Smokey Beer Macaroni and Cheese

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This Smokey Beer Macaroni and Cheese is full of melty deliciousness and lots of flavor! In addition to combining beer and cheese, it also has a breadcrumb topping for that extra crunch!

Beer Cheese Macaroni and Cheese

This is such a fun way to put a spin on the classic macaroni and cheese! It takes a childhood favorite and makes it perfect for adults! If you’re a fan of beer cheese like I am, this will be right up your alley. The beer flavor is clearly there, but definitely doesn’t overpower the dish. It’s gooey, cheesy and just a little bit crunchy. And with a combination of flavors like paprika, garlic and Worcestershire, what’s not to love?

A side dish like this is perfect for pretty much an occasion. It’s unique and special enough for a holiday, but easy enough to make on a weeknight or bring to a potluck. And as with any mac and cheese, it’s completely addicting.

What Kind of Beer Should I use?

It’s hard to go wrong here, but a lager or dark ale is going to go well for someone wanting a little stronger flavor. For something a little lighter, reach for a pale ale or wheat beer. One way to choose is to pick a beer you like. Or, if you’re like me and don’t really like beer but love it in food, grab your husband’s favorite beer.

While most beers will work, stouts and IPAs will be too overpowering.

smokey beer macaroni and cheese in white casserole dish

What You’ll Need

With the exception of a few things, you should have most ingredients on hand. And certainly anything you don’t have should be easy to find.

Breadcrumb Topping

  • Panko breadcrumbs: I used the plain ones. You could use other types of breadcrumbs if you prefer, but panko ones tend to give you a crispier topping.
  • Butter: To hold everything together.
  • Seasoning: A little salt, pepper and dried rosemary.

Macaroni and Cheese

  • Elbow noodles: These are classic for macaroni and cheese, but feel free to swap the elbows out for another pasta. the hubs is a big fan of penne.
  • Butter: For helping create the roux.
  • Onion: A medium yellow onion is best. It adds great flavor to the mac and cheese.
  • Flour: All purpose flour, for helping create the roux.
  • Beer: I used a lager, since we like a little stronger beer flavor, but feel free to use your favorite beer.
  • Milk: Whole milk is naturally going to be creamier, but you could use something like 2% if you really prefer.
  • Seasonings: Salt, smoked paprika, garlic powder, Worcestershire and pepper helps accentuation and enhance the flavor of this mac and cheese.
  • Cheeses: There’s a combination of three cheeses in this mac and cheese – cream cheese, yellow cheddar and white cheddar. Cream cheese adds a wonderful creaminess, while the cheddars create the perfect flavor.
Beer Macaroni and Cheese in white dish with some scooped out

How to Make Beer Mac and Cheese

  1. Make the Topping: Combine the topping ingredients and set aside.
  2. Cook Onion: Melt the butter in a large saucepan and cook the onions until they are beginning to soften.
  3. Make the Roux: Stir in the flour and cook for 30 seconds to a minute, until a thick paste forms. Slowly whisk in the beer, milk, and seasonings. I find it’s best to add a little liquid at a time to start, to help break down the thick flour mixture slowly, so that you don’t end up with lumps. If you just add it all at once, you are more likely to end up with some lumps.
  4. Simmer: Bring the mixture to a simmer and let it cook for 2 minutes, whisking constantly.
  5. Add Cheese: Whisk in the cream cheese, then add the shredded cheeses a handful at a time, until melted and incorporated. Reserve about a cup of cheese to add in with the pasta. Simmer for a minute or two more until the cheese sauce is thickened and creamy. Remove from heat.
  6. Add Pasta: Stir in the cooked pasta and reserved cheese and stir until well combined.
  7. Bake: Pour the macaroni and cheese into a 9×13 dish, sprinkle the topping on and bake until it’s bubbling throughout. Broil it for a few minutes, if you’d like to brown it on top a bit.

Serve and enjoy!

What is a Roux?

A roux is used as a thickening agent in sauces, gravy and soups. It’s a mixture of butter (or oil) and flour that then has a liquid added to it. In the case of mac and cheese, cheese is then added to it. Using a roux isn’t always totally necessary, but it does help the sauce thicken nicely and stick to the pasta well. It may seem intimidating, but it’s actually super easy to do and just takes a few minutes.

smokey beer macaroni and cheese in white casserole dish

Tips for Success

  • Be Ready: Be sure to have your ingredients ready to go as you’re making the cheese sauce. You don’t want to have your roux sitting and drying out while you’re pouring beer or shredding cheese.
  • Don’t Add Extra Pasta: Adding extra pasta can lead to not having enough cheese sauce and ending up with a dryer macaroni and cheese.
  • Serve it With Other Favorites: This beer mac and cheese would go great with some Ham and Cheese Sliders or this Crispy Buffalo Chicken.
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smokey beer macaroni and cheese in white casserole dish with a scoop being removed

Smokey Beer Macaroni and Cheese

  • Author: Lindsay
  • Prep Time: 15 minutes
  • Cook Time: 45 minutes
  • Total Time: 1 hour
  • Yield: 6-8 servings
  • Category: Side dish
  • Method: Stove
  • Cuisine: American


This Smokey Beer Macaroni and Cheese is full of melty deliciousness and lots of flavor! In addition to combining beer and cheese, it also has a breadcrumb topping for that extra crunch!



  • 6 tbsp panko breadcrumbs
  • 1/2 tbsp unsalted butter, melted
  • 1/4 tsp dried rosemary
  • 1/8 tsp salt
  • 1/8 tsp pepper

Macaroni and Cheese

  • 3 tbsp unsalted butter
  • 1 medium yellow onion, diced
  • 3 tbsp all-purpose flour
  • 1 cup beer
  • 1 cup whole milk
  • 3/4 tsp salt
  • 3/4 tsp smoked paprika
  • 1 tsp garlic powder
  • 1 tsp Worcestershire sauce
  • 1/8 tsp pepper
  • 2 oz cream cheese
  • 8 oz yellow cheddar, shredded
  • 4 oz white cheddar, shredded
  • 8 oz elbow noodles, cooked to al dente according to the package directions and drained


  1. Stir together all the ingredients for the topping in a small bowl and set aside.
  2. Preheat the oven to 425F. Spray the inside of a 9 by 13-inch casserole dish with cooking spray.
  3. Melt the butter in a large saucepan over medium heat. Add the onion and cook until starting to soften, about 3 to 5 minutes, stirring occasionally.
  4. Stir in the flour and cook for 30 seconds to 1 minute.
  5. Slowly whisk in the beer and milk and stir in the salt, paprika, garlic powder, Worcestershire, and pepper.
  6. Bring up to a simmer, turn the heat to low, and cook for 2 minutes, whisking constantly.
  7. Whisk in the cream cheese until melted, and then whisk in the shredded cheese a handful at a time until it’s fully incorporated. Reserve 1 cup of the shredded yellow cheddar so you can stir it in along with the pasta. Once the cheese is incorporated, continue simmering for a minute or two while stirring until the cheese sauce is thick and creamy. Remove from the heat.
  8. Stir the cooked pasta and reserved 1 cup shredded yellow cheddar into the cheese sauce, and pour it into the prepared casserole dish. Sprinkle on the topping.
  9. Bake (uncovered) until bubbling throughout, about 15 minutes. To brown the top, run it briefly under the broiler once it’s done baking.
  10. Serve warm!


  • Serving Size:
  • Calories: 413
  • Sugar: 6.3 g
  • Sodium: 630.8 mg
  • Fat: 22.6 g
  • Carbohydrates: 35.8 g
  • Protein: 16.5 g
  • Cholesterol: 63.2 mg


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  1. Judy

    This recipe is excellent! If you’re looking to brighten up plain old mac n cheese this is it! We used Pabst since it’s lighter and the flavor was outstanding! Can’t wait to experiment with other beers. Thanks for sharing this recipe. 😉

  2. Mandy

    I was looking for a different Mac n cheese and this was definitely it !!! I loved the ingredients and it’s what attracted me to this recipe . Made it for 2 different parties and both parties loved it! Like clean the plate loved it with zero leftovers so I will def be keeping this on repeat for parties.

About Lindsay

I'm a wife and a mom to twin boys and a baby girl! And I've got a serious sweets addiction! Bring on the treats!

Scripture I’m Loving

“Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls.” Matthew 11:28-29