This week I am going to show you how to make smoked mac and cheese and if you are a mac and cheese lover like I am, then you will appreciate this recipe beyond words!
The smoke goes with the cheesiness like it was just meant to happen and you seriously will not believe your taste buds when you taste this.
I have had smoked mac and cheese on several occasions and it’s always been amazing but this time I took it a step further and added a dollop (yes I said a dollop) of smoked pulled pork right on top of it.
As if that is not enough, I also added more than a pound of crumbled bacon and I used my rub to pull all of the flavors together into one happy, happy, happy bowl of smoked mac and cheese!
I would like to thank my wife, Abi and my great friends, Josh and Carina, for helping me create this wonderful recipe!
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This recipe is a lot easier than it looks. You simply cook the noodles, make the cheese sauce and then layer it in a throw away aluminum pan and smoke it for 2 to 3 hours in that order.
What You’ll Need
- 16 oz of medium or large elbow noodles
- 1/4 lb (1 stick) of butter
- 1/2 cup of all-purpose flour
- 1 teaspoon of ground mustard
- 1 teaspoon of salt (regular table salt)
- 1/3 teaspoon of paprika (McCormick’s, sweet or smoked will all work just fine)
- 1/2 teaspoon of coarse ground black pepper
- 4 cups of cheddar cheese, grated
- 5 cups of Half & Half
- 9 x 13 x 3 (or so) deep foil pan
- 3 cups of a good 4 cheese mix
- 1 lb of bacon, crumbled
- 2 lbs of smoked pulled pork
- Jeff’s sauce and rub (purchase recipes here)
Cooking the Noodles
You really have to just follow the recipes on the back of the box or bag for this since it may differ from brand to brand and depending on the exact type of noodles you purchase.
The main thing is that you only cook them to partially done (al dente) since they will finish softening up in the smoker.
Once the noodles are finished, quickly pour into a colander and run cold water over it to stop the cooking process.
Pour the noodles into a large bowl and set aside for a few minutes.
Crumbling the Bacon
Note: This can be done while the noodles are cooking to save time.
The bacon really makes this dish so don’t be stingy with it. I used 9 pieces when I made this for the pictures and it was not nearly enough. I now recommend at least a pound.
I also added the crumbled bacon to the noodles and it sort of got lost in the mix so upon further investigation and review, I now recommend placing the crumbled bacon right on top with the last layer of grated cheese and rub.
I use the oven to make the bacon but you can use whatever method you like.
About 15 minutes at 400 degrees F crisps it up just perfectly in a non-stick cookie sheet.
Allow the bacon to cool on a paper towel then crumble to your hearts desire.
If you’re anything like me, you might want to make a little extra since, you won’t be able to control the urge to eat a few pieces!
Making the Cheese Sauce
Start out by adding a stick of butter to the bottom of a pan on medium heat (now I sound like Paula D.).
Once the butter is melted add the flour, pepper, salt, paprika and mustard and stir for a couple of minutes while the ingredients combine.
Add in the half & half and continue stirring until the sauce starts to get thick which usually takes 8-10 minutes.
Note: Use a whisk for best results.
Place 4 cups of grated cheddar cheese into a large mixing bowl.
Pour the thickened sauce over the cheese and stir until it is well melted.
Once the cheddar cheese is melted, pour the cheese sauce over the noodles we set aside earlier and stir well to mix it all together.
Layering the Noodles and Cheese into the Pan
Pour about 1/2 of the saucy noodles into the foil pan
Sprinkle about 1-1/2 cups of the 4-cheese mixture over the top of the noodles to cover completely.
Now pour on the remainder of the noodles and once again add about 1-1/2 cups of the 4-cheese mixture and some of my rub.
Sprinkle the crumbled bacon onto the top of the layered mac and cheese.
The mac and cheese is now ready for the smoker.
Smoking the Mac and Cheese
Place the open pan of mac and cheese on the grate and let it enjoy the smoke for 2-3 hours or until it reaches the desired level of “brown” on top. The longer you leave it in the smoker the better the smoke flavor will be.
We like it nice and brown on top.
Serving the Smoked Mac and Cheese
I know folks who just eat the smoked mac and cheese as it is and that is fine and very good but if you want to take it up a few notches to that amazing place, then try this:
Place a good sized helping of the mac and cheese in a bowl and then put a tablespoon or two of smoked pulled pork right on top. Put some of my barbecue sauce (purchase recipes here) on top of the pulled pork and let it run down the sides like chocolate on ice cream.
I smoked a pulled pork especially for this smoked mac and cheese but if you have some left over in the freezer, you can just heat it up and use that. If you need instructions for smoking up some pulled pork then check out my instructions for pulled pork.
Don’t blame me if the mac and cheese disappears too quickly.. it tends to do that at my house when I make it so I have learned to make plenty!
- Try adding a light layer of blue cheese to the mac and cheese before smoking for a very adventurous but rewarding alternative.
- For a super smoky mac and cheese, forego the top layer of cheese and bacon until the last hour. During the first hour or so, stir the mac and cheese every 20 minutes. Add the top layer of cheese and bacon with more rub during the last hour. If the top layer of cheese does not brown quickly enough, place the pan under a broiler for a minute or two but watch it carefully as it can burn fast.
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Love the original rib rubLove the original rib rub and sauce! We have an annual rib fest competition at the lake every 4th of July. I will say we have won a great percent of the time over the past 15 years so we are not novices by any means. However, we didn't win last year and had to step up our game! We used Jeff's rub and sauce (sauce on the side) and it was a landslide win for us this year! Thanks Jeff for the great recipes. I'm looking forward to trying the Texas style rub in the near future! ~Michelle M.
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