Mac gets a makeover—everyone’s favorite childhood pasta is all grown-up with this smoked gouda mac and cheese. Tender al dente pasta is smothered in a super creamy, velvety cheese sauce then is topped with a buttery, crunchy crumb topping. Creamy and comforting—it’s just so gouda! My son-in-law says this is the best mac and cheese he’s ever had! That’s incredibly high praise because he used to be a chef!
Smoked Gouda Mac And Cheese With Bacon
I’ll say it. Smoked Gouda is my favorite cheese. I love the depth of flavor— and dare I say sophistication that it brings to this classic comfort dish. I bought a Costco-sized portion of gouda while developing this recipe.
Smoked gouda makes a great snack and a great mac— we all kept going back for one more bite. And I kept going back to the store for more and more gouda. The smoky flavor is subtle and makes this mac taste extra special.
Make it and you’ll see what I mean. Just as easy, cheesy, and delicious as the classic—meet your new favorite Mac.
Of course, everything is better with bacon, and this dish in no exception! Bacon adds just the right amount of smokiness to enhance the mildly smoked gouda. All this delicious flavor without having to buy a smoker!
Make the mac and cheese of your dreams with any of my favorite macaroni and cheese recipes—easy crock pot mac and cheese, stovetop mac and cheese, Pioneer Woman mac and cheese, or take it to the max with my amazing chili mac.
Go On, It’s Gouda For You! (I know…sorry…too cheesy??) Let’s make some mac and cheese!
What Does Gouda Taste Like?
Smoked Gouda has many complex layers of flavors. Of course, it’s wonderfully rich and smokey but it’s also nutty and has almost caramel-like notes.
Is Gouda A Good Melting Cheese For Mac And Cheese?
Yes, it melts fabulously! When melted, it’s super creamy so it’s absolutely perfect for mac and cheese.
Ingredient You’ll Need For Smoked Gouda Mac And Cheese Recipe
- Unsalted Butter
- Panko Bread Crumbs
- Parmesan Cheese
- Thyme Leaves
- Whole Milk
- Dijon Mustard
- Ground Nutmeg
- Black Pepper
- Cayenne Pepper
- Cream Cheese
- Gouda Cheese
- Elbow Pasta
Tips + Tricks
Cook Pasta Properly: To do so, cook one pound of pasta in 5 quarts of water. Add 2 tablespoons of salt. Don’t skip the salt! It flavors the pasta as it cooks and that’s important to the finished dish. Do not add any oil.
Make sure you bring the water to a rolling boil, then add the pasta. Stir the pasta within the first two minutes of dropping it in. Cook just until al dente (remember you’re going to bake for another 30 minutes and you don’t want to have the pasta get mushy!).
Reheat + Storing + Make-Ahead Tips
- How Long Can You Keep This In The Fridge? This recipe can safely be stored in the fridge for 3-5 days. It is, however, best served fresh. The pasta will absorb the sauce as it sits and won’t be quite as creamy. Stir in as much extra milk as needed to get the sauce to the proper consistency.
- Can You Freeze This? For me, the answer is no. The pasta gets too soft for me and the sauce absorbs too much into the pasta.
- Make-Ahead Tips: Make the sauce as directed (without the pasta of course!) and store covered in the fridge the night before assembling and cooking.
What To Serve With Easy Smoked Gouda Mac And Cheese
This dish is rich so I like to serve this with a fresh green salad tossed with my homemade balsamic vinaigrette recipe. It’s sweet and tangy and so much better than anything you can buy commercially.
If you prefer a cooked veggie my roasted broccoli, simple roasted peppers, or my easy garlicky sautéed asparagus all work deliciously with this smoked mac!
How to Make Creamy Smoked Gouda Mac And Cheese
- Cook the pasta. Drain.
- Pour reserved cheese sauce over the pasta and mix well.
- Pour the mixture into the prepared baking dish.
- Sprinkle the remaining 1 cup of smoked gouda cheese.
- Add breadcrumbs on top.
- Bake until browned on top, about 30 minutes.
More Super Yummy Mac and Cheese Recipes
- Stovetop Mac and Cheese
- Chick Fil A Mac And Cheese
- Green Chile Mac and Cheese
- Paula Deen Mac and Cheese
- Chili Mac
- Five Cheese Ziti Al Forno
Smoked Gouda Mac And Cheese
- 8 tablespoons (1 stick) unsalted butter, divided
- 2 cups Panko bread crumbs
- 8 slices cooked and crumbled bacon
- 1/2 cup Parmesan cheese, shredded-divided
- 1/2 teaspoon fresh thyme leaves
- 1/2 cup all-purpose flour
- 5 1/2 cups whole milk
- 1 tablespoon dijon mustard
- 2 teaspoons salt
- 1/8 teaspoon ground nutmeg
- 1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper
- 1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
- 4 ounces cream cheese
- 4 cups smoked Gouda cheese, shredded-divided
- 1 pound Dried Elbow Pasta
- Heat oven to 375°F. Butter a 3-quart casserole dish; set aside
- Place bread crumbs (2 cups), crumbled bacon (8 slices), 1/4 cup Parmesan cheese, and thyme leaves (1/2 teaspoon) in a medium bowl; In a small dish melt 2 tablespoons butter in the microwave. Pour the melted butter into the bowl with the breadcrumb mixture, and toss to combine; set breadcrumbs aside.
- In a medium saucepan set over medium heat, heat milk (5 1/2 cups). Melt the remaining 6 tablespoons of butter in a high-sided skillet over medium heat. When butter bubbles, add flour (1/2 cup). Cook, whisking constantly for 1 minute.
- While whisking, slowly pour in hot milk. Continue cooking, whisking constantly, until the mixture bubbles and becomes thick.
- Remove the pan from heat. Stir in dijon mustard (1 tablespoon), salt (2 teaspoons), nutmeg (1/8 teaspoon), black pepper (1/4 teaspoon), cayenne pepper (1/4 teaspoon), cream cheese (4 ounces), 3 cups smoked Gouda cheese, 1/4 cup Parmesan cheese; set cheese sauce aside.
- Fill a large saucepan with water; bring to a boil. Add pasta (1 pound); cook 2 to 3 minutes less than the manufacturer's directions, until the outside of the pasta is cooked and the inside is slightly underdone. (Different brands of pasta cook at different rates; be sure to read the instructions.) Drain pasta well, return it to the pot it cooked in, then pour reserved cheese sauce over the pasta and mix well.
- Pour the mixture into the prepared baking dish. Sprinkle the remaining 1 cup smoked gouda cheese and breadcrumbs over top. Bake until browned on top, about 30 minutes. Transfer dish to a wire rack to cool for 5 minutes; serve hot.
Fans Also Made:
- Cook Pasta Properly: To do so, cook one pound of pasta in 5 quarts of water. Add 2 tablespoons of salt. Don't skip the salt! It flavors the pasta as it cooks and that's important to the finished dish. Do not add any oil.
- Make sure you bring the water to a rolling boil, then add the pasta. Stir the pasta within the first two minutes of dropping it in. Cook just until al dente (remember you're going to bake for another 30 minutes and you don't want to have the pasta get mushy!).
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wow it looks delicious i will definitely try to make it once
Mary Kay says
The ingredient list has 1/2 tsp. of fresh thyme leaves and the directions says 1/2 tsp. of dried thyme leaves. Which should we use?
Hi Mary Kay. Sorry it’s a typo. It’s fresh thyme.
Love this recipe! It’s so easy to make. My son is a picky eater, he definitely love this!
Wow, that’s wonderful, Gabby! Thank you for sharing your positive review. So happy your son loved this 🙂