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posted May 30, 2023

Smoked Mac and Cheese

Smoked mac and cheese is comfort food in a cast iron skillet. This mac and cheese is creamy, rich, and topped with a crisp panko topping. It’s rounded out with the perfect kiss of smoke flavor from being baked in a backyard smoker.

Smoked mac and cheese in a cast iron skillet with text overlay - Smoked Mac and Cheese.

Smoked Mac and Cheese

A good mac and cheese can make or break your perfect backyard BBQ meal, 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. Each ingredient plays an important role, especially in this smoked mac and cheese recipe. You need to be 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!

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.

Four image collage of making mac and cheese in a cast iron skillet.

How to Make Smoked Mac and Cheese

Alright, enough talk about how tasty this dish is; let’s get to the process. Here’s how to make the best smoked mac and cheese of your life.

  1. Preheat and cook the noodles. Preheat the smoker to 225 degrees F and prepare the noodles according to the packaging. Cook until the noodles are al dente.
  2. Make a roux. Melt butter in a 12-inch cast iron skillet and add flour to make a roux. Next, whisk in the mustard powder.
  3. Finish making the sauce. Add in the half-and-half then the cream cheese. Finish up by adding the cheddar and gouda cheese and stir until melted.
  4. Combine noodles and sauce. Add the cooked noodles to the cheese sauce and stir to combine.
  5. Make the crumb topping. Mix melted butter, Hey Grill Hey Sweet Rub, and panko bread crumbs together in a bowl. Sprinkle over the top of the mac and cheese.
  6. Smoke. Place the mac and cheese on the smoker, close the lid, and smoke for 1 hour.
  7. Enjoy. Remove the smoked mac and cheese from the smoker and serve while nice and warm.

Panko crumb topping being sprinkled on top of mac and cheese.

How Long to Smoke Mac and Cheese

It takes approximately 1 hour to smoke mac and cheese. If you prefer your mac with a very smoky flavor, you can leave it in the smoke for up to 2 hours.

Keep in mind that this will take on quite a bit of smoky flavor fairly quickly. I always recommend starting your mac and cheese in the smoker for a shorter amount of time and increasing the next time if you decide you’d like more smokiness.

Mac and cheese on the grill grates of a smoker.

Tips for the BEST Smoked Mac and Cheese

Now that you’re ready to make this smoked mac and cheese, here are a few tips to keep in mind before you dive into the process.

  • Use cast iron. A 12-inch cast iron 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 lighter woods like cherry, apple, maple, or pecan for this recipe.
  • Feel free to mix it up! This mac and cheese is a great base for other flavor additions like bacon, green chiles, lobster, or pulled pork. Get creative! My favorite thing to do is add my Hey Grill Hey Sweet Rub to the panko topping for that classic BBQ flavor.

Smoked mac and cheese in a cast iron skillet.

More Mac and Cheese Recipes

If you like this mac and cheese recipe, I’m betting you’ll love these other smoked mac and cheese recipes from Hey Grill Hey.

Smoked Mac and Cheese Recipe

Watch the video below in 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!

This post was originally published in April 2019. We recently updated it with more information and helpful tips. The recipe remains the same.

Smoked mac and cheese in a cast iron skillet.

Smoked Mac and Cheese

Susie Bulloch (heygrillhey.com)
Smoked mac and cheese is comfort food in a cast iron skillet. This mac and cheese is creamy and rich and topped with a crisp panko topping. It's rounded out with the perfect kiss of smoke flavor from being baked in a backyard smoker.
4.85 from 73 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)
  • ½ cup butter
  • 4 Tablespoons flour
  • 1 Tablespoon mustard powder
  • 2 cups half and half
  • 4 ounces cream cheese
  • 3 cups cheddar cheese
  • 1 ½ cups gouda cheese

Breadcrumb Topping

Instructions

  • Cook the noodles. Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil and cook the macaroni noodles until they are al dente, meaning they still have a bit of chew and texture (not too soft).
  • Preheat. Preheat your smoker to 225 degrees F using a mild hardwood. My favorite is cherry or apple. 
  • Make a roux. Heat a 12-inch cast iron skillet over medium heat. Melt 1/2 cup of butter and then whisk in the flour until a smooth, thin paste forms. Next, whisk in the mustard powder.
  • Finish making the sauce. Carefully pour in the half and half and bring the sauce up to a boil while whisking. Reduce the heat and whisk in the cream cheese until smooth. Lastly, whisk in the cheddar cheese and gouda cheese and stir until melted.
  • Add the noodles. Turn off the heat and pour in the cooked macaroni noodles. Stir gently until the noodles are coated by the cheese sauce.
  • Make the breadcrumb topping. Combine the melted butter, sweet rub, and panko bread crumbs in a small bowl. Sprinkle over the top of the mac and cheese.
  • Smoke. 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.
  • Enjoy. Remove the smoked mac and cheese from the smoker. Serve it 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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