Learn how to make smoked mac and cheese and redefine the classic comfort food! Easy to make but sure to impress.
Mac and cheese should be its own food group. It’s easy to make, comforting, and always a family favorite.
In our household, we enjoy it in a plethora of ways, including using cauliflower, with low carb noodles, or in an instant pot. Our favorite, however, is smoked mac and cheese.
Why you’ll love this recipe
- Perfect for parties. Well, we all know that nobody can say no to mac and cheese and this smoked version will have everyone begging for the recipe!
- Easy to make. With less than five minutes prep time required, the oven does all the hard work for you.
- Transforming to a main meal dish is easy. Let’s be real- this is a meal it itself, but it also pairs well with almost anything.
What I love the most about this recipe is just how incredible it tastes. I thought standard mac and cheese was amazing but this? You’ll never go back to the original!
You’ll love the simple ingredient list for making this recipe. No complicated or hard-to-find parts and you can find them all at any basic supermarket. Here is what you’ll need:
- Pasta. Elbow or macaroni pasta is preferred, but any work.
- Olive oil. You can use any neutral flavored oil.
- Butter. Unsalted butter.
- Flour. Helps thicken the sauce.
- Milk. I used whole milk but any milk works.
- Half and half. Balances out the milk by adding a richer element. If you don’t have half and half, heavy cream works.
- Smoked gouda and cheddar cheese. A combination of both kinds of cheese adds smokiness, creaminess, and gives the top a golden exterior.
- Salt and pepper. To taste.
How to make smoked Mac and cheese?
For such a decadent looking dish, making this recipe is foolproof. You follow a simple 5-step process and honestly, most of it is hands-off. Ready to make some comfort food?
Step 1- Prepare the utensils
Preheat the oven to 160C or 325F. Meanwhile, grease a baking dish and set it aside.
Step 2- Cook the pasta
Start by cooking the pasta until al dente. Add some olive oil to the top to keep the pasta from sticking.
Step 3- Make the cheese mix
Next, mix the two kinds of cheese well and separate some for the topping. Combine milk and half and half together. Melt butter over medium heat and add it to the flour until it gets a wet sand-like texture.
Now, gradually add milk and half and half mixture while mixing continuously. Mix everything together until a thick mixture forms. Remove it from heat, add more gouda cheese and allow it to melt naturally. Once melted, add some more cheese to make a thick and smooth mixture.
Step 4- Add pasta to the cheese mix
Add the cooked pasta and cheese sauce to a large mixing bowl and give these a good stir until fully combined. Fold through the remaining cheese.
Step 5- Bake and serve!
Finally, transfer the pasta mixture to a baking dish and top with more cheese. Bake for 15 minutes or until the cheese becomes lightly golden.
Tips to make the best recipe
- Cook the pasta just before you make the cheese sauce. This reduces the risk of the pasta drying out.
- For a more intense smoky flavor, add a few drops of liquid smoke.
- Add some diced bacon, chopped sausage, or salami for a delicious protein addition.
Got leftovers? Here are best practices for mac and cheese storage:
To store: Leftovers can be stored in the refrigerator, covered, for up to one week. Be sure to give everything a good mix before reheating.
To freeze: Place portions of the mac and cheese in shallow containers and store them in the freezer for up to 6 months.
Reheating: Reheat leftovers in a microwave for 20-30 seconds or in a pre-heated oven.
What to serve with Mac and cheese?
For a balanced meal, pair your mac and cheese with simply cooked protein. Here are some of our favorites:
Frequently Asked Questions
If you over-bake everything, you risk the macaroni drying out. Also, if you leave the cooked pasta sitting out too long, it can also affect the texture.
To ensure this doesn’t happen, always toss the pasta through some olive oil. If you notice the top of the dish over-browning, add some tin foil.
Cheeses that melt well and have a strong flavor are always best for macaroni dishes. We used a combination of cheddar and smoked gouda, but you can swap out the cheddar for mozzarella or tasty cheese.
- 1 lb elbow macaroni
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- 1/2 cup butter
- 1/2 cup flour sifted
- 1 1/2 cups milk
- 2 1/2 cups half and half or heavy cream
- 4 cups cheddar cheese shredded
- 2 cups smoked gouda shredded
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 1/2 teaspoon pepper
Preheat the oven 160C/325F. Grease a 9 x 13-inch baking dish and set aside.
Cook the elbow pasta until al dente. Drain and toss through the olive oil.
Combine the two cheeses and separate two cups of the cheese for the topping. Combine the milk and half and half together.
Melt butter in a saucepan over medium heat. Whisk in the flour. Slowly add in the milk/half-and-half mixture, whisking constantly until smooth. Continue adding the remaining milk/half-and-half in. Continue letting everything simmer together until it has thickened.
Remove from the heat. Add the salt and pepper and slowly fold in 1 ½ cups of the cheese and let it melt naturally. Once melted, add another 1 ½ cups until completely smooth.
In a large mixing bowl, add the cooked pasta and mix through the cheese sauce until fully combined. Fold through the remaining one cup of cheese.
Transfer the mix into the baking dish. Top with the remaining 2 cups of cheese. Bake for around 10 minutes, or until the cheese is bubbling.
Serving: 1serving | Calories: 393kcal | Carbohydrates: 35g | Protein: 22g | Fat: 19g | Sodium: 638mg | Potassium: 222mg | Fiber: 8g | Vitamin A: 909IU | Vitamin C: 1mg | Calcium: 578mg | Iron: 6mg | NET CARBS: 27g