Who doesn’t love mac and cheese? It’s a classic comfort food that can bring back memories of childhood. But have you ever tried adding a smoky twist to this classic dish? Smoked mac and cheese is a deliciously savory variation that adds depth and complexity to the cheesy goodness we all know and love. In this recipe, we’ll show you how to make a smoky, creamy mac and cheese that will have your taste buds dancing. Plus, we’ll show you a trick to enhance the smoke flavor!
What is smoked mac and cheese?
Smoked mac and cheese is a delicious twist on the classic macaroni and cheese dish, in which the pasta and cheese are cooked on a smoker or grill, giving it a distinct smoky flavor.
How do I make smoked mac and cheese?
To make smoked mac and cheese, cook the pasta to al dente according to package instructions and then mix it with a cheese sauce made with half and half, seasonings, and a blend of cheeses. Place the mixture in a smoker or on a grill with a smoking box and cook until the cheese is melted and the dish is hot and bubbly.
What types of cheese are good for smoked mac and cheese?
Good cheeses for smoked mac and cheese include cheddar, gouda, smoked gouda, gruyere, and fontina. You can also experiment with adding other types of cheese for extra flavor.
Can smoked mac and cheese be made ahead of time?
Yes, smoked mac and cheese can be made ahead of time and reheated. Store the dish in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 3-4 days.
What goes well with smoked mac and cheese?
Smoked mac and cheese pairs well with a variety of meats, such as smoked brisket, pulled pork, or grilled chicken. It also goes well with a simple green salad or roasted vegetables.
Can smoked mac and cheese be made without a smoker or grill?
Yes, smoked mac and cheese can be made without a smoker or grill by adding liquid smoke to the cheese sauce or using smoked cheeses in the recipe.
Pasta & Cheese Mixture
- 1 pound dried elbow pasta
- 2 1/2 cups half and half
- 1 1/2 cups whole milk
- 3 cups sharp cheddar cheese, freshly grated
- 2 cups gruyere cheese, freshly grated
- 1/2 cup unsalted butter
- 1/2 cup all purpose flour
- 1/2 tablespoon salt
- 1/2 teaspoon black pepper
- 1/4 teaspoon paprika
- 1 cup Panko bread crumbs
- 1/4 cup salted butter, melted
- 2 tablespoons Meat Church The Gospel All-Purpose BBQ Rub, substitute favorite BBQ rub
Preheat the smoker
Preheat smoker to 225°F according to the manufacturer's instructions.
Boil the Pasta
Bring a pot of salted water to a boil and cook the pasta until al dente according to the instructions on the packaging, approximately 2 minutes early. The pasta will continue to cook when it goes on the smoker later.
Make the cream mixture
While the pasta is boiling, heat butter in a large saucepan over medium heat until it melts. Add flour and whisk it with the butter until they are combined. Keep whisking for about a minute. Gradually pour in 2 cups of half and half while constantly whisking until it is smooth. Then, slowly pour in the remaining half and half and whole milk while whisking constantly until it's combined and smooth. Keep heating the mixture over medium heat and whisk often until it thickens to a very thick consistency.
Add the cheese to the cream mixture
Toss the shredded cheeses together in a bowl and mix well. Take the cream mixture off the heat and add spices and 1 1/2 cups of cheese, stirring well until the cheese is melted and combined. After that, stir in another 1 1/2 cups of cheese and keep stirring until it's fully melted and the mixture becomes smooth.
Combine the pasta and cheese sauce
After draining the cooked pasta, mix it together with the cheese sauce until they are fully combined. Take a cast iron skillet or large pan and put half of the pasta mixture into it. Then, add 2 cups of shredded cheese on top of the pasta, and finally, put the remaining pasta mixture on top of the cheese. Make sure the mixture is packed down lightly and even.
Add the buttered panko topping to mac and cheese
Combine the melted butter, panko bread crumbs, and BBQ rub in a bowl. Spread the buttered panko mixture evenly over the top of the mac and cheese.
Smoke the mac and cheese
Place the skillet or pan of mac and cheese on the smoker and cook for 1 hour. You can leave it on for longer if you'd like it to absorb more smoke. The mac and cheese is done smoking when the buttered panko topping is lightly browned and crispy.
Allow the smoked mac and cheese to cool down
Remove the smoked mac and cheese from the smoker and allow it to rest 15-20 minutes. Serve and enjoy!