta recipe is made with easy-to-find, pantry friendly ingredients.  Here’s what you’ll need (full measurements in the recipe card at the bottom of the post):

  • Garlic: fresh garlic is sautéed over medium-low heat with the bacon drippings to infuse the sauce with garlicky goodness.  I highly suggest fresh garlic as opposed to powder in this recipe.  I use 6 cloves garlic for a real garlic kick, but use more or less depending on your garlic love.  You may substitute with 1 teaspoon garlic powder – but the real stuff is so much better.
  • Heavy cream:  is also called “heavy whipping cream.” Just ½ cup adds that something-something luxurious that elevates the entire dish. If you’d prefer a lighter option, use evaporated milk mixed with 1 teaspoon cornstarch or milk mixed with ½ tablespoon cornstarch. 
  • Chicken broth: works with the heavy cream/milk to form the base of the sauce.  Chicken broth is more flavorful than just heavy cream and has less calories. I always use reduced sodium chicken broth so I can control the salt in the dish. 
  • Flour:  thickens the sauce beautifully by creating a roux so we don’t have to use all heavy cream.  You may also use gluten free flour.
  • Cornstarch: helps thicken the chicken broth so we don’t have to use all heavy cream, and gives a smoother texture than using all flour.
  • Cherry tomatoes: add a fresh, slightly sweet flavor to the Bacon Pasta and I love how they burst into juicy pops of sweet delight in your mouth!  Look for the deepest colored cherry or grape tomatoes you can find because they tend to be the ripest which means they’ll be the sweetest, and the sweeter the better!  If both the cherry and grape tomatoes are ripe, then go for cherry as they tend to be sweeter.  If your store happens to carry Candyland Red cherry tomatoes, snatch them up because they are among the very sweetest! 
  • Fire roasted diced tomatoes: I love using both canned and fresh tomatoes in this easy pasta recipe for extra flavor and texture, but you can use one or the other if you prefer.  Fire roasted tomatoes are NOT spicy – the fire simply means they have been roasted which gives them a complex smokiness and removes the acidic bite.  Fire roasted tomatoes are located next to the traditional diced tomatoes – just make sure you get the ones without any added seasonings.  If you can’t find fire roasted diced tomatoes, then use traditional diced tomatoes.
  • Gouda cheese: although you may use cheddar, Gouda cheese elevates this Bacon Pasta into a more sophisticated dish with its more subtle flavoring and superior meltability.  Gouda tastes similar to cheddar but is milder, slightly sweet, nutty, and buttery. Equally important, Gouda melts 1000X better than cheddar so it allows you to enhance the flavor while melting gorgeously.  Young Gouda will be more mild and sweet and more mature Gouda will be stronger and nuttier, so pay attention and make sure you choose the right one for you (I went young/mild Gouda). If you must use cheddar, please use only use freshly grated sharp cheddar cheese because pre-packaged shredded cheeses are coated in anti-clumping chemicals which inhibits its melting ability.
  • Parmesan cheese:  is a fantastic salty, nutty companion to the Gouda.  For best results, use ONLY freshly grated Parmesan cheese.  It is much more flavorful and melts into silky oblivion unlike powdered or pre-shredded cheese.
  • Seasonings:  in addition to garlic, this cheesy easy pasta recipe is seasoned with dried basil, dried parsley, dried oregano, red pepper flakes, onion powder, salt and pepper. You can add more or less of any of the seasonings to suite your tastes.
top view of bacon pasta with tomatoes, garlic and Parmesan on a white plate

WHAT PAN SHOULD I USE FOR THIS RECIPE?

Recipes with tomatoes should be cooked in a heavy bottom stainless steel pan or nonstick skillet BUT only use a stainless steel pan if it is very well seasoned otherwise your bacon will stick.  You may need to cook your bacon in a cast cast-iron skillet then transfer the grease to a larger stainless-steel pan or non-stick skillet.

HOW TO MAKE bacon pasta

This Bacon Pasta recipe is easy to make with just a few steps. Here’s how:

STEP 1:  COOK PASTA 

Begin by cooking your spaghetti just until al dente according to package directions.  Al dente means the pasta will still have a little bite.  Reserve ½ cup pasta water before draining pasta.  This will give you the option to thin the sauce if needed with reserved pasta water. 

Step 2:  How to cook bacon for pasta

The best way to cook bacon for this pasta is as strips in a skillet over medium heat in two batches.  This will achieve maximum crispiness and will allow you to use the rendered fat in the sauce.  When cooking the bacon, don’t preheat the skillet. Lay out the bacon strips without overlapping in a cold pan. This helps the fat render slowly and evenly, for consistenly crispy strips. While the bacon is cooking, use the time to prep the rest of the ingredients and any side dishes you’re serving.

  • Strips or chopped bacon? Cooking the bacon in strips in two batches might seem tedious, but is better than cooking chopped bacon because chopped bacon tends to stick together due to the volume of bacon in this recipe (and takes forever), so it’s difficult to get equally crispy.  By cooking strips of bacon, you’re guaranteed shatteringly crispy bacon every time.   
  • What heat?  Cooking the bacon over medium allows enough time for the bacon fat to render.  Once the fat is rendered, you can turn the heat up to medium-high to finish it off, then transfer to a paper towel lined plate to absorb the extra grease to keep it extra crispy.
showing how to make bacon pasta by cooking bacon in a large stainless steel skillet

STEP 3:  MAKE the bacon pasta SAUCE

While your pasta is cooking, make the easy, creamy, cheesy, pasta sauce: 

  • Make roux: to make the sauce, start by draining all but ¼ cup of the bacon grease from the skillet.  If you’ve used turkey bacon or reduced fat bacon, then add oil or butter to equal ¼ cup/4 tablespoons. Next, cook the flour for a couple minutes until the raw flour smell is gone, followed by the garlic. This is the base of our roux which will thicken the sauce.
a collage showing how to make bacon pasta by whisking flour with bacon grease then sautéing the garlic
  • Add broth: next, whisk in the chicken broth, followed by heavy cream (or milk/cornstarch), canned tomatoes with juice and all seasonings. Bring the sauce to a simmer while stirring constantly.
a collage showing how to make bacon pasta by adding diced tomatoes, chicken broth, Italian seasonings and heavy cream to a skillet and bringing to a simmer
  • Thicken sauce:  once the sauce starts to simmer around the edges, add the cherry tomatoes.  Continue to simmer until thickened, stirring occasionally, about 5-7 minutes. The body of the sauce may seem a little lackluster at this point, but remember, we are still adding cheese.
a collage showing how to make bacon pasta by adding cherry tomatoes and then simmer by thickening
  • Add cheese:  reduce heat to low and stir in Gouda until melted, followed by Parmesan cheese until melted.  You may need to cook for 1-2 minutes on low for the Parmesan to completely melt.
a collage showing how to make bacon pasta by adding cheese then stirring to thicken

STEP 4: COMBINE

  • Stir in half of the bacon followed by the pasta, tossing until the pasta is well coated in sauce. Add a little reserved pasta water if needed to reach desired consistency (for extra decadence, use heavy cream instead of pasta water).
  • Taste and season with additional salt, pepper and/or red pepper flakes to taste.
  • Garnish servings with remaining bacon and with freshly grated Parmesan cheese and parsley. DIG IN!
a collage showing how to make bacon pasta by adding bacon to the sauce, then stirring in the pasta
top view of bacon pasta with garlic and Parmesan in a skillet

TIPS FOR MAKING bacon pasta

  • Use thick cut bacon. We don’t want the bacon to get lost!  Flimsy, thin bacon is not hearty enough to hold its own in this creamy pasta.
  • Remove the bacon from the fridge. Transfer the bacon from the fridge to your counter 15 to 20 minutes before cooking. At room temperature bacon cooks up more quickly and evenly (just like steak).
  • Don’t cook bacon at too high of heat.  The bacon should be cooked over medium heat, or medium-low if your skillet runs hot, until the fat is rendered and then you may turn it up to medium to finish crisping up.  If you cook it at too high of heat, you’ll end up with the chewy bacon and the seemingly oxymoron of slightly burnt bacon that’s also slightly under-cooked because the fat is not adequately rendered.
  • Scrape up the golden bits.  After you cook the bacon, there will be golden bits on the bottom of the pan – these are flavor gold!  Make sure to scrape up the bits while you sauté the garlic.
  • Cook the flour for two minutes.  Two minutes can seem like a long time but don’t cut it short – you want to make sure to cook out the raw flour taste. 
  • Use freshly grated Parmesan.  Freshly grated Parmesan is a key ingredient in this sauce, so please grate it from a block.  Freshly grated Parmesan cheese is much more flavorful, creamier and melts more easily.
  • Cook the Parmesan until it melts.  Continue to cook the sauce after you add the cheeses for a couple of minutes on LOW heat until the Parmesan is completely melted.  If you see specks of texture after a couple minutes, it’s likely just the garlic, the Parmesan should all be silky smooth by this point, if not, cook on.   
  • Don’t overcook the pasta!  I recommend testing your pasta about 2 or 3 minutes before the box recommends – pasta should be al dente – meaning it should still be a little firm in the center/ have a “bite” to it.  
  • Stop pasta from cooking. Strain and rinse your pasta with cold water to prevent it from continuing to cook if it’s done before sauce is ready to receive it. Then, toss it with a little olive oil to prevent it from sticking together.
  • Thin sauce if needed. The bacon pasta sauce can become too thick if it’s simmered for too long, but don’t worry, it’s SO easy to fix! Simply stir in a little chicken broth or heavy cream until it reaches desired consistency, or thin with the pasta water once combined.
  • Adjust to taste. Make this easy pasta recipe your own! Add additional red pepper flakes for spicier and/or season with salt and pepper to taste.

easy pasta RECIPE VARIATIONS 

This Bacon Pasta recipe an excellent springboard for all sorts of variations. Here are just a few ideas:

  • Pasta: swap in medium-short sturdy pastas such as penne, fusilli, rotini etc. You can use classic pasta, whole-wheat pasta, gluten free pasta.
  • Use a heavy cream substitute: swap the heavy cream for evaporated milk mixed with 1 teaspoon cornstarch or milk mixed with 1 ½ teaspoons cornstarch. Just remember that fat equals flavor so the cream sauce won’t taste quite as decadent.
  • Swap cheese: mix up the flavor profile by using a different melting cheese in place of the Gouda such as mozzarella, Monterrey, smoked cheddar, Muenster, Fontina or Colby Jack, Gruyere, etc.
  • Add protein: the creamy sauce is so scrumptious you’re going to want to use it with everything!  In addition to bacon, try adding andouille sausage (skip red pepper if using), shrimp, chicken or pork chops (recommend brining first).
  • Spice it up: as written with ¼ teaspoon red pepper, the pasta is mild-medium spicy but still boasts tons of flavor.  If you’re looking for more of a kick, increase the red pepper to up to ½ teaspoon. You can also sprinkle individual servings with red pepper flakes so everyone can customize the heat.    
  • Add veggies: add any chopped vegetables such as bell peppers, asparagus, broccoli, zucchini, green beans, peas etc. Sauté longer cooking vegetables with the garlic and add shorter cooking vegetables, like zucchini, with the tomatoes.  If using frozen peas, thaw and stir in with the Parmesan to warm through.  If adding spinach, add to the sauce at the end of cooking; allow to wilt 1-2 minutes.
  • Add mushrooms:  pan fry sliced baby Bella mushrooms, remove from the skillet then add back to the sauce at the end of cooking. Check out my mushroom chicken recipe to see exactly how I cook perfect mushrooms.
  • Add sun-dried tomatoes: instead of diced tomatoes, add sun-dried tomatoes (I like them in addition to the fresh cherry tomatoes).  Purchase the sun-dried tomatoes in a jar packed in oil, not water, located near the olives or pickles at your grocery store. Rinse about ½ cup sun-dried tomatoes, pat dry, chop and sauté with the garlic. 
  • More add-ins: try adding roasted bell peppers, artichokes, olives, capers, etc.
  • Make it gluten-free:  use gluten free flour in the sauce (this one is my fav, awesome for cakes too!) and serve this easy pasta recipe over gluten-free pasta (Tinkyada is great brand), sweet potato noodles, zoodles or spaghetti squash. 
  • Make it vegetarian:  omit the bacon or use a vegan bacon alternative.  You will need to use butter or oil (or a combo) in place of the bacon grease.
  • Make it vegan: similar to above. Omit the bacon or use a vegan bacon alternative.  You will need to use ¼ cup oil in place of the bacon grease. Use dairy free Parmesan cheese and dairy free cheddar (because Gouda will be hard to find).
tomato bacon pasta in a skillet garnished by Parmesan

BAKED bacon pasta (Great make a head pasta!)

You can serve the Bacon Pasta straight out of the skillet (which is what I do), or if you want to make it extra cheesy (or great for make ahead), then you can make Baked Bacon Pasta, here’s how:

  • Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
  • Lightly grease a 9×13 baking dish.
  • Transfer pasta to prepared baking dish.
  • Evenly top pasta with 1 cup (or more) extra Gouda cheese
  • Bake at 350 degrees F for 25 minutes or until cheese is melted.
  • Top with reserved bacon.

Can you prep bacon pasta Ahead?

You can prep parts of this Bacon Pasta recipe in advance so the final dish comes together quickly

  • Cook bacon (and make sure to save the grease!). Bacon can be cooked ahead of time and stored for up to 4 to 5 days in the refrigerator.  The only problem is, it won’t be crispy anymore.  It will still be meaty and delicious, but if you want to crisp up the bacon, I suggest reheating it when ready to serve.  Note, I have NOT tried this method, but the internet suggests spraying a 9×13 dish with baking spray then lining the bacon in a single layer and covering with foil.  Bake at 400 degrees for 5-15 minutes (depending on thickness and how well it was cooked), until you hear sizzling and the coagulated fat has rendered so it’s crispy again (I’d check at 5 minutes so you don’t burn the bacon!).
  • Keep bacon warm.  You can cook the bacon up to 2 hours ahead of time and keep it warm and crispy in the oven.  Preheat the oven to 200 degrees F or on its Warm setting, if your oven has one. Line a baking sheet pan with a single layer of paper towels for easy cleanup then and set an oven-safe cooling rack on top. Lay the bacon strips on the rack in a single layer so they aren’t touching; place the baking sheet in the middle oven rack. Prop the oven door open 1 to 2 inches for up to two hours. 
  • Mince garlic: prep and store in an airtight container/plastic bag in the refrigerator.
  • Grate cheeses: prep and store the cheeses an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to one week.   

CAN I MAKE bacon pasta ahead?

The bacon topping won’t be as crisp after it’s refrigerated, so fresh is best, but this Bacon Pasta does make wonderful leftovers.  When making ahead, you can either 1) reheat the pasta in a skillet, 2) reheat the pasta in the skillet and the bacon in the oven per above or 3) transfer to a 9×13 baking dish then bake.

1. ASSEMBLE AND REHEAT IN SKILLET 

  • Prepare recipe entirely according to recipe directions, taking care the noodles are al dente.  You can add the bacon topping to store, or for extra crispy bacon, warm or reheat the bacon when ready to serve according to above directions. 
  • Transfer pasta to an airtight container and refrigerate.
  • When ready to eat, heat gently in a skillet, adding a splash of heavy cream if needed to moisten.

2. ASSEMBLE THEN BAKE

  • Prepare recipe entirely according to recipe directions, taking care the noodles are al dente.  You can add the bacon topping or for extra crispy bacon, warm or reheat the bacon when ready to serve according to above directions. 
  • Transfer to a lightly greased 9×13 baking dish, cover with an additional 1 cup shredded Gruyere cheese and tightly cover with foil.
  • Refrigerate for up to two days.
  • When ready to eat, let the dish sit on the counter for 20-30 while the oven preheats.  Bake (uncovered) for 35-45 minutes or until heated through.  
bacon pasta with tomatoes, garlic and Parmesan on a white plate

HOW TO STORE AND REHEAT

  • Storage: store in an airtight container in the refrigerator for 4-5 five days. 
  • Microwave: transfer portions to a microwave-safe dish, microwave for 1 minute, stir, then continue to heat at 30-second intervals until warmed through. 
  • Stove: transfer to a skillet and heat over medium heat, stirring often. You may want to add a splash of milk or heavy cream if the pasta seems dry.

CAN I FREEZE bacon pasta RECIPE?

This Bacon Pasta freezes well but keep in mind the bacon will lose any crispiness. You can either freeze the pasta in an airtight container, freeze in individual servings or transfer to an oven safe 9×13 baking dish and top with 1 cup shredded Gruyere to thaw and bake. If baking, wrap the casserole dish all the way around with 2 layers of plastic wrap followed by one layer of aluminum foil. Freeze for up to 3 months then thaw overnight in the refrigerator when ready to reheat.

TO BAKE FROM FROZEN:

  • Note: Do NOT bake pasta directly from frozen if using a glass baking dish – it will likely crack!  Let it sit on the counter for 30-60 minutes before baking.
  • Remove plastic wrap from casserole and cover tightly with foil.
  • Bake covered at 350 degrees F for 45-60 minutes.
  • Uncover and bake an addition 10-15 minutes or until hot in the center.

WHAT TO SERVE WITH bacon PASTA?

Enjoy this Bacon Pasta with a simple green salad or any one of the following sides: 

LOOKING FOR MORE EASY PASTA RECIPES?

up close of a fork twirling tomato bacon pasta on a white plate
top view of bacon pasta with garlic and Parmesan in a skillet

Bacon Pasta

This Bacon Pasta is guaranteed to become a family favorite with its intoxicating aroma, smoky, salty, porky-sweet flavored, shatteringly crispy bacon and cozy, comforting, luxurious sauce.  It’s made with loads of fresh garlic and crispy bacon enveloped in a creamy, cheesy sauce spiked with blistered cherry tomatoes, Italian seasonings, salty Parmesan and sweet, buttery Gouda (may sub cheddar).  You can keep the Bacon Pasta recipe simple or pump it up with shrimp, chicken or any veggies of choice such as broccoli, bell peppers, or asparagus.  Your family will love this easy indulgent pasta dinner with a side of Garlic Bread or Buttery Breadsticks and fresh Green Bean Salad.
Servings: 6 -8 servings
Prep Time: 10 minutes
Cook Time: 30 minutes

Ingredients

  • 1 pound spaghetti
  • 12 strips thick cut bacon at room temperature
  • 4-6 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1/4 cup all-purpose flour
  • 3 cups low sodium chicken broth
  • 1/2 cup heavy cream (or ½ cup milk whisked with 1 ½ tsps cornstarch, or evaporated milk mixed with 1 tsp cornstarch)
  • 1 15 oz. can fire roasted tomatoes with juices
  • 1 tsp EACH dried parsley, dried basil
  • 1/2 tsp EACH dried oregano, onion powder, salt, pepper
  • 1/4-1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes
  • 1 pint cherry or grape tomatoes
  • 1 1/2 cups (6 ounces) freshly grated mild Gouda (may sub cheddar) at room temperature
  • 1/2 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese at room temperature

Instructions

  • Cook pasta al dente in salted water according to package directions. Reserve ½ cup pasta water before draining pasta. Toss pasta with a drizzle of olive oil if not adding to sauce immediately.
  • Working in batches, add bacon to a large, cold skillet (see notes if using cast-iron). Cook over medium heat until crispy, flipping as needed. Transfer to a paper-towel lined plate. Crumble once cooled.
  • Drain all but ¼ cup of the bacon grease and heat over medium-low heat. Sprinkle in flour and cook and stir for 2 minutes (it will be thick). Add garlic and cook an additional 30 seconds.
  • Reduce heat to low, then slowly whisk in chicken broth, followed by heavy cream (or milk/cornstarch), canned diced tomatoes with juice and all seasonings.
  • Increase heat to medium-high and bring the sauce to a simmer while stirring constantly. Once the sauce starts to simmer around the edges, add the cherry tomatoes. Continue to simmer until thickened, stirring occasionally, about 5-7 minutes.
  • Reduce heat to low and stir in Gouda until melted, followed by Parmesan cheese until melted. You may need to continue to cook for 1-2 minutes on low for the Parmesan to completely melt.
  • Stir in half of the bacon followed by the pasta, adding additional reserved pasta water a little at a time if needed to reach desired consistency.
  • Garnish servings with remaining reserved bacon and with freshly grated Parmesan cheese and parsley if desired.

Notes

Ingredient Notes:

  • Turkey bacon: if you use turkey bacon there won’t be enough leftover flavorful bacon drippings to use to make the base of the béchamel sauce.  You can use turkey bacon and then use butter and/or oil (or a combo) instead of the bacon drippings as the base of the sauce, but then you are missing out on some serious bacon flavor.
  • Fire roasted diced tomatoes: I love using both canned and fresh tomatoes in this easy pasta recipe for extra flavor and texture, but you can use one or the other if you prefer.  Fire roasted tomatoes are located next to the traditional diced tomatoes, if you can’t find fire roasted diced tomatoes, then use traditional diced tomatoes.
  • Gouda cheese: tastes similar to cheddar but is milder, slightly sweet, nutty, and buttery. Equally important, Gouda melts 1000X better than cheddar so it allows you to enhance the flavor while melting gorgeously.  Young Gouda will be milder and sweeter and more mature Gouda will be stronger and nuttier, so pay attention and make sure you choose the right one for you.
  • Cheddar cheese substitute: please use only use freshly grated sharp cheddar cheese because pre-packaged shredded cheeses are coated in anti-clumping chemicals which inhibits its melting ability.
  • Add protein: the creamy sauce is so scrumptious you’re going to want to use it with everything!  In addition to bacon, try adding andouille sausage (skip red pepper if using), shrimp, chicken or pork chops (recommend brining first).
  • Add veggies: add any chopped vegetables such as bell peppers, asparagus, broccoli, zucchini, green beans, peas etc. Sauté longer cooking vegetables with the garlic and add shorter cooking vegetables, like zucchini, with the tomatoes.  If using frozen peas, thaw and stir in with the Parmesan to warm through.  If adding spinach, add to the sauce at the end of cooking; allow to wilt 1-2 minutes.
  • Make it gluten-free:  use gluten free flour in the sauce (this one is my fav, awesome for cakes too!) and serve this easy pasta recipe over gluten-free pasta (Tinkyada is great brand), sweet potato noodles, zoodles or spaghetti squash. 

Expert tips and Tricks:

  • Stainless steel: bacon can stick to stainless steel if it isn’t well-seasoned, so you may want to stick with cast iron. If using stainless steel to cook bacon, the method will be slightly different.  Cover the bottom of the pan in neutral oil and heat over medium-low for 5 minutes and then add the bacon and continue to cook at medium heat.
  • Remove the bacon from the fridge. Transfer the bacon from the fridge to your counter 15 to 20 minutes before cooking. At room temperature bacon cooks up more quickly and evenly (just like steak).
  • Don’t cook bacon at too high of heat.  The bacon should be cooked over medium heat, or medium-low if your skillet runs hot, until the fat is rendered and then you may turn it up to medium to finish crisping up.  If you cook it at too high of heat, you’ll end up with the chewy bacon and the seemingly oxymoron of slightly burnt bacon that’s also slightly under-cooked because the fat is not adequately rendered.

BAKED Bacon Pasta (Great make a head pasta!)

You can serve the Bacon Pasta straight out of the skillet (which is what I do), or if you want to make it extra cheesy (or great for make ahead), then you can make Baked Bacon Pasta.  Transfer pasta to a lightly greased 9×13 baking dish then evenly top with 1 cup (or more) extra Gouda cheese. Bake at 350 degrees F for 25 minutes or until cheese is melted (add an extra 10 minutes if baking from the refrigerator).  Top with reserved bacon.

How to Prep Ahead

You can prep parts of this Bacon Pasta recipe in advance so the final dish comes together quickly
  • Cook bacon (and make sure to save the grease!). Bacon can be cooked ahead of time and stored for up to 4 to 5 days in the refrigerator.  The only problem is, it won’t be crispy anymore.  It will still be meaty and delicious, but if you want to crisp up the bacon, I suggest reheating it when ready to serve.  Note, I have NOT tried this method, but the internet suggests spraying a 9×13 dish with baking spray then lining the bacon in a single layer and covering with foil.  Bake at 400 degrees for 5-15 minutes (depending on thickness and how well it was cooked), until you hear sizzling and the coagulated fat has rendered so it’s crispy again (I’d check at 5 minutes so you don’t burn the bacon!).
  • Keep bacon warm.  You can cook the bacon up to 2 hours ahead of time and keep it warm and crispy in the oven.  Preheat the oven to 200 degrees F or on its Warm setting, if your oven has one. Line a baking sheet pan with a single layer of paper towels for easy cleanup then and set an oven-safe cooling rack on top. Lay the bacon strips on the rack in a single layer so they aren’t touching; place the baking sheet in the middle oven rack. Prop the oven door open 1 to 2 inches for up to two hours. 
  • Mince garlic: prep and store in an airtight container/plastic bag in the refrigerator.
  • Grate cheeses: prep and store the cheeses an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to one week.   

HOW TO STORE AND REHEAT

  • Storage: store in an airtight container in the refrigerator for 4-5 five days. 
  • Microwave: transfer portions to a microwave-safe dish, microwave for 1 minute, stir, then continue to heat at 30-second intervals until warmed through. 
  • Stove: transfer to a skillet and heat over medium heat, stirring often. You may want to add a splash of milk or heavy cream if the pasta seems dry.

How to Freeze

This Bacon Pasta freezes well but keep in mind the bacon will lose any crispiness. You can either freeze the pasta in an airtight container, freeze in individual servings or transfer to an oven safe 9×13 baking dish and top with 1 cup shredded Gruyere to thaw and bake. I
f baking, wrap the casserole dish all the way around with 2 layers of plastic wrap followed by one layer of aluminum foil. Freeze for up to 3 months then thaw overnight in the refrigerator when ready to reheat. Alternatively, bake from frozen letting the casserole sit at room temperature for 30-60 minutes then bake, covered in foil, for 56-60 minutes, then remove the foil and bake an additional 10-15 minutes until hot in the center.

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4 Comments

  1. Lauren says

    This looks delicious. How many servings does it make?

    • Jen says

      Sorry I missed that! It serves 6-8. I’m excited for you to try it!

  2. Melissa Rogers-Obal says

    Uh-mazing!! This was our first time eating bucatini, and it reminded me of Udon noodles, which I LOVE! Another winner!

    • Jen says

      Thank you so much Melissa for your awesome review! I’m so pleased it was a hit!

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