What is Smoker Macaroni and Cheese? This creamy mac and cheese recipe is positively packed with flavor, topped with a crispy panko topping, and smoked on a pellet grill. It’s the perfect weekend or game day recipe or a delightful Valentine’s Day dish! Double the smoky flavor and use Smoked Gouda cheese. Delicious!

baked & smoked mac cheese

Turn game day, or any day of the week, into a flavorful one with this easy Smoker Macaroni and Cheese. You can use any smoker or grill (with mesquite chips) or you can bake this recipe in the oven. Let’s just say it’s versatility, and cheesy, smoky flavor is a real party hit.

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Smoker Macaroni and Cheese

This last weekend for football Sunday we used a variety of cheeses mixed with Shellobows pasta, an easy-to-make recipe baked right on our Traeger XL Ironwood. We were able to prepare the dish, and then walk away for a couple of hours until we were ready to serve it to our party guests.

The ultimate menu we served with this dish was a giant salad, grilled meat, and a decadent chocolate cherry cake for dessert. And did you know, Macaroni and cheese is the oldest written casserole recipe found in 1250? How cool.

Read more: Smoker Macaroni and Cheese
woman holding 9x13 pan of Smoker Macaroni and Cheese

A good macaroni and cheese recipe is always good to keep on hand for any dining occasion. Our recipe is made with a variety of cheeses (Gouda, Sharp Cheddar, cream cheese, and Parmessan) cream, a crispy panko topping, and pasta! There are so many different types of pasta to try, but we think shells or macaroni is the best. Also no need to use “liquid smoke” in this recipe, as the grill does it all for you, giving you a nice “smoky” flavor. We also buy Smoked Gouda Cheese at Costco (it comes in a large hunk and reasonably priced). 

9x13 pan of Smoker Macaroni and Cheese with panko crumbs

Why I love this recipe

  • You can follow the same time and temps for your oven (if you don’t have a smoker).
  • You can make this recipe ahead of time. In fact, I suggest making it a couple of hours before baking, so that the flavors have time to blend.
  • It’s definitely good enough for company!

Ready for a flavorful mac and cheese recipe that is ready in no time? Grab your ingredients and make this Smoked Macaroni and Cheese today!

ingredients to make Smoker Macaroni and Cheese

Gather these ingredients

  • Pasta: we used Delallo’s Shellbows, but you can use any kind of macaroni or shells
  • Butter: use salted
  • Flour
  • Dried mustard powder
  • Sugar
  • Garlic powder
  • Smoked paprika
  • Salt and pepper, to taste
  • Half and half: optional to use whole milk or whipping cream (the sauce will be thicker)
  • Egg: beat the egg
  • Cream cheese: optional use Velveeta cheese
  • Sharp cheddar cheese
  • Smoked gouda cheese
  • Parmesan cheese
  • Panko breadcrumbs
  • Butter: use salted
shallows

The best noodles for mac & cheese

The most popular type of noodle for macaroni and cheese is of course elbow macaroni. Whether using large or small, the shape is great because the cheese sauce mixes well with the noodle. But there are other pastas to try, like shellbows, which are a rounder “shell” and also hold the cheese sauce well.

Try these other varieties of pasta:

  • Orecchiette
  • Campanelle
  • Rigatoni
  • Mini wheels
  • Ditalini
  • Penne
how to make Smoker Macaroni and Cheese

How to make the best Smoker Macaroni and Cheese

  1. Cook the pasta according to the package directions, about 1 minute less (al dente). Drain and set aside.
  2. Make the cheese sauce: In a large skillet or pan, melt 1 stick of butter and whisk in the flour until smooth. Add in the mustard powder, sugar, garlic powder, and smoked paprika and whisk until smooth. 
  3. Add the beaten egg to the half and half and whisk together. Pour into the butter mixture and bring to a boil. Turn down to low and add in the softened cream cheese chunks. Next add the Sharp cheddar, Smoked gouda, and Parmesan cheese and stir until smooth and creamy. Season to taste with salt and pepper.
  4. Prepare a 9×13 pan (or a very large skillet that can go on the grill), adding half of the drained pasta, half of the sauce (gently stir), then repeat, adding the remainder of the pasta and the rest of the sauce. 
  5. Mix together with a large spoon until all of the pasta is coated with the sauce. Wipe around the top of the pan to get rid of any messy cheese sauce. OPTIONAL to mix the pasta and the sauce together in a large bowl first, then place in the 9×13 pan. I like to mix it all in the pan I’m using for the smoker.
  6. Melt the remaining butter in another skillet, and add the panko crumbs and cook on medium heat until they are brown and crispy. 
  7. Sprinkle over the mac and cheese. Bake (see 3 ways below.)
unbaked mac and cheese

How long to smoke mac and cheese at 225°F temperature

We thought 2 hours gave the perfect amount of smokiness. Heat the smoker up to 225°F temperature and place the mac and cheese onto the smoker; cook for 1 hour. Check for flavor, or leave it on the grill for another hour for a more smoky flavor. 

cheesy mac

Tips & substitutions

  • Use cast iron that goes right from the stovetop to the smoker to the dinner table. Or use a 9×13 pan (we used our Peugot baking dish).
  • Keep the smoker temperatures at 225 degrees F to prevent from overcooking, or drying out the pasta.
  • Use whatever flavor of wood or pellets that you enjoy, like apple, maple, or cherry.
  • Optional to add ingredients like cooked and chopped bacon, green chiles, or even pulled pork. Get creative, and make a “taco” mac and cheese with Mexican flavors.  
  • Add some heat and use Traeger Rub Garlic & Chili Pepper, or your favorite seasonings to kick it up a notch.
  • Make ahead and smoke (or bake) later.
  • We love this Peugeot baking set (in black).
on the smoker, a 9x13 of mac cheese

Serving suggestions

Serve hot and enjoy with other grilled meats, salads, and extra toppings. You can serve it with extra cheese, sour cream, jalapenos, green onions, red onions, bacon crumbles, tomatoes – just think of taco or baked potato toppings.

Smoker Macaroni and Cheese

Storage

Store any leftovers in an airtight container in the fridge for 3-4 days. Great served as leftovers. Add a splash or two of milk when reheating.

Check out these pasta recipes while you’re here

baked & smoked mac cheese
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Smoker Macaroni and Cheese

What is Smoker Macaroni and Cheese? This creamy mac and cheese recipe is topped with a crispy panko topping, and smoked on a grill. Amazing!
Prep Time: 15 minutes
Cook Time: 1 hour 25 minutes
Total Time: 1 hour 40 minutes
Yield: 12
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Ingredients
 

  • 1 lb shells or macaroni pasta, we used Delallo’s Shellbows
  • ½ cup butter
  • ¼ cup flour
  • 1 Tbsp mustard powder
  • ½ Tbsp sugar
  • ½ Tbsp garlic powder
  • ½ Tbsp smoked paprika
  • Salt and pepper, to taste
  • 2 cups half and half
  • 1 egg, beaten
  • 8 oz cream cheese, softened and cut into 10-12 pieces
  • 2 ½ cups grated Sharp cheddar cheese
  • 2 cups grated Smoked gouda cheese
  • ¾ cup shredded Parmesan cheese

Topping:

  • 1 cup Panko breadcrumbs
  • ¼ cup butter, melted

Instructions
 

  • Cook the pasta according to the package directions, about 1 minute less (al dente). Drain and set aside.

Make the cheese sauce:

  • In a large skillet or pan, melt ½ cup butter (1 stick) and whisk in the flour until smooth. Add in the mustard powder, sugar, garlic powder, and smoked paprika and whisk until smooth.
  • Add the beaten egg to the 3 cups of half and half and whisk together. Pour into the butter mixture and bring to a boil. Turn down to low and add in the softened cream cheese chunks. Next add the Sharp cheddar, Smoked gouda, and Parmesan cheese and stir until smooth and creamy. Season to taste with salt and pepper.

Assemble the dish:

  • Prepare a 9×13 pan (or a very large skillet that can go on the grill), adding half of the drained pasta, half of the sauce (gently stir), then repeat, adding the remainder of the pasta and the rest of the sauce. Mix together with a large spoon until all of the pasta is coated with the sauce. Wipe around the top of the pan to get rid of any messy cheese sauce. OPTIONAL to mix the pasta and the sauce together in a large bowl first, then place in the 9×13 pan. I like to mix it all in the pan I’m using for the smoker.

Make the topping:

  • Next, in another skillet, melt the remaining ¼ cup of butter. Once melted, add the panko crumbs and cook on medium heat until they are brown and crispy. Sprinkle over the mac and cheese.

For the smoker:

  • Heat the smoker up 225°F temperature and place the mac and cheese onto the smoker and cook for 1 hour. Check for flavor, or leave it on the grill for another hour for more smoky flavor. We cooked ours for 2 hours and it was perfect.

For a grill:

  • Add smoking wood to the charcoal and keep the temperature as close to 225°F as you can. You want to cook it over indirect heat for 1 hour, but make sure it doesn’t dry out. You may need to cover the pan with foil, but the goal is to get more smoked flavor.

For the oven:

  • Place in the oven at 225°F temperature and bake for one hour. If you bake it longer in the oven you will need to cover it, to prevent from drying out. The oven will not give quite the smoky flavor, but it’s still amazing.
Cuisine: American
Course: Main Course
Calories: 584kcal, Carbohydrates: 23g, Protein: 24g, Fat: 44g, Saturated Fat: 27g, Polyunsaturated Fat: 2g, Monounsaturated Fat: 12g, Trans Fat: 0.5g, Cholesterol: 151mg, Sodium: 804mg, Potassium: 208mg, Fiber: 1g, Sugar: 4g, Vitamin A: 1427IU, Vitamin C: 0.4mg, Calcium: 579mg, Iron: 1mg
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Smoker Macaroni and Cheese