July 20, 2022

Smoked Mac and Cheese

Prep Time: 30 mins
Cook Time: 1 hr
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This creamy smoked mac and cheese recipe is the cheesy, melty, and oh so good! It has a mix 5 different cheeses for the most epic cheese pull and is topped with panko bread crumbs for a nice buttery crunch.

This smoked mac n cheese is comfort food to the max and everyone's favorite side dish made even better!

Are you a mac and cheese lover? Try this creamy backed mac and cheese and this old bay lobster mac and cheese too!

smoked mac and cheese being pulled out of a cast iron skillet on a spoon.

Your dinner table just called and said that it needs this smoked mac and cheese on it immediately! This smoky and creamy mac will quickly becomes one of your new favorite recipes.

The melted cheese turns into a rich cheesy sauce that coats each noodle like they're best friends.

Just when you thought macaroni and cheese couldn't get any better - we smoked it and the entire dish got an upgrade.

Creamy macaroni with boat loads of different types of cheese, the perfect amount of seasoning, and a little cream to jazz the party up and you've got a dish that will be the star of any gathering.

Warning: once you make this smoked mac and cheese, your family will be asking you to make it for every event thereafter. You will be the designated "mac and cheese person" for Christmas, Thanksgiving, cookouts, Easter - you name it! You've been forewarned!

Jump to:
smoked mac n cheese in a bowl.

This homemade mac is cooked in a large cast iron skillet in the smoker and has that yummy bbq smoke flavor that's irresistible. It's so creamy, cheesy, and rich - the trifecta!

I think that I speak for the majority of people when I say that mac n cheese is everyone's favorite comfort food.

This smoky mac and cheese takes it to a whole new level. The smoky flavor adds an entirely different taste that pairs so well with the mix of five different cheeses! It's such a great recipe.

Why You'll LOVE this Recipe

  • This mac and cheese has five different types of cheese - sharp cheddar, smoked gouda, mozzarella, colby jack, and white cheddar. I also added cream cheese for added creaminess - it's delicious!
  • It's SO easy to make! Literally combine all of your ingredients and smoke it in the smoker. An hour later, you've made the perfect side dish!
  • The panko topping is optional but such a great addition to this mac and cheese for a nice crunchy texture on top!
ingredients to make smoked mac and cheese - mozzarella, sharp cheddar cheese, white cheddar cheese, smoked gouda cheese, colby jack, milk, heavy cream, cream cheese, cajun seasoning, ground mustard, garlic powder, onion powder, salt and pepper, and elbow or cavatappi noodles.

Ingredients

  • Elbow macaroni or cavatappi noodles: I love using cavatappi noodles because each noodle hugs the cheese perfectly. They're the best noodles for mac and cheese in my opinion but elbows are great choices too!
  • Cheese: this recipe calls for 5 different cheeses. Too much cheese? NEVER! I used mozzarella, white cheddar cheese, sharp cheddar, colby jack, and smoked gouda cheese. TIP: Use block cheese - the flavor is better and pre-shredded cheese has additives that prevent the cheese from melting.
  • Milk, heavy cream, and cream cheese: these ingredients work with all of the cheese and allow them to melt together and become creamy and saucy. They also prevent the smoked mac n cheese from drying out while in the smoker. It becomes it's own cheese sauce in the pan and it's so good! Tip: make sure to use room temperature cream cheese!
  • Butter: I used salted butter, but feel free to swap out for unsalted butter if you're watching your sodium intake.
  • Seasonings: ground mustard powder, nutmeg, garlic powder, black pepper, and the star of the show - cajun seasoning. These simple spices add great flavor to the mac and cheese for the perfect balance of cheesiness and

Equipment

  • Charcoal Smoker or Pellet Smoker
  • Protective grilling mitts and potholders - if you're anything like me (clumsy), these are mandatory. I've mistakenly burned myself more than I care to admit. I cannot recommend these enough.
  • Cast Iron Skillet or Aluminum Pans

For the smoker, you'll need:

  • Charcoal
  • Wood chips - I recommend using a mild wood or fruit woods like apple, pecan, cherry, peach or maple - these flavor pair exceptionally well with cheese. You can also experiment with strong woods like hickory or oak for a more powerful smokey flavor.
  • Temperature gauge - you need a temperature gauge to monitor the temperature of the smoker. It if gets too hot, the macaroni and cheese will dry out so this is important!
smoked macaroni and cheese in a cast iron skillet garnished with fresh herbs.

How to start a fire in a Smoker

If you're a pro and know how to work a smoker, skip this part!

  1. Make sure all of the vents are open.
  2. Place fire starter in the charcoal starter/chimney and light. At the beginning, the coal smoke will be cloudy. Allow the fire to burn from cloudy to clear to burn off all of the chemicals.
  3. Once the smoke is clear, pour the coals from the chimney into the smoker and add wood chips on top. The wood chips will burn black or white - this is referred to as dirty smoke. Similarly to the coals, allow the wood chips to burn until the smoke is translucent or clear.
  4. Depending on the smoker, place the lid on top to maintain temperature.
  5. Ensure the smoker is preheated to 225 degrees F.

How to regulate temperature on a Smoker

Controlling the temperature can be tricky. A couple tips help to keep that temperature at 225 degrees F!

  • Open the vents if the temperature has gone below 225 / Close the vents if the temperature goes above
  • Monitor your coals - after a while, the coals burn down and the temperature can drop. Add more coal.
  • Open the lid sparingly. Every time you open the lid, the temperature drops (just like an oven). Only open the lid when absolutely needed.
a spoon in a cast iron skillet spooning out a scoop of smoked mac and cheese.

How to Make Smoked Mac and Cheese

  • Preheat your smoker to 225 degrees F.
  • Boil the pasta in a large pot of water until al dente, according to the package directions.
  • While the pasta is boiling, shred all of the cheese into one large bowl and toss together.
  • Once the pasta is al dente, drain the cooked macaroni noodles and add it back into the pot. Then add four tablespoons of butter, cream cheese, about ¾ of the cheese mixture, milk, heavy cream, mustard powder, cajun seasoning, and nutmeg (just a tiny pinch). Stir together until the cheese begins to melt and the butter and cream cheese have melted into the pasta.
  • Add mac and cheese to a cast iron pan / large skillet (12 inch) or disposable aluminum pans.
  • In a small bowl, melt the remaining butter (four tablespoons) and combine melted butter with breadcrumbs, onion powder, and salt and pepper.
  • Sprinkle breadcrumbs and remaining cheese mixture on top.
  • Place the pan into the smoker and cover with the smoker lid. Cook over indirect heat for 1-2 hours, depending on how much smoke you like.

How to make Smoked Mac and Cheese without a Smoker

Don't have a smoker and still want to make smoked mac n cheese? Use smoked cheeses! You can buy smoked cheeses at your local grocery store or order this smoked cheddar (it is my favorite cheese of all time).

Simply follow all of the steps in the recipe card to make the macaroni and cheese and then bake in the oven at 350 for 35-40 minutes.

creamy smoked mac and cheese in a skillet.

Additions

  • Add crumbled bacon on top of the mac for more smoky flavor and a nice crunch texture.
  • If you have any pulled pork or smoked brisket, cut it up and add it into the mac and cheese.
  • Try adding caramelized onions - they add so much flavor to the mac, especially when cooked in the smoker!
  • Add a little hot sauce on top, it's delicious.

Tips to make the Best Smoked Mac and Cheese!

  • For more smoky flavor, allow the mac and cheese to sit in the smoker for 1.5 - 2 hours.
  • When boiling the pasta/macaroni noodles, make sure to salt your water. For added flavor, boil the pasta in chicken broth.
  • While the mac and cheese is in the smoker, be sure to check your temperature gauge frequently to ensure the temperature stays around 225 degrees F.

Storing Mac and Cheese

This smoked macaroni and cheese is best stored in an airtight container in the refrigerator for about 5-7 days. You can also freeze any leftover mac and cheese just make sure it's cooled completely prior to adding it to an airtight container. It'll last up to 3 months!

a cheese pull of the macaroni and cheese from the skillet.

FAQs

What wood is best for smoked mac and cheese?

Some great options for wood chips are pecan, cherry, peach, or maple wood chips. These flavors go really well with this smoked macaroni recipe.

Why is my smoked mac and cheese dry?

You mac and cheese may be dry if the temperature of your smoker went over 225 degrees F. This will quickly dry out the mac and cheese and make it dry. Keep an eye on your temperature and control it by opening/closing the vents.

Can I make smoked mac and cheese in an oven?

Yes, if skipping the smoker, use an oven and use smoked cheese instead!

Is smoked mac and cheese good?

Without a doubt - YES! It's beyond good - it's delicious!

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Let's stay connected on social media and continue to cook together! Also, if you decide to make this recipe, please leave a star rating on the recipe card and leave a comment below! Tag @BritneyBreaksBread on Instagram and hashtag #britneybreaksbread so I can see your creations! I hope that you love this recipe as much as we do!

creamy smoked mac and cheese in a skillet.

Smoked Mac and Cheese

This creamy smoked mac and cheese recipe is the cheesy, melty, and oh so good! It has a mix 5 different cheeses for the most epic cheese pull and is topped with panko bread crumbs for a nice buttery crunch. This smoked mac n cheese is comfort food to the max and everyone's favorite side dish made even better!
Serving: 8
Prep Time: 30 mins
Cook Time: 1 hr
Time to Preheat Smoker 40 mins
Total Time: 2 hrs 10 mins
Calories: 702kcal

Equipment

  • Smoker
  • Temperature Gauge
  • Grilling Mitts , optional
  • Wood Chips
  • Charcoal
  • 12-inch cast iron skillet OR 9x13 aluminum pan

Ingredients

  • 10 oz White Cheddar Cheese , shredded (about 2 ½ cups, packed)
  • 4 oz Sharp Cheddar Cheese , shredded (about 1 cup, packed)
  • 8 oz Colby Jack Cheese , shredded (about 2 cups, packed)
  • 4 oz Mozzarella Cheese , shredded (about 1 cup, packed)
  • 4 oz Smoked Gouda , shredded (about 2 cups, packed)
  • 4 tbsps Salted Butter
  • 8 oz Cream Cheese , room temperature
  • 1 cup Whole Milk
  • ½ cup Heavy Cream
  • 2 ½ tsp Cajun Seasoning
  • 1 tsp Ground Mustard
  • 1 tsp Onion Powder
  • 1 tsp Garlic Powder
  • tsp Nutmeg
  • Salt and Pepper ,to taste

Bread Crumb Topping, optional

  • ¾ cup Panko Bread Crumbs
  • 4 tbsps Salted Butter , melted
  • ½ tsp Onion Powder
  • Salt and Pepper , to taste

Directions

  • Preheat smoker to 225 degrees F.
  • Boil the pasta in a large pot of water until al dente, according to the package directions. While the pasta is boiling, shred all of the cheese into one large bowl and toss together.
  • Once the pasta is al dente, drain the cooked macaroni noodles and add them back into the pot. Then add four tablespoons of butter, cream cheese, about ¾ of the shredded cheese mixture, milk, heavy cream, cajun seasoning, mustard powder, onion powder, garlic powder, nutmeg, and salt and pepper. Stir together until the cheese begins to melt and the butter and cream cheese have melted into the pasta.
  • Add mac and cheese to a cast iron pan / large skillet (12 inch) or disposable aluminum pans. If not making the bread crumb topping, add remaining cheese mixture on top.
  • (optional) To make the bread crumb topping, in a small bowl, melt the remaining butter and combine melted butter with breadcrumbs, onion powder, and salt and pepper. Sprinkle breadcrumbs on top with remaining cheese mixture.
  • Place the pan (uncovered) into the smoker and cover with the smoker lid. Cook over indirect heat for 1-2 hours, depending on how much smoke flavor you like.

Notes

Additions
  • Add crumbled bacon on top of the mac for more smoky flavor and a nice crunch texture.
  • If you have any pulled pork or smoked brisket, cut it up and add it into the mac and cheese.
  • Try adding caramelized onions - they add so much flavor to the mac, especially when cooked in the smoker!
  • Add a little hot sauce on top, it's delicious.
 
Tips to make the Best Smoked Mac and Cheese
  • For more smoky flavor, allow the mac and cheese to sit in the smoker for 1.5 - 2 hours.
  • When boiling the pasta/macaroni noodles, make sure to salt your water. For added flavor, boil the pasta in chicken broth.
  • While the mac and cheese is in the smoker, be sure to check your temperature gauge frequently to ensure the temperature stays around 225 degrees F.

Nutrition

Calories: 702kcal | Carbohydrates: 11g | Protein: 29g | Fat: 61g | Saturated Fat: 37g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 2g | Monounsaturated Fat: 15g | Trans Fat: 0.5g | Cholesterol: 180mg | Sodium: 960mg | Potassium: 227mg | Fiber: 1g | Sugar: 4g | Vitamin A: 2167IU | Vitamin C: 0.2mg | Calcium: 747mg | Iron: 1mg
Course: Anytime, Christmas, Dinner, Side Dish, Thanksgiving
Cuisine: American

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Recipe Rating




  1. 5 stars
    The smoked gouda really sets this mac & cheese recipe apart from any other recipes I've tried. Will be making this again for Thanksgiving this year!

  2. The flavours! The smokey goodness, the cheesy goodness, simply this entire dish is something you literally NEED in your life! I can't wait to make this for family and friends over the holidays!

  3. 5 stars
    I never thought about smoking mac and cheese and now I'm not sure I'll have it any other way during the summer! Made this for a cookout over the weekend and everyone devoured it. No leftovers!

  4. 5 stars
    This was such a delight to have!! I cannot begin to express how beautiful the smokiness was!! My whole family loved it and this will be our default recipe today henceforth!

  5. 5 stars
    This my first time making smoked mac and cheese and I was frankly blown away. It was wonderful to have a change of pace on our plates.

  6. 5 stars
    This mac and cheese is a banger!!! Soooo darn good!!! My daughter is already asking when I'll make it again. We literally have no leftovers. The smokey flavors are everything - I think this is my new favorite mac and cheese. Thank you so much for sharing this recipe with us! xx

  7. 5 stars
    I loved the smokey flavor of this mac and cheese Britney! I served it with baked chicken and it was a hit.

  8. 5 stars
    This is the best Mac and cheese I ever made. Like incredible. This is better than my mom’s recipe that we’ve been eating for years . New favorite for sure.

  9. 5 stars
    I’ve always been scared to use my smoker but I did it with your instructions! The msc and cheese was so cheesy and creamy and that breadcrumb topping was insanely delicious! This is my new favorite go to recipe!!