Ridiculously good smoked mac and cheese with bacon, made the easy way with a smoky mac and cheese sauce with smoked paprika, smoked Gouda, smoked cheddar, and smoked Gruyère! This smoked mac and cheese recipe is always a winner!
If you like this smoked gouda mac and cheese, you’ll love my Havarti Grilled Cheese with Bacon and Caramelized Onion, my Skillet Blueberry Cobbler with Smoked Sugar, and my Air Fryer Sweet Potato Chunks!
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Smoked Mac and Cheese - Easy Recipe
What could be a better comfort food than homemade mac and cheese? I've got your answer! This smoky mac and cheese is so incredible! It's made with smoked Gouda cheese, smoked Gruyère, and smoked cheddar cheeses, all in a creamy, flavorful cheese sauce. But that's not the best part -- we're adding crispy, smoky bacon to take it over the top! You won't regret trying this ridiculously good smoked mac and cheese!
No smoker? No problem! This shortcut easy smoked mac and cheese with bacon doesn't use a smoker or grill, but it's the perfect side dish for when you want that smoky flavor but you don't have a charcoal grill or smoker, or if it's chilly outside. The smoked cheese, smoked paprika, and bacon give this smoky mac and cheese all the amazing smoked flavor you could want!
What kind of cheese is best to smoke?
The most popular cheese for mac and cheese is sharp cheddar, but in this recipe we're using a mix of four cheeses! For the smokiness, we'll add smoked Gouda, smoked Gruyère, and smoked cheddar cheese, and a bit of mozzarella cheese to help it all melt well. You can also use whatever smoked cheese you like -- that's what makes this smoked mac and cheese easy and delicious!
What spice makes mac and cheese better?
To add flavor in this smoked mac and cheese with bacon, we'll add in smoked paprika, cayenne pepper, and mustard powder. Those spices are a great addition to make the smoky and spicy flavors in this ridiculously good smoked mac and cheese even better!
Easy Smoked Mac and Cheese Ingredients
- elbow macaroni - you can use regular elbow macaroni or any other small cooked pasta like cavatappi or shells. Cook them to al dente, about a minute less than package directions.
- bacon - bacon gives this smoked Gouda mac and cheese even more smoke flavor!
- unsalted butter - we'll add in a little butter to help create our Béchamel base for our cheese sauce.
- onion & garlic - these aromatics are so delicious in this smoky mac and cheese sauce!
- flour - this is the key to thickening up our cheese sauce!
- milk - I used whole milk, but you can use whatever milk you prefer.
- evaporated milk - you can replace this with more regular milk, but I like the texture from evaporated milk like in my southern baked mac and cheese!
- mustard powder - I love the added flavor the dry mustard powder gives this recipe. If you don't have mustard powder on hand, you can use Dijon mustard.
- smoked paprika - a little smoked paprika adds even more smoky flavor to make this the best smoked mac and cheese!
- cayenne pepper - this is optional, but I like to use cayenne pepper to add a little spice to my smoky mac and cheese sauce. Alternatively, you can add a few splashes of hot sauce!
- smoked Gouda, smoked Gruyère, and smoked cheddar cheeses - this cheese mixture really makes this a ridiculously good smoked mac and cheese recipe! We're also saving some of it to add a golden brown cheesy topping. You can usually find these smoked cheeses in your supermarket's specialty cheese or deli section. I got all of mine at Aldi, and I've also found them at Trader Joe's, at Whole Foods, or on Amazon. You can also switch it up with different types of cheese and use any semi-hard smoked (or non-smoked) type of cheese you like. Be sure to grate your own cheese instead of using store-bought shredded cheese to help it melt perfectly!
- mozzarella - a bit of mozzarella cheese helps the cheese sauce to melt smoother and mellows it out a bit with great flavor.
- salt & cracked pepper - add salt and pepper to your preference once all the cheese is melted in. I also like to crack a little black pepper on top of the mac and cheese.
You'll want a stockpot to boil your macaroni, and a saucepan to whip up your smoky mac and cheese sauce! Then, you'll need a 2-quart baking dish or large cast iron skillet to finish your smoked macaroni and cheese in the oven.
Below in the recipe card I'll share a quick recipe video and detailed instructions, but here are the basic steps for this ridiculously good smoked mac and cheese recipe.
In a large saucepan or dutch oven, fry bacon until crisp, then set aside.
Cook onions and garlic in the bacon fat, then whisk in flour and cook down.
Add milks and cook a few minutes, then add in your seasonings.
Add your cooked macaroni noodles and bacon in and stir to combine. Pour mixture into a large skillet.
Sprinkle top with more cheeses and crumbled bacon on top.
Bake until cheese is golden brown and melty, and enjoy on your dinner table!
Hint: your cheese sauce should be slightly thickened, but not too thick since it will thicken more as your creamy macaroni and cheese bakes!
Tips and F.A.Q.
This 4 cheese smoked mac and cheese with bacon has lots of flavor from sautéed onion and garlic, smoked paprika, cayenne pepper, mustard powder, and salt and pepper. I also like Creole seasoning in mac and cheese, like in my southern baked mac and cheese recipe.
We're using a blend of smoked cheddar, smoked Gruyère, and smoked Gouda cheeses in this smoky mac and cheese recipe. You can usually find these smoked cheeses in your supermarket's specialty cheese or deli section. I got all of mine at Aldi, and I've also found them at Trader Joe's, at Whole Foods, or on Amazon. You can also switch it up and use any semi-hard smoked (or non-smoked) cheese you like!
Good-quality smoked cheese is made by being smoked in a smoker for several hours, often with applewood chips or hickory chips.
You can use any kind of bacon you like! I used regular sliced applewood-smoked bacon, but thick slices or center cut bacon would work too. Thick slices would be easier to cut into small pieces before cooking.
Let your mac and cheese cool to room temperature, then cover tightly or place in an airtight container. Keep refrigerated for up to 3 days. You can also freeze, tightly covered, for up to 2 months.
You can easily reheat this recipe! Just place it in an oven-safe dish and cover with foil. Heat in a 350-degree oven for 20 minutes, or until it's hot and the cheese on top is melty. If you like, remove the foil and heat another 10 minutes to brown the top.
If you try this recipe, I would love it if you could leave a star review rating and comment below! It’s so wonderful hearing your feedback! And don’t forget to share your creations with me by tagging @chenee_today on Instagram!
More Savory Recipes You'll Love
- Instant Pot Chicken and Rice Soup
- Air Fryer Hash Browns
- Southern Baked Mac and Cheese
- Boursin Pasta – Tiktok Viral Recipe
- Creamy Lemon-Garlic Roasted Cauliflower
Equipment you may need
- 3-quart casserole dish
- cooking spray
- 8 oz (227 g) elbow macaroni - boiled al dente according to package directions
- 8 slices bacon - diced
- 2 tablespoon (28 g) unsalted butter
- 1 medium onion - chopped
- 4 cloves garlic - chopped
- 2 tablespoon (15 g) all-purpose flour
- 1 cup (244 g) whole milk - or milk of your choice
- 1 13-ounce can evaporated milk - or ¾ cup whole milk
- ½ teaspoon (1 g) mustard powder - or 1 teaspoon dijon mustard
- ½ teaspoon (1 g) smoked paprika
- ½ teaspoon (1 g) cayenne pepper - (optional)
- ½ cup (57 g) smoked Gruyère cheese - freshly grated
- ½ cup (118 g) smoked Gouda cheese - freshly grated
- ½ cup (56 g) part-skim mozzarella cheese - freshly grated
- ½ cup (57 g) smoked sharp cheddar cheese - freshly grated
- salt and cracked pepper - to taste
- Preheat oven to 375°F and spray a casserole dish or cast iron skillet with cooking spray.cooking spray
- Boil macaroni according to package directions, removing from heat 1 or 2 minutes early.8 oz elbow macaroni
- Cook bacon, stirring, over medium-high heat until crisp. Remove from pan and drain on paper towels. Remove bacon grease from the pan, reserving 2 tablespoon of grease.8 slices bacon
- Heat reserved bacon grease and butter in pan over medium heat until butter is melted. Add chopped and garlic and cook until softened.2 tablespoon unsalted butter, 1 medium onion, 4 cloves garlic
- Whisk in flour and cook a minute or two. Remove from heat.2 tablespoon all-purpose flour
- Slowly whisk in milk and evaporated milk and stir mixture until slightly thickened. Stir in mustard powder, smoked paprika, cayenne pepper, and salt to taste.1 cup whole milk, 1 13-ounce can evaporated milk, ½ teaspoon mustard powder, ½ teaspoon smoked paprika, ½ teaspoon cayenne pepper, salt and cracked pepper
- Stir in grated cheeses, reserving about ⅔ cup for the topping. Cheese should begin to melt.½ cup smoked Gruyère cheese, ½ cup smoked Gouda cheese, ½ cup part-skim mozzarella cheese, ½ cup smoked sharp cheddar cheese
- Add macaroni and stir to coat. Pour mixture into prepared dish or skillet and top with reserved cheese and fresh cracked pepper.salt and cracked pepper
- Bake in preheated oven for 20 minutes or until cheese filling is melted. To brown topping further, place under broiler on low for 2-3 minutes. Let cool slightly before serving.
Last Updated on October 14, 2022 by Chenée Lewis
Love all the smoky cheese in this! My kind of comfort food, so delicious!
It's so comforting! Thanks!
OMG! those photos scream S-C-R-U-M-P-T-I-O-U-S! and I agree, Mac and cheese is a big favorite at any potluck 🙂
It's always a must!
Maria San Juan
Mac and cheese will always be a winner in potlucks! I will surely make this using your recipe! Thank you very much!
Thank you! I hope you like it!
This quickly became a favorite at my house! Seriously amazing!
Lovely! I'm so glad you enjoyed!
The ONLY way to make mac and cheese!
I agree!! So good!