Oh my goodness. I’ve had my share of mac-and-cheese and then some. I’ve even grilled it. But nothing has ever come close to this smoked bacon mac-and-cheese. Yeah, it’s creamy ooey gooey cheesy like any proper mac-and-cheese should be. And it has bacon, glorious bacon. And it’s smoked. Yes, smoked. Not a lot of smokiness, not too much to overwhelm, but the exact perfect amount. This is just crazy good eats.
If you’re in the mood to make this smoked bacon mac-and-cheese even more over-the-top, add a few good handfuls of leftover smoked pulled pork. It’s a fantastic way to use up pulled pork if by chance you have some on hand. Me, I’d already eaten all of my smoked pork, and I was very, very happy with this dish without it.
For a another great ‘made outdoors’ take on mac-and-cheese, try my grilled Buffalo version.
Smoked Bacon Mac-and-Cheese
- 1 16 ounce box elbow noodles
- Your favorite BBQ rub
- 1 pound bacon
- 1 stick unsalted butter
- 1/2 cup all-purpose flour
- 1 teaspoon dried mustard
- 1 teaspoon kosher salt
- 1/2 teaspoon paprika
- 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
- 4 cups cheddar cheese grated
- 5 cups half and half
- 9 x 13 x 3 or so deep foil pan
- 3 cups shredded cheese mix I used a Mexican cheese blend, divided
- Preheat oven to 350 F.
- Fire up your smoker for 225 F. Use whatever wood you like, but I would recommend a lighter fruit wood such as cherry or peach.
- Line a large baking sheet with foil. You might need two baking sheets if they aren't large enough to hold all of the bacon.
- Add bacon to baking sheet and sprinkle with the BBQ rub.
- Bake for 20 minutes, flip, sprinkle with more rub and return to the oven for another 10 minutes until cooked but not overly crispy. Remove from oven and transfer bacon to a paper-towel lined plate. Crumble the bacon once cooled.
- Meanwhile, bring a large pot of salted water to a boil and add the pasta. Cook 8-9 minutes until al dente. Drain and rinse with cold water. Transfer to a large bowl.
- Add butter to a medium saucepan over medium eat. Once melted whisk in the flour, mustard, salt, paprika and black pepper. Whisk for 2 minutes.
- Slowly whisk in the half and half. Keep whisking for about 10 minutes until the sauce thickens.
- Remove from heat and stir in the 4 cups of cheddar cheese. Pour over the noodles and stir gently to combine.
- Place half of the noodle and cheese mixture into the aluminum pan.
- Sprinkle with 1 1/2 cups of the cheese mix and more of the rub.
- Add remaining noodles and sprinkle with the remaining cheese mix.
- Add more rub and all of the crumbled bacon.
- Place on the smoker and smoke for 2-3 hours depending on how smoky you want it.
- Remove and let rest at least 30 minutes (good luck with waiting that long!) before slicing and serving.