The amount of chipotle (and cayenne) can be adjusted according to taste, if you want something spicier (or even milder). As is, you have just the right amount of spice to contrast with the creaminess of the cheese and the light, crispy flavor of the panko bread crumbs without things being (in my opinion) being “hot” at all.
If you do want some sides with this, I would keep them simple. With something this filling, savory, and satisfying, you don’t really need anything fancy to go with it. Enjoy!
1/4 cup unsalted butter (I used Land O’Lakes)
1/3 cup unbleached, all-purpose flour
2 1/2 Cups milk or half and half
1/2 teaspoon sea salt
1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper
1/4 teaspoon paprika
1 teaspoon onion powder
1 Tablespoon dry mustard powder
1 teaspoon chipotle pepper in adobo (can be adjusted down to half a teaspoon for ultra-kid-friendly–or up, if you want something more spicy)
pinch cayenne pepper
8 Ounces sharp cheddar cheese, grated
4 Slices crispy cooked bacon (plus extra for garnish)
1 Pound macaroni/pasta of your choice (cooked and drained)
3 Tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
3/4 cups dry panko crumbs (I used Progresso panko bread crumbs)
Thanks to Cooking With Curls for this delicious mac & cheese recipe.