Saturday, May 14, 2022

Smoked Mac and Cheese

Smoked Mac and Cheese, made with 3 different types of cheese and staple pantry spices, is packed with smoky flavor inside every gooey bite. 
 
No need to boil the noodles first! They cook right in a seasoned, creamy liquid until tender before being smothered in freshly shredded mozzarella and Colby Jack. 
 
I promise this will be the best smoked mac n cheese you’ve ever had.

Smoked Mac and Cheese on a spoon
As smokers become more popular and accessible to families, you’ll see a wide variety of smoker recipes for dishes you would have never considered!

With a handful of simple ingredients and a whole lot of patience, you can create the most incredible BBQ style mac and cheese that will have everyone begging for the recipe.

Smoked Mac and Cheese ingredients

Smoked Mac and Cheese

It wouldn’t be a true cookout without a big pan of smoked macaroni and cheese!

The secret to success? If you have tried our Slow Cooker Triple Cheesy Mac and Cheese you may be familiar with this idea but of course this recipe is on a smoker.

We start with the ingredients for the sauce and the uncooked pasta noodles cook right in the sauce as you smoke the entire dish at 225°F for at least 3 hours.

The pasta will absorb all of that incredible flavor as it becomes deliciously tender and cheesy!

I have plenty more smoker recipes for you to try, whether you are cooking with an electric, charcoal, or pellet smoker.

Pair this smoked mac n cheese with some juicy smoked corn and your choice of beef ribs, chicken wings, or pork chops. You’ll have a flavorful cookout feast in no time!

pasta cream cheese and butter in foil pan

Ingredient Notes and Substitutions

  • Pasta - I love to use cellentani pasta because all the twists and crevices really grab onto that creamy, cheesy sauce. Feel free to use penne, rotini, medium shells, or regular macaroni noodles instead.

  • Butter - Be sure to use unsalted sticks so you can season your smoked mac and cheese to taste.

  • Cheese - This recipe includes cream cheese, mozzarella, and Colby Jack for the gooiest, creamiest bites you’ll ever take! Substitute white or mild cheddar in place of the Colby Jack if you’d like.

  • Milk and cream - A little bit of heavy cream helps to thicken the sauce and get it deliciously silky smooth.

  • Seasonings - Salt and pepper are essential for any dish, while garlic powder and onion powder really punch up the flavor. Nutmeg adds some warmth and complements all the creaminess, but you can leave it out if you prefer.

  • Toppings - I tend to keep it simple with fresh parsley, chives, or crumbled bacon. That said, you can toss on whatever you would like from more shredded cheese to buttery breadcrumbs or crushed crackers!

pouring milk into foil pan with pasta

Tips for Making the Best Smoked Mac n Cheese

  • Go low and slow. Don’t increase the smoker temperature in the hopes of cooking this faster. Anything over 225°F will overcook the pasta and cause the dish to be dry.

  • Use enough liquid. Since the pasta isn’t boiled first, the total amount of liquid should cover the pasta almost completely. Add a little extra milk if needed so it cooks all the way through.

  • Cover with foil. This traps steam inside the pan to help cook the noodles and prevent dry spots. If there seems to be too much liquid in the bottom of the pan, you can remove the foil during the last 30 minutes of cooking.

  • Skip bagged shreds. ALWAYS opt for block cheese and grate it yourself. Pre-shredded cheese has additives and anti-caking agents to prevent clumping, but these also mimic flour and cause the smoker mac and cheese sauce to have an unpleasant texture. 

pouring heavy cream into pan

Storing and Reheating Smoked Macaroni and Cheese

If you manage to have any leftovers, transfer them to an airtight container and refrigerate for up to 4 days.

Or, make the entire dish ahead of time and refrigerate for later! Just be sure to cover it tightly in plastic wrap or foil.

Then, pop the whole tray in the oven for about 30 minutes at 300°F or until bubbly and warmed through.

If you let it warm on the counter first, it will heat faster and more evenly.

You can also freeze smoked mac and cheese for up to 3 months. Reheat from frozen for at least 45 minutes at 350°F in the oven.

Equipment

  • Smoker - Wood pellet varieties allow extra flavor to be infused into whatever you’re smoking.

  • Your favorite flavor wood chips - I love this blend and use it for just about everything.

  • Large tinfoil pan - Look for one labeled “half size” as it has just the right amount of space for your smoked mac and cheese.
  • Box Grater - As much as I love buying bagged shreds because it’s easier, freshly grated cheese melts down so much smoother and tastes better too.

pan with mac and cheese ingredients in it, except cheese

Smoked Mac and Cheese FAQ

What wood is best for smoking mac and cheese?

Macaroni and cheese will handle just about any flavor you throw at it. Bolder smoke can help to cut through the richness of the sauce, so I stick with my favorite blend of oak, maple, and hickory.

Pecan is another popular choice, or try a fruit wood like apple or cherry if you prefer something more mild.

Which cheese is best for mac n cheese?

The best combinations happen when you combine at least one really flavorful cheese with at least one that melts down really well.

In this recipe, the cream cheese and mozzarella make everything extra creamy and gooey. Colby Jack adds an extra punch while still keeping the overall flavor mild.

White or sharp cheddar, gouda, and Mexican cheeses like Queso Quesadilla or Asadero would also be great options.

And, remember — always grate fresh cheese by hand or your smoked macaroni and cheese will bind up in the most unpleasant way. 

smoked mac n cheese on the smoker

What can I add to macaroni and cheese?

Nothing goes better with smoked mac n cheese than crispy, smoky bacon! Bake a whole tray ahead of time, then crumble when cooled. Stir it into the pasta with the shredded cheese or sprinkle over top of the finished dish.

Some other great mix ins include:


smoked mac n cheese in a foil pan

Enjoy!

With love from our simple kitchen to yours. 

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Smoked Mac and Cheese wide photo



Yield: 10 1 cup servings
Author: Donna Elick
Smoked Mac and Cheese

Smoked Mac and Cheese

Smoked Mac and Cheese is the ultimate comfort food side dish. Serve this easy, one pan smoked macaroni and cheese at your next cookout!
Prep time: 10 MinCook time: 3 HourTotal time: 3 H & 10 M

Ingredients

  • 1 pound cellentani pasta
  • 4 tablespoons unsalted butter, sliced into 1-tbsp pieces
  • 4 ounces cream cheese, cut into 1-oz pieces
  • 1 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1 teaspoon onion powder
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon pepper
  • 1/8 teaspoon nutmeg
  • 5 cups whole milk
  • 1 cup heavy cream
  • 8 ounce block mozzarella cheese, shredded
  • 8 ounce block Colby jack cheese, shredded
  • Optional: parsley, chives, bacon for topping

Instructions

  1. Preheat the smoker to 225°F. Choose your favorite wood, I am using my favorite blend of oak, maple and hickory on my pellet smoker.
  2. To a half size aluminum pan, add the raw macaroni and top with chopped butter and cream cheese.
  3. Mix the seasonings and sprinkle evenly over the dish.
  4. Pour the milk and heavy cream into the pan and stir around. Ensure all the macaroni pieces have gotten coated.
  5. Cover with tinfoil and place in the smoker for 2 hours, stirring half way through.
  6. Add the shredded cheese, stir, recover, and return to smoker for an additional hour. Stir halfway through.
  7. If at the last half hour there looks to still be a considerable amount of liquid in the bottom, the tinfoil can be removed for the remainder of the cooking process.
  8. Garnish with toppings of your choice and serve while warm and creamy.
DONNA'S NOTES
  1. Be sure to use block cheese as pre-shredded cheese has additives that act the same way as flour. This will cause the mac and cheese to bind up.
  2. Use enough liquid to cover 98% of the raw pasta.
  3. Cook covered with tinfoil in the smoker so as to trap steam and avoid dry spots on the macaroni.

Smoked Mac and Cheese closeup

Originally published May 2022

https://amzn.to/2npi3zd

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2 comments:

  1. Good day. Wouldn't the foil block the dish from getting smoke?

    ReplyDelete
  2. I do a lot of smoking in my Big Chief. What I don't understand in this recipe is how the smoke flavour is supposed to penetrate the dish when it's covered by foil?

    ReplyDelete

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