Gluten-free mac and cheese with zucchini and bacon is a mouth-wateringly flavorful side dish or meal. This amazingly flavorful stove top macaroni and cheese recipe is easy to prepare and quite the crowd-pleaser! Plus, it is a brilliant way to sneak vegetables into a meal.
Also known as that time I ate half a pound of pasta in one sitting.
Seriously, this zucchini bacon mac and cheese is basically my idea of a wicked wild evening in. I’ve always been a huge fan of mac and cheese and recently decided it’s time to step up my game and make it at home.
How to Make Zucchini Bacon Mac and Cheese:
Cook the noodles according to package instructions.
While noodles are cooking, prepare the rest of the recipe. Pulse the zucchini in a food processor, or grate it using a box grater.
Heat a large skillet or thick bottomed pot over medium heat and add the bacon. Cook bacon until much of the fat has rendered. Remove bacon from the skillet and transfer to a cutting board, leaving the drippings in the skillet.
Reduce the heat to medium-low and add the zucchini and garlic. Cook for 2 to 3 minutes, until garlic is fragrant and zucchini begins to soften.
Add the coconut milk (or rice milk or regular milk) and heat it to just below a boil – you want the milk to be barely steamy, but not boil.
Whisk in the flour and 2 cups of the grated cheese, saving 1 cup for the end. Reduce the heat to low and continue cooking and whisking until the sauce has thickened – you’re looking for a consistency similar to heavy cream.
Add the cooked macaroni noodles to the pan and stir well. Note: depending on the way your cheese melts, you may need to stir for a while in order to get everything to stir together. Just keep going until everything is well-incorporated.
Stir in the chopped bacon and remaining cheese. Taste macaroni for flavor and add sea salt to taste.
If you want to add even more cheese, go for it! If you’re gonna get wet, you might as well swim.
What Type of Milk Should I Use?
I have tested this recipe with coconut milk (I use light canned coconut milk, but full-fat canned coconut milk would be even tastier!), rice milk and flax milk.
You can use homemade or store-bought non-dairy milk, or go with regular cow’s milk (I’d recommend whole milk is using cow’s milk!).
If you use almond milk, be very careful to not bring it to a full boil, as store-bought almond milk tends to separate when it boils. If you tolerate cows milk well, you can use whole milk, half & half, or heavy cream for a sultry experience.
What Type of Cheese Should I Use?
Use your favorite melting cheeses. I use raw goat milk cheddar cheese and raw goat milk mozzarella cheese for this recipe. If you like fancy macaroni and cheese, consider using smoked or aged gouda, gruyere, and/or feta cheese. The combination of aged raw milk cheddar and mozzarella makes for a creamy result with just the right amount of tang. If you’re a fan of regular cheddar, go for it!
Do note that not all cheese melts well! If you want to use a cheese that doesn’t melt well, just be sure you use enough of a cheese that does melt so that your cheese sauce is nice and thick.
Some people add 4 to 6 ounces of cream cheese to their homemade stove top mac and cheese. I find I don’t do well with cream cheese (or cheeses that are unaged), but feel free to add it to the sauce for a more decadent experience.
What Type of Noodles Should I Use?:
I use Tinkyada Brown Rice Elbow Pasta (not sponsored), which is made entirely of brown rice. I find my digestive system processes this gluten-free pasta very well, whereas I’ve had trouble with brands that use corn, quinoa, chickpeas, potato starch, etc.
I also absolutely LOVE the texture of this pasta. It turns out nearly indistinguishable from regular pasta. Plus, it doesn’t break easily after you cook it the way some GF pastas do.
If you have a favorite noodle, feel free to use it for this recipe. Just note that not all brands of gluten-free pasta noodles are created equally, as some of them break regardless of how diligently you try to cook them al dente.
- Omit the zucchini to take one step out of the equation.
- Add a couple handfuls of spinach to add more nutrients to the mac and cheese.
- Serve with your choice of animal protein for a complete meal.
- Be a real winner and add hot dogs to the mac..I do this regularly!
- Use your favorite combination of melting cheeses.
This mac and cheese recipe is excellent for meal prep! You can use it as a side dish, or if you’re jonesing for a carb load, it makes for one satisfying lunch or dinner.
More Pasta Recipes:
- Chicken Zucchini Orecchiette Pasta
- 30-Minute Sausage Pasta with Sun-Dried Tomato Pesto
- Kale Pesto Pasta Salad
- Pesto Chicken Pasta with Mushrooms and Broccoli
Zucchini Bacon Mac and Cheese
- 1 16-ounce package gluten-free elbow noodles
- 4 strips thick-cut bacon
- 1 medium zucchini squash grated
- 2 cloves garlic minced
- 1 1/4 cups light canned coconut milk or non-dairy milk of choice
- 1 1/2 Tbsp gluten-free all-purpose flour
- 1 cup mozzarella cheese I use raw goat milk mozzarella
- 2 cups cheddar cheese I use raw goat milk aged cheddar
- 1/2 tsp sea salt to taste
- Cook the noodles according to package instructions.
- While noodles are cooking, prepare the rest of the recipe. Pulse the zucchini in a food processor, or grate it using a box grater. Heat a large skillet or thick bottomed pot over medium heat and add the bacon. Cook bacon until much of the fat has rendered. Remove bacon from the skillet and transfer to a cutting board, leaving the drippings in the skillet.
- Reduce the heat to medium-low and add the zucchini and garlic. Cook for 2 to 3 minutes, until garlic is fragrant and zucchini begins to soften.
- Add the light coconut milk and heat to just below a boil - you want the milk to be slightly steamy but not boil. Whisk in the flour 2 cups of the grated cheese, saving 1 cup of cheese for the end. Reduce the heat to low and continue cooking, whisking occasionally, until milk mixture is thick (a similar consistency to heavy cream is optimal).
- Add the cooked macaroni noodles to the pan and stir well.
- Stir in the chopped bacon and remaining cheese. Taste macaroni for flavor and add sea salt to taste. If you want to add even more cheese, go for it! If you’re gonna get wet, you might as well swim.