Smoked Mac and Cheese Recipe

This easy smoked mac and cheese is the ultimate comfort food! This family favorite will make the perfect side dish for any occasion, made with three different types of cheeses, bacon, topped with panko bread crumbs, and packed with mouth-watering smoky flavor. No smoker? No problem! This dish can easily be made in the oven! (See FAQs for oven directions)

Wooden spoon filled with smoked mac and cheese of cast iron skillet, strings of cheese dripping down.

Why you’ll love this Smoked Mac and Cheese

Unique Flavor Profile: Adding a smoky flavor to classic mac and cheese takes it to a whole new level. It gives you that rich, comfy taste with an exciting twist. The smokiness goes perfectly with the creamy cheese, making it super delicious. And using Dijon mustard instead of the usual yellow mustard adds a yummy twist!

Versatility: Smoked mac and cheese is a super versatile dish. It can steal the show at a barbecue, be a cozy side at holiday dinners, or even be the main event for a family night in. Plus, you can mix it up by adding things like jalapeños or different cheeses to make it just the way you like.

Crowd-Pleaser: This dish is bound to wow your guests and family. The cozy comfort of mac and cheese, mixed with a smoky flavor, makes it a hit for kids and adults. It’s an awesome way to add a gourmet touch to a classic favorite.

Smoked Mac and Cheese in cast iron skillet with a scoop missing.

What you’ll need to make this Mac and Cheese

You will need the following ingredients:

  • Elbow macaroni
  • Stick of Butter
  • Gouda cheese slices
  • Monterey Jack cheese
  • Sharp Cheddar cheese
  • Milk
  • Half and Half
  • Dijon Mustard
  • Smoked Paprika
  • Garlic Powder
  • Black Pepper
  • Flour
  • Bacon (optional)
  • Panko Bread Crumbs
Over head picture of all the ingredients needed to make smoked mac and cheese.

You will need the following supplies:

  • Smoker: We love our Reqteq smoker!
  • Smoker chips: We love using a blend.
  • Stirring utensils
  • Measuring tools
  • 12-inch cast iron skillet

How to Make This Smoked Macaroni and Cheese

Preheat your smoker to 225ºF.

PREPARE YOUR PASTA

Prepare your pasta to al-dente, according to package directions. Noodles are usually ready after boiling for 3-4 minutes. Strain and set aside

While you wait for the noodles to cook, this is a great time to prepare your bacon for the topping. Cook your bacon using your favorite method and set it aside to cool.

MAKE YOUR CHEESE SAUCE

Heat a 12-inch cast iron skillet on medium-high heat on the stovetop until hot. Add 6 tablespoons of butter to the hot skillet and melt. Once the butter is melted, sprinkle in the flour and cook for 1-2 minutes while continually whisking. This will help cook off some of the flour taste.

Slowly add the half and half and milk until the mixture is smooth and free of lumps, constantly whisking. Simmer for about three minutes until thickened, stirring occasionally.

Whisk in Dijon, smoked paprika, 1 ½  teaspoons of garlic powder, and salt and pepper until well incorporated. 

Add Cheese and Macaroni

Turn the heat down to medium, add bacon (optional), and stir with a wooden spoon or spatula. Add 8 ounces of shredded Monterey jack, gouda, and sharp cheddar. Stir in the cheese until melted, smooth, and well combined.

Pour prepared macaroni into the cheese mixture and stir until all the noodles are coated. Level out the mixture with a wooden spoon or rubber spatula.

Creamy cheese sauce on the left, noodles dumped into the sauce on the right.

Make Bread Crumbs

In a small bowl, add 2 tablespoons of melted butter, a heaping cup of panko crumbs, and the remaining ½ teaspoon of garlic powder, stirring until all the panko crumbs are coated with butter. Sprinkle the panko mixture evenly over the macaroni and cheese. 

Smoke

Smoke, uncovered, at 225ºF for 45 minutes – 1 hour or until heated through, hot, and bubbly.

Enjoy!

Serve as a dish with some yummy BBQ, or as the main dish with a side salad!

If you love this easy dish, you might also like our Easy Slow Cooker Beef Tips and Gravy!

FAQ’s:

How do I store smoked mac and cheese?

Store cooled mac and cheese in an air-tight container for up to 3-4 days. It’s important to note that this mac and cheese will not heat up as creamy as it is when fresh. This dish is best served and eaten fresh out of the smoker.

What if I don’t have a cast iron skillet?

You don’t have to bake this dish in the cast iron skillet. You can smoke everything to a 9×13 baking dish. If you don’t have a large skillet that will hold all the noodles and sauce, mix the cheese sauce and the noodles in the baking dish or in a large mixing bowl before transferring to the baking dish.

Can I use any baking dish to bake in the smoker?

If it is safe to use in the oven, it can be used in the smoker. However, there will be smoke build-up on your dish. If you have a white casserole dish, it will come out looking brown. The smoke buildup has always cleaned off my white baking pans. If you’re worried about permanently ruining a cute baking dish, I would stick to cast iron skillets or tin casserole pans.

What if I don’t have a smoker?

No smoker? No problem! This macaroni and cheese is still delicious when made in the oven. Simply preheat the oven to 375ºF and bake uncovered for 20-25 minutes, or until everything is heated through and bubbly. The only major change will be cooking your noodles according to package directions instead of al-dente.

What wood chips should I use?

We love using a blend for a balanced smoked flavor in this dish. Mild woods like apple, cherry, and pecan are excellent options. Experimenting with different combinations can help you find your preferred flavors.

Smoked Mac and Cheese

The perfect side dish for any occasion, made with three different types of cheeses, bacon, topped with panko bread crumbs, and packed with mouth-watering smoky flavor
Prep Time 10 minutes
Cook Time 1 hour
Serving Size 6

Ingredients

  • 1 (16 ounce) Box of elbow macaroni
  • 1 stick unsalted butter, divided
  • 6 tablespoons all purpose flour
  • 2 cups half and half
  • 1 1/2 cups 2% milk
  • 8 ounces Monterey jack cheese, grated
  • 8 ounces gouda, grated
  • 8 ounces sharp cheddar, grated
  • 2 tablesppons Dijon mustard
  • 2 teaspoons smoked paprika
  • 2 teaspoons garlic powder, divided
  • 1 teaspoon salt, or to taste
  • 1 teaspoon ground pepper
  • 1 heaping cup panko bread crumbs
  • 1 pound bacon, cooked until crispy (optional)

Instructions

  • Preheat the smoker to 225ºF.
  • Prepare the macaroni al dente according to package instructions; should take about 3-4 minutes. Drain the water and set aside.
  • Heat a 12-inch cast iron skillet on medium-high heat on the stovetop until hot. Add 6 tablespoons of butter to the hot skillet and melt. Once the butter is melted, sprinkle in the flour and cook for approximately 1-2 minutes while continually whisking. This will help cook off some of the flour taste.
  • Slowly add the half and half and milk until the mixture is smooth and free of lumps, constantly whisking. Simmer for about three minutes until thickened, stirring occasionally.
  • Whisk in Dijon, smoked paprika, 1 ½  teaspoons of garlic powder, and salt and pepper until well incorporated.  If using bacon, chop cooked bacon into pieces, add it to cheese sauce, and mix well.
  • Add in 8 ounces of shredded Monterey jack, gouda, and sharp cheddar. Stir until the cheese is melted and everything is smooth and well combined.
  • Pour prepared macaroni into the cheese mixture and stir until all the noodles are coated. Level out the mixture with a wooden spoon or rubber spatula.
  • In a small bowl, add 2 tablespoons of melted butter, a heaping cup of panko crumbs, and the remaining ½ teaspoon of garlic powder, stirring until all the panko crumbs are coated with butter. Sprinkle the panko mixture evenly over the macaroni and cheese.
  • Smoke in cast iron skillet, uncovered, at 225ºF for 45 minutes- 1 hour or until heated through, hot, and bubbly.

Notes

If you don’t have a smoker, this dish can be baked in the oven at 375ºF for 20-25 minutes or until everything is heated through and bubbly.

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