Smoked Mac and Cheese is the epitome of comfort food. It’s creamy, cheesy and a touch smoky. Super easy too!
Have you ever heard of smoked mac and cheese? Well, if not we’re here to tell you about one of our all time favorite guilty pleasures. It’s hard to describe actually. It is simply incredible!
What you need
- Pasta – choose your favorite. Elbow macaroni, farafella, rotini, ziti, wagon wheels, whatever you like or have on-hand.
- Cheeses – a combination of cheeses works best. Use sharp cheddar cheese, mild cheddar cheese, gouda cheese, gruyere, cream cheese. Again, whatever you have on hand will work.
- Velveeta – we hardly ever use this but we find this processed cheese indispensable for this mac and cheese recipe. It melts beautifully and makes a thick, creamy sauce.
- milk- use whole milk or a combination of whole milk and cream.
- butter – we always use unsalted butter for best flavor.
- flour – just use any all purpose flour.
- salt – use coarse kosher salt or sea salt
- white pepper – white pepper is just prettier in a white sauce than black pepper.
- nutmeg – just a pinch is delicious in a bechamel.
Ingredients for optional topping
- panko bread crumbs
How to make it
Note: We heat the milk first in a saucepan over low heat. This greatly speeds up the stirring time.
Cut Velveeta into chunks
Melt butter over medium heat in a medium saucepan.
Add flour and whisk until very smooth and all lumps are removed.
Let the flour and butter bubble for 2-3 minutes to remove the flour taste.
Slowly add milk all at once. Whisk or stir until smooth again. Let the sauce heat and thicken.
When sauce has thickened add parmesan cheese first. That will take the longest to melt.
Next, add the cheddar cheese. Let it melt in the sauce.
Add the chunks of Velveeta.
Lastly add the pepper and nutmeg.
Taste the sauce for salt now. Different cheeses have different salt content so you want to adjust the salt after the cheeses have melted.
Cook pasta according to package directions in a large pot. Bring large pot of water to boil. Add salt and pasta. Stir occasionally. Take the pasta out just shy of al dente. It will continue to cook while smoking.
Reserve a mug of the pasta cooking water.
Add some of the pasta water to the pasta in the dish. Smother with the cheese sauce.
For the topping
Melt butter in a small bowl in the microwave.
Mix butter and panko together. Sprinkle the mixture on top of the macaroni and cheese.
Set up your grill or smoker to smoke (see below for how to set up your grill). Add wood chips and water. Bring temperature up to 225°F / 110°C. Place mac and cheese directly on smoker rack. Smoke for one hour.
We don’t let it go longer than an hour. The macaroni can quickly become too smoky. If it isn’t hot enough. Finish heating in the oven or on your grill on the opposite side that the flames are lit. (This is referred to as indirect grilling)
Why you’ll love this recipe
- It is incredibly easy to make.
- Serve it as a main dish or as a side dish for your main course.
- Smoke it at the same time that you are smoking something else. We smoked our NY Strip Loin to go with the mac and cheese.
- Even the pickiest of eaters will love it.
- Totally kid friendly.
- Make a small batch or make a huge batch enough for a crowd.
- Totally customizable. Change up the cheeses, spices, meats like bacon or ham and pasta. We even make a lobster mac and cheese which would be awesome smoked.
- Make it ahead. Make it up to three days ahead of time. You can smoke it one day and the reheat it in the oven or on a very low grill (indirect heat) the next day.
What if I don’t own a smoker?
If you don’t own a smoker, you can still enjoy smoked meats. You can use your grill to smoke. Set up your grill so that the fire is only on one side. You will place the meat or vegetable on the side of the grill that does not have the direct flame (indirect heat). This is called indirect cooking.
Add soaked wood to a metal tray (we use a disposable foil pie plate or bread pan). Add another metal tray with water. Place water and wood chips on the side of the grill with the fire. Remember to fill the water if it runs out.
You can also create a similar setup for your oven in a pinch or in the winter.
You can cook this in a variety of pans. Use a cast iron skillet. Use a disposable foil pan. You can use a Pyrex baking dish. Any baking pan that can go in the oven can go into the smoker.
We always use a mild wood for smoking macaroni and cheese. Apple and cherry are our favorites.
Store leftovers in the fridge for 3-4 days. For longer storage, freeze in single serve portions for a quick addition to busy day dinner.
More smoked treats
This smoked macaroni and cheese is one of our favorite things to smoke. Every time we make it, I gets rave reviews from friends and family.
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If you have any questions or comments, please ask in comment section below. We’d love to hear from you!
I hope you enjoyed the recipe today!
Enjoy. And have fun cooking!
Smoked Mac and Cheese
- 1 pound elbow macaroni
- 1 tablespoon salt divided
- 4 tablespoons butter
- 4 tablespoons all-purpose flour
- 2 cups milk
- ½ pound Velveeta
- 2 cups grated cheddar cheese
- ½ cups grated Parmesan cheese
- 1½ teaspoons white pepper
- pinch nutmeg
- 1 cup panko bread crumbs
- 4 tablespoons butter
- Start pasta water boiling in a large pot. Once boiling add salt and noodles. Cook according to package directions, stirring occasionally. Remove the pasta just shy of al dente. Reserve a large mug of pasta water then drain. Add to baking dish with some of the water and stir so that the pasta doesn't stick together.1 pound elbow macaroni, 1 tablespoon salt
- In a medium saucepan, start milk heating over low heat. Do not boil!2 cups milk
- In another medium saucepan, melt butter.4 tablespoons butter, 4 tablespoons all-purpose flour
- Cut Velveeta into cubes.½ pound Velveeta
- Add flour and whisk or stir to remove all of the clumps of flour.
- Let the butter and flour mixture bubble for a couple minutes to lose the flour taste.
- Slowly pour in warm milk, stirring constantly. Let it cook until thickened. About 5 minutes.
- Add parmesan cheese next. That will take the longest to melt.½ cups grated Parmesan cheese
- Then add the shredded cheese.2 cups grated cheddar cheese
- Add the pepper and a pinch of nutmeg. Taste the cheese sauce for salt now. Different cheeses have different salt content, so you want to wait until all of the cheese is melted.1½ teaspoons white pepper, pinch nutmeg, 1 tablespoon salt
- Pour cheese sauce over the noodles and mix well.
For optional topping
- Melt the butter in a microwave safe bowl.4 tablespoons butter
- Add bread crumbs. Mix well.1 cup panko bread crumbs
- Sprinkle on top of the macaroni and cheese.
- Start your grill or smoker. Add pellets or wood chips. Heat to 225°F / 110°C.
- Place macaroni and cheese on grate of smoker.
- Smoke for one hour. We don't let it smoke longer than that because the macaroni will quickly become too smoky.
- If the mac and cheese isn't hot enough, finish cooking it in the oven or on a grill on the opposite side of the grill that the burner is lit (indirect heat.)
Originally published June 5, 2022.
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I am DROOLING reading about this smoked Mac and cheese! I can’t wait to make it!
It’s incredibly tasty. Thanks for checking out the recipe Cambrea!
I haven’t fired up my smoker yet this year…but now I think it’s time! This recipe looks absolutely divine. Thank you!
We’ve been attached at the hip with the smoker recently! Thanks for checking out the recipe Lisa!
This is the perfect side dish for grilling/smoking season. So good! Thanks for the recipe!
Thanks Jill! I’m glad you enjoyed it!
Huge hit with the kids that weren’t too keen on trying the tri tip for dinner, made everyone happy to have a fave.
I’m so glad that you all liked it Justin! Thanks for checking out the recipe!