Show me a person (or animal) who doesn’t love macaroni & cheese, come on, I dare you.
It’s the first dish to be wiped clean and even has the lactose intolerant falling off the wagon.
This smoked mac and cheese takes it to the next level by placing the dish in the smoker after you’ve taken your meat off.
I mean you’ve gone through all the trouble of lighting the thing so why not take full advantage right?
We actually stumbled on to the “smoking your mac & cheese” one night when we discovered our oven had broken and we needed to heat the dish.
It turned out to be a revelation! And now we do smoke the mac and cheese every time we make it.
I’ve used a somewhat basic macaroni cheese recipe here because smoking adds so much flavour that you don’t want to spend a bunch on a fancy assortment of cheeses only to have them masked by the smoke.
So in this instance cheddar, or a vintage style cheese works perfectly.
The mac & cheese recipe itself took a little while to find and adapt. So we may have had mac & cheese every week for a month or two while I did my research.
But I never had any complaints.
I like my mac & cheese saucey and a lot of recipes out there I find can be quite dry, especially when chucked in the oven for 30 minutes or so.
I add mustard powder because I a) I love mustard and b) I often put it on a grilled cheese and I think this is delicious combo. And it paid off.
Initially I added smoked paprika, and I still do if I’m not smoking the mac & cheese.
If you’re going to smoke it, you’re better off using a sweet Hungarian style paprika.
Cooking the Pasta
Bring a pot of salted water to a boil then add a cup and a half of dried macaroni elbows.
I should emphasise the importance of measuring the pasta before you cook it. This macaroni and cheese recipe relies on the right quantity of cheese, white sauce and pasta to get the right consistency.
Once the pasta is cooked most of the way through, drain and toss a knob of butter or olive oil through it. This will help keep the pasta from sticking together while you make the cheese sauce.
I should add that I generally grate a little more than two cups of cheese because you know, snack cheese.
To the sauce!
Making the white sauce
In a medium saucepan melt the butter over a medium low heat, you don’t want to risk it burning or for the pot to get too hot when you add the flour.
Once the butter has melted and is bubbling nicely, add in the flour and whisk it into the butter to create a roux.
Make sure you get all the bits that collect on the sides of the pot.
Cook this while gradually stirring for a couple minutes. You want to cook out the flour so you don’t have a raw flour taste to your sauce.
When the flour mix starts bubbling gently, almost frothing, take it off the heat and add about half a cup of the milk, whisking quickly as it thickens.
Whisk in the rest of the milk and place the pot back on the heat. At this point turn the heat up to medium, all the while whisking away. While waiting for the sauce to thicken, add in the mustard powder, paprika, pepper and salt (if you want).
The amount of salt you need to add depends how much salt you’ve added to the pasta water and how much salt is in the cheese you are using.
You don’t want to over season it as you’ll probably be serving this mac with some pretty richly seasoned barbecue meat.
Continue whisking the sauce until it has reached the consistency of a runny custard and then turn the heat off. It will thicken a bit more when you add the cheese but still be nice and loose enough to drown the pasta.
Add the cheese and give a good stir through until it’s all melted before adding the cooked pasta to the pot and coating in this golden gooey perfection.
Transfer the pasta to an oven proof dish, sprinkle on some coarse breadcrumbs and drizzle with a little olive oil before placing on to the smoker grill.
For this recipe I used my Weber Smokey Mountain, but any smoker will do.
If the macaroni cheese is still hot from the pot, leave to smoke for about 40 minutes in a smoker thats reading around 380°F.
Make sure to put the lid over it, this will obviously smoke it, but the radiant heat will make sure the breadcrumbs go all crispy which is my favourite part!
Use a few chunks of good smoke wood. I like to use apple.
You can prepare the Macaroni cheese in advance, which is easier especially if you’re entertaining.
The only difference will be that you may need to add 10-15 minutes to the smoking time and the sauce will have set so it won’t be as gooey.
It will still be delicious though.
You will probably need to check on it, depending on how hot your smoker is to check when it is hot enough. But generally if it’s bubbling, you’re good to go.
Smoked Macaroni and Cheese
- 1 1/2 cups Dried macaroni elbows
- 2 cups Cheddar cheese
- 2 1/2 cups Milk
- 3 tbsp Butter
- 1/4 cup Plain flour
- 1/2 tsp Mustard powder
- 1/4 tsp Paprika
- 1 cups Breadcrumbs
- Olive oil for drizzling
- Salt & pepper
- Cook pasta in salted water, drain and set aside
- Melt the butter in a medium sized pot over a low to medium heat,
- When the butter is melted stir in the flour and cook out for two minutes until the paste is bubbling around the edges
- Remove pot from element and whisk in half a cup of milk, it will thicken quite quickly but try make sure there are no lumps. Add another half cup of milk and whisk in. Place the pot back on the element and add the rest of the milk, the mustard powder and paprika
- Bring the temperature up to medium high and continue stirring until the sauce has thickened and is the consistency of runny custard
- Turn the heat off and add the cheese, stirring until melted into the sauce
- Mix in the pasta and transfer to a baking dish
- Top with the bread crumbs and place in your smoker for about 40 minutes at 350 – 400°F with a few chunks of smoke wood