Smoked Bacon Ranch Mac and Cheese - Pellet grill pasta recipe with bacon (2024)

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Just when you thought mac and cheesecouldn’t possibly get any better, along comes our homemade Smoked Bacon Ranch Mac and Cheese. I have done some wonderful versions of Smoked Mac and Cheese,too, but as the saying goes, “Everything is better with bacon”.

Smoked Bacon Ranch Mac and Cheese - Pellet grill pasta recipe with bacon (1)

Smoked Bacon Ranch Mac and Cheese

Adding some ranch dressing seasoning gives this dish an added twist. Mac and cheese always hits the spot, and adding copious amounts of smoked bacon and ranch dressing makes it out of this world.

People these days are so used to the convenience of opening a box of macaroni and cheese with a powdered cheese mix to stir in that they have forgotten how easy it is to actually make actual mac and cheese from ingredients instead of a processed powder.

The difference between authentic homemade mac and cheeseand processed stuff is stunning. When you make this smoked bacon ranch mac and cheese, you get a rich and creamy one. It comes alive with the smoky bacon flavors and benefits from the zesty dill and buttermilk tang of the ranch seasoning.

Making a roux for the bechamel cream sauce is simple and doesn’t take too long. It can be prepared while you wait for the water to boil to cook your macaroni noodles. Bechamel sauce is a white sauce made with milk or cream, butter, and flour.

Check out all of my Traeger Recipes!

Smoked Bacon Ranch Mac and Cheese - Pellet grill pasta recipe with bacon (2)

How to make roux for Mac and Cheese

Prepare an easy bechamel sauce by first making a roux. A roux is the base for the sauce, and it is made by taking equal parts butter and flour and heating them together over medium heat.

For this recipe, instead of using butter for the fat to make the roux, you use the excess rendered fat from pre-cooking the bacon. This makes the dish have so much bacon flavor! Stir constantly until the bacon grease and flour are a nice smooth consistency.

When they are blended to a smooth consistency, start slowly adding in the milk or cream and keep stirring to blend. This is your bechamel sauce. Add the ranch seasoning to the sauce and stir well.

So simple!

Try this unique Baked Pumpkin Mac n Cheese for a fun twist!

Smoked Bacon Ranch Mac and Cheese - Pellet grill pasta recipe with bacon (3)

What kind of bacon works best for mac and cheese?

I recommend the thicker-cut bacon for anything you will be adding in crumbled form. The thinner bacon sometimes falls apart when it is cooked crispy, and that’s not what we’re after here. You can also always add more smokiness to the bacon by using your Traeger grill or pellet grill and smoking bacon for an additional 30 minutes.

The smokier the bacon, the better. Typically the butcher bacon at the butcher window is the best ideal, but you can also find packaged bacon that works.

Using the thinner cuts of bacon is okay, but I like the chunkier bits of bacon throughout the creamy mac and cheese.

Can you use a different type of noodles for this dish?

Yup! “Mac” in mac-and-cheese typically stands for macaroni, which is a curbed tube-shaped pasta that comes in a variety of sizes. Some folks prefer the bigger sizes for mac and cheese, and others prefer the small ones, but both are great options for a good base.

I really like using rotelle or rotini for baked mac and cheese because it really collects all the cheese sauce so well.

Regardless of what type you pick, make sure to UNDERcook it a bit! It’ll cook more in the oven and you don’t want to end up with mush.

Smoked Bacon Ranch Mac and Cheese - Pellet grill pasta recipe with bacon (4)

What sides go well with this dish?

This recipe is very hearty and filling. You can conquer even the most voracious appetites easily with a serving or three. I recommend serving it with a salad or a vegetable since green things are good when getting ready to dive into a sea of carbs.

I have a few other things to recommend:

  • Traeger Grilled Aspargus and Prosciutto go so well together but if the prosciutto is too close to bacon to cause bacon overload, then just grill the asparagus by itself like this grilled asparagus.
  • Caesar Salad with homemade dressing would be perfect here!
  • Greek Freak Dressing – Toss some of my pickled onionson top of a salad of mixed greens
Smoked Bacon Ranch Mac and Cheese - Pellet grill pasta recipe with bacon (5)

Yield: 8 servings

Smoked Bacon Ranch Mac and Cheese - Pellet grill pasta recipe with bacon (6)

This smoked bacon ranch macaroni and cheese has smoked cheese in it, ranch dressing mix, and all of the bacon. Your whole family will love this easy dinner!

Prep Time2 minutes

Cook Time1 hour

Total Time1 hour 2 minutes

Ingredients

  • 1 pound bacon, cooked crispy and crumbled
  • 1/2 cup salted butter or bacon grease
  • 1/3 cup flour
  • 6 cups 2% or whole milk
  • 1 packed ranch dressing mix
  • dash Worcestershire
  • 1 pound rotini, cooked al dente in well-salted water
  • 2 cups cheddar jack cheese
  • 2 cups smoked white cheddar (you can use non-smoked too! It'll still be awesome!)
  • 1 cup crushed ritz (or similar)

Instructions

  1. Start up your Traeger or pellet grill following factory directions, and heat to 325°.
  2. Melt your butter or bacon grease in a large saucepan over medium-low heat and whisk in the flour. Continue whisking and cooking over low heat for 5-6 minutes. It should turn a light tan color.
  3. Whisk in the milk, ranch powder, and Worcestershire and turn the heat up to medium-low. Stir frequently until the sauce is thickened.
  4. Stir the noodles, white sauce, cooked rotini, the bacon, and all but 1 cup of the cheeses into a large 10x13 high-sided baking dish that has been sprayed with baking spray or liberally coated with butter.
  5. Top with the crushed ritz and the leftover cup of cheese.
  6. Place on your pellet grill that's been preheated, and bake for 25-30 minutes at 325°. Remove when cheese is melted and mixture is bubbly, and serve immediately!

Notes

If you want a bigger smoke flavor, finish off the mac and cheese on the "Smoke" setting (or 180°) for the last 10 minutes of cook time.

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Nutrition Information:

Yield:

12

Serving Size:

1

Amount Per Serving:Calories: 605Total Fat: 41gSaturated Fat: 20gTrans Fat: 1gUnsaturated Fat: 18gCholesterol: 113mgSodium: 1273mgCarbohydrates: 27gFiber: 1gSugar: 8gProtein: 30g

Nutrition data provided here is only an estimate. If you are tracking these things for medical purposes please consult an outside, trusted source. Thanks!

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Nicole Johnson

Website

Nicole Johnson, a self-taught expert in grilling and outdoor cooking, launched Or Whatever You Do in 2010. Her blog, renowned for its comprehensive and creative outdoor cooking recipes, has garnered a vast audience of millions. Nicole's hands-on experience and passion for grilling shine through her work. Her husband, Jeremiah Johnson, also plays a pivotal role in recipe development, adding his culinary flair to the mix. Together, they form a dynamic duo, offering a rich and varied outdoor cooking experience to their followers.

Smoked Bacon Ranch Mac and Cheese - Pellet grill pasta recipe with bacon (2024)
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