Creamy bacon sauce makes this pasta bake a delicious, comforting dinner. This is the perfect recipe to make-ahead and feed a crowd.
This is the time of the year when I start thinking about dishes to feed a crowd. Over the festive season having a few dishes up your sleeve that are both easy to make and perfect to feed the masses is a must. Pasta bake recipes are always a good idea. They are versatile, delicious and can be adapted easily. It’s win-win all around.
How to make bacon pasta bake
The best and easiest way to make creamy pasta bake is to use a bechamel sauce as a base. Cook the bacon in a deep frying pan (I prefer using one I can bake the pasta in) until crispy then remove from the pan and drain the bacon fat off. Remember to reserve the bacon fat for the most delicious roast potatoes or to use instead of oil or butter in cooking. Add butter and onion to the pan and cook until the onions are soft. Add aromatics like garlic and herbs (I love using sage in this recipe) then add the flour. Whisk into the butter then pour in milk whilst whisking to create a smooth sauce. Reduce the heat and allow the sauce to simmer for 5 minutes. Add cream (optional) and cheese and season to taste. Add the bacon and cooked pasta to the sauce and mix well. Top with more cheese and place in a hot oven to bake for 15-20 minutes or until the cheese has melted and is golden brown. Remove the pasta bake from the oven and allow to cool for a few minutes before serving.
Freezing and making ahead
- Freezing: Assemble the pasta bake in a foil baking container. Place a piece of parchment paper on top of the pasta bake then wrap well with plastic and a layer of foil. Freeze for up to 3 months. Remove all wrapping and bake from frozen for 45 minutes – 1 hour.
- Make ahead: Assemble the pasta dish then cover well and place in the fridge the day before baking.
What to serve with pasta bake
Pasta bake recipes
- Creamy spinach artichoke pasta bake
- Pizza pasta bake
- Creamy mushroom pasta bake
- Easy cheese and tomato pasta bake
Creamy bacon pasta bake
- 250 g (½lb) streaky bacon chopped
- 3 tbsp butter
- 1 onion finely diced
- 2-3 garlic cloves minced
- 2 tbsp sage finely chopped
- ¼ cup flour
- 2 cups milk
- ½ cup heavy / whipping cream
- 2 tbsp parmesan grated
- 1 cup grated cheddar cheese divided
- salt and pepper to taste
- 500 g (1lb) penne pasta boiled in salted water, drained + 1 cup cooking water reserved
- Preheat the oven to 180°C/350°F.
- In a large, oven-proof pan, fry the bacon until it starts to crisp. Remove from the pan and set aside. Drain off the bacon fat and reserve for cooking with.
- In the same pan, melt the butter and add the onion. Allow to cook until soft.
- Add the garlic and sage and cook for a minute before adding the flour.
- Stir the flour into the butter then whisk in the milk and cream. Reduce the heat and allow to simmer for 5-7 minutes until the sauce is thick and creamy. Remove from the heat then stir in the bacon, Parmesan and half of the grated cheese. Season to taste.
- Add the cooked pasta and some of the pasta cooking water. Stir to coat the pasta in the sauce. At this stage, the sauce should look quite thin. The pasta will absorb more sauce as it cooks so if it looks too dry at this stage, add more pasta cooking water.
- Top with the remaining cheese and more sage leaves if desired then place in the oven.
- Allow to bake for 15-20 minutes until the cheese is golden brown.
- Remove from the oven, allow to cool for 10 minutes then serve.