This creamy Smoked Mac and Cheese is loaded with three cheeses, bacon, and jalapeno for an amazingly delicious version of the classic comfort food recipe! The perfect touch of smoke flavor pairs with the richness of cream cheese, cheddar cheese and smoked Gouda to make the best smoked mac n cheese ever!!
If you love mac & cheese as much as my family does, try out my Southern Baked Macaroni and Cheese or the ultra decadent White Cheddar Lobster Macaroni and Cheese! Even better, don't miss my baked mac and cheese bites that would be the perfect use for any leftovers!!
With such a delicious assortment of flavors and ingredients, this mac n cheese could easily be called many things! I could've called it smoked gouda mac and cheese or smoked mac and cheese with bacon or even jalapeno popper mac and cheese.
Then again, it's also a 3 cheese mac n cheese that could also easily be a 4 cheese mac n cheese.
Whew! Any name you want to give it, it's still simply A-M-A-Z-I-N-G. Yumm, period. Now get that fabulous smoked meat in the kitchen resting, and start this best ever mac and cheese for your dinner!
- Elbow Macaroni - Almost any pasta will do, penne, shells, bowtie, etc.
- Heavy Cream - Or half and half or milk can work as well.
- Butter - Go for a full fat European butter if you can to add a deep richness.
- Cheeses - My favorite combo Cream Cheese, Cheddar, and Smoked Gouda.
- Jalapeno - Fresh or jarred.
- Bacon - A good applewood smoked bacon is really good with the mac!
- Salt & Pepper - To taste.
🔪 Step-by-Step Instructions
- Start out with preheating your smoker while you prepare the macaroni and cheese. Set to 225ºF (107ºC) and load your wood tray with your wood of choice.
- Prepare your pasta as directed on the box, using salted water in a large stock pot, and cooking two minutes shy of the directed time. This will yield a pasta that is cooked to an al dente texture that is tender, yet firm.
- Drain and rinse the cooked pasta, and set aside. Return the stock pot to your stove top and add the heavy cream (or half & half) along with the butter.
- Warm the cream and butter over medium heat. Once the butter has melted, add the softened, cubed cream cheese and whisk until the sauce is smooth and the cream cheese has broken down.
- Add the grated cheddar and smoked Gouda cheeses, and stir until melted. Season the cheese sauce to taste with salt and pepper. *Ground mustard is another great flavor to add, especially if it was used as part of a rub on smoked pork.
- Return the cooked pasta to the stock pot with the cheese sauce and stir the macaroni in gently until well coated. Fold in the diced pickled or fresh jalapeno and the crumbled bacon (reserving some of the bacon for topping, if desired).
- Transfer the macaroni and cheese to a 9 x 11 inch disposable aluminum baking tray that has been oiled or coated with non-stick cooking spray. Place the tray with pasta in your preheated smoker and close the lid or door. *Other dishes can be used, but this saves on cleaning your baking ware. A cast iron skillet can also be used.
- Cook the mac n cheese for 1 ½ hours, or until the pasta is golden brown on the top and bubbling around the edges. Remove from the smoker and serve immediately. *I've found that 1 ½ hours is the best flavor, anything more than that and the smoked flavor is picked up by the pasta and can be overwhelming.
If your in the mood for some great smoking, try my Smoked Prime Rib!
💭 Tips & Recipe Notes
- Grate your own cheeses. Store bought pre-grated cheeses are coated in cellulose. That is a additive that helps keep the grated pieces from sticking together. That same additive will also block the cheeses from taking on the smoke flavor.
- Keep the clean up simple. Use a disposable aluminum tray like I used in the picture above. Makes the clean up a breeze!
- Don't overcook the pasta. You will want to under cook the pasta by just a few minutes to "al dente", which translates from Italian to "firm to the bite. Remember your pasta will continue cooking in the smoker and will absorb some of the moisture from the mac and cheese sauce.
🪵 Best Woods For Smoking
The best wood for smoked mac and cheese is usually a mild wood. My preferred mild woods are cherry, sugar maple, pecan or apple.
Hickory and Oak are also good choices when smoking a pasta dish that uses a strong cheese, like sharp cheddar. Also, if your bacon is applewood or hickory smoked, I like to match the flavor of the bacon.
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Smoked Mac and Cheese
- 1 lb elbow macaroni
- 2 cups heavy cream (or half and half)
- ½ cup butter (1 stick, or 8 tablespoons)
- 8 oz cream cheese (one package - softened at room temperature and cubed)
- 8 oz cheddar (grated, medium or sharp cheddar)
- 7 oz smoked gouda (grated)
- ¼ cup pickled jalapeno (jar, tamed or hot jalapeno slices - or fresh jalapeno - diced)
- 4 strips bacon (cooked, and crumbled or sliced)
- each, salt & pepper (to taste)
- Preheat your smoker to 225 degrees F (107 degrees C) and load your wood tray with a wood of your choice. The best mild woods are cherry, sugar maple, pecan and apple. I personally like hickory on occasion when smoking anything using a strong cheese like sharp cheddar.
- Cook your pasta in a large stock pot, with salted water. Follow the package instructions for cooking time, minus about two minutes for an al dente (firm to the bite) texture. Drain and rinse pasta in cool water, and set aside.1 lb elbow macaroni
- Return your stock pot to the stove top, add the heavy cream and butter, then warm them over medium heat. Once the butter has melted, add the softened cream cheese and whisk until the cream cheese has broken down and the sauce is smooth. Add the grated cheeses (cheddar and smoked gouda) and stir until melted. Season to taste with salt and pepper.2 cups heavy cream, ½ cup butter, 8 oz cream cheese, 8 oz cheddar, 7 oz smoked gouda, each, salt & pepper
- Return the cooked pasta to your stock pot and cheese sauce, and stir gently to thoroughly coat the pasta. Fold in sliced jalapeno and crumbled bacon (reserve some for the topping, if desired) then transfer to a 9 x 11 inch disposable aluminum pan that has been oiled or sprayed with non-stick cooking spray.¼ cup pickled jalapeno, 4 strips bacon
- Place your pan of macaroni and cheese into your preheated smoker and close the lid or door. Cook for 1 ½ hours or until golden browned on the top and bubbling around the edges.
- Remove from the smoker when done and serve immediately.
Angela is an at home chef that developed a passion for all things cooking and baking at a young age in her Grandma's kitchen. After many years in the food service industry, she now enjoys sharing all of her family favorite recipes and creating tasty dinner and amazing dessert recipes here at Bake It With Love!