Skip to Main Content

Start Traegering With 0%* APR Financing  |

Shop Now

Smoked Mac and Cheese

There are three levels of mac and cheese.

  1. The boxed mix. Kids love it.

  2. Homemade mac and cheese with homemade cheese sauce.

  3. At the apex, the ultimate mac and cheese experience: smoked macaroni and cheese.

What Is Smoked Mac and Cheese?

Smoked mac and cheese is prepared like homemade mac and cheese with two major changes:

  • The cheese is smoked in the Traeger before being added to the cheese sauce.
  • The entire dish is baked on the Traeger, rather than in the oven, adding additional smoke flavor.

What Kind of Cheese Is Best to Smoke for Smoked Mac and Cheese?

The best cheese for smoked mac and cheese is cheddar. Cheddar has a mild flavor and melts easily.

Mild flavored cheeses like cheddar are ideal because they will take on the flavor of the smoke.

If you were to use a stronger flavored cheese, like Swiss cheese, the natural flavor of the cheese will compete with and limit the smoke flavor.

Cheddar also melts easily. Harder cheeses may dry out rather than melt, and cheeses like ricotta or cottage cheese don't melt at all.

To ensure smoke flavor throughout the cheese, grate it before smoking. Pre-shredded cheese works well, too. The cheese may melt during the smoking process (which is okay). It will melt again when you make the sauce.

How Can You Make Creamy Smoked Mac and Cheese?

You'll get the creamiest mac and cheese if you make your own cheese sauce.

The sauce for homemade macaroni and cheese is based on a classic French sauce, called Mornay sauce.

How to Make Homemade Cheese Sauce for Smoked Mac and Cheese

To make the best homemade mac and cheese, you first need to learn how to make a roux for mac and cheese, a mixture of flour and butter that's the base for many gourmet sauces.

For each pound of dry pasta you plan to use, measure

  • 5 tablespoons butter, sliced into 3 to 4 pieces
  • 5 tablespoons flour
  • 2½ cups milk (for a richer sauce, half-and-half or cream)
  • 8 ounces grated smoked cheese

Melt the butter in a heavy saucepan over medium heat. You want the butter to foam but not bubble or burn.

Once the butter is melted and starting to foam, sprinkle in the flour, whisking as you go. Continue whisking -- don't stop! -- for 2 to 5 minutes until you no longer see any lumps of flour, and the mixture is golden brown.

Then slowly pour in the milk, whisking as you go. Keep whisking at least every few seconds to prevent the milk from sticking to and burning on the pan.

After 3 to 5 more minutes of whisking, you'll notice the sauce starting to thicken slightly. Remove the pan from the heat.

Add the cheese and stir until it is completely melted. Voila! You're a gourmet French chef. And you're about to have the best mac and cheese of your life.

How to Assemble and Prepare Mac and Cheese for Smoking

You have the cheese sauce, now you need to decide what to add to it and mix.

The first step is the pasta. Follow the instructions on the pasta package, but drain the pasta 2 minutes before the instructions suggest. The pasta will continue to cook slightly on the Traeger. If you follow the exact directions on the box, you could end up with mushy noodles.

You can also add additional toppings to mac and cheese before baking, for extra flavor or texture.

What Are the Best Toppings for Smoked Mac and Cheese?

If you want to amp up the flavor of smoked mac and cheese, consider adding previously smoked meats like brisket, sausage, bacon, or pulled pork. For a vegetarian option, consider grilled red and green peppers or even jalapeños.

Adding fresh peas is a popular touch and a great way to get your kids some extra vegetables.

Breadcrumbs, panko, or crumbled crackers make a good topping as well. They will crisp up during cooking and add a crunchy texture to the dish.

How Long Should You Smoke Mac and Cheese?

The final smoke for assembled smoked mac and cheese will take 30 minutes.

Once the sauce, pasta, and other toppings are ready, preheat the Traeger to 350 degrees Fahrenheit.

Mix all the ingredients and transfer to an oven-safe dish such as an aluminum pan, glass baking dish, or cast-iron skillet.

Place the dish directly on the grill grate, and bake for 30 minutes.

What's the Best Wood for Smoked Mac and Cheese?

Because the smoking process is not very long, we recommend a strong-flavored wood like hickory, to give the dish extra flavor.

What Goes With Smoked Mac and Cheese?

Rich, creamy mac and cheese calls for a light, acidic pairing. A crisp green salad with a vinegar dressing provides a good contrast.

Smoked Mac and Cheese Recipes

These Traeger takes on smoked mac and cheese are worth trying out.

Baked Green Chile Mac & Cheese by Doug Scheiding

Cook time: 2 hours

Serves: 8

Ingredients

24 ounces shredded cheddar cheese, divided

8 ounces mozzarella cheese, shredded

6 tablespoons unsalted butter

16 ounces large, dry elbow macaroni noodles

2½ cups half-and-half

2 cups heavy whipping cream

8 ounces cream cheese

16 ounces 505 Southwestern Hatch Valley Flame Roasted Green Chile

2 tablespoons Traeger Prime Rib Rub

Pulled Pork Mac & Cheese

Cook time: 30 minutes

Serves: 6

Ingredients

1 tablespoon vegetable oil

1 pound elbow macaroni or cavatappi noodles

4 cups milk

8 tablespoons butter, divided

1/2 cup flour

4 cups grated Gruyere cheese

2 cups grated extra-sharp cheddar cheese

1/2 tablespoon salt

1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg

2 cups leftover pulled pork

1½ cups fresh white breadcrumbs

Traeger BBQ Sauce, for serving

Baked Pork Belly Mac and Cheese

Cook time: 3 hours

Serves: 6

Ingredients

3 pounds pork belly, skin removed and scored

4 tablespoons salt

4 tablespoons brown sugar

1/2 teaspoon black pepper

1 pound elbow macaroni

1 tablespoon olive oil

3 tablespoons butter

1/2 whole onion, diced

1 tablespoon garlic, minced

3 tablespoons flour

1½ cups whole milk

3 cups shredded cheddar, mozzarella, or Swiss cheese

1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg

1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper

Baked Ballpark Mac & Cheese

Cook time: 55 minutes

Serves: 2

Ingredients

1 pound elbow macaroni or cavatappi noodles

2 tablespoons butter

1/2 whole yellow onion, diced

2 cloves garlic, minced

2 tablespoons all-purpose flour

2½ cups milk

Salt and pepper

2 tablespoons ketchup

1 tablespoon mustard

2 cups shredded cheddar cheese

1 cup shredded Gruyere cheese

4 frankfurters

Baked Macaroni & Cheese

Cook time: 1 hour

Serves: 8

Ingredients

5 quarts water

1 tablespoon salt

2 pounds elbow macaroni

12 tablespoons butter, divided, plus more for coating the pan

1/2 cup flour

1 teaspoon dry mustard

2 cups milk

2 pounds Velveeta or American cheese, cut into 1/2-inch cubes

Salt

Black pepper

1½ cups grated mild cheddar cheese

2 cups breadcrumbs

Paprika

Baked Pimento Bacon Mac & Cheese

Cook time: 45 minutes

Serves: 6

Ingredients

4 tablespoons butter

1 yellow onion

1/4 cup plus 1 tablespoon diced pimento peppers

2 cloves garlic, minced

5 tablespoons flour

2½ cups heavy cream

1½ cups whole milk

3 sprigs fresh thyme

1 sprig rosemary

2 bay leaves

1 tablespoon black peppercorns

1 pound of shredded Gruyere cheese

Salt

1 pound elbow macaroni

1 cup panko breadcrumbs

1/4 cup Parmesan cheese

4 tablespoons butter, melted

1/2 tablespoon smoked paprika

1/4 cup crumbled cooked bacon

1 teaspoon fresh chopped parsley

Butternut Squash Macaroni & Cheese

Cook time: 50 minutes

Serves: 2

Ingredients

1 medium butternut squash

2 cups macaroni, uncooked

1 small yellow onion

1/2 cup chicken broth

1 cup milk

Salt

Pepper

1 cup cheese, grated