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How to Make Smoked Mac and Cheese on a Traeger Pellet Grill

Learn how to make smoked mac and cheese on a Traeger Pellet Grill!

We take you step-by-step through what ingredients and cookware you’ll need, preparation, setting up your Traeger pellet grill, and smoking the macaroni and cheese to perfection!

traeger smoked mac and cheese

Smoked Macaroni and Cheese is a great side dish that most people love with their BBQ, and believe it or not, is pretty easy to make, especially on a Traeger pellet grill.

You can smoke right alongside your Traeger smoked beef brisket, pork butt, ribs, or chicken!

Even if you’ve only ever made macaroni and cheese from a little blue box, we’ve got you covered with step by step instructions and a list of what you’ll need to make the best Traeger Smoked Mac and Cheese!

 

What you Need to Make Smoked Mac and Cheese on a Traeger Pellet Grill

Utopia Kitchen 12.5 Inch Pre-Seasoned Cast iron Skillet - Frying Pan - Safe Grill Cookware for indoor & Outdoor Use - Cast Iron Pan

 

A Cast Iron Skillet

In order to make really great smoked mac and cheese on your Traeger pellet grill, you will preferably need a 12-inch cast iron skillet to smoke it in.

When it comes to using cast iron, like we do for our Traeger smoked baked beans, we like anything from Lodge, such as this Lodge 12 inch skillet for smoked mac and cheese.

It’s already pre-seasoned and has the nice high sides to keep all that bubbly smoked mac and cheese contained on your Traeger.

The best part is you can bring it right from the Traeger to the table and serve directly from the cast iron skillet!

 

A Large Stock Pot

You will also need a standard large pasta pot to boil the macaroni “al dente” in water before you add it to the cheese mixture in the cast iron pan and put it in the Traeger.

 

A Cheese Grater

Our #1 tip for making smoked mac and cheese on your Traeger would be to grate your own blocks of cheese rather than buying “pre-shredded” cheese.

Pre-shredded cheese, while convenient, is coated in cellulose to keep it from clumping together in the package.

Unfortunately, this also keeps the cheese from melting as easily and from absorbing moisture and smoky flavor in the Traeger.

This is exactly the opposite of what we want to happen so make sure to grate your own cheese!

If you need a good cheese grater we are fans of this rotary style one from Zulay.

Its makes quick and easy work of grating large amounts of cheese and you don’t risk scrapping for finger tips off!

 

Ingredients

Lastly, you’ll need your ingredients to make the Traeger smoked mac and cheese.

smoked mac and cheese ingredients

You don’t need the fanciest cheese in the store by any means but don’t buy the cheapest stuff either or it may not melt as easily.

We like to use a combination of cheddar and gouda for a classic, melty, mac and cheese flavor.

Again, make sure to buy whole blocks you can shred yourself.  And don’t skip the mustard powder, it really does make a difference!

If you are in the crowd of folks that like breadcrumbs on their smoked mac and cheese, we use a simple mix of Panko breadcrumbs and butter but also like to mix in a little bit of our favorite BBQ rub, Three Little Pigs to give it some extra BBQ flavor.

Smoked Mac and Cheese

  • 1 lb Elbow Macaroni Noodles
  • 1/2 Cup Salted Butter
  • 4 Tbsp Flour
  • 1 Tbsp Mustard Powder
  • 1 Cup Half and Half
  • 1 Cup Whole Milk
  • 4 oz Cream Cheese
  • 2 Cups grated Cheddar Cheese
  • 2 Cups grated Gouda
  • 1/2 Cup shredded Parmesan

Topping (Optional)

 

How to Make Smoked Pig Shots
How to Make Smoked Pig Shots

The Best Wood Pellets for Smoking Mac and Cheese on a Traeger Pellet Grill

Smoked Mac and Cheese, being a relatively wet side dish like a chili or soup, will absorb a lot of smoke very quickly.

So make sure to choose a either a mild fruitwood pellet like apple, cherry, and peach, or another milder smoking wood like pecan, oak or alder.

a hand holding wood pellets

You can use hickory if you like that flavor, but stay away from mesquite unless you blend it with another type of pellet.

Hopefully if you are already using a milder wood for your main protein you can just continue using the same pellets for your smoked mac and cheese.

For the best results, store your unused pellets in a sealed room temperature container like this 20 lb pellet container rather than in the Traeger hopper outside.

Traeger pellets do not last forever, but will definitely last a LOT longer if stored indoors in a quality airtight container.

 

How a Traeger Pellet Grill Works

the traeger ironwood 885

In order to cook ANYTHING well on a Traeger pellet grill, you need to first have a basic understanding of how a pellet grill works.

***Completely New to Using a Traeger Pellet Grill?  No Worries!****

We’ve previously covered how to start a Traeger, how to season a Traeger, how to change the pellets in a Traeger, amd even how to troubleshoot a Traeger that won’t ignite.

We also recently compared our two favorite Traeger models head to head if you’re in the market for a new Traeger or to upgrade your old one.

Or hop over and check out this Complete Guide to Understanding How a Pellet Grill Works first if you are interested in learning more.

Otherwise, if you already know your Traeger inside and out, skip down to the recipe below!

 

Add your Hardwood Pellets

First, you add hardwood pellets into the side hopper.

The Traeger pellet grill automatically feeds these small wood pellets via an auger mechanism to a fire pot where they are burned up, providing both heat and smokey flavor.

wood pellets in a traeger grill

The pellet grill automatically controls the flow of pellets depending on your temperature setting so that you maintain an even temperature throughout the entire cook.

 

How to Start Up the Traeger

There is a specific start up process for the Traeger brand pellet grills you can read all about in depth here if you aren’t sure how to fire it up the first time.

Otherwise, here is the basic process for how to start a Traeger before throwing on your food:

  • Plug in the grill.
  • Flip the power switch to ON and turn the dial to “Smoke”.
  • You will hear the fan kick on and the auger start to move and begin to kick pellets into the fire pot.  Your fire rod will begin to heat up as well.pellets falling into fire pot
  • Leave the lid open for about 5-7 minutes until you start to see white billowing smoke come out of the grill.  This happens when the pellets are first igniting.a traeger grill starting to make smoke
  • Once a smoke is being produced, close the lid and change the temperature dial to your desired temperature setting.
  • Allow about 10-15 minutes to preheat the grill.
  • While you are waiting, make sure you’ve got the drip pan in place and the grease bucket hanging to catch any grease that comes out during the cook.  Use a grease bucket liner to minimize cleanup later.
  • Put your grates on if they aren’t already in place.
  • Using a good bristle free grill brush, clean off the grill grates if there is any leftover stuck on food from the last cook.
  • When the pellet grill comes up to temperature go ahead and put on your food!

Why Bristle Free Grill Brushes? 

Check out our Ultimate Guide to How to Keep your Family Safe by using ONLY Bristle Free Grill Brushes, along with a selection of some of our favorites!

How to Make Smoked Mac and Cheese on a Traeger Pellet Grill

Set the Temperature

The best temperature to smoke your mac and cheese on the Traeger  is going to be 225°F.

setting the traeger pellet grill to 225 degrees F

Thankfully this is the same temperature for a lot of “low and slow” BBQ such as pork, brisket, and ribs if you are already making one of those things.

The smoked mac and cheese will take about an hour to an hour and a half so plan accordingly to time it to finish at the same time your meat is finished resting.

Thankfully, in the cast iron pan the smoked mac and cheese will stay nice and hot for a long while even once you’ve taken it off the Traeger so you don’t have to be perfect!

 

Shred your Cheese and Prepare your Ingredients

Take the time first to shred and measure out all your cheese now and measure out your other ingredients.

Once you start making the cheese sauce you won’t have time to stop and shred each kind of cheese.

 

Cook the Macaroni “Al Dente”

You’ll need to bring your large pot of water to a boil and cook your elbow macaroni “al dente”, meaning still somewhat firm, before you add it to the cheese sauce in the cast iron skillet.

About 5-6 minutes cooking at a rolling boil should be enough.  Then drain the water very well and remove the macaroni from the heat.

The macaroni will finish cooking in the cheese sauce in the smoker.

 

Make the Cheese Sauce

While the water is coming up to a boil, you can heat your cast iron skillet over medium heat and melt the butter.

Then you will whisk in the flour until smooth (about 3-4 minutes) and then whisk in the mustard powder.

Whisk in the half and half and milk and bring to a slight boil.

Turn off the heat and stir in the cream cheese until smooth.

Then add your shredded cheeses, a little a time in small handfuls, whisking until smooth.

 

Add the Macaroni and the Topping

Once your cheese sauce is smooth and creamy (add more milk if its is too thick), add your drained “al dente” macaroni noodles and stir around until all the pasta is completely coated.

Mix together your melted butter, panko breadcrumbs and BBQ rub in a small bowl and sprinkle over the top of the macaroni and cheese if you wish.

 

Smoke the Mac and Cheese in the Traeger

Now it’s time to smoke your mac and cheese in the Traeger!

Carefully carry your cast iron skillet out to the Traeger pellet grill now preheated up to 225°F and put it in the smoker uncovered.

Let it cook for about 1 to 1.5 hours until the top is nice and brown and the sides are bubbling up.

 

Best Ways to Serve Traeger Smoked Mac and Cheese

The best part about smoking your Traeger Mac and Cheese in a cast iron pan is that you can bring the pan right to the table to serve out of when its finished!

Smoked mac and cheese goes great with brisket, pulled pork, ribs, chicken, salmon, lobster, Thanksgiving turkey, or any other dish you can think of!

If you want even more side dishes, make sure to also check out our Traeger corn on the cob, Traeger baked beans, smoked baked potatoes, asparagus, and cauliflower.

Or you can indulge in our famous sweet and smokey sweet potatoes to accompany your meal as well!

 

What Else Can I Smoke on my Traeger?

smoke coming out when seasoning a traeger pellet grill

So glad you asked!

Check out some of our other favorite recipes below that can all be easily modified for a Traeger if not done so already.

You’ve come to right place!

Pork

 

Beef

 

Seafood

 

Poultry

 

Lamb

 

Sides and Desserts

traeger smoked mac and cheese

Traeger Smoked Mac and Cheese

This delicious Traeger Smoked Mac and Cheese is cooked right in a cast iron skillet and is an easy side dish that everyone will love.
We show you how to prepare the ingredients, setup Traeger pellet grill, and smoke the macaroni and cheese to perfection!
No ratings yet
Prep Time 20 mins
Cook Time 1 hr
Total Time 1 hr 20 mins
Course Side Dish, Snack
Cuisine American, Australian, barbecue, BBQ, Holiday, Smoked, Thanksgiving, Vegetarian
Servings 8 people
Calories 750 kcal

Equipment

  • Traeger Pellet Grill
  • Wood Pellets preferably a fruitwood like apple or cherry
  • Large Pot with Pasta Strainer
  • 12 Inch Cast Iron Skillet
  • Cheese Grater

Ingredients
  

Macaroni and Cheese

  • 1 lb Elbow Macaroni Noodles
  • ½ cup Salted Butter
  • 4 tbsp Flour
  • 1 tbsp Mustard Powder
  • 1 cup Half and Half
  • 1 cup Whole Milk
  • 4 oz Cream Cheese
  • 2 Cups Cheddar Cheese grated
  • 2 Cups Gouda grated
  • ½ Cup Parmesan shredded

Breadcrumb Topping (optional)

  • 1 cup Panko Breadcrumbs
  • ¼ cup Melted Butter
  • 1 tbsp Three Little Pigs Kansas City Championship BBQ Rub or your favorite BBQ rub

Instructions
 

  • Take the time first to shred and measure out all your cheeses now and measure out your other ingredients.

Start the Traeger Pellet Grill

  • Remove the fire pot from the bottom of the Traeger and clean out any ashes left over from the last cook. Replace it and make sure it is secured in place with the clips on either side.
  • Load the hopper of the Traeger with your chosen wood pellets.
  • Turn on the Traeger and move the dial to the "Smoke" setting.
  • Leave the lid open for 5-7 minutes until you start seeing white billowing smoke stop coming out of the grill. This means the initial pellets are now ignited.
  • Place a disposable bucket liner in the grease bucket as well if you want to limit cleanup later.
  • Set the temperature on the control panel to 225° and close the lid.

Cook the Macaroni “Al Dente”

  • Bring at least 5 qts of water to a boil in a large pot and cook your elbow macaroni for 5-6 minutes at a rolling boil until it is “al dente”, meaning still somewhat firm.
    1 lb Elbow Macaroni Noodles
  • Drain the pasta water and set the macaroni aside off the heat.

Make the Cheese Sauce

  • While the water is coming up to a boil or macaroni is cooking, you can start to heat your cast iron skillet over medium heat and melt the butter.
    ½ cup Salted Butter
  • Whisk in the flour until smooth (about 3-4 minutes) and then whisk in the mustard powder.
    4 tbsp Flour, 1 tbsp Mustard Powder
  • Whisk in the half and half and milk and bring to gentle boil.  Turn off the heat and stir in the cream cheese until smooth.
    1 cup Half and Half, 1 cup Whole Milk, 4 oz Cream Cheese
  • Then add your shredded cheeses, a little at a time in small handfuls, whisking until smooth.
    2 Cups Cheddar Cheese, 2 Cups Gouda, ½ Cup Parmesan

Add the Macaroni and the Breadcrumb Topping

  • Once your cheese sauce is smooth and creamy (add more milk if its is too thick), add your drained “al dente” macaroni noodles and stir around until all the pasta is completely coated.
  • Mix together your melted butter, panko breadcrumbs and BBQ rub in a small bowl and sprinkle over the top of the macaroni and cheese if you wish.
    1 cup Panko Breadcrumbs, ¼ cup Melted Butter, 1 tbsp Three Little Pigs Kansas City Championship BBQ Rub

Smoke on the Traeger Pellet Grill

  • Carefully carry your (hot) cast iron skillet out to the Traeger pellet grill set to 225°F and put it right in the smoker uncovered. Close the lid.
  • Let it cook for about 1 to 1.5 hours uncovered until the top has browned and the sides are bubbling up.
  • When finished, you can serve to guests directly out of the cast iron pan!

Nutrition

Calories: 750kcal
Keyword barbecue, bbq, bbq mac and cheese, cast iron, cast iron mac and cheese, Grilled Mac and Cheese, Mac and Cheese in a Traeger, pellet grill, pellet grill mac and cheese, Skillet Mac and Cheese, smoked mac and cheese, smoked macaroni and cheese, Traeger Mac and Cheese, Traeger Macaroni and Cheese, Traeger Recipes, Traeger Smoked Mac and Cheese
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