Smoking-Meat.com is supported by its readers. We may earn an affiliate commission at no extra cost to you if you buy through a link on this page.
Read this article without ads
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.
- Prep Time: 30 minutes
- Cook Time: 2-3 hours
- Smoker Temp: 225°F
- Meat Finish Temp: n/a
- Recommended Wood: Pecan or apple
- 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
- Optional – Jeff's barbecue sauce
- Optional – Jeff's original rub
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.
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.
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!
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.
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.
Sprinkle on a good generous helping of my original 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 .
Sprinkle the crumbled bacon onto the top of the layered mac and cheese.
The mac and cheese is now ready for the smoker.
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.
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.
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!
- 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.
Smoked Mac and Cheese
- 16 oz Elbow noodles (medium or large)
- ¼ lb Butter (1 stick)
- ½ cup All-purpose flour
- 1 teaspoon Ground mustard
- 1 teaspoon Salt (regular table salt)
- ⅓ teaspoon Paprika (McCormick's, sweet or smoked will all work just fine)
- ½ 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)
- ¼ cup Jeff's original rub
- 2 lbs Pulled pork (Optional)
- 2 TBS Jeff's barbecue sauce (Optional)
- 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.
- Fry Fry ALL of the bacon and crumble it up. Set aside.
- 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.
- Stir Add the half-and-half and continue stirring until the sauce thickens (about 8-10 minutes).
- 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.
- Combine Pour the cheese sauce over the noodles and combine well.
- 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.
- 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.
- Sprinkle Sprinkle the crumbled bacon over the top evenly and it's ready to smoke!
- 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.
- 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.
- Serve Once its done smoking, serve it up immediately.
- 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!