Smoked Mac and Cheese

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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! 

The cellentani cooks 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.

titled (shown close up) smoked mac and cheese

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 some patience while it cooks, you can create the most incredible BBQ style mac and cheese. Everyone will beg you for this recipe!!

overhead: smoked macaroni and cheese ingredients in bowls

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’ve tried our slow cooker mac and cheese with cream cheese, you may be familiar with this idea. But of course, this is a smoker recipe.

Start with raw noodles and 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 of other smoker recipes for you to try, whether you are cooking with an electric, gas, charcoal or pellet smoker. Pair this smoked mac n cheese with some juicy smoked corn and your choice of smoked beef ribs, chicken wings, or pork chops. You’ll have a flavorful cookout feast in no time!

overhead: cubes of cream cheese and butter over elbow macaroni in tinfoil pan

Ingredient Notes and Substitutions

  • Pasta – I love to use cellentani pasta because all the twists and crevices really grab onto the 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 pan of pasta and cream cheese for smoked mac and cheese recipe

Tips for Making the Best Smoked Mac n Cheese

  1. 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.
  2. 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.
  3. 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.
  4. Skip bagged shreds. ALWAYS opt for block cheese and shred 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 overly thick, unpleasant texture. 
pouring heavy cream into tinfoil pan of raw macaroni

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.

When you’re ready, pop the whole tray in the oven for about 30 minutes at 300°F., or until bubbly and warmed through. If you let it come to room temperature first, it will heat faster and more evenly.

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

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Equipment

  • Smoker – Wood pellet varieties allow extra flavor to be infused into whatever you’re smoking.
  • 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 this smoked mac and cheese recipe.
  • Box grater – As much as I love using pre-shredded because it’s easier, freshly grated cheese melts down so much smoother, and it tastes better too.
overhead: smoked macaroni and cheese in pan, before cooking

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 wood flavors can help to cut through the richness of the sauce. I use a blend of oak, maple, and hickory.

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

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 smoker recipe, 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 or Asadero would also be great options.

PRO TIP

Remember to always grate fresh cheese for smoked macaroni and cheese. Otherwise, the cheese sauce binds up in a very unpleasant way. 

smoking mac and cheese in aluminum foil pan

What can I add to macaroni and cheese?

Nothing goes better with smoked mac n cheese than crispy, smoky bacon! Cook a large batch of bacon in the oven, 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:

overhead: serving spoon in aluminum foil pan of creamy pasta in cheese sauce

Enjoy!

With love, from our simple kitchen to yours. 

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extreme closeup of smoked macaroni and cheese

Other Smoking Recipes


closeup: cellentani pasta in creamy cheesy sauce

Smoked Mac and Cheese

Donna Elick
Smoked Mac and Cheese is the ultimate creamy comfort food side dish. Our easy smoked macaroni and cheese recipe is perfect for cookouts!
5 stars from 1 review
Tried this recipe?Please comment and review!
Prep Time 10 mins
Cook Time 3 hrs
Total Time 3 hrs 10 mins
Course Side Dish
Cuisine American
Method Smoker
Servings 10 cups

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
  • chopped parsley and/or chives, for garnish (optional)

Instructions
 

  • Preheat the smoker to 225°F. and set with your favorite wood chips/pellets.
  • To a half size aluminum pan, add the uncooked pasta; Scatter chopped butter and cream cheese evenly over the pasta..
  • Mix the seasonings and sprinkle evenly over the dish.
  • Pour the milk and heavy cream into the pan and stir everything to combine. Ensure all the macaroni pieces are coated.
  • Cover with foil and place in the smoker for 2 hours, stirring halfway through. After 2 hours, remove the pan from the smoker. Uncover, stir in shredded cheese, re-cover and return to the smoker for an additional hour, stirring after 30 minutes.
  • If at 30 minutes left of cooking time, there seems to still be a considerable amount of liquid in the bottom of the dish, you can remove the foil for the remainder of the cooking process.
  • 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 behave the same way as flour. This can cause the mac and cheese to bind up.
  2. Use enough liquid to cover 98% of the uncooked pasta.
  3. Cook covered with foil in the smoker so as to trap steam and avoid dry spots on the macaroni.

Nutrition

Serving: 1 cup | Calories: 562cal | Carbohydrates: 42g | Protein: 22g | Fat: 34g | Saturated Fat: 21g | Cholesterol: 104mg | Sodium: 604mg | Sugar: 9g | Fiber: 2g | Calcium: 459mg | Iron: 1mg

All nutritional information is based on third party calculations and is only an estimate. Each recipe’s nutritional value will vary depending on the ingredients used, measuring methods, and portion sizes.

Tried this recipe?Let us know how it was!
titled pinterest collage for smoked mac and cheese

Originally published May 2022.

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One Comment

  1. 5 stars
    I’ve never thought of smoking mac and cheese, but I have to say this was one of the most delicious recipes I’ve tried! Definitely going to go through the effort to smoke this dish during the holidays.

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