Smoked Mac and Cheese is a creamy, gooey, favorite but with a light, smoky flavor that’s sure to impress anyone.
This isn’t the regular kids’ version of mac and cheese. This smoked macaroni and cheese recipe tastes just like the fancy restaurant entrée without the high price tag. Made with gouda cheese, this pasta dish has a delicious and distinguished, smoky flavor that will bring an old fashioned favorite to a whole new level of taste.
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Smoked Mac & Cheese
- Homemade and cooked outside in the smoker, baked macaroni and cheese is a great entrée or side dish. Serve alongside Instant Pot Brussels Sprouts or serve it as an entrée with some Smoked Tomatoes on the side.
- This recipe can be made in any BBQ grill or smoker. Got a Traeger, or a Masterbuilt? Even indoor electric smokers will work.
- Cook outside and keep the oven from heating up the kitchen.
- Experiment with different flavored pellets like applewood, hickory, cherry, or maple and create your own signature dish.
- Make the smoker pull double duty and make these delicious Smoked Eggs for an appetizer.
Ingredients and Variations
THE SAUCE: Macaroni and cheese is all about the sauce. The combination of sharp cheddar cheese and gouda is bright and tangy, but the smoking process gives it a unique flavor. Whole milk is preferred in this recipe, but heavy cream will make the sauce extra creamy. Add some buffalo sauce to give it a sweeter spicy flavor.
THE PASTA: Macaroni is the traditional pasta for mac and cheese but don’t let that hold back experimentation with other types of pasta like shells, penne, or ziti. These types of pasta hold the sauce best.
MIX-INS: Make smoked mac and cheese a signature dish. Add some bacon bits, shredded chicken, thin slices of summer sausage, or even kielbasa.
How to Make Smoked Mac & Cheese
A few steps to making this tasty dish:
- Cook pasta, drain, reserving a little of the pasta water.
- Melt butter in a sauté pan, remove from heat & stir in flour.
- Return to heat & whisk in milk until sauce thickens. Remove from heat & whisk in cheese.
- Mix topping ingredients together.
- Mix pasta with cheese sauce in the skillet or in a baking dish. Sprinkle with topping & smoke (per recipe instructions below).
PRO TIP: No smoker? Short on time? Simply whisk in liquid smoke into the sauce in step 4, add the sauce to the pasta, top with the breadcrumb mixture and bake in the oven.
Tricks for Mac & Cheese
- For easier cheese melting, shred the cheddar and gouda, or if using pre-shredded cheddar, chop the gouda into small pieces.
- Prep the dish in advance and keep in the refrigerator until ready for the smoker. Using a disposable foil tray makes for easy baking and even easier clean-up
- Garnish with sliced green onions for an elegant look.
Refrigerator: Keep leftover smoked macaroni and cheese covered in the refrigerator up to 4 days. Divide into individual portions for an easy, grab-and-go school or workday lunch. Simply reheat in the microwave, stir, and enjoy.
Freezer: Smoked macaroni and cheese can be frozen by scooping it into large zippered bags after it has cooled. Squeeze the air out, write the date on the outside of the bag, and lay them flat in the freezer. Once they are frozen, store them upright to save freezer space. Let them thaw in the refrigerator before reheating.
Best Smoker Recipes
Smoked Macaroni and Cheese
- 1 pound macaroni 16 ounces
- ½ cup butter
- 4 Tablespoons flour *
- 2 cups milk or half and half
- 1 Tablespoon dry mustard
- 3 cups sharp cheddar cheese shredded
- 3 cups gouda shredded
- ¼ teaspoon salt to taste
- ¼ teaspoon fresh ground pepper to taste
- ¼ cup red onion finely diced, optional
- 1 cup Panko bread crumbs or regular breadcrumbs
- ¼ cup butter melted
- 2 Tablespoons pork rub or your favorite rub or seasoned salt
- Preheat smoker to 225°F.
- Cook pasta per package and drain, reserving a small amount of pasta water.
- Meanwhile, melt butter in a medium pot and remove from heat. Stir in flour until well combined.
- Return to heat and add half & half or milk gradually, whisking constantly until sauce thickens. Add the dry mustard. Remove from heat and add cheese, stirring until smooth. Season with salt and pepper.
- In a small dish, mix together topping ingredients until well combined. Set aside.
- Mix pasta, cheese sauce, and onion if using. If it is a little dry, add some of the reserved pasta water. Add to large skillet or baking dish. Sprinkle with topping.
- Smoke 60 minutes, or until bubbling.
Nutrition information does not include optional ingredients or garnish and is an estimate. It may change based on actual ingredients and cooking methods used.
Adapted from my Baked Macaroni and Cheese