Creamy Smoked Gruyere Mac and Cheese with Crispy Bacon

15 minutes

This post is sponsored by Rubbermaid. All opinions are my own

I’m sharing a recipe that took our family’s mac and cheese game to a whole new level – Smoked Gruyere Mac and Cheese. 

Imagine combining the creamy, comforting goodness of mac n cheese with a smoky, gourmet twist. That’s what we’ve got here. 

The first time I whipped this up, the kids were giving me the side-eye for messing with their favorite dish. But let me tell you, after one bite, they were asking for seconds. 

It’s a fantastic way to mix up our mac and cheese routine with some sophisticated, smoky flavors. This recipe is next level!

And with the holidays upon us, mac and cheese hits a lot of dinner tables, so why show up with a basic mac and cheese? 

Let’s show off and bring out the best mac and cheese recipe you’ve got! 

Delicious Smoked Gruyere Mac and Cheese recipe, enhanced with crispy bacon and rich, creamy sauce, perfect for holiday feasts.

Ingredients Needed 

  • Elbow Macaroni: Don’t just grab any old box off the shelf. Hunt down the macaroni with ridges – trust me, they’re like little cheese traps, holding onto that creamy sauce like a treasure.
  • Sharp Cheddar Cheese: Like all cheeses – fresh is best. Steer clear of pre-shredded cheese and grate your own cheese fresh from the block.
  • Gruyere Cheese: This isn’t just cheese, it’s the smoky whisper that turns this dish from “just dinner” to “whoa, Dad, what is this?”
  • Smoked Gouda Cheese: Double down on that smoky flavor. It’s like the bass guitar in our cheese band – not always noticed but deeply missed when it’s not there.
  • Heavy Cream: The heart of a good creamy cheese sauce. Avoid the ones that have been on the shelf too long; fresh cream equals a dreamy cream sauce.
  • Mustard Powder: The pinch of pizzazz. It’s not just for hot dogs – a dash will have the kids guessing what your secret ingredient is.
  • Unsalted Butter: You are going to make a salty brine to boil your macaroni in. The salt will come from there, so lets go with unsalted butter to make sure we don’t have a sodium overload!
  • All-Purpose Flour: This is what turns our cream and cheese into a melody of melted perfection. No fancy flours needed here, just your trusty all-rounder will do the trick.
  • Bacon: Go for thick-cut, applewood-smoked bacon for a hearty crunch and a savory note that’ll have everyone reaching for seconds.
  • Breadcrumbs: Panko for the win – they toast up to a perfect golden crunch, adding texture to every creamy bite.

Equipment Needed

  • Large Pot: Not just any pot. You want one that’s heavy-duty with a thick bottom to prevent your pasta from sticking and cooking unevenly. And size matters – big enough to give your macaroni room to dance.
  • A large sauce pan: I like to go with stainless steel for making a roux, but if you go with non-stick see my note below on the whisk.
  • Whisk & Spatula: Invest in a silicone whisk that won’t scratch your pots, and a spatula that can take the heat and scrape every last bit of cheesy goodness from the corners.
  • Rubbermaid Brilliance Glass 9×13 Container: This beauty is a triple-threat. It’s your mixing bowl, your baking dish, and your storage container all in one. Leakproof to save any sauce from escaping, and clear so you can keep an eye on that golden crust forming in the oven.
  • Rubbermaid Brilliance Pantry Collection: Think of these as the guardians of your ingredients. Air-tight, crystal-clear, and stackable – they keep your pantry organized and your ingredients fresh. And when it’s time to get cooking, they’re your sous-chefs, holding everything in place.

Rubbermaid Brilliance Collection

Wave goodbye to holiday hassles with the Rubbermaid® Brilliance™ collection. By now, you know I‘m IN LOVE with these containers! They aren’t just a storage solution; they’re your secret weapon for flawless holiday feasts.

Imagine prepping your legendary smoked gruyere mac and cheese ahead of time, confident that the 100% leak-proof seal keeps every ounce of flavor locked in. 

These crystal-clear containers stack with ease, transforming your pantry into a paragon of organization. 

Stain-resistant and ready for the dishwasher, microwave, or freezer, they’re as resilient as they are versatile.

But here’s the real game-changer: these glass containers are oven-ready. 

Whether it’s that Friendsgiving gathering your enroute to, or just stopping off at the family Thanksgiving or Christmas feast with the perfect side dish. Prep your dish, snap on the airtight lid, and when the big day comes, simply pop it in the oven to bake. 

That’s right friends – from the fridge to the final destination, you’re ready to serve up that crispy, cheesy bliss without transferring a thing. 

With Rubbermaid® Brilliance™, you’re not just cooking; you’re creating memories, stress-free!

Delicious Smoked Gruyere Mac and Cheese recipe, enhanced with crispy bacon and rich, creamy sauce, perfect for holiday feasts.

How to Make Smoked Gruyere Mac and Cheese

  1. Boil the Pasta: Grab a large pot and fill it with water – make it as salty as the sea. 

This isn’t just for flavor; it’s the first step to seasoning your pasta from the inside out. 

Once it’s rolling at a full boil, dive in with your macaroni and cook it just until it’s al dente – that’s chef talk for “firm to the bite.”

  1. Roux Time: In a separate pot, let’s start our magic sauce. 

Melt butter over medium heat until it’s just bubbling, then sprinkle in your flour. 

Now, work those dad muscles – whisk it vigorously to form a smooth, golden roux, the thick base that’s going to carry our cheese to stardom.

  1. Cream & Season: With the roux ready, pour in the heavy cream like you’re crafting a potion. 

This is when your spices join the cauldron – a dash of garlic powder, a sprinkle of black pepper, and that mustard powder for the secret zing that’ll make your kids wonder.

  1. Cheese It Up: It’s showtime for the cheese. Add the shredded sharp cheddar, gruyere, and smoked gouda to the mix. 

Now, patience – let it melt slowly over medium low heat. Cheese will tend to break apart if the heat gets too high, leading to that weird grainy texture. And nobody likes that.

We’re not just melting cheese; we’re crafting a golden, velvety river of deliciousness.

  1. Mix & Match: Once your cheese has melted into oblivion, it’s time to introduce it to the macaroni. 

Pour those perfectly cooked pasta into the Rubbermaid glass food container, then top with cheesy sauce and give them a good tumble until each one is coated in cheesy glory.

  1. Top and Bake: Let’s get that crunch going. 

Sprinkle your panko breadcrumbs and pieces of crispy bacon over the top. Slide your Rubbermaid container, now the vessel of your masterpiece, into the oven. 

Wait for the top to bubble and crisp into a golden-brown shield of crunchiness.

Now, take a step back and admire the beauty. 

You’ve just created not just a meal, but an experience. 

Get ready for the oohs and aahs – because they’re coming. And there you have it, the most epic smoked gruyere mac and cheese, courtesy of Dad With A Pan.

Delicious Smoked Gruyere Mac and Cheese recipe, enhanced with crispy bacon and rich, creamy sauce, perfect for holiday feasts.

FAQ with Dad

How Long Can You Keep Homemade Smoked Mac and Cheese?

n the fridge, your smoked mac and cheese stays delectably fresh for 3-5 days. Tucked away in a Rubbermaid Brilliance container, it’s like hitting the pause button on peak deliciousness, ready for a reheat at a moment’s notice.

Is Smoked Mac and Cheese a Good Make-Ahead Meal?

Absolutely, it’s a lifesaver for busy schedules. Prepare your dish, store it snugly in a Rubbermaid Brilliance glass container, and when you’re set to feast, just bake it. You’ll get the fresh-out-of-the-oven taste every time.

How Do I Fix Runny Cheese Sauce in Mac and Cheese?

If your sauce is looking a bit like soup, don’t stress.  A sprinkle of flour, a handful more cheese, and keep that whisk moving. You’ll go from runny to rich and creamy before you know it.

Can You Add Meat to Smoked Mac and Cheese?

Definitely! Toss in some crispy bacon or savory smoked sausage for an extra layer of flavor and heartiness. It’s a surefire way to amp up the protein and please the carnivores at your table.

Will Picky Eaters Enjoy Smoked Mac and Cheese?

Absolutely, even with its gourmet twist, this dish can be a hit with picky eaters. 
If you’re concerned about the smoky flavor being too intense, try experimenting with different cheeses, like a milder Monterey jack or regular gouda alongside the gruyere. 
You can also skip the smoked paprika in the seasoning. For kids, serving the sauce on the side for dipping can make it more appealing. 
My own kids asked for seconds, loving both the familiar comfort of mac and cheese and the new flavors – a winning combination in any household.

Is It Possible to Make Mac and Cheese Without a Roux?

Yes, you can skip the roux and still achieve creamy mac and cheese. 
Instead, blend melted cream cheese with a bit of milk or cream for a quick and easy sauce that’s rich and velvety. 
It simplifies the process and still gives you that lush, cheesy texture we all crave.

How can I make mac and cheese in the smoker?

you are a friend of friends. Making this dish in a smoker is straightforward and adds incredible depth of smoke flavor. 
Prepare the smoked macaroni and cheese as per the recipe. Smoke at a low temperature, around 225°F, for about 1 hour. 
This imparts a subtle smokiness without overpowering the dish. Remember to stir occasionally to ensure even smoking. 
The result is a deliciously smoky, creamy mac and cheese with a delectably crisp top – a true crowd-pleaser at any BBQ or family gathering. Go with wood chips/pellets/chunks like pecan wood, apple wood or even hickory.

Delicious Smoked Gruyere Mac and Cheese recipe, enhanced with crispy bacon and rich, creamy sauce, perfect for holiday feasts.

Variations to Make Smoked Gruyere Mac and Cheese Your Own

This is where it’s your time to shine my friend. Homemade mac should really represent the person who’s making it and share their love with friends and family. 

Here’s some ideas to get your creative juices flowing: 

  1. Different Cheese Blends: Experiment with various cheese combinations. Try adding some pepper jack for a spicy kick or fontina for a smoother, nuttier flavor.
  2. Make it Spicy: Add some cayenne pepper, diced jalapenos, serrano, or habanero depending on your threshold of pain! 
  3. Add-Ins for Extra Flair: Incorporate cooked, crumbled bacon, green chiles, or sautéed mushrooms for added texture and flavor.
  4. Gluten-Free Version: Use gluten-free pasta and flour to cater to dietary restrictions without compromising on taste.
  5. Vegetable Twist: Stir in steamed broccoli, spinach, or sun-dried tomatoes for a nutritious boost.
  6. Protein-Packed: Add shredded chicken, lobster chunks, or pulled pork to transform it into a hearty main dish.
  7. Crunchy Topping Variations: Swap out traditional breadcrumbs with crushed crackers or potato chips for a unique, crunchy topping.

Creamy Smoked Gruyere Mac and Cheese with Crispy Bacon

Course: Dinner
Cuisine: American
Keyword: christmas, side dish, thanksgiving
Prep Time: 15 minutes
Cook Time: 15 minutes
Servings: 8 people
Calories: 813kcal
Print Recipe


  • Rubbermaid Brilliance Container


  • 1 lb elbow macaroni
  • 1/4 cup unsalted butter
  • 1/4 cup all-purpose flour
  • 2 1/2 cups heavy cream
  • 1/2 cups sharp cheddar cheese grated
  • 1 1/2 cups gruyere cheese grated
  • 1/2 cup smoked gouda cheese grated
  • 1 tsp Garlic powder to taste
  • 1 tsp Ground black pepper to taste
  • 1/2 tsp mustard powder
  • 1/2 tsp smoked paprika
  • 1 cup panko breadcrumbs
  • 6 slices bacon cooked and crumbled


  • Preheat oven to 325°F.
  • Boil the macaroni in a large pot of salty water until al dente, then drain.
  • In a saucepan, melt butter and whisk in flour until a paste forms to make a roux.
  • Gradually stir in heavy cream, until creamy and no lumps are visible; season with garlic powder, pepper, mustard, and paprika
  • Slowly mix in cheeses over low heat until melted and smooth.
  • Combine pasta and cheese sauce in a Rubbermaid Glass 9×13 container.
  • Top with breadcrumbs and bacon, if using.
  • Bake for 15-20 minutes or until the top is golden brown.


Calories: 813kcal | Carbohydrates: 54g | Protein: 26g | Fat: 55g | Saturated Fat: 32g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 4g | Monounsaturated Fat: 15g | Trans Fat: 0.3g | Cholesterol: 161mg | Sodium: 533mg | Potassium: 305mg | Fiber: 2g | Sugar: 5g | Vitamin A: 1728IU | Vitamin C: 0.5mg | Calcium: 483mg | Iron: 2mg

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