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Smoked Mac and Cheese (without a smoker)

You can have delicious smoked mac and cheese without a smoker in just 45 minutes. This recipe combines smoked cheese, smoked paprika, and an easy DIY smoking method without the need for a smoker.

Smoked mac and cheese on a plate.

Step by Step Video Instructions


Macaroni: Use whichever type of macaroni you prefer; I used elbow macaroni as it catches the sauce and crispy bacon well.

Smoked Cheese: Choose a smoked cheese that suits your taste, such as smoked gouda or cheddar.

Cream Cheese: This adds a luxurious creaminess to the sauce, enhancing the texture and richness.

Bacon or Guanciale: You can use either bacon or guanciale, which adds flavor and crispy chunks to this dish. The fat is rendered and used to make the white sauce instead of butter, adding more flavor.

Flour: Works with the bacon fat to create a roux, thickening the sauce for a velvety texture that clings to the macaroni.

Milk: Provides the liquid base for the cheese sauce, providing creaminess. Whole milk is preferred for its richness, but 2% can be used for a lighter version.

Nutmeg: A pinch of nutmeg enhances the cheese sauce with its warm, nutty flavor, complementing the smokiness of the cheese.

Breadcrumbs or Panko: Optional for topping, they add a crispy texture to the dish when baked, offering a delightful contrast to the creamy macaroni beneath.

Parmesan: Optional for mixing with breadcrumbs for the topping; it adds a salty, nutty flavor that elevates the crunchy topping.

Smoked mac and cheese on a plate.

Expert Tips

Infusing Smoke Without a Smoker: To infuse your mac and cheese with a smoky flavor without a traditional smoker, carefully place hot charcoal in a heat-proof bowl, and set it in the center of your mac and cheese. Drizzle a bit of guanciale fat over the charcoal and cover immediately for 30 minutes. This method adds a slightly smokey flavor that isn’t overpowering. If you like a strong smokey flavor, leave it to infuse for 45 to 60 minutes.

Adjusting Sauce Consistency: If you find your mac and cheese sauce is too thick after combining all the ingredients, you can easily adjust the consistency by stirring in additional milk a little at a time.

Storage and Leftovers

If you have any Smoked Mac and Cheese left over, let it cool to room temperature before transferring it to an airtight container. It can be refrigerated for up to 3 days.

When you’re ready to enjoy your smoked mac and cheese again, the easiest way to reheat it is in the microwave. Place the desired amount in a microwave-safe dish, cover it, and heat for 2 minutes on medium power. Mix, then continue to heat in 30-60 second intervals, stirring in between, until thoroughly hot.

Mac and cheese in a baking dish.


Can I freeze Smoked Mac and Cheese?

Yes, smoked mac and cheese freezes well. Cool it completely, then transfer it to an airtight container. Freeze for up to 3 months. Thaw in the refrigerator overnight before reheating.

Can I make this mac and cheese without meat?

Yes, you can easily make this smoked mac and cheese meat-free. Simply substitute the guanciale or bacon fat with 2 oz (approximately 55g) of butter to make the roux.

What’s the best way to heat up the charcoal?

The best way to heat up charcoal for infusing smoke into the mac and cheese is by using a stovetop burner. Place the charcoal directly over the flame until it starts to smoke and parts have become white. This indicates it’s hot enough to produce smoke for flavoring the dish. Always handle hot charcoal with large metal tongs and with caution.

More Mac and Cheese Recipes You May Like:

Smoked mac and cheese on a plate.

Smoked Mac and Cheese (without a smoker)

You can have delicious smoked mac and cheese without a smoker in just 45 minutes. This recipe combines smoked cheese, smoked paprika, and an easy DIY smoking method without the need for a smoker.
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Prep Time 10 minutes
Cook Time 20 minutes
Smoking Time 15 minutes
Total Time 45 minutes
Course Main Course
Cuisine American
Servings 2
Calories 1253 kcal


  • 100 g Bacon or Guanciale diced
  • 200 g Macaroni
  • 200 g Smoked Cheese grated
  • 530 ml Milk (2 ¼ cups)
  • A pinch of Nutmeg
  • ½ tsp Salt or to taste
  • ½ tsp Pepper
  • 2 tbsp Bacon Fat
  • 2 tbsp Flour
  • 1 tbsp Cream Cheese
  • ¼ cup Bread Crumbs or Panko optional
  • Parmesan optional


  • Cook Pasta: In a large pot of boiling water, cook the pasta as per package instructions; then drain and set aside.
  • Cook Guanciale: In a large deep sauté pan or pot over medium heat, cook the guanciale until crispy. Remove the guanciale from the pan. Carefully pour off the rendered fat, leaving about 2 tablespoons in the pan.
  • Make Roux: Add flour to the pan with the bacon fat. Cook for 2 minutes, stirring occasionally to form a roux.
  • Prepare Cheese Sauce: Gradually stir in the milk to avoid lumps, then bring the mixture to a gentle simmer to thicken. Turn down the heat to very low and add nutmeg and smoked paprika. Gradually mix in the smoked cheese until fully incorporated, followed by the cream cheese. Season with salt.
  • Combine: Stir the crispy guanciale and cooked pasta into the cheese sauce until evenly coated.
  • Smoke Flavor Infusion: Place a small heat-resistant bowl at the center of the mac and cheese. Add hot charcoal to the bowl, drizzle a teaspoon of reserved guanciale fat over the charcoal. Quickly cover the pan with a lid and let it sit to infuse smoke for 10-15 minutes. Stir the mac and cheese once more after the smoking process, ensuring the flavors are well blended.
  • Optional Baking: For a crispy top, transfer the mac and cheese to a baking dish. Sprinkle with panko breadcrumbs and additional grated parmesan. Bake in a preheated oven until the top is golden and crispy.
  • Serve hot.


Calories: 1253kcalCarbohydrates: 97gProtein: 49gFat: 73gSaturated Fat: 35gPolyunsaturated Fat: 6gMonounsaturated Fat: 23gTrans Fat: 0.1gCholesterol: 172mgSodium: 1675mgPotassium: 811mgFiber: 3gSugar: 17gVitamin A: 1458IUVitamin C: 0.5mgCalcium: 1017mgIron: 2mg
Keyword Smoked Mac and Cheese, Smoked mac and cheese without a smoker
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