Smoked Mac and Cheese
Smoked mac and cheese is so easy to do, and tastes fabulous! Once you have tried smoked mac and cheese there is no going back. To make this amazing recipe you only need a few basic ingredients for the most amazing creamy and delicious flavored macaroni and cheese that you have ever tasted.
Find the recipe along with our step-by-step instructions below for details.
Can you Smoke Mac and Cheese?
Occasionally the things that you can smoke well surprise you. There are definitely some foods that can be smoked and taste amazing, and then there are definitely those foods that should not be smoked at all.
Mac and cheese is one of the foods that is very tasty when it is smoked. Below we will walk you through the step-by-step process of how you can easily make smoked mac & cheese from scratch, or by using a box.
We are also very excited to share our smoked mac & cheese recipe with you!
What Is Smoked Mac and Cheese?
Perhaps you’re wondering what smoked mac n cheese is. It’s just as it sounds. Mac and cheese on the smoker is usually homemade macaroni and cheese that you cook and then place on the smoker and then smoke over low heat for a couple of hours.
This allows your macaroni and cheese to obtain a lovely smoky flavor.
Why This Recipe Works
As mentioned above, foods taste amazing when smoked and some really should not be smoked at all. This recipe for creamy smoked mac and cheese works well because mac and cheese is one of those foods that taste amazing after it has been smoked. By smoking your mac and cheese it allows your mac and cheese to warm and obtain a light smoky flavor which adds an extra depth of taste to your overall dish.
Is your mouth watering yet? Ours sure is! Let’s look at what ingredients you will need to make this delicious dish that your whole family will enjoy.
What You’ll Need
Cooked Elbow Macaroni. We recommend using elbow macaroni for your pasta, however, this is not a requirement. If there is another type of pasta you would prefer to use instead, you can use it in place of elbow macaroni.
Butter. We recommend using salted butter to help make your smoked mac & cheese recipe delightfully creamy. If you need to, you can substitute salted butter for another type of butter, but salted butter is what we recommend using.
Flour. You will need a little bit of all-purpose flour to make your roux, which is what makes the cheese sauce so delightful. If you need to substitute the all-purpose flour for another type of all-purpose flour, such as gluten-free all-purpose flour, this will work as well.
Evaporated Milk. We recommend using evaporated milk when making your cheese sauce.
Whole Milk. Although you can use any kind of milk, we would strongly encourage you to use whole milk when making your cheese sauce for the smoked mac and cheese. Using whole milk will help to add a creamy texture to your dish.
Yellow Mustard. Every little bit of yellow mustard is included in this recipe for smoked macaroni and cheese. The yellow mustard is not able to be detected once it is added, but it does help to enhance the overall flavor of your dish.
Garlic Powder. Garlic powder is used to season your smoked mac & cheese. We recommend using garlic powder to add that delightful additional flavoring. Garlic powder is recommended over garlic salt, as it has a stronger garlic flavor and is less salty. You can use minced garlic or freshly minced garlic to replace the garlic powder if desired.
Salt & Pepper. Salt and pepper are used to add additional flavoring to your smoked mac and cheese. You can add salt and pepper to fit your specific tastes.
Cheese. Don’t forget the cheese! Cheese is an important ingredient when you are making your delicious creamy smoked mac and cheese recipe. We would strongly encourage you to use freshly grated cheese for your macaroni and cheese. A mixture of cheese will add a good balance to your dish.
We recommend using your choice of a mixture of Gouda, mozzarella, cheddar, Colby Jack, farmers’ cheese, and cream cheese.
No matter what other kinds of cheese you choose to use, cream cheese should be one that is included. The cream cheese helps to make your dish much creamier and absorbs the smoky flavor better.
How to Make Smoked Mac and Cheese
Now that your ingredients are all gathered, it’s time to begin making your mac and cheese!
Preheat the smoker
Preheat your smoker to 225°F. Allow it to warm while you prepare your pasta.
Cook the pasta to almost al dente
Take a large pan, fill it part of the way with water, and boil your pasta according to your package instructions until it is almost al dente. When it is very close to being done, be sure you do not overcook the pasta, then remove it from the heat. Drain the pasta water, and drizzle with olive oil. Stir to fully coat the noodles. Set aside.
Make the cheese sauce:
Take a large pot and place it on your stovetop. Melt butter over medium heat, until melted. Sprinkle in flour and whisk to combine until it resembles wet sand. Next, gently pour in your whole milk and whisk.
Bring your mixture to a boil while continually whisking. Whisk until your mixture is combined and smooth. You should then see your mixture thicken while it is cooking over medium heat. Remove from the heat, add mustard, evaporated milk, cream cheese, shredded cheese, garlic powder, salt, and pepper. Stir until smooth and creamy.
Toss the pasta and sauce together
Add your pasta to the cheese sauce and stir until your noodles are completely coated.
Layering the Noodles and Cheese into the Pan
Place your cast iron pan on the stove over medium-low heat. Add a drizzle of oil to the bottom of your pan to temper it. Then add the first layer of your mac and cheese. Top the first layer with additional shredded cheese. Pour your remaining mac and cheese mixture on top.
Add a topping
Then, on top of your second mac and cheese layer, add more shredded cheese. You can add any other kind of toppings you want to top off your mac and cheese. Panko bread crumbs always work well, but any kind of toppings you want will work out great.
Assembling Your Mac and Cheese For The Smoker
When your toppings are added, your creamy mac and cheese should be ready to place on your pellet grill, electric smoker, Traeger, or grill.
Smoking Mac and Cheese
The key to smoking your macaroni and cheese is to cook it over a low temperature for a few hours. Typically, a good rule of thumb is to smoke your Mac and cheese at 225°F for approximately two hours. This will allow your macaroni and cheese to warm and obtain a delightful smoky flavor. Place your prepared mac and cheese, in a cast-iron dish, on your smoker uncovered, and smoke for approximately two hours.
Serving the Smoked Mac and Cheese
Once your creamy smoked mac and cheese has had time to sufficiently smoke, it is time to remove it from your smoker. Once it is removed, you can serve your dish right away, and enjoy it!
You can add many different kinds of toppings to your mac and cheese if desired. A few of our topping ideas are listed below. However, feel free to add your favorites on top of this delicious recipe for smoked macaroni and cheese.
Buttered Panko breadcrumbs
Buttered Bacon Breadcrumbs
BBQ pulled pork
More shredded cheese!
Not only can you add some delicious toppings to finish off your smoked mac and cheese but you can also experiment with adding mix-ins to your macaroni and cheese as well. These delicious toppings can make amazing mix-ins for your smoked macaroni and cheese.
Tips for the BEST Smoked Mac and Cheese
Use cast iron. To achieve the best smoked mac and cheese possible, we recommend using a cast-iron skillet or Dutch oven if you are able. Cast iron allows your mac n cheese to be the best it can possibly be. However, if you do not have access to a cast-iron pan, you can use a baking pan instead.
Grate the cheese yourself. Another great tip to keep in mind when you are making smoker mac and cheese is to grate the cheese yourself rather than buying shredded cheese from the store. This works better because you will have freshly grated cheese that is not coated in the extra starch.
Keep your smoker temperatures low. Smoking your macaroni and cheese low and slow is the key to amazing smoked macaroni and cheese.
Use a mild wood. We recommend using a mild wood pellet to smoke your mac and cheese in the smoker. Woods such as applewood, cherry, maple, or even pecan work well for this recipe. Using a mild wood to smoke your mac and cheese allows you to enjoy a light smokey flavor, without it being overpowering.
Undercook the Noodles. Say what? That’s right. We recommend that you slightly undercook the noodles when you are preparing your mixture on the stovetop. This will make sure that they don’t become mushy after they have finished the two hours of smoking time after they have been cooked initially on your stovetop.
Feel free to mix it up!
When you are preparing smoked mac and cheese, it’s okay to mix things up a bit if you want. One of the great things about smoked mac and cheese is that it is a delicious dish to have alongside of your barbecue. Feel free to spice things up by adding barbecued mix-ins, or serving alongside your other barbecue dishes. You can also try adding your favorite toppings, or even side dishes to change things up a little bit. Get creative and have fun!
How to Choose Wood for Smoked Mac and Cheese
The best thing to keep in mind when you are choosing wood for your smoked Mac and cheese is to pick mild types of wood. This will enable your wood to not overpower the other flavors in your macaroni and cheese but will help to enhance the overall flavor. Woods such as apple, pecan, maple, and cherry typically work well for this recipe.
How to Choose Cheese for Smoked Mac and Cheese
Determining what kind of cheese is best to use in your smoked mac and cheese recipe can be a challenge. It is a really good idea to choose more than one type of cheese to give your dish a good balance and flavor. Pairing cheeses such as cream cheese, Gouda, and cheddar together will give you a very delicious result!
Can I use pre-shredded cheese?
Although you can use pre-shredded cheese for this recipe, we would strongly encourage you to shred your own cheese. When you shred your own cheese for this recipe, you will avoid having the gritty texture to your macaroni and cheese, and instead enjoy a lovely creamy smoked mac and cheese, yum!
What if you don’t have a smoker, can you still make this macaroni and cheese recipe? Absolutely! You can also bake this mac and cheese recipe in the oven, or you can even try grilling it.
Oven-Baked. To bake this recipe in the oven, you will want to preheat your oven to 325°F. Then, once you have prepared your recipe as stated above, bake your dish for 15-20 minutes, or until the top has started to become crispy. Remove from the oven and enjoy. It’s that simple!
Grilled. You can also bake this recipe on a grill if desired. Preheat your grill to approximately 250-300°F and then add your prepared mac and cheese. Grill the dish for 10-15 minutes, or until it starts to turn a light golden color. Remove from the heat, serve, and enjoy!
Gluten-Free Smoked Mac and Cheese
Those of you who need gluten-free recipes will be happy to know that you can easily make this dish friendly for those with gluten sensitivity. Simply prepare the recipe as stated above, only use your favorite gluten-free pasta, prepared according to the box instructions.
Then in your roux, replace your flour with all-purpose gluten-free flour. Just like that, you can enjoy a delicious recipe for gluten-free smoked mac and cheese!
Lactose-Free Smoked Mac and Cheese
You can also prepare your mac and cheese so that it does not contain any lactose. To do this, simply switch out the milk products called for above, for another milk substitute for mac and cheese. For a full list of milk substitutes, please click HERE.
Homemade Vs. Store Bought
Why should you make mac and cheese from scratch, rather than simply smoking store-bought macaroni and cheese? Although you can simply buy premade macaroni and cheese and then place it on your smoker, it never turns out quite as good as homemade. If you want to try using store-bought mac and cheese, we recommend trying to smoke something such as Stouffer’s frozen mac and cheese. To do this, you would want to thaw out the mac and cheese first, and then place it on your preheated grill to smoke for approximately two hours.
Nothing Like Homemade
Although you can use store-bought mac and cheese to smoke on your pellet grill or electric smoker, there is nothing like homemade smoked mac and cheese. To understand the difference, you simply have to try the above recipe to taste just how good it is.
After your smoked mac & cheese has been prepared and served, you will want to store any leftovers for later. That is to say, if there are any leftovers, there might not be because it’s just that good!
Refrigerating Smoked Macaroni and Cheese
Any leftovers from your smoked mac and cheese should be transferred to an airtight container and placed in the refrigerator. You can store your leftovers in the fridge for up to 3 to 5 days before the macaroni and cheese will go bad.
Freezing Smoked Macaroni and Cheese
Can you freeze mac and cheese? Any leftovers that you wish to keep for a longer period of time can be transferred to an airtight container or sealed in a freezer bag. You can then place your leftovers in the freezer for up to three months before your smoked mac and cheese goes bad in the freezer.
FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS
How long to smoke Mac and cheese?
The approximate amount of time it takes to smoke your mac and cheese is usually around two hours.
Can this be made ahead of time?
If you want, smoked mac and cheese can be made ahead of time, however, you will want to increase the cheese sauce as it can tend to dry out slightly.
Can this be frozen?
Yes, your smoked mac and cheese can be frozen if desired.
What wood is best for smoked mac and cheese?
The best kind of wood to use for smoked mac and cheese is a light flavored or mild wood. Woods such as apple, cherry, pecan, and maple usually work best. We recommend applewood for a light flavor.
What is smoked mac and cheese good with?
You can serve smoked mac and cheese with pretty much anything. Some delicious side dishes include fruit, smoked cheesecake, barbecue pulled pork, and much more!
I don’t have a cast iron pan, can I use a baking pan?
Although cast iron pans work the best for smoking mac and cheese, you can use a baking pan if you do not have cast iron.
What can I substitute for milk in mac and cheese?
There are many different options when it comes to milk substitutes for mac and cheese. For a detailed list please see Can You Make Mac and Cheese Without Milk? 27 BEST Substitutes.
Can I Make this Lactose Free?
Yes! You can absolutely make this smoked mac and cheese recipe lactose-free. Please see our list of milk substitutes for mac and cheese.
What else can you serve with Smoked Mac and Cheese?
There are many different options of items you can serve with smoked mac and cheese. The list is truly endless. A few of our favorites include the following. You can also visit Vegetables & Sides for more ideas!
Green Bean Bundles Wrapped In Bacon
BBQ Pulled Pork
Grilled Chicken Thighs
Four Cheese Smoked Mac ‘n’ Cheese
Making for cheese smoked Mac in cheese is quite easy to do, and tastes amazing! This is definitely a delicious food you enjoy when smoked. Now, give this easy, and delicious recipe a try for yourself!
Smoked Mac and Cheese Recipe
Smoked Mac and Cheese…easy!
Now that you know all of our tips, tricks, recommendations, and ingredients needed to make this delicious recipe, it’s time to get cooking! Try making this delicious smoked macaroni and cheese recipe today!
THE BEST SMOKED MAC AND CHEESE
Making smoked mac and cheese is a game changer! This recipe is easy to make, and fabulous for your taste buds to enjoy! There are just a few basic ingredients needed in order to make this delicious recipe. Be sure to give it a try today, or save it to your Pinterest board for later.
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