We've taken it up a notch with creamy gouda, sharp white cheddar, salty parmesan, smooth mozzarella, and cream cheese combined in this decadent Smoked White Shells and Cheese. Start this recipe on the stove top and finish on the smoker for a deep and rich smokey flavor. Topped with bacon for a salty bite, this is not your mama's mac and cheese.
What Is Smoked White Shells and Cheese?
Smoked White Shells and Cheese is a twist on the classic macaroni and cheese dish. We've swapped shell pasta for the macaroni and used 5 cheeses for a sharp bite. Rather than baking in an oven we are cooking it on the smoker! Pellet grills, like the Camp Chef Woodwind, cook at a low temperature and act almost like a flavorful oven, so cooking mac and cheese on your pellet grill works perfectly.
What Do I Need To Make Smoked Shells and Cheese?
If One Cheese is Good - Five Cheeses Are Better. I wanted this recipe to have a full depth of flavor, so I've included five cheeses. I have a love for white cheddar and shells - so I chose pale cheeses that compliment each other. For this recipe - you'll need:
- white pepper
- white cheddar
- cream cheese
- medium shell pasta
- cooked bacon
Pro Tip: Grate your own cheese. Avoid the pre-shredded cheese for this recipe. Most contain added ingredients that will create a gritty texture in your sauce.
How Do I Make It?
Start On The Stovetop
- Melt butter in a dutch oven over medium low heat.
- Add flour.
- Whisk until well combined and fragrance is nutty.
- Add milk while continuously whisking, and whisk until smooth.
- Add cream cheese and stir until melted and full incorporated.
- Stir in salt and pepper.
- Add mozzarella, white cheddar, parmesan and gouda.
- Stir until melted and smooth.
Finish On The Smoker
- Cook shell pasta according to package directions until al dente. Drain.
- Add pasta to your cheese sauce.
- Gently toss to combine.
- Transfer to a greased cast iron skillet.
- Level your noodles in the pan.
- Smoke at 225 degrees for 20 minutes.
- Stir gently. Smoke an additional 10-15 minutes.
- Add cooked bacon to the top.
Pro Tip: Use a cast iron skillet to smoke your smoked mac and cheese. Smoking will not damage cast iron.
How Long Do You Smoke Mac and Cheese?
Using a pellet grill allows you to cook at a low temperature while infusing your food with the flavor of your chosen pellets. Here I've used oak pellets, but feel free to use your favorite! Each wood pellet has a unique note. For this shells and cheese you only need to smoke about 35-40 minutes to get a nice smoked flavor without drying our your dish.
Can I Use Pre-Shredded Cheese?
Grate your own cheese. Avoid the pre-shredded cheese for this recipe. Most contain added ingredients that will create a gritty texture in your sauce.
What type of baking dish should I use?
Use a cast iron skillet to smoke your smoked mac and cheese. Smoking will not damage cast iron.
What If I Don't Have A Smoker?
You can make this dish in the oven! Simply bake for 15 minutes after you transfer your shells and cheese to the skillet. Top with bacon and serve.
What Does Al Dente Mean?
I mention cooking just shy of al dente in this recipe. Al dente describes pasta or rice that is cooked to be firm to the bite.
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Smoked White Shells and Cheese
- ¼ cup butter
- ¼ cup flour
- 3 cups milk
- 8 ounces cream cheese
- 1 teaspoon white pepper
- ½ tsp salt
- 2 cups white cheddar shredded
- 1 cup mozzarella shredded
- 1 cup gouda shredded
- ½ cup parmesan shredded
- 4 pieces bacon cooked and crumbled
- 1 lb medium shell pasta cooked al dente according package directions
- In a dutch oven, melt butter.
- Add flour and whisk until well combined and fragrant.
- Stir in milk and continue whisking until thickened.
- Add cream cheese, whisk until smooth. Add salt and pepper and stir to combine.
- Add white cheddar, mozzarella, gouda, and parmesan. Whisk until smooth.
- Add pasta and gently toss until combined.
- Transfer to a cast iron skillet.
- Smoke at 300 degrees for 20 minutes. Stir shells and cheese and smoke an additional 15 minutes.
- Top with crumbled bacon.
- Serve immediately.