BBQ Pork Mac & Cheese (One Pot!)

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BBQ Pork Mac and Cheese is made in ONE pot with minimal ingredients required. It’s ultra cheesy, saucy, and super rich — all the essentials for a good stove-top mac ‘n cheese!

BBQ Pork Mac and Cheese

This BBQ Pork Mac and Cheese is part of our Back-To-School Lifesavers — a series of recipes that are intended to have little (or no) veggie chopping, minimal prep time, around 10 ingredients or less (not including pantry staples), and use kid-friendly ingredients. Click here to see all the recipes in the series!

BBQ Pork Mac and Cheese

I recently had a BBQ Brisket Mac and Cheese at a restaurant that was nothing short of unforgettable! Of course, a recreation (but simplified) had to be made and needed to qualify for this series.

So today we’ve got a super saucy, ultra cheesy, very rich mac and cheese dinner rippled with sweet BBQ pulled pork (or beef). This mac and cheese is intentionally very saucy and indulgent tasting. It’s got a lot of cheese! If you aren’t a fan of saucy mac ‘n cheese, this recipe may not be the best for you.

Ingredient shot-- image of all the ingredients used in this dish

BBQ Pork Mac and Cheese Ingredients

  • Flour and Butter. This creates the roux that ensures this mac ‘n cheese ends up ultra thick and clings beautifully to the pasta. We don’t recommend oil replacing the butter; this recipe needs the high-fat content of butter (more fat = better sauce).
  • Cheeses. The best mac and cheese uses a mixture of several kinds of cheese. To keep this recipe simple, we only use two types, but if you want a more complex flavor profile, replace some of the sharp Cheddar with another type. Our absolute favorite combination is sharp Cheddar and smoked Gouda. Gruyere is also delicious and good for melting. While we’d love to say that using only Cheddar will work great, it ends up a bit grainy without another cheese that melts nicely.
  • BBQ Pork. In true “back-to-school lifesaver” form, we’re using pork that has already been seasoned, fully cooked, and tossed in BBQ sauce. For BBQ Beef Mac and Cheese, use pulled beef instead. Pulled chicken is another option here.

Process shots of the BBQ Mac and Cheese-- images of the butter and flour being melted together and seasonings being added Process shots-- images of the milk being added and whisked together then the chicken stock being added and boiled and the noodles being added and cooked

Ingredients, Continued

  • Rotini. We haven’t tested other types of pasta shapes/sizes in this dish and can’t vouch for how the recipe will work without this specific pasta. Not all pasta shapes/sizes cook at the same rate or absorb the same amount of liquid. If you’re unfamiliar with the names of various pasta types, here’s a great guide. BTW, rotini is the corkscrew kind.
  • Seasonings. Here’s where you can choose to be minimalist or add a more complex flavor. The two essential spices are garlic and onion powder. We also love a touch of paprika, dry mustard powder, and chicken bouillon powder. If you have the spices on hand and an extra minute, we recommend throwing these in.
  • Chicken stock. A high-quality, flavorful stock adds loads of flavor add lets us cut down on other additions. We highly recommend Swanson’s® chicken stock (not sponsored). In a pinch, water will work, but you’ll likely need to increase salt and add a touch more seasoning.
  • Milk. We recommend whole or 2% milk for an ultra-creamy BBQ Pork Mac and Cheese.

Process shots-- cook pasta; remove from heat and add in gouda; add in Cheddar; stir until creamy.

BBQ Pork Mac and Cheese Tips

  • Use whole milk. The higher the fat content of the milk, the smoother (and richer) the sauce will be. Even 2% milk can yield a grainy mac and cheese.
  • Cook in a nonstick pot. While we tested this recipe in a cast-iron pot, we preferred the results of non-stick. Less babysitting with nonstick — the pasta sticks fairly frequently on a cast iron pot.
  • Use room-temperature cheese and milk. If you think about it, set out the cheese and milk about 30 minutes to an hour before making this recipe. Warmer cheese melts nicer than cold cheese and warmer milk will form into a nice, thick sauce quicker.

Process shots-- Add BBQ pork to the mixture; gently mix.

BBQ Pork Mac and Cheese Tips, Continued

  • Cheese is the star of the show here and while we’re really cutting down on overall ingredients, we want to use good quality cheese. Good cheese will melt better and create a luxuriously smooth sauce.
  • Freshly grate the cheese: Although this recipe is supposed to be as easy as possible, we do recommend freshly grating the cheese to avoid a grainy or greasy meal. Pre-shredded cheese has a cellulose coating that doesn’t melt as well in recipes like this one.
  • Add cheese off the heat. If the cheese is added while the pot is still on the stovetop, it can easily become grainy.  With all the heat, the proteins in the cheese clump and will can cause a grainy sauce.
  • Stir often. To ensure even cooking, give this BBQ Pork Mac and Cheese a good stir every few minutes.

Bbq Pork Mac and Cheese on a plate ready to be eaten

QUICK TIP

Number 1 Tip: Take the pan off the stovetop as soon as the pasta is cooked al dente. Al dente means there is still a good bite to the pasta — it shouldn’t be mushy! The pasta will continue to cook and absorb liquid off the stove as we stir in the cheese. It’s better to take the pot off the stove a little early than too late (undercooked pasta is easy to fix; mushy pasta can’t be saved).

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BBQ Pork Mac & Cheese

This BBQ Pork Mac and Cheese is made in ONE pot with minimal ingredients required. It's ultra cheesy, saucy, and super rich -- all the essentials for a good stove-top mac 'n cheese!
Print Recipe

BBQ Pork Mac & Cheese

This BBQ Pork Mac and Cheese is made in ONE pot with minimal ingredients required. It's ultra cheesy, saucy, and super rich -- all the essentials for a good stove-top mac 'n cheese!
Course Dinner, Main Course
Cuisine American
Keyword BBQ Pork Mac & Cheese
Prep Time 15 minutes
Cook Time 15 minutes
Total Time 30 minutes
Servings 4 servings
Calories 898kcal
Cost $14.87

Ingredients

  • 4 tablespoons (35g) unsalted butter
  • 4 tablespoons (35g) white flour
  • 1-1/2 cups (317g) whole milk
  • 2-1/2 cups (453g) chicken stock (we like Swanson's)
  • 3 cups (218g) rotini pasta uncooked
  • 1-1/2 cups grated sharp (or extra-sharp) Cheddar cheese
  • 3/4 cup grated Gouda cheese Note 1
  • 1 package (16 oz.) pulled beef (or pork) in BBQ sauce
  • 1 teaspoon EACH: garlic powder, onion powder
  • Optional: 1/2 teaspoon dry mustard powder, 1 teaspoon chicken bouillon powder, 1/4 teaspoon paprika

Instructions

  • ROUX: Melt butter in a large pot over medium heat. Once melted, whisk in the flour and cook, stirring constantly for 1-2 minutes or until completely smooth. Whisk in all the seasonings (including optional ones, if using). Additionally season with salt & pepper. (I add 3/4 tsp fine sea salt and 1/2 tsp pepper, but add to personal preference.) While whisking constantly, very slowly add in the 1-1/2 cups of milk. Whisk until mixture is fairly thick, 1-2 minutes. Again, while whisking constantly, add in the chicken stock. Bring to a boil.
  • PASTA: Once boiling, add in the uncooked rotini pasta. Stir to combine. Lower the heat to medium low (should be bubbling gently at the edges and center when not stirring). Stir frequently, making sure to scrape the bottom, for about 8-12 minutes (Note 1) or until pasta is al dente (still firm to the bite) and the sauce has thickened nicely. Don't be concerned if it's too saucy; it continues to thicken, especially when we add the cheese!
  • BRISKET: Meanwhile, prepare the bbq beef or pork according to package directions to warm through in the microwave. Microwave for the least amount of time indicated on package. Remove any obvious chunks of fat/gristle and break apart large sections of pork with a fork.
  • CHEESE: Once pasta is al dente, remove the pot from the heat and let stand for 1 minute. Stir in the Cheddar and Gouda cheeses. Stir gently until cheeses are fully incorporated and the pasta is nice and tender. Very gently stir in the pork or beef and then adjust seasonings to personal taste preference. Serve and enjoy immediately!

Video

Recipe Notes

Note 1: Pull the dish off the stovetop as soon as the pasta is cooked al dente. Al dente means there is still a good bite to the pasta -- it shouldn't be mushy! The pasta will continue to cook and absorb a lot of liquid off the stove as we stir in the cheese. It's better to take the pot off the stove a little early than too late (under-cooked pasta is easy to fix; mushy pasta can't be saved). If it does end up too thick, add a splash more milk to thin. If it isn't thick enough (or noodles aren't firming up), add it back to the stovetop over LOW heat for 1-2 more minutes.
Nutritional information may vary, depending on the brand of BBQ meat used.

Nutrition Facts

Serving: 1serving | Calories: 898kcal | Carbohydrates: 66.8g | Protein: 50g | Fat: 46.6g | Cholesterol: 156.8mg | Sodium: 790.7mg | Fiber: 2.4g | Iron: 7.6mg

We do our best to provide accurate nutritional analysis for our recipes. Our nutritional data is calculated using a third-party algorithm and may vary, based on individual cooking styles, measurements, and ingredient sizes. Please use this information for comparison purposes and consult a health professional for nutrition guidance as needed.

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2 Comments

  1. Hi there! Making this tonight, recipe list says 1 1/2 cup whole milk, recipe itself says add 2 cups whole milk. Can you please clarify which is correct? Thanks so much! Love your recipes!!

    1. Thank you so much Andrea, I appreciate that! 🙂 And so sorry for the typo; it is 1-1/2 cups milk, thank you!

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