This thick and creamy smoked mac and cheese is the epitome of comfort food and will be an instant classic at your next BBQ or party! It is totally customizable, can be made in advance, and is a guaranteed crowd pleaser!
1lb (16 oz) of elbow macaroni
1/4 cup flour
1/4 cup salted butter
3 cups milk (we used 2%)
8 oz cream cheese
24 oz of hand shredded cheese (We recommend using a mix: One that is sharp and one that is a bit softer and creamier. We usually use 12 oz colby jack and 12 oz of sharp cheddar.)
Freshly ground pepper to taste
Feel free to add in any other ingredients you'd like, such as jalapeños, bread crumbs, bacon, hot sauce, garlic, herbs, etc. Go crazy!
Wood Used: We used apple and cherry but any mild flavor would work well
Grill Temperature: No higher than 225 degrees
Smoke Time: 2-3 hours, depending on how smoky you want it to taste
- To start, we want to make a roux, which is a fancy French way of saying we're going to combine some flour and butter and cook them gently. We do this to act as a thickening agent for our cheese sauce.Over low heat, add 1/4 C butter to a medium saucepan and melt, then whisk in your 1/4 C flour and cook for about 2 minutes until it starts to get bubbly and turns a bit brown. Next, whisk in your 3 C milk and bring to a boil. Cook for 5 minutes until it starts to thicken. After it has thickened, add in small chunks of the 8 oz of cream cheese and stir until smooth.
- Cook your 1 lb of macaroni according to the box instructions. Once done, drain and pour into a large heat-resistant bowl.
- To the bowl of macaroni, add your 24 oz of grated cheese and the cream sauce. Mix until the cheese is melted and evenly distributed. Spray a disposable aluminum tray with cooking spray, spoon in your mixture and spread evenly. (You can also use a cast iron pan if you prefer but cheap aluminum trays are fantastic for easy clean up!)
- Throw it on the smoker over indirect heat at 225 F for about 2 hours until its crisped on top but still nice and gooey on the inside. Do not allow the smoker to go above 225 degrees, or your mac and cheese will dry out!
- Shopping: You can use your preferred brand of macaroni and salted butter. We recommend using 2% milk, full fat Philadelphia brand cream cheese, and blocks of cheese for hand shredding rather than pre-shredded cheese.
- Substitutions: Feel free to use any type of pasta you prefer such as shells, corkscrews, or even penne. You can also use any type of cheese you'd like, but we recommend choosing one sharp flavor and one creamy flavor. You can even add additional smokiness by using smoked gouda or applewood smoked cheddar.
- Prep: Make sure you are patient while making your roux. You want to cook it low and slow to prevent any clumping or burning of the flour. If you'd like to prep your smoked mac and cheese in advance, complete steps 1-3 then cover and refrigerate for up to 1 day. Set the dish out to reach room temperature, then smoke as directed.
- Smoking: You want to smoke your mac and cheese over indirect heat and make sure your temperature doesn't go any higher than 225 degrees F. Higher temperatures will cause the macaroni to dry out.
- Storage: Leftovers can be stored in a sealed container in the refrigerator for up to 5 days.
- Freezing: You can also freeze any leftover mac and cheese for up to 3 months. You can either freeze it as a full pan or as individual portions.
- Reheating: If fresh: We always like to add a little milk prior to reheating. You can then cover with plastic wrap and microwave 1 minute at a time or cover with foil and place into the oven or onto a grill at 350 F for 15-20 minutes. If frozen: Frozen leftover macaroni and cheese will reheat more evenly if you allow it to reach room temperature first, but if you're in a hurry, you can reheat in the oven or on a grill at 350 F for 45 minutes, or until hot and bubbling.
Keywords: smoked mac and cheese, smoked macaroni and cheese, bbq side dish, bbq comfort food