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smoked mac and cheese

Smoked Mac and Cheese with Gouda and Caramelized Onions

Summer Yule
Trust me, you NEED my smoked mac and cheese recipe with gouda and caramelized onions. Smoke indoors in 15 minutes (at temp) with a stovetop smoker!
5 from 3 votes
Prep Time 45 mins
Cook Time 15 mins
Total Time 1 hr
Course Dinner
Cuisine Italian
Servings 4
Calories 1074 kcal



  • Important! I highly recommend reading the accompanying post before you begin. It includes some important information on the ingredients and equipment needed that you are not going to want to miss.
  • Grate the Gouda and cheddar. Set aside.
  • Thinly slice the sweet onion. Heat olive oil in a cast iron skillet over medium-low heat and add onions. Slowly caramelize the onions, stirring occasionally so they do not burn. It will take 45-60 minutes for them to fully caramelize.
  • Cook your macaroni according to the box directions, subtracting 3 minutes from the cooking time. (For example, my noodles have a package cook time of 10 minutes, so I cooked them for 7.) It is important to undercook them because they will continue to absorb moisture in the smoker. Drain them and set aside.
  • Now it's time to work on the cheese sauce. Melt the butter into the flour in a small saucepan over medium heat. Whisk frequently and don’t let it brown! 
  • Whisk the milk into the saucepan a little at time so there are no lumps. Sprinkle in the black pepper. 
  • Let this milk mixture thicken over medium heat for 10-15 minutes, whisking often. Don’t let it burn! (It will burn if you don't tend to it. Trust me. lol)
  • Remove the saucepan from the heat (the mixture will still be a little thin). Immediately stir in the Gouda and 8 ounces (227 grams) of the cheddar. (Set the remaining 2 ounces/57 grams of cheddar aside.)
  • The cheese should fully melt into the sauce and be thick enough to coat a spoon. Check out the recipe video below to see the right consistency and how it forms cheese strings.
  • Spray your 8-inch by 8-inch (20x20 cm) disposable pan well with cooking spray. Make sure you have the right size pan. Otherwise, it may not fit in the smoker!
  • Put half of the macaroni in the prepared pan. Stir half of the cheese sauce into the macaroni in the pan. It will look very liquid, and this is OK.
  • Layer all of the caramelized onions evenly on top of the noodles in the pan. 
  • Stir the remaining pasta and cheese sauce together. The cheese sauce should have had time by now to thicken and cool more, so it should not be so liquid. Layer these cheesy noodles on top of the onions, completely covering them. I was able to fit everything in the pan. Leave a little of the noodle mixture out if needed.
  • Sprinkle the grated Parm cheese and the 2 ounces (57 ounces) of grated smoked cheddar on top of the pan.
  • Prep the smoker by filling it with 2-3 tablespoons of chips. I recommend using a wood chip with subtle flavors, such as apple chips. Add the drip pan and smoking tray. We will be dry smoking the mac and cheese, so no additional liquid is needed. 
  • Put your pan of mac and cheese in the smoker, on top of the smoking tray. Put the lid on the smoker. 
  • Ensure the smoker's thermometer is attached properly and the lid vent is closed. Turn your stovetop vent fan on. I also like to throw open a few windows when using the indoor smoker. 
  • Put the covered smoker on a large stovetop burner and turn the heat to medium-low. Allow the temperature to come to 190°F (88°C). (Give it time!) 
  • Once the temperature comes to 190°F (88°C), set a timer to smoke the mac and cheese for 15 minutes. Make sure that the smoker stays in the 190°F-210°F (88°C-99°C) range for the entire smoking period.  
  • Open the vent on the smoker lid or adjust the stovetop’s heat if needed to keep the smoker in the 190°F-210°F (88°C-99°C) temperature range.
  • After the smoking time is up, turn off the stovetop and remove the pan of mac and cheese. Sprinkle the pork panko or crushed pork rinds on top. Enjoy!


This is a level 3 recipe (weight maintenance and active lifestyles). The nutrition information for this recipe is for a “real” portion, rather than what it “should” be for most sedentary adults. You know me, I keep it real. (And TBH, sometimes my husband eats twice this in a sitting, so I know even this may be an underestimate.) 
Even though this recipe is whole grain, the gobs of cheese means this is a high-energy food. The amount of fat and non-fiber carbs here packs a lot of calories into a relatively small volume. That, combined with the relatively low protein to energy ratio, means you may find this dish pretty easy to overeat! 
If your goal is weight loss, that might not be the best thing. On the other hand, this creamy smoked mac and cheese is a really delish option for weight gain. I think even picky eaters will have a hard time resisting this one. 
If you wanted to increase the protein, you could swap a legume pasta for the whole grain pasta. There are chickpea pastas and lentil pastas out there that taste very similar to wheat pastas. Legume pasta tends to have higher protein and fewer non-fiber carbs than its classic counterparts. 
To make low carb smoked mac and cheese, you could experiment with this low carb elbow macaroni pasta. With 100 calories and 7 grams of net carbs per serving, this is a lower calorie pasta. However, (assuming that most of us eat more than one serving of pasta) it’s not a keto-friendly option. 

 Oven Directions

If you don't have a smoker, try baking the mac and cheese in an oven preheated to 375F for 30 minutes. Put the pan in the top third of the oven. Sprinkle the pork panko on after baking.
Warning: I have not tested this recipe in the oven, but I've made similar mac and cheese recipes at this time and temp.
Nutrition information is for one (generous!) serving of the recipe. 


Calories: 1074kcalCarbohydrates: 82.4gProtein: 44.6gFat: 62gSaturated Fat: 35.5gSodium: 992.4mgFiber: 3.8gVitamin A: 40.3% DVVitamin C: 4.8% DVCalcium: 102.6% DVIron: 7% DV
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