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5 from 1 vote

Cavatappi Bacon Mac and Cheese {Longhorn Copycat}

If you're familiar with the Longhorn Steakhouse menu then you are sure to know and love their Cavatappi Bacon Mac and Cheese recipe! This popular dish is one of my favorite restaurant copycat recipes and an absolute must-try, packed with five signature cheeses, and a delicious, crisp bacon topping!
Prep Time10 mins
Cook Time40 mins
Total Time50 mins
Course: Main Course
Cuisine: American
Servings: 6 Servings
Calories: 748kcal
Author: Sunena Anand

Ingredients

  • 8 oz Cavatappi pasta

For the Cheese Sauce

  • 2 tablespoon Salted butter
  • 2 tablespoon All purpose flour
  • 2 cups Whole milk
  • 1 cup Cheddar cheese shredded
  • 1 cup Provolone cheese shredded
  • ¼ cup Parmesan cheese grated
  • ¼ cup Gruyere cheese shredded
  • ¼ cup Fontina cheese shredded
  • 1 teaspoon Garlic powder
  • 1 teaspoon Onion powder
  • 1 teaspoon Dry mustard

For the Topping

Instructions

  • Preheat: Preheat the oven to 400°F.
  • Boil water: Boil a large pot of water over medium heat.
  • Boil pasta: Once the water has come to a boil, salt heavily. Add the cavatappi pasta, and boil until al dente. Drain the pasta, and set aside.
    8 oz Cavatappi pasta
  • Mix topping: In a small mixing bowl, mix together the seasoned breadcrumbs and spices, with the olive oil. Set aside.
    ½ cup Seasoned breadcrumbs, 1 teaspoon Garlic powder, 1 teaspoon Salt, ¼ cup Olive oil
  • Crisp bacon: Cut the bacon into lardons or bite-sized strips. Crisp up in a large saucepan, the oven, or in the microwave. Drain on a paper towel, and set aside.
    4 slices Thick cut bacon
  • Make the roux: In an oven-safe large skillet, or a pot, melt butter on medium heat. Once the butter has melted, add the flour to the skillet. Combine until the butter and flour have mixed together and have formed a paste-like consistency.
    2 tablespoon Salted butter, 2 tablespoon All purpose flour
  • Make the sauce: Slowly stream in the milk while stirring, to combine the roux with the milk. Keep the heat on medium-low, let the sauce thicken while it comes to a simmer. Be sure to stir the sauce occasionally while it is coming to a simmer and thickening up. You should be able to coat the back of a spoon, and draw a line through it with your finger.
    2 cups Whole milk
  • Add the cheese: Turn the heat to low, and slowly add in the cheese. Add them in one handful at a time, and stir in completely before adding in the next handful of cheese. Repeat until the cheese has fully melted into the sauce and the sauce is completely thick. Mix in the spices.
    8 oz Cavatappi pasta, 1 cup Cheddar cheese, 1 cup Provolone cheese, ¼ cup Parmesan cheese, ¼ cup Gruyere cheese, ¼ cup Fontina cheese, 1 teaspoon Garlic powder, 1 teaspoon Onion powder, 1 teaspoon Dry mustard
  • Combine: Add the cooked pasta to the skillet, or to the pot, and stir it into the cheese sauce. Be sure to stir well so that the pasta is fully coated in the sauce.
  • Bake: Top the pasta in the skillet with the breadcrumb mixture and a little bit of crumbled bacon. If you are going to use a baking dish, instead, transfer the pasta to a baking dish and top with the breadcrumbs and bacon. Bake in the preheated oven for 10-15 minutes covered with foil, and broil on HI for 2 minutes to brown the top of the pasta.

Notes

  • Use freshly shredded cheese! The key to a smooth cheese sauce is grating the cheese yourself. Pre-shredded cheese is coated in anti-caking agents to prevent the cheese from sticking together. This also makes the sauce gritty, and not super smooth. 
  • Use full fat cheese! I know we are always looking for a good way to lighten up our favourite dishes. Truthfully, low fat or fat free cheese just does not melt the way you want for a restaurant-style mac and cheese.
  • Be mindful of the temperature of your pan! Sometimes when your pan gets too hot, it can break the cheese sauce and the cheese will not melt smoothly. Lower heat is best!

Nutrition

Calories: 748kcal | Carbohydrates: 43g | Protein: 30g | Fat: 50g | Saturated Fat: 23g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 4g | Monounsaturated Fat: 19g | Trans Fat: 0.3g | Cholesterol: 107mg | Sodium: 1291mg | Potassium: 364mg | Fiber: 2g | Sugar: 6g | Vitamin A: 1013IU | Vitamin C: 0.4mg | Calcium: 654mg | Iron: 2mg