Smoked mac and cheese takes everyone's favorite comfort food to the next level! Best of all, it gets smoked at the same temperature as your favorite BBQ meats, making it the perfect side dish for any barbecue. Your family and friends will be raving about the deliciously smoky flavor in this over-the-top homemade mac!
Ingredients & Substitutions
- Elbow macaroni noodles
- Mild cheddar cheese - You can also use smoked cheese. Smoked cheddar is perfect. Pre-shredded cheese will be easiest for prepping.
- Gouda cheese -You can substitute a different type of cheese too, I like Monterey Jack or Colby Jack cheese for this recipe.
- Sour cream
- Cream cheese
- Milk - Whole milk is great, otherwise heavy cream is a wonderful substitute.
- Dry mustard - You can substitute prepared yellow mustard if needed.
- Panko breadcrumbs - Plain breadcrumbs can be substituted.
- Butter - Olive oil can also be used, but butter has the best flavor.
- BBQ Seasoning Rub - Your favorite rub from the grocery store, or homemade BBQ dry rub can be used.
- Wood chips for smoking - I like using mild wood like fruit wood for this smoked mac n cheese recipe, but you can use any wood pellets you choose.
- Customize this recipe - You can add additional ingredients like hot sauce, crumbled bacon, or even BBQ brisket!
How to make it
To make this easy smoked mac and cheese recipe, begin by preheating your smoker or pellet grill to 225 degrees. Add your wood chips right away to get a steady stream of smoke going.
While your smoker is heating up, cook pasta in a large pot of water according to the package instructions, until al dente.
In a separate saucepan set over medium low heat, prepare your cheese sauce by combining the sour cream, cream cheese, milk, and mustard powder until melted together and creamy. Then add the shredded cheese in small batches, stirring each handful into the sauce before adding more. Repeat until all of the cheese has been added.
Prepare your topping by melting butter in a large skillet set over medium heat and stir in the panko and dry rub seasoning. Cook for a couple of minutes, while stirring, until the breadcrumbs turn golden brown, then set aside.
Toss together the cooked macaroni noodles with your cheese sauce, then pour the macaroni and cheese into an oven-safe skillet, then sprinkle your breadcrumb topping generously over the top of the mac.
Set the skillet in your smoker, uncovered, for one hour. Then remove and serve immediately while the sauce is warm, creamy, and delicious!
Storing and Reheating Leftovers
The thing I love about my mac and cheese recipe is how well it reheats! Traditional roux-based macaroni and cheese never reheats well because the cheese breaks down into an oily mess when reheated. I add cream cheese to the cheese sauce which acts as a binder that holds the sauce together even when reheated. So all you need to reheat leftover mac and cheese is to microwave it until it is warm!
The leftovers will have a strong smoke aroma so it is important to store any leftovers in an airtight container or your whole refrigerator will smell like a smoker!
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Smoked Mac and Cheese
- 12 ounces elbow macaroni noodles
- 8 ounces mild cheddar cheese shredded
- 4 ounces gouda cheese shredded
- ¼ cup sour cream
- 4 ounces cream cheese
- ½ cup milk or as needed
- ¾ teaspoon ground mustard
- Preheat smoker to 225 degrees and add wood chips to create a steady stream of smoke.
- In a large pot of salted water, boil the elbow noodles until al dente.
- While the noodles are boiling, prepare your cheese sauce by melting the sour cream, cream cheese, milk, and mustard powder together in a saucepan over medium-low heat. Then add the shredded cheese a handful at a time, and stir the cheese into the sauce until melted. Repeat until all of the cheese has been added and the sauce is smooth and creamy. Additional milk can be added if the sauce is too thick.
- Melt butter in a cast iron skillet and add the panko bread crumbs and BBQ dry rub seasonings. Stir together and cook until the panko turns golden brown. Then remove the seasoned breadcrumbs and set aside in a small bowl.
- Combine the noodles and cheese sauce together then pour into a 9" cast iron skillet, or baking dish, and sprinkle the breadcrumb topping generously over the top.
- Place mac and cheese in the smoker for one hour. Then remove and serve immediately.