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BBQ Brisket Mac and Cheese

Calling all barbecue lovers!!! This rich and creamy brisket mac and cheese is loaded with smoky cheddar, jalapeno, brisket, your favorite barbecue sauce, and bacon then topped with crispy onions and baked to perfection.

Close-up of heaping spoon of brisket mac and cheese.

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What’s to love about this recipe?

  • The explosion of flavors! Flavorwise, this BBQ mac has got it all. It’s smoky, oniony, salty, and has the potential to be a tad bit sweet, spicy, and/or tangy depending on the barbecue sauce you choose to go with.
  • It is an excellent way to use up leftover brisket! It’s barbecue season which means a lot of you are cooking up brisket. This inspired mac and cheese transforms leftover brisket into an irresistibly spectacular meal.
  • It’s great for a crowd! Did I mention that this dish is loaded!?!? With noodles, oodles of cheese, brisket, bacon, veggies, and more this mac is filling, to say the least. Since it is so hearty a little bit goes a long way making it a great dish to share with a crowd for a summer barbecue or potluck.
Top down shot of mac and cheese in a pan with a serving spoon.

Ingredients (+ notes & substitutions)

Ingredients for bbq brisket mac and cheese (see recipe card).
  • Macaroni noodles: Could sub for shells.
  • Thick-cut bacon: I prefer to use thick-cut bacon because it’s meatier. If, however, all you have is regular cut bacon feel free to use it instead. In that case, I would use 12-14 slices.
  • White onion
  • Jalapenos: I love the little bit of heat they add but they are totally optional. The seeds should be removed and you are welcome to leave as little or much of the membranes intact as you choose in an effort to control the amount of heat.
  • Cooked brisket: You can use leftover brisket or prepare some specifically for this recipe. If you own an Instant Pot, it’s super simple and quick to cook brisket. Rub your brisket down with your choice of spices – I use garlic powder, onion, powder, salt, black pepper, paprika, and some cayenne. Throw it in the Instant Pot with a half cup of liquid (this could be beef broth or water) – I like to add a tablespoon of liquid smoke as well. Seal the Instant Pot, cook on high pressure for 60 minutes then allow to release naturally for 15 minutes before removing the lid.
  • Barbecue sauce: For this recipe, you can use any barbecue sauce you would like keeping in mind that it will alter the flavor profile. I opted for a tangy smoky BBQ sauce with a little bit of heat and it turned out great!
  • Butter: For the cheese sauce.
  • All-purpose flour: Also for the cheese sauce.
  • Whole milk
  • Heavy-whipping cream: To provide the cheese sauce with body.
  • Garlic powder: Because garlic is a MUST!!!
  • Mustard powder: To cut a bit of the richness and add some additional tang.
  • Onion powder: Because there can never be enough onion flavor.
  • Ground black pepper
  • Smoked cheddar: White or yellow; it doesn’t matter. You wanna know why?!?! It’s because they are actually the exact same!! That’s right, the only difference is that the yellow varieties have dyed.
  • Sharp Cheddar: Because smoke cheddar is significantly more expensive I opted to mix in some sharp cheddar as well. If you have the means and would prefer to do so, you are certainly welcome to sub the sharp cheddar for more smoked cheddar.
  • Crispy onions: Rather than breadcrumbs, this mac bbq mac and cheese is topped with crushed crispy onions. It’s the perfect finishing touch in my opinion adding both crunch and salty oniony goodness.

How do you make brisket mac and cheese? (+ tips)

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Liberally grease a 9×13″ baking dish and set it aside. Combine the sharp and smoked cheddar and set it aside as well.
  2. Cook the macaroni noodles al dente according to package instructions. Immediately drain the noodles and run cold water over them until cool then set them aside. **Don’t forget to add salt to your water – I throw in a tablespoon.
  3. Meanwhile, heat a large skillet over medium-high heat. Once hot, add the bacon and cook until brown and crispy, about 10 minutes. To allow the bacon to crisp up, you will likely need to drain the grease several times throughout. Transfer the bacon using a slotted spoon to a paper-towel-lined surface. If there is an excessive amount of grease remaining in the skillet discard all but one tablespoon.
  4. Add the onions and jalapenos (optional) to the skillet and sauté for 3-4 minutes until the onions are somewhat translucent and soft.
Sauteed onions and jalapeno.

Add the brisket and cook for another 2 minutes.

Sauteed onion and jalapeno with brisket.

Stir in the barbecue sauce and set aside.

Brisket mixture in pan.

5. In a large saucepan or a pot, melt the butter over medium heat. Add the flour and whisk continuously for 1-2 minutes.

Roux with a whisk.

6. Add the garlic powder, mustard powder, onion powder, ground black pepper, milk, and heavy whipping cream and whisk until combined. Cook for 2-3 minutes stirring often until thickened.

Cream mixture for cheese sauce.

7. Remove from heat, add three cups of the cheddar, and stir until melted and smooth.

Cheese sauce with a whisk.

8. Stir in the noodles and and the brisket mixture.

Mac and cheese in a pot.

9. Transfer half of the macaroni to the baking dish and sprinkle with half of the cheddar cheese. Next layer on the remaining macaroni followed by the bacon and remaining cheese. Finally, sprinkle the crispy onions on top.

Six stages of mac assembly.

10. Bake for 30-minutes until the topping is golden brown and the cheese is melted and begins to bubble around the edges. Serve warm.

How to store

Refrigerate leftovers in an airtight container for up to four days.

Pan of bbq mac and cheese.
Bowl of bbq mac and cheese.

More mac and cheese recipes you may like:

  • Carne Asada Fries Mac and Cheese: Carne asada fries + mac and cheese is the ultimate comfort food; creamy mac and cheese made from scratch covered in carne asada, potatoes, pico de gallo, guacamole, and sour cream. I hope you’re ready to indulge! I promise it will be worth the calories.
  • Mac and Cheese w/ Brussels Sprouts & Bacon: Rich and creamy homemade smoked cheddar cheese sauce, a breadcrumb topping, and sautéed Brussels sprouts with bacon result in a rich and harmonious dish. The perfect side for Thanksgiving, this mac and cheese with Brussels sprouts and bacon, is sure to impress. Gluten-free adaptable.

If you make this bbq brisket mac and cheese I’d love your feedback. Please leave a comment and/or a rating below as I greatly value your opinion. Or snap a pic and tag me on Instagram @taoofspiceblog. Love, light, and happy cooking ya’ll ♥

Close-up of heaping spoon of brisket mac and cheese.

BBQ Brisket Mac and Cheese

Yield: 12 servings
Prep Time: 10 minutes
Cook Time: 50 minutes
Total Time: 1 hour

Calling all barbecue lovers!!! This rich and creamy brisket mac and cheese is loaded with smoky cheddar, jalapeno, brisket, your favorite barbecue sauce, and bacon then topped with crispy onions and baked to perfection.

Ingredients

  • 1 pound macaroni or shells
  • 6 slices thick-cut bacon, sliced lengthwise then cut into 1/4"-1/2" pieces
  • 1 small white onion, diced 
  • 2-3 jalapenos, deseeded and membranes removed, diced (optional)
  • 1 pound cooked beef brisket, fat trimmed and cut roughly chopped
  • 3/4 cup your choice of barbecue sauce 
  • 1/2 cup (1 stick) butter, salted or unsalted 
  • 1/2 cup all-purpose flour
  • 2 cups whole milk
  • 1 cup heavy whipping cream
  • 2 teaspoons garlic powder
  • 2 teaspoons mustard powder
  • 2 teaspoons onion powder
  • 1 teaspoon ground black pepper
  • 16 ounces smoked cheddar, shredded
  • 8 ounces sharp cheddar, shredded
  • 1 cup crispy onion, crushed 

Instructions

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Liberally grease a 9x13" baking dish and set aside. Combine the sharp and smoked cheddar and set it aside as well.
  2. Cook the macaroni noodles al dente according to package instructions. Immediately drain the noodles and run cold water over them until cool. Set aside.
  3. Meanwhile, heat a large skillet over medium-high heat. Once hot, add the bacon and cook until brown and crispy, about 10 minutes. To allow the bacon to crisp up, you will likely need to drain the grease several times throughout. Transfer the bacon using a slotted spoon to a paper-towel lined surface.
  4. Add the onions and jalapenos (optional) to the skillet and sauté for 3-4 minutes until the onions are somewhat translucent and soft. Add the brisket and cook for another 2 minutes. Stir in the barbecue sauce and set aside.
  5. In a large saucepan or a pot, melt the butter over medium heat. Add the flour and whisk continuously for 1-2 minutes.
  6. Add the garlic powder, mustard powder, onion powder, ground black pepper, milk, and heavy whipping cream and whisk until combined. Cook for 2-3 minutes stirring often until thickened.
  7. Remove from heat, add three cups of the cheddar, and stir until melted and smooth.
  8. Next, stir in the noodles and the brisket mixture.
  9. Transfer half of the macaroni to the baking dish and sprinkle with half of the cheddar cheese. Next layer on the remaining macaroni followed by the bacon and remaining cheese. Finally, sprinkle the crispy onions on top.
  10. Bake for 30-minutes until the topping is golden brown and the cheese begins to bubble around the edges. Serve warm.

Storage: Refrigerate leftovers in an airtight container for up to four days.

Nutrition Information:
Yield: 12 Serving Size: 1
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 608Total Fat: 37gSaturated Fat: 20gTrans Fat: 1gUnsaturated Fat: 14gCholesterol: 129mgSodium: 756mgCarbohydrates: 36gFiber: 2gSugar: 12gProtein: 32g

The nutritional information provided is computer generated. It is only an estimate and intended for informational purposes only. Nutrition details may vary depending on various factors such as origin, freshness of ingredients, etc

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