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Smoked Mac and Cheese

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Here’s my version of 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 it.

As if that is not enough, I also added more than a pound of crumbled bacon for one happy, happy, happy bowl of smoked mac and cheese!

You can serve this as is with any smoked meat or pile some pulled pork on top of it like I did.

I would like to thank my wife, Abi and my great friends, Josh and Carina, for helping me create this wonderful recipe!

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.

Helpful Information
  • Prep Time: 30 minutes
  • Cook Time: 2-3 hours
  • Smoker Temp: 225°F
  • Meat Finish Temp: n/a
  • Recommended Wood: Pecan or apple

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 (I used sharp cheddar)
  • 5 cups of Half & Half
  • 9 x 13 x 3 (or so) deep foil pan
  • 3 cups of a good 4 cheese mix (Mexican works great)
  • 1 lb of bacon, crumbled
  • 2 lbs of smoked pulled pork
  • OptionalJeff’s barbecue sauce (Purchase formula here | Purchase bottled sauce)
  • Optional – Jeff’s original rub (Purchase formula here | Purchase bottled rub)

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.

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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°F crisps it up just perfectly in a non-stick cookie sheet.

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Allow the bacon to cool on a paper towel then crumble to your hearts desire.

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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.).

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Once the butter is melted add the flour, pepper, salt, paprika and mustard and stir for a couple of minutes while the ingredients combine.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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Sprinkle on a good generous helping of my original rub (Purchase formula here | Purchase bottled rub) for great flavor.

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 original rub (Purchase formula here | Purchase bottled rub).

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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

Set up your smoker or grill for indirect cooking at 225°F with pecan or apple wood if you have it. Any good smoking wood will work such as cherry, oak, hickory, etc.

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.

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Serving the Smoked Mac and Cheese

You can eat the smoked mac and cheese as it is as a side (or a main dish if you’re really into Mac and cheese) and that is fine and very good but you can also take it up to the next level by adding some meat on top of the Mac and cheese. I used smoked pulled pork on mine.

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 original barbecue sauce (Purchase formula here | Purchase bottled sauce) on top of the pulled pork and let it run down the sides like chocolate on ice cream.

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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 favorite pulled pork recipe or you can even watch me make pulled pork on video if you wish.

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!

Alternate Methods
  • 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.

Print

Smoked Mac and Cheese

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 it.

  • Prep Time: 30 minutes
  • Cook Time: 3 hours
  • Total Time: 3 hours 30 minutes
  • Category: Side Dish
  • Cuisine: Hot Smoking

Ingredients

Units Scale
  • 16 oz Elbow noodles ((medium or large))
  • 1/4 lb Butter ((1 stick))
  • 1/2 cup All-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon Ground mustard
  • 1 teaspoon Salt ((regular table salt))
  • 1/3 teaspoon Paprika ((McCormick’s, sweet or smoked will all work just fine))
  • 1/2 teaspoon Black pepper, course grind
  • 4 cups Cheddar cheese, grated ((I used sharp cheddar))
  • 5 cups Half & Half
  • 3 cups 4-cheese mix ((Mexican works great))
  • 1 lb Bacon, crumbled
  • 1/4 cup Jeff’s original rub
  • 2 lbs Pulled pork ((Optional))
  • 2 TBS Jeff’s barbecue sauce ((Optional))

Instructions

  1. Cook Follow directions on noodles bag/box to cook them. Cook them to partially done (al dente is perfect). Once the noodles are finished, quickly pour into a colander and run cold water over it to stop the cooking process. Set aside.
  2. Fry Fry ALL of the bacon and crumble it up. Set aside.
  3. Cook Make the cheese sauce by adding a stick of butter to a large sauce pot over medium heat. Once melted add flour, pepper, salt, paprika and mustard. Stir well to combine.
  4. Stir Add the half-and-half and continue stirring until the sauce thickens (about 8-10 minutes).
  5. Combine Place the 4 cups of cheddar into a large mixing bowl and pour the thickened sauce over the cheese. Stir until all of the cheese is melted and distributed throughout.
  6. Combine Pour the cheese sauce over the noodles and combine well.
  7. Layer Pour about half of the saucy noodles into the foil pan then sprinkle on about half of the 4-cheese mix (about 1.5 cups). Add about 2 TBS of Jeff's original rub evenly over the top of this layer.
  8. Layer Repeat this layer again with the other half of the noodles, the other half of the 4-cheese mixture and 2 more TBS of Jeff's original rub.
  9. Sprinkle Sprinkle the crumbled bacon over the top evenly and it's ready to smoke!
  10. Preheat Preheat the smoker to 225°F (107°C) using indirect heat and pecan or apple wood for smoke. If your smoker uses a water pan, fill it up.
  11. Cook Once the smoker is ready, place the pan of Mac n' cheese into the smoker and cook for 2-3 hours or until it reaches a good golden brown color on top.
  12. Serve Once its done smoking, serve it up immediately.

Notes

 

Alternatives

  • Try adding chopped fresh jalapeños to the noodles before layering them into the pan. I use about 4-5 but it really just depends on what heat level you are looking for.
  • Instead of layering the Mac n’ cheese, just add everything to the pan including the bacon and stir it all together. Stir every 20 minutes while it cooks to work the smoker into the mixture.
  • The Mac n’ cheese goes great with pulled pork, by adding a big dollop of pulled pork to the top of a big helping of Mac n’ cheese then add some barbecue sauce to the top. It’s good stuff!

 

How do you do it? Let us know in the comments below!

Keywords: smoked mac n' cheese, smoked pasta, smoked sides

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38 Comments

  1. I have made this dozens of times, usually without the pulled pork but just as a side. I mix my crumbled bacon in it rather than sprinkling on top…it is requested by friends and family at every holiday and get together…Thanks Jeff from Ontario, Canada

  2. You didn’t say “if you’ve got some PP BBQ in the freezer” did you? Just lose that from any thoughts ever again. I can taste it as soon as it goes in my mouth. If there is extra PP the fire up a pot and make Brunswick Stew . Love the recipe by the way.

  3. I have made this mac-n-cheese four times now. I keep playing with the recipe, temp and cook time to try and get it to stay a little bit creamier. Any tips would be greatly appreciated.

  4. Hey Jeff I have been reading the forums and some guys used uncooked noodles. I’m wanting to make this for Christmas but have to do it ahead of time because of travel. Since it has to be reheated I don’t want the noodles to get mushy. Would you change anything in this recipe if you went with uncooked noodles? Or a recommended reheat method to keep it just as good?

    1. I have reheated this stuff in the oven before and in my opinion the noodles weren’t mushy. You’ll definitely want to make sure the noodles are cooked through before you remove it from the smoker but since you are reheating, it probably wouldn’t hurt if you undercooked them a little and then perhaps do the baking/browning part of this recipe after you arrive.

  5. Have you, or anyone, mixed or layered the pulled pork right in the mac and cheese vs topping it with the pork, jusT curious, thanks much

    1. Dan, I layer my pulled pork, bacon and cheese like a lasagna. I put half of the mac and cheese in the bottom, then put the pork, bacon, cheese and a little bbq sauce on it. Then the rest of the mac and cheese and top it with more pork, bacon and cheese and a little more bbq sauce on it. Then smoke it.

  6. Hey Jeff I ordered your recipe for your rub and sauces last week and I haven’t gotten them yet! Thanks!

    1. Larry, I had the system re-send the download email. If you don’t see it, check your spam/junk folder then let me know if you can’t find them and I will send them as attachments from a different email address.

  7. I use 4 cheeses. Cheddar, mozzerella, parmessian, and a smoked cheese. But not too much of the smoked or it can be overpowering. I make the rue, add the cream, then the cheeses all in the same pot. Pour it over the noodles and slog it all together. Top it with the bacon and pop it in the oven. I make this right before I pull the meat out of the smoker. Pulled pork and jalepeno over the top.

  8. Have you ever made multiple batches of this at once? if so, Did you let smoke longer and change the wood chips during the smoke?

  9. Question
    How long can I let the mac and cheese sit before I smoke it.
    Ex. Could I make mac and cheese night before and smoke the next day?

  10. Have you ever tried it with dry noodles and all the ingredients in the pan and do all the cooking in the smoker?

  11. Made this for a football watching party yesterday. Everyone raved about it and were swelled up like ticks afterward. Thank you Jeff for a great recipe and all the goodness that you and your site bring.

  12. I’d like to try this recipe, but you don’t say WHICH add’l cheeses are in the “good, 4-cheese mix”. Can’t believe no one else has asked this. I even chk’d in my grocery store and they only have “3 cheese mixes” but labeled for: Mexican flavor or Italian flavors, etc. I’d even prefer to grate my own so could you please tell me which cheeses are in the 4 cheese mix (obviously not cheddar). Thank you.

  13. I love mac-n-cheese and had to try this. I put it in with a rack of Baby Backs, using a mix of Cherry and Apple chips for smoke in a Smoke Canyon gas smoker. Amazing! Only two of us, so lots of leftovers. I used our Food-Saver to vacuum pack and freeze them. Each time I reheat some it’s just as good!! Almost time to make some more…

  14. Great recipe!
    Everyone loves it!
    One thing I have learned to do for any pasta, is I save my carcasses from smoking chickens and make stock for soups and stews. I now also boil pasta in the stock for a great flavor profile, it works great for the mac & cheese and an other pasta dish.

  15. Made this for a pig roast and it was a hit..Only change i did was used my cold smoked cheese for extra flavour then only had to warm it up in the oven the next day at the party…It was gone in a flash. Next time have to make two.

  16. I’m somewhat of a mac and cheese snob but this is amongst the best I’ve ever tried.  I’ve made this recipe twice now…..the first time was for just me and my wife and we ate on it all week.  The 2nd time was for a party and a major disaster because by the time the cook (me) got to eat it was all gone…..3rd batch is coming.  Great stuff….love the website

  17. Made this along with my first Pork Butt using a Sweetwood mixture I picked up at Ace Hardware. Both turned out very good, but in the future, I may add the bacon into the mixture like you originally did. Having the bacon directly on top seemed to cause it to absorb a large amount of smoke, to the point where the kids were saying the bacon tasted too smoky and were going just for the mac and cheese. Great Recipe! Thanks!

  18. We made the fast pulled pork and the macaroni and cheese, they both came out unbelievably good.  Our company loved every bit of it and most went back for seconds.

  19. Smoked Mac & Cheese………. I don't have words to explain how this tasted.  I'm going to make this everyday!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! 

    1. That depends on whether it is served as a side or as the main course. We usually serve this as the main course with pulled pork on top and it serves about 8. If it were served as just a side then it would probably serve about 12 or so.

      1. Absolutely love your rubs, sauce, and wonderful recipes. I think I have the best pulled pork and smoked ham anywhere, thanks to you. I have a question. My family absolutely love your smoked mac and cheese recipe. I thought you had a different recipe posted for Mac and cheese a few years ago. It was great but I did not remember I it having half and half. Is the recipe you have out now with the bacon and pulled pork on top the same recipe.
        Thanks
        Don

  20. Thank you for being on Pinterest. I love that I can pin your recipes and keep them filed where I know they will be.