Smoked Pimento Mac and Cheese is an elevated Mac and Cheese dish you’ll want to make for all your friends. Using three types of cheese, some diced pimentos, and a zippy bread crumb topping – AND smoking it – makes this a five-star recipe for my personal recipe testers. TRY IT next time you light your grill!
Smoker Mac and Cheese
Mac and Cheese HEAVEN. This version was created by my son, Josh, who happens to be a grilling extraordinaire. His grill is an actual member of his family of four (Josh, Tiffany, Luca the Labrador, and his Weber grill).
When he visits, he gets the reins of our Big Green Egg and says grilling is FUN, which is a very good thing. We get to reap the benefits of his skills – meat, meat, and more meat! 😀 Stay tuned for some of those recipes too!
We save Josh’s Mac and Cheese for big-eatin’ days or special occasions. It’s hearty and indulgent, and every creamy bite will make you excited for the next delicious bite. I promise.
If you are into smoked meats, this is an easy answer for you. After the meat comes off the grill (or during, if you have a large grill/smoker) place the skillet of pimento Mac and cheese right on the grates and let it cook. The smoky grill will act like an oven, but will also infuse a smoky flavor into the pasta.
Pro-Tip: We love using our large cast iron skillet on the grill (cleans up nicely), but if you want easy, use a disposable tin instead.
Ingredients needed for Smoked Pimento Mac and Cheese:
- Pasta – I used one pound of Cellentani pasta. You could use any shape or size of pasta you prefer.
- Butter – Use 1/4 pound of unsalted butter. This is the start of the roux.
- Flour – The all-purpose flour helps to thicken the roux.
- Milk – I used 2% milk for this recipe. You could use any dairy except skim milk.
- Seasonings – Salt, pepper, and ground mustard are the perfect seasonings.
- Cream Cheese – About 6 oz. of cream cheese light makes this Mac and Cheese SO creamy.
- Shredded Cheese – Be sure to freshly grate your cheese. I used sharp cheddar and gruyere.
- Pimentos – One small jar of diced pimentos, strained.
The Bread Crumb Topping is key to this unbelievably delicious recipe. A simple combo of Panko bread crumbs, melted butter, brown sugar, kosher salt, garlic powder, paprika, and cayenne pepper. This should NOT be skipped.
How to make Smoked Pimento Mac and Cheese:
- Prepare grill/smoker. Light a charcoal grill (or a smoker) to about 250 degrees. Place some pecan wood chips (or wood chips of your choice) in with the charcoal.
- Boil pasta. In a medium stock pot, cook your pasta in some simmering, salty water. Remove when al dente, and strain.
- Make the roux. Meanwhile make the roux. In a large cast iron skillet (see link below), melt the butter over medium heat. Then add the flour and stir constantly, making sure the flour is completely absorbed in the butter. Then add the milk, salt, pepper, and mustard powder, and whisk, turning up the heat. Bring mixture to a boil and cook until thickened, about 5 minutes or so.
- Add the cheese. Turn down the heat to low, and add the cream cheese (light), and both types of shredded cheese.. Stir until the cheese is completely melted.
- Add back the pasta and pimentos. Next, add the cooked pasta and pimentos to the skillet, and stir well.
- Spread the topping on top. Combine the topping ingredients, and spread evenly over the prepared pasta.
- Place on the smoker. Place skillet on the grill, close lid, and let the Mac and Cheese cook for about an hour on 250 degrees.
Frequently Asked Questions:
- What’s special about smoked mac and cheese? Using a grill with wood chips adds INCREDIBLE flavor to mac and cheese. Smoky, cheesy, creamy, and delicious!
- Is there a secret to creamy macaroni and cheese? Yes, using a roux (equal parts butter and flour) and then enough dairy (I used three cups of 2% milk) helps make it creamy. The other secret to this recipe is using some cream cheese as well as lots of cheese!
- What’s the best cheese combo for mac and cheese? I prefer sharp cheddar and gruyere, but it’s really up to personal tastes. No matter what cheese you use, make sure to FRESHLY grate it. Some of the packaged pre-shredded cheese has a coating on it and it won’t melt all the way.
- How long is it safe to eat leftovers? You can safely eat leftovers for up to four days. However, this NEVER lasts that long!
Ideas for main courses to serve this with:
I could make a meal of Mac and Cheese, most definitely. But if you are searching for a good main course to make too, I’ve gotcha covered.
Smoked Pimento Mac and Cheese
For the Mac & Cheese:
- 1 pound cellentani pasta – or other pasta shape of your choice
- 1/4 cup unsalted butter
- 1/4 cup all-purpose flour
- 3 cups 2% milk
- kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper – to taste
- 1 Tablespoon mustard powder
- 6 oz. cream cheese light
- 2 cups sharp cheddar cheese – shredded
- 2 cups gruyere cheese – shredded
- 4 oz. diced pimentos – strained
For the bread crumb topping:
- 3/4 cup Panko bread crumbs
- 2 Tablespoons unsalted butter – melted
- 1 Tablespoon brown sugar
- 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
- 1 teaspoon garlic powder
- 1 1/2 teaspoon paprika
- 1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper
- Light a charcoal grill to about 250 degrees. Place some pecan wood chips in with the charcoal.
- In a medium stock pot, cook the pasta in some salted, boiling water until al dente. Remove and strain.
- In a large cast iron skillet (12-inch is best), melt the butter over medium heat. Then add the flour and stir constantly, fully absorbing into the butter. Then add the milk, salt, pepper, and mustard powder, and stir. Turn heat up slightly and bring to a rolling simmer, and cook until thickened.
- Then add the cream cheese light, and both cheeses. Stir until the cheese is completly melted and creamy. Add the cooked pasta and the diced pimentos. Stir well to coat.
- Meanwhile, combine the bread crumb topping ingredients – the Panko, melted butter, brown sugar, salt, garlic powder, paprika, and cayenne pepper. Mix well, and then sprinkle over the top of the finished mac and cheese.
- Place the cast iron skillet on the charcoal grill and close the lid, keeping the heat at around 250 degrees. Cook for one hour.