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smoked mac and cheese in a cast iron skillet on a Traeger smoker
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Smoked Mac and Cheese

This is the best Homemade Smoked Macaroni and Cheese recipe you will find. It's made with a creamy béchamel sauce interior and topped with a crunchy, browned cheese topping. This dish can be made with any smoker or pellet Traeger grill.
Course dinner, lunch
Cuisine American, Southern
Keyword best smoked mac and cheese, smoked gouda mac and cheese, smoked mac and cheese, smoked mac and cheese Traeger
Prep Time 30 minutes
Cook Time 1 hour 15 minutes
Total Time 1 hour 45 minutes
Servings 10 servings
Calories 455kcal

Ingredients

  • 1 pound elbow macaroni or cellentani pasta See notes
  • 4 tablespoons butter
  • 3 tablespoons flour
  • 2-3 cups milk I often use 2 cups. Use your judgement. Start with 2 and add more if needed.
  • 1 cup heavy whipping cream
  • 1/2 teaspoon smoked paprika Adjust to taste. I like to use 1 teaspoon for smoky flavor.
  • 1/2 teaspoon onion powder
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • 2 cups shredded sharp cheddar cheese
  • 1 1/2 cups shredded gouda cheese
  • 1 cup shredded gruyère cheese
  • cooking oil

Instructions

  • Preheat smoker to 225 degrees.

Pasta

  • Cook the pasta in a large pot in accordance with the instructions on the package.
  • Drain the pasta and rinse with cold water.

Cheese Sauce

  • Heat a saucepan or skillet on medium heat. Add the butter and allow it to melt.
  • Once melted, add the flour and whisk.
  • This will create a roux. Continue to whisk until the four is fully combined.
  • Add the milk and heavy whipping cream and stir.
  • Add half of all of the shredded cheeses and stir until the cheese is melted.
  • Add the onion powder, smoked paprika, salt, and pepper to taste. Taste repeatedly. This step is important because this sauce is what the mac and cheese will taste like. Adjust and add additional spices if necessary.
  • Return the pasta to the large pot. Drizzle the cheese sauce over the pasta and stir until fully combined.

Mac and Cheese

  • Spray a 12 inch cast iron with cooking oil. You can also use a 9x13 inch baking dish.
  • Begin to layer in the pasta. Start with the pasta, then add a layer using some of the remaining shredded cheese.
  • Add another layer of pasta, and then another layer of cheese.
  • Smoke for 1-2 hours until the cheese on top has melted.
    The dish will take 50-60 minutes to cook on the smoker. In my experience, after an hour, it only has a slight smoky flavor. If you want a strong smoky flavor you will need to cook it for around 2 hours.
  • I like for my mac and chese to have a crunchy top and creamy interior so once the dish is finished smoking, I place it in the oven on Broil for 3 minutes until browned on top.

Video

Notes

  • You can bake the dish on 375 degrees for 35-45 minutes.
  • Recipes and dishes with cheese usually work best with mild pellets like apple, cherry, or pecan. I use apple.
  • Elbow macaroni is typically used. I like to use cellentani. It has a corkscrew shape and a ridged surface which works great in a dish like this. Either will work just fine.
  • Any milk will work in the recipe. Keep in mind the taste of the milk you select will be present in the final cooked dish.
  • Always purchase your cheese in block form and shred or grate it yourself. You can also use a food processor. Pre-shredded cheese has preservatives and potato starch to keep it from going bad quickly. These additives don’t melt nicely and the dish won’t be as creamy. Grate your own cheese. It makes a huge difference.
  • Feel free to add more cheese as you deem necessary. To make this a really creamy and cheesy dish, you can add 1-2 cups of additional cheese.
  • A 12 inch cast iron is my favorite to use. A 10 1/2 inch cast iron is too small for this recipe. You can reduce the ingredients by a half or 1/3 if you plan to make it in a smaller pan. You will need to make the dish in a pan safe for grills.
  • Any baking pan that is oven safe is safe for a Traeger or smoker. Anything from a muffin tin to a fun-shaped Bundt pan is cleared for use. Metal pans will heat up faster, but glass and ceramic pans will hold a more consistent temperature. Keep in mind these may get smoke-stained, which is another reason to use cast iron.
  • Because this dish is made with a flour and butter roux, along with a bechamel cheese sauce, you shouldn’t have any issue with the mac and cheese drying out. Just be sure to keep the temperature around 225 degrees at it smokes.
  • I  wouldn’t prep this in advance to cook later. This will ruin the texture of the cheese. When cheese hits the air it starts to stiffen and won’t melt as nicely.
     
 

Nutrition

Serving: 1serving | Calories: 455kcal