The BEST recipe for Smoked Mac and Cheese combines cheddar cheese and smoked gouda to create an incredibly creamy sauce. It's topped with a deliciously crispy panko topping and has a wonderful smoky flavor from cooking on the smoker for an hour.
Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil on the stove.
Add the macaroni noodles and cook 1-2 minutes less than the package directions, until al dente.
Drain the noodles and set aside.
Preheat a smoker to 225°F.
Place a 12 inch cast iron skillet on the stove over medium heat.
Add 1/4 cup unsalted butter.
Once melted, add the flour and whisk with the butter to form a roux, then stir in the mustard powder, salt, pepper and hot sauce.
Slowly pour in the half and half and bring to a gentle boil.
Add the cream cheese and stir consistently until it’s melted and the sauce is smooth.
Turn the heat on the stove to medium-low and stir in the shredded cheddar and smoked gouda cheese.
Stir consistently until the sauce is smooth and creamy.
Turn the heat off on the stove and stir in the cooked macaroni noodles.
In a small bowl, melt the ¼ butter for the topping, then stir in the panko bread crumbs and steak seasoning.
Sprinkle this mixture evenly over the mac and cheese in the skillet.
Place the skillet of mac and cheese in the smoker for 1 hour.
If you don't have a smoker, this recipe can be baked in the oven at 350°F for 30 minutes. If you want to toast the breadcrumb topping at the end, place it under the broiler on high for 2-3 minutes.
You can also cook it on a grill over medium heat for 20-30 minutes.
If you don't have a cast iron skillet, prepare the mac and cheese in any skillet or pot on the stove, then transfer it to an aluminum foil pan and top it with the breadcrumb topping. An aluminum pan is safe to use in the oven, on the grill or in the smoker.
To make a thinner cheese sauce, add 1/2 cup milk to the cheese sauce, along with the half and half.
I recommend using apple, cherry, maple or pecan wood to smoke the mac and cheese.
Do not smoke the mac and cheese for longer than an hour or it will dry out the cheese sauce and the noodles will get overcooked.