Smoked macaroni and cheese is the ultimate comfort food. Tender macaroni noodles tossed in a velvety cheese sauce and placed in the smoker to give it that rich, bold flavor.
It's the perfect side dish to serve with BBQ or to have as a meal on its own.
Smoked macaroni and cheese is outrageously cheesy and combines a mixture of cheddar cheese, parmesan cheese and smoked gouda. It has a light smokey flavor and the crispy crusty edges we all love!
To give it a little Disney touch I added the character Anger from the movie Inside Out. He's made out of sliced pepperoni, black olives, provolone cheese, Colby Jack and cheddar cheese.
WHY YOU WILL LOVE THIS RECIPE
- Ultra creamy. Rich and creamy and made with a combination of cheeses to give you the most amazing cheesy flavor.
- Customized to your taste. Choose your favorite cheese, noodles and if you do not own a smoker, just pop it in the oven and it's still a winner.
- Easy to make. Boiled pasta and a one pot cheese sauce makes this an easy meal or side dish.
- Great for gatherings. This mac and cheese is such a crowd pleaser. Adults and kids will go nuts over how good it is.
KEY INGREDIENT NOTES
Here are some notes on the ingredients. For a full list of ingredients, check out the recipe card below.
- Smoked gouda cheese- I love the extra smokiness this cheese adds to this dish. I peel off the rind and use a food processor with a shredder attachment. It's so fast and easy.
- Parmesan cheese- Use grated not shredded.
- Sharp cheddar cheese- Make sure to use block cheese instead of pre-shredded which has celulose to prevent clumping and will affect the texture of your sauce.
- Half and Half- To give it more creaminess, I add half and half in addition to using whole milk.
- Mustard powder- Gives this mac and cheese a great kick and helps elevate all the flavors.
- All purpose flour- This helps thicken the cheese sauce.
- Pecan chips- Mild and not over powering. You can easily find them inside your local hardware store.
STEP BY STEP INSTRUCTIONS
STEP 1: Cook pasta. In a large pot, bring water and salt to a boil. Add pasta and cook for one 1-2 minutes shy of al dente according to the package instructions.
STEP 2: Drain pasta. Drain pasta and place inside bowl. Toss with olive oil and set aside.
STEP 3: Make béchamel. In dutch oven or deep sauce pan, melt butter. Add flour over medium heat and whisk for one minute until bubbly and golden. Gradually whisk in milk and half and half. Whisk continuously until thickened, about 2-3 minutes.
STEP 4: Combine cheese. Stir in half of cheddar cheese and smoked gouda cheese. Mix until completely melted. Add mustard powder and stir to combine.
STEP 5: Toss pasta and sauce together. Add cooled pasta and stir until combined and pasta is completely coated with cheese sauce. Season with salt.
STEP 6: Prepare pan. Lightly grease cast iron or baking dish. Pour half of the mac and cheese inside the dish. Sprinkle with second half of cheddar cheese and then the remaining mac and cheese.
STEP 7: Add topping. Sprinkle with parmesan cheese and extra cheddar cheese if you'd like.
STEP 8: Finish in smoker. Place uncovered mac and cheese inside smoker and keep it at a steady 225 degrees for 45 minutes.
- Add a variety of cheeses. No matter if they're tangy, smoked or salty, mixing up your cheese will add depth and flavor to your macaroni dish.
- Undercook your pasta. Avoid mushy and overcooked pasta by cooking it 1-2 minutes less than the recommended package instructions.
- Add extra cheese on top. This will give you a nice crust and golden brown color once it has finished cooking in the smoker.
- Grate your own cheese. Pre-shredded cheese has cellulose to prevent it from clumping. Make sure to use block cheese to achieve a smooth sauce.
- Use mild-flavored chips for your smoker, such as apple or pecan.
Here are some delicious mix-ins that you can incorporate into your mac and cheese.
- Crisp and crumbled bacon
- Diced BBQ chicken
- Veggies such as peas and broccoli
- Lobster or shrimp
- Pulled Pork
Not only does adding toppings add more flavor to your mac and cheese, but it also helps insulate the pasta and keeps it from drying out. Any of these items would be a great choice.
- Buttery Panko breadcrumbs. Mix 1 cup of Panko breadcrumbs with 4 tablespoon of unsalted butter. Sprinkle the top before place inside the smoker.
- Flavored breadcrumbs. Use Panko or homemade breadcrumbs and add sautéed garlic, herbs or bacon bits.
- Extra cheese. Who doesn't love more cheese? Sprinkle just a thin layer on top.
I would recommend a mild wood like pecan, apple or maple.
Yes! Make the entire dish, cover and refrigerate until you are ready to finish inside the smoker.
Leave uncovered to prevent the pasta from getting mushy. It will also help caramelize the top and give a great contrast to this creamy dish.
WHAT IF I DON'T HAVE A SMOKER
No need to worry. Here are some options to give you that "smokey" flavor incase you do not own a smoker.
- Use smoked cheeses to help achieve the flavor you're looking for. Smoked gouda, smoked cheddar and smoked gruyere are great options and readily available.
- Cook your mac and cheese on top of your grill over indirect heat for 30 minutes or until bubbly and the cheese is melted on top.
- This mac and cheese is still deliciously good by simply cooking it inside the oven. Bake at 350 degrees for 25-30 minutes.
STORING AND FREEZING
Place this smoked macaroni and cheese inside a sealed, airtight container. Refrigerate for up to 3 to 5 days.
Tightly wrap macaroni and cheese with plastic wrap. It can be kept inside the freezer for up to 3 months.
To reheat, place inside a preheated 350 degree oven and bake for 30-45 minutes until it's hot and bubbling.
OTHER EASY RECIPES TO TRY
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Smoked Macaroni and Cheese
- 1 lb Elbow macaroni pasta
- 1 stick Butter unsalted
- ½ cup Flour all purpose
- 2 ½ cups Whole milk
- 2 cups Half and Half
- 1 tablespoon Mustard powder
- 4 cups Sharp cheddar cheese grated, divided, plus more for topping
- 1 cup Smoked gouda cheese grated
- 1 cup Parmesan cheese grated
- Salt To Taste
- In large stock pot, bring water to a boil. Add pasta and cook over medium heat 1-2 minutes shy of al dente according to instructions on packaging.
- Drain pasta and place in large bowl. Toss with olive oil to prevent the pasta from sticking together. Set aside.
- Next, melt butter inside dutch oven or large stockpot. Add flour and whisk for 1 minute until mixture is golden and bubbly.
- Slowly add milk and half and half. Whisk continuously until mixture is thickened, about 2-3 minutes. Add 2 cups of cheddar cheese and smoked gouda. Next, whisk in mustard powder.
- Pour cheese sauce over cooled noodles. Toss to combine and evenly coat pasta. Season with salt.
- Lightly grease baking dish and pour half of the pasta mixture into prepared pan. Sprinkle with 1 cup of cheddar cheese and ½ cup of parmesan cheese. Add remaining pasta mixture and top off with remaining cheddar cheese and parmesan cheese.
- Place pan inside smoker. Set temperature to 225 degrees for 1 hour.