Smoked Mac and Cheese

April 19, 2019

Smoked Mac and Cheese is comfort food in a cast iron skillet. Creamy and rich macaroni and cheese with a crisp panko topping and the perfect kiss of smoke flavor.

Smoked Mac and Cheese

I love a good mac and cheese, so I have spent years perfecting and refining my recipe. I’ve tried different cheeses, milks, cream, toppings and more to come up with the perfect blend of flavors and textures. I think this is important for any good mac and cheese, but especially important for smoked mac and cheese! You need to to able to taste the smoke without it overwhelming the subtle notes of the cheese and pasta underneath. After much trial and error, I’ve put all of my tips and info into this recipe for you to enjoy!

smoked mac and cheese in a skilled on the smoker

How to Make Smoked Mac and Cheese

If you’ve been using a smoker for a while, you know that porous, wet, or soft items take on smoke really quickly. That is great news if you want to whip up this smoked macaroni and cheese as a side dish for something like a smoked brisket or pork shoulder. You can pull off your big meats to let them rest for an hour and get your mac and cheese right into the smoker without having to preheat your grill.

Tips for the BEST Smoked Mac and Cheese

  • Use cast iron. A 12 inch skillet will go from stovetop to smoker to the dinner table without too much hassle or too many dishes. Plus it will give you plenty of surface area for your mac and cheese to take on smoke.
  • Keep your smoker temperatures low. Anything over 225 degrees F will overcook your noodles and make your mac and cheese dry.
  • Use a mild wood. I recommend cherry, apple, maple, or pecan wood.
  • Feed free to mix it up! This mac and cheese is a great base for other flavor additions, bacon, green chiles, lobster, pulled pork… get creative! My favorite thing to do is add my Signature Sweet Rub to the panko topping for that classic BBQ flavor.

bowl of smoked mac and cheese with fork

Love Smoked Mac and Cheese?

If you like this mac and cheese recipe, here are a couple of other mac and cheese variations I’ve created over the years:

Jalapeno Popper Smoked Mac and Cheese 
Pulled Pork Stuffed Mac and Cheese Bombs
Bacon Mac and Cheese

Smoked Mac and Cheese Recipe

Watch the video below the recipe card and I’ll show you step-by-step how I make this smoked mac and cheese recipe at home. You can find more of my smoking and grilling recipe videos on YouTubeInstagram, or our Facebook Page. Follow along and let’s make awesome food together!

smoked mac and cheese in bowl

Smoked Mac and Cheese

Rich and creamy smoked mac and cheese with a crispy panko breadcrumb topping. 
4.69 from 16 votes
Prep Time : 20 mins
Cook Time : 1 hr
Total Time : 1 hr 20 mins
Servings : 8 people
Calories : 837kcal

Video

Ingredients
 

  • 1 pound elbow macaroni noodles (cooked according to package instructions)
  • 1/2 cup butter
  • 4 Tablespoons flour
  • 1 Tablespoon mustard powder
  • 2 cups half and half
  • 4 oz cream cheese
  • 3 cups cheddar
  • 1.5 cups gouda

Bread crumb topping

Instructions

  • Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil and cook macaroni noodles until they are al dente, meaning they still have a bit of chew and texture (not too soft).
  • Preheat your smoker to 225 degrees F using a mild hardwood. My favorite is cherry or apple. 
  • Heat a 12 inch cast iron skillet over medium heat. Melt 1/2 cup of butter and whisk in the flour until a smooth, thin paste forms. Then whisk in the mustard powder.
  • Carefully pour in the half and half and bring up to a boil while whisking. Reduce the heat and whisk in the cream cheese until smooth.
  • Whisk in the cheddar cheese and gouda cheese and stir until melted. Turn off the heat and pour in the cooked macaroni noodles. Stir gently until the noodles are coated by the cheese sauce.
  • Combine the melted butter, sweet rub, and panko bread crumbs in a small bowl. Sprinkle over the top of the mac and cheese.
  • Place the skillet in the smoker, close the lid, and smoke for 1 hour. You can smoke for up to 2 hours if you want a stronger smoker flavor, but the noodles will take on quite a bit of smoke fairly quickly.
  • Serve your mac and cheese while it is still warm and the cheese is nice and melty!

Nutrition

Calories: 837kcal | Carbohydrates: 57g | Protein: 30g | Fat: 56g | Saturated Fat: 34g | Cholesterol: 171mg | Sodium: 877mg | Potassium: 231mg | Fiber: 2g | Sugar: 2g | Vitamin A: 1665IU | Vitamin C: 1mg | Calcium: 701mg | Iron: 3.1mg
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61 thoughts on “Smoked Mac and Cheese

  1. This recipe seems to be quite superior to the one I was using – can’t wait to try it out!

    I love the fact that you put a BBQ bend on the panko 🙂

  2. If you don’t have a smoker could you put it in the oven and at what temperature would you suggest if that’s an option

  3. Very easy to make, but needs tweeked to personal taste. Followed directions exactly except for the sweetrub (didn’t have it so I just used Panko only), also was in the smoker for about 70 minutes. Everyone felt it needed a little more sauce or be just a bit creamier and/or a little less Panko on top (breads crumbs seemed to make it dryer/more bland). I’m sure the rub mixed into the topping would help the blandness but don’t know if it would help the dryness. With that said, it is a very good starting point that you can adjust to what your family likes. I will be making this dish again with some adjustments.

  4. Made this for a big family get together and wow! So good! Amazing flavor. I didn’t have the seasoning and no time to order it before I had to make this so I threw together an approximation of it. Everyone loved this mac n cheese and the pan was scraped clean. I used a cast iron Dutch oven and it worked great. Definitely will make again.

    1. Should my rouge with cheese in it have any liquids in pan. May have used too much flour. Taking two 8×13 pans to BBQ tomorrow. Should we add additional milk to mixture before smoking?

  5. This is the best recipe I have found online, best I have ever tested or seen and I run West Coast Pitmasters!! So I buy the smoked gouda slices from Safeway and maybe it adds to it more. Cooking it up again tonight, I should just bookmark it by now ha ha

    1. The smoke time is more about the flavor imparted to the noodles rather than cooking. I’d stick with an hour but that’s totally up to you.

  6. This turned out perfectly..!! I used several casserole dishes in the smoker instead of one cast iron skillet (which I don’t have) My family and office staff thank you in advance.???? Just Yum..!!

  7. Everybody that had it loved it and said it was the best mac and cheese they ever had. I thought it was a little rich I didn’t know if there was a way to maybe not make it so rich or what you would recommend substituting for it if anything?

  8. Any suggestions on how to make the sauce more creamy? Everyone liked the taste, but wished that the sauce was a little creamier (sorry, but they are used to the sauce that comes with Kraft Mac-N-Cheese box). Should I add more butter or add a little oil? Any suggestions are appreciated.

  9. Last night was the second time that I made this. The first time, it was delicious, but a little dry. I think that I left it in the smoker for too long or at too high a temperature. Last night, I only left it in for almost an hour and I backed the pellet grill down to 160 degrees. Not too dry at all, but still had a smokey flavor.

    The first time, I didn’t mess with the recipe. The second, I added a can of green chilies. That was not enough and I could barely taste them. Next time, I will add at least a couple of cans.

    Also, I intend to make this by adding jalapenos and bacon (maybe even at the same time.) It’s a lot of mac and cheese so it will need a lot of additives.

    Regardless, a great dish and pretty easy to pull off.

  10. I am going to be trying this tomorrow, I couldn’t tell in the video but I assume you were doing indirect heating in your smoker?

  11. Great recipe! I enjoy smoking mac and cheese and it is a dish you can definitely play around with. Try different cheeses: 1lb Sharp Cheddar with 1/4 lb Monteary Jack and 1/2 lb Taleggio or Gruyere. Once the roux is done and have brought the half and half to a light boil, mix in the cheese, then once the cheese sauce is made, mix in the 16 ounces of noodles. Finally add 1 cup of mayo and 1 cup of sour cream and mix. Once mixed, put on the smoker. I use a dutch oven, keep the lid off, and place on the smoker. I usually use a fruit wood blend at 300 – 325 degrees of indirect heat for 1 hour.

    Regardless… HeyGrillHey, this is a great recipe!

  12. Really liked the recipe. Didn’t use all the noodles it said so it was creamy which was good. Taste was a bit bland so I think adding the green chili’s or bacon would be a great idea to add in some extra flavor. Overall though very happy with it.

  13. I had to improvise with items on hand. I made approximately a half batch using 4% milk, sharp cheddar, Velveeta, Havarti, cream cheese along with the rest of the recipe. It was really good!! Your recipes and techniques never disappoint. Thank you!

  14. I was smoking ribs yesterday and needed a side dish; on a whim I looked up “smoked mac and cheese” and tried this one.

    I cheated somewhat by using box mac ‘n cheese and used McCormick’s Sweet and Smoky rub instead of making it from scratch. I waited a while before adding the topping; just smoked the pasta & stirred it a few times.

    My 7 year old thought it was too spicy (not unusual), the 10 year old said it’s the best mac ‘n cheese she’d ever tasted. I thought it was awesome, and it was definitely easy to make. It’s going in the arsenal long term.

  15. I’m making this for the second time this weekend – soo delicious! Question: could I assemble it tonight and smoke it tomorrow?

  16. Followed recipe closely except I added a chopped jalapeño to the butter before the flour. Was excellent! Best M&C I’ve had let alone made.

  17. I am excited to make this but I think I need to double the recipe. Would I need to smoke it for longer?
    Thanks!

  18. I’m thinking of making this but I only have a 10 in and a 14 in cast iron skillet. What should I change?

  19. I am doubling the recipe so I don’t have a big enough cast iron pan. Would a large aluminium pan work? Also store didn’t have half and half cream, so I got whipping cream, which I can mix with milk? And gonna add bacon.
    Looks easy, I think can handle it.

    1. The aluminum pan should work just fine. I would try and find some half and half, but I think your idea will work fine.

  20. I felt like I cheated on a family member yesterday by making this dish instead of my normal “go to” mac and cheese. The entire family loved it. This is the new “go to”. The timing is perfect as this went on the smoker as your Carolina Pulled Pork went in the cooler to rest for an hour. Both dishes were great. Thank You!

  21. This was great. I added som Cayenne and layered in the bbq rub considering some had said it was bland. It was great and may very well replace my normal Mac and Cheese!

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