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!
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.
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
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.
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!
Lastly, you’ll need your ingredients to make the Traeger smoked mac and cheese.
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
- 1 Cup Panko Bread Crumbs
- 1/4 Cup melted Salted Butter
- 1 Tbsp Three Little Pigs Kansas City Championship BBQ Rub
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.
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
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 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.
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.
- 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.
- 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.
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!
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?
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!
- Traeger Baby Back Ribs
- Traeger Smoked Pulled Pork
- Traeger 3-2-1 Pork Ribs
- Traeger Smoked Pork Loin
- Traeger Smoked Pork Spare Ribs
- Pellet Grill Smoked Pork Chops
- Pellet Grilled Bratwurst
- Gas Grilled Bratwurst
- Smoked Fresh Holiday Ham
- Spiral Sliced Smoked Hot Dogs
- Smoked Bratwurst with Beer Braised Onions
- Roasted Pig in Your Backyard
- Traeger Smoked Prime Rib
- Traeger Beef Tenderloin with Horseradish Cream
- Traeger Smoked Beef Brisket
- Traeger Smoked Chuck Roast
- Traeger Smoked Pot Roast
- Traeger Smoked Beef Short Ribs
- Perfect Smoked London Broil
- Smoked Ribeye Roast
- Smoked Corned Beef
- Smoked Ribeye Steaks
- Smoked Filet Mignon
- Hot and Fast Pellet Grill Beef Brisket
- Pellet Grilled Steak
- Perfect Grilled Hamburgers
- Smoked Eye of Round Roast Beef
- Easy Smoked Flank Steak
- Smoked Tomahawk Steaks
- Smoked Bottom Round Roast
- Smoked Sirloin Tip Roast
- Smoked Rump Roast
- Traeger Smoked Salmon
- Honey Smoked Salmon
- Smoked Oysters in a Garlic White Wine Sauce
- Smoked Scallops with Lemon Butter Sauce
- Smoked Lobster Tails
- Easy Smoked Tilapia
- Perfect Smoked Halibut
- Smoked Mahi Mahi Fillets
- Smoked Swordfish Steaks
- Smoked Crab Legs with Cajun Clarified Butter
- Smoked Mackerel with Maple Balsamic Glaze
- Smoked Catfish with Cajun BBQ Rub
- Smoked Red Snapper with Blackening Rub
- Smoked Trout
- Smoked Tuna Steaks
- Traeger Smoked Whole Chicken
- Traeger Smoked Chicken Thighs
- Traeger Smoked Chicken Breasts
- Traeger Smoked Chicken Legs
- Traeger Smoked Chicken Wings
- Smoked Turkey Burgers
- Smoked Boneless Skinless Chicken Thighs
- Smoked Chicken Tenders
- Smoked Chicken Leg Quarters
- Beer Can Chicken on a Pellet Grill
- Spatchcocked Chicken on a Pellet Grill
- Pellet Grill Smoked Turkey Breast
- Pellet Grill Turkey
- Easy Smoked Turkey Legs
- Spatchcocked Smoked Turkey on a Pellet Grill
- Smoked Chicken Salad
- Trash Can Turkey – OK, technically not made on a grill or smoker but one of the most fun ways there is to cook a Turkey…at over 700 degrees in only 2 hours!
- Smoked Leg of Lamb with Guinness Marinade
- Smoked Lamb Chops with a Balsamic Butter Sauce
- Smoked Rack of Lamb with Garlic and Rosemary or Smoker
- Smoked and Pulled Lamb Shoulder with a Turkish Spice Rub
- Smoked Lamb Shanks
Sides and Desserts
- Traeger Smoked Baked Beans
- Traeger Smoked Corn on the Cob
- Smoked Potato Salad
- Smoked Baked Potatoes
- Smoked Twice Baked Potatoes
- Smoked Asparagus
- Easy Smoked Broccoli
- Smoked Cauliflower
- Smoked Green Beans
- Sticky Smoked Sweet Potatoes
- Smoked Pineapple in a Maple Bourbon Sauce
- Smoked Carrots with a Honey Balsamic Glaze
- Smoked Hard Boiled Eggs
- Smoked Deviled Eggs
- Smoked Egg Salad
- Smoked Cream Cheese
- Smoked Cream Cheese Dip with Bacon and Cheddar
- Smoked Pig Shots
- Smoked Jalapeno Poppers
- Smoked Garlic
- Frozen Pizza on a Pellet Grill
- How to Steam Tamales
- Masterbuilt Smoked Cheese
- Smoked Gouda Cheese
- Smoked Peaches
- Smoked Peach Cobbler
Traeger Smoked Mac and Cheese
- Traeger Pellet Grill
- Wood Pellets preferably a fruitwood like apple or cherry
- Large Pot with Pasta Strainer
- 12 Inch Cast Iron Skillet
- Cheese Grater
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
- 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!