Smoked Mac and Cheese

Smoked Mac and Cheese

Discover the ultimate comfort food with our Smoked Mac and Cheese recipe, a delicious twist on the classic dish that’s perfect for family dinners, barbecues, or any occasion where you want to impress with your culinary skills.

Imagine the traditional, creamy goodness of macaroni and cheese, but with an added layer of rich, smoky flavor that transforms this familiar dish into an extraordinary culinary experience. This blog post is dedicated to exploring the art of making smoked mac and cheese, a dish that effortlessly marries the comfort of melted cheese and tender pasta with the rustic charm of wood-fired cooking.

Whether you’re a barbecue enthusiast looking to expand your repertoire, or a home cook seeking to spice up your family dinners, join us as we dive into the techniques, tips, and tantalizing variations that make smoked mac and cheese a must-try for any food lover.

Why This Recipe Works:

  1. Enhanced Flavor: The smoking process infuses the mac and cheese with a rich, smoky flavor that cannot be achieved through traditional baking or stovetop methods. This distinct flavor complements the creamy, cheesy taste of the dish, creating a unique and satisfying culinary experience.
  2. Texture Variation: Smoking the dish can add a slightly crispy, charred texture to the top layer of the mac and cheese. This contrasts pleasantly with the creamy interior, adding a new dimension to the dish that enhances its overall appeal.
  3. Versatility and Creativity: Smoked mac and cheese allows for a lot of creativity in terms of ingredients and techniques. Different types of wood chips (like hickory, applewood, or mesquite) can be used in the smoking process to impart different flavors. Additionally, various cheeses and mix-ins like bacon, vegetables, or spices can be added to customize the dish, making it adaptable to different tastes and preferences.
Smoked Mac and Cheese

Supplies Needed:

  • Cheese Grater
  • Large Pot
  • Colander
  • Whisk
  • Measuring Spoons
  • Wooden Spoon or Spatula
  • Cast Iron Skillet

What Are The Best Noodles For Making Mac and Cheese?

The best noodles for making mac and cheese are typically shorter noodles that may also have shapes or ridges to help trap and catch the cheese sauce.

Here are some noodles that fit this description:

  • Elbow Macaroni
  • Shell Pasta
  • Cavatappi (corkscrew)
  • Rotini
  • Farfalle
Smoked Mac and Cheese pasta noodle

Can I use a low-carb or gluten-free pasta for this recipe?

Yes, in fact, the pasta pictured is a keto-friendly pasta brand called KaiZen pasta. You can also use whole wheat, chickpea, or gluten-free pasta.

Not all kinds of pasta are created the same however, so I would encourage you to pay attention to the box directions and undercook your pasta slightly less than al dente (especially because it will continue cooking in the sauce when it’s smoked on the grill). These pasta versions are perfect for eating in a baked dish like this or as a cold salad to make the best ever macaroni salad recipe too!

What cheese works best for making smoked mac and cheese?

For this recipe, I stuck with three main cheeses to build my sauce:

  • Sharp Cheddar Cheese
  • Pepper Jack Cheese
  • Cream Cheese (acts as the thickener for the sauce)

While you can substitute the cheddar or pepper jack for something like a smoked gouda, it’s important to use block cheese over pre-shredded cheese.

Why? Pre-shredded cheese has a coating on it that prevents it from sticking and tends to not melt as well in a cheese sauce.

Additionally, there is no flour or roux (flour and melted butter combined) used in this recipe to make the sauce.

I prefer this because it makes it easier to make with fewer steps, but also keeps it potentially gluten-free for those that prefer to use a pasta alternative (notes more on this below).

Smoked Macaroni and Cheese Ingredients:

  • 1 lb. Pasta of choice
  • 4 cups Shredded Cheese
  • Cream Cheese
  • Half & Half
  • Traditional Panko or Pork Panko Bread Crumbs (for gluten-free/ keto)
  • Optional: Green chiles, poblano peppers, jalapenos, and smoked garlic.
  • Seasonings: Salt, Pepper, Smoky Paprika
Smoked mac and cheese ingredients

Cooking and Smoking Instructions:

  1. Set your pellet smoker or charcoal grill for indirect heat at 350 F. This is a slightly higher temperature than traditional low and slow smoking, but still gives the mac and cheese a delicious smoke flavor.
  2. Prep all your ingredients by shredding your cheese, pre-cook any add in’s (the peppers), boil your pasta for a few minutes under al dente, and strain.
  3. In a large pot, add your softened cream cheese and about 1/4 cup of the half-and-half. This helps break the cream cheese down fully.
  4. Use a wooden spoon or a whisk to remove lumps and then slowly add in the remaining liquid over medium heat and heat through for about 5 minutes, stirring constantly (to prevent burning).
  5. Reduce the heat to the lowest setting and slowly add in small handfuls of the cheese. Whisk extensively to work the cheese fully into the sauce.
  6. Repeat step 5 until all your cheese has melted fully and is on cohesive, thick cheese sauce. Add in the spices and set the cheese sauce aside. Reserve a few tablespoons of cheese for the top if desired
  7. Pour the cheese sauce into the pasta and fold it all together.
  8. Add the mac and cheese to a 9-inch cast iron skillet, add the remaining cheese over the top, and sprinkle with panko.
  9. Place on your smoker and cook for 30 minutes or until the top has browned and the cheese sauce is nice and bubbly.
  10. Remove from the smoker and let it set up for 5-10 minutes before serving.
smoking mac and cheese on the big green egg


There are a lot of ways to change the flavor profile of your mac and cheese. Here are some great ideas:

  • Add a protein (chicken, lobster, steak, sausage)
  • Garnish with hot Cheetos, crushed pretzels, or potato chips
  • Use pimento cheese or mix in some BBQ sauce
  • Make it healthier by adding in some roasted veggies
  • Serve and top it with this smoked pork shank or some smoked pork shoulder (pulled pork)!
Smoked pork shank in smoked mac and cheese

More Recipes To Try:

Smoked Bacon Cauliflower Mac and Cheese

Creamy Lemon Chicken Pasta Salad

Southwestern Pasta Salad Recipe

Smoked Mac and Cheese

Smoked Mac and Cheese

Everything you love about a classic mac and cheese recipe, smoked on your charcoal or pellet grill for a delicious elevated flavor.
5 from 3 votes
Print Pin Rate
Course: Side Dish
Cuisine: American
Keyword: smoked mac and cheese, smoked macaroni and cheese
Prep Time: 30 minutes
Cook Time: 30 minutes
Servings: 12
Calories: 433kcal
Author: Bon Appeteach


  • 1 Cast Iron Skillet


  • 16 oz. Pasta (elbow, shell, cavatappi, rotini) Sub with any gf/keto pasta)
  • 8 oz. Block of Sharp Cheddar Cheese
  • 8 oz. Block of Pepper Jack Cheese
  • 8 oz. Cream Cheese Softened
  • 2 1/2 cups Half and Half
  • 1 tbsp. Paprika
  • 1 1/2 tsp Salt
  • 1 1/2 tsp Black Pepper
  • 1/4 cup Panko Bread Crumbs Sub pork panko (for gf/keto)


  • 1 Poblano small dice
  • 4 oz. Canned, Green Chiles (diced)
  • 1 tsp Olive Oil


  • Preheat your grill or smoker to 350 F and set it for indirect heat.
  • Begin by pre shredding all the cheese from each cheese block. You should have 4 cups of shredded cheese total.
  • If using any peppers, dice and sauté them and set them aside.
  • Boil your pasta and remove it from the pasta water 1-2 minutes prior to being finished. It will finish cooking on the smoker. Strain well.
  • In a large pot, add your softened cream cheese over medium heat. Whisk in about 1/4 – 1/2 cup of the half and half.
  • Whisk vigorously to help remove the lumps of the cream cheese until it is smooth . Add the remaining half and half and continue to whisk.
  • After 5-6 minutes, the half and half should all be very hot (but not simmering or boiling). Reduce the temperature to low heat.
  • Slowly whisk in small handfuls of cheese and let it full melt before you add more. This should take several minutes and ensures the cheese doesn't separate from the liquid. Be patient here!
  • Combine the cooked pasta and the cheese sauce. Fold it together until all the noodles are evenly coated. If using the peppers and chiles, add those in as well.
  • Pour the noodles into a 9 inch cast iron pan. Lightly coat the top in panko bread crumbs (or pork panko for gf/keto).
  • Place the smoked mac and cheese onto indirect heat on you charcoal grill or pellet smoker and let it cook at 350 F. uncovered for 30 minutes or until golden brown and bubbly.
  • Remove the smoked mac and cheese from the smoker carefully and let it rest 10 minutes before serving. This helps the cheese to settle a bit and makes it easier to serve.


Nutrition information is based off of standard pasta and not an alternative. 


Calories: 433kcal | Carbohydrates: 34g | Protein: 17g | Fat: 25g | Saturated Fat: 15g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 1g | Monounsaturated Fat: 7g | Cholesterol: 72mg | Sodium: 661mg | Potassium: 231mg | Fiber: 2g | Sugar: 5g | Vitamin A: 844IU | Vitamin C: 11mg | Calcium: 359mg | Iron: 1mg

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Recipe Rating

  1. 5 stars
    My Dad made this for us on his smoker and WOW!! It stole the show for sure… there wasn’t a drop leftover.

    Thanks for the great recipe.

  2. 5 stars
    My husband made this and added smoked bacon and caramelized onions. Oh. My. This is the best mac and cheese we have ever had! Will be making this one again!