This smoked mac and cheese recipe goes beyond the call of duty by including leftover smoked brisket and crispy fried onions on top! You have got to try this delicious creamy barbecue side.
Mac and Cheese is a staple in our house. We have 2 elementary age kids, so that previous statement probably goes without saying.
For years the kids wouldn’t touch anything besides the blue box however. They refused to eat homemade mac and cheese.
Apparently I’ve given them an appreciation for smoked foods though, because this recipe is THE ONLY homemade mac and cheese that they’ll eat. I mean, check out these reviews! Doesn’t this just say it all?
“This is the best mac and cheese I’ve ever eaten!”-Addison, age 9
“I want more mac and cheese.”-Ethan, age 6
While my kids are certainly the most common consumers of my smoked mac and cheese recipe, we’ve served this dish to plenty of adults as well and it’s always been a smashing success.
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Preparing Mac and Cheese for the Smoker
While your smoker is preheating, you’ll want to boil your pasta and begin preparing your cheese sauce. We like to remove the pasta from the water while it’s still a bit al dente since it still has about an hour to go in the smoker.
Next, you’re going to prepare a roux. Combine equal parts of butter and flour in the sauce pan and stir continuously until it has formed a thin paste and begins bubbling. This is what is going to thicken the cheese sauce.
Slowly stir in the milk with a whisk for a couple of minutes. When you notice it’s starting to thicken you can go ahead and add the sour cream, cheeses, and dry seasonings. Continue stirring until the cheese sauce is fully blended and the cheese is melted completely.
Then remove from the heat and add the pasta and chopped brisket and fold it all together. Transfer it all into your cast iron pan (prepared with cooking spray or a nice coat of butter).
Bread Crumb Topping
I’m a sucker for fried onions. So when my wife suggested adding this extra ingredient to our bread crumb topping I didn’t hesitate one bit. We combined equal parts of panko bread crumbs with the fried onion and added 3-4 TB of melted butter in to bring it all together. We didn’t do it for the video, but sometimes we also add in a 1/2 Tb. of our BBQ rub for another layer of flavor.
Sprinkle the crumb topping in an even layer over the top of the mac and cheese.
Tips for Smoking Brisket Mac & Cheese
- We typically smoke our Mac & Cheese in a cast iron pan but you could also use a disposable aluminum pan if you’d like. Is it me, or do things just taste better when cooked in cast iron?
- It’s better to take the time to shred the cheese yourself rather than buy pre-shredded cheese. It will make a big difference in how the cheese melts.
- Be creative. It doesn’t have to be leftover brisket. Smoked bacon or pulled pork would also be great to mix in to this dish. You could also be creative with the cheeses you use as well.
Smoked Mac and Cheese Recipe
Brisket Mac and Cheese
- 1/2 lb elbow macaroni cooked al dente
- 2 Tb butter
- 2 Tb flour
- 2 cups whole milk
- 1 cup sour cream
- 8 oz sharp cheddar cheese shredded
- 4 oz Monterey jack cheese shredded
- 4 oz mozzarella cheese shredded
- 1/2 tsp salt
- 1/4 tsp pepper
- 1/4 tsp garlic powder
- 1 cup smoked brisket chopped
- 1/2 cup panko bread crumbs
- 1/2 cup fried onions crushed
- 3 Tb butter melted
- Prepare your smoker to about 250 degrees.
- Cook pasta in boiling water according to box directions for al dente.
- Drain pasta and set aside. Return pot to the stove.
- Melt butter in the pot and stir in flour over medium heat. Stir it around for about 1 minute as it bubbles and comes together.
- Use a whisk to stir constantly, slowly add in the whole milk. Continue stirring for 2-3 minutes until the milk begins to slightly thicken.
- Add in the sour cream and continue whisking to combine.
- Add the three types of cheese and continue whisking until the cheese is all melted and thoroughly combined.
- Sprinkle in the salt, pepper and garlic powder and mix.
- Return the cooked pasta to the pot and stir to combine.
- Add the brisket to the mac and cheese and gently fold it in.
- Spray a cast iron pan with non-stick cooking spray.
- Carefully transfer the brisket mac and cheese to the cast iron pan.
- In a separate bowl, combine the panko bread crumbs, crushed fried onions and melted butter. Sprinkle this mixture over the top of the mac and cheese.
- Place the mac and cheese on a 250 degree smoker for 45 minutes to an hour.