Level up your comfort food cravings with our smokey grill-baked imitation lobster macaroni and cheese.
Rich, creamy, baked macaroni and cheese enhanced with the perfect kiss of apple, cherry, or hickory wood smokey flavor. It’s an ideal marriage of comfort and taste for any Fall tailgating barbecue, campfire meal, or family dinner. We’ve scaled it up to feed a crowd and then down again to serve just two people in mini cast-iron skillet size for a Fall-ish themed course full of classic comfort with loads of umm, umm-goodness. It’ll have you swooning with “I Do Love Its” every time!
But this Comfort Food is not a Mac & Cheese Only to Eat in Autumn.
And you wouldn’t have to prepare it on the grill, for that matter. Because for many years, my grandma made the simple, hearty original version of this dish before me, minus the peppers and lobster and without the grill. You can take a peek at the basic recipe here.
In my mind, there was nothing that could have taken grandma’s recipe for this baked macaroni and cheese main course or side dish to a greater OMG delicious comfort food level. It was always perfect as it was, that is, until it hit the grill.
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How to Make this Grill-baked Mac & Cheese
Of course, we started with gluten-free macaroni , cooking it until it was tender and firm but no longer crunchy – al-dente’ (Ahl-DEN-Tay), as they say.
While the macaroni is cooking, you’ll sauté diced sweet peppers, minced jalapeno for a bit of bite, some minced garlic, and juicy chunks of lobster  just until it begins to brown.
When the noodles have cooked, drain them well, then add two tablespoons of real butter, some cumin, black pepper, and salt, stirring lightly to combine. Next, add the sautéed peppers and lobster mixture from earlier, and fold in.
Add half of the macaroni mixture to your cast iron skillet, pour in the half-n-half (enough to almost reach the top of the layer), then add a generous layer of creamy Colby cheese. Then, add another layer of the macaroni mixture, pile it high with the remaining Colby cheese. For the final touch, you’ll scatter sliced black olives on top of it all with a sprinkle of Asiago cheese and some chili powder. Finally, we grill-bake it over a fire with woodchips for just the right amount of smoky flavor to enhance the taste.
We’ve used applewood, cherrywood, and hickory wood to achieve the smokey taste, and all work equally well, though my preference is applewood.
Believe me when I say the result is a smoked mac and cheese that you’ll dream of for days, and maybe even months to come wanting to make it all over again.
Picture the recipe step-by-step...
Everyone will probably agree that macaroni and cheese is pretty fantastic all on its own.
Still, when you add the cumin, a little garlic, some peppers, and lobster to the dish, you end up with something amazingly extra incredible. Top it with black olives and a little Asiago cheese, then grill-bake it with wood smoke, and it’s spectacular!
Our Best Tips for Making this Lobster Mac & Cheese
What is the best cheese to use for baked macaroni and cheese?
While the best type of cheese for this dish is subjective, Colby cheese is my favorite choice for all baked macaroni and cheese. It’s flavorful, melts wonderfully and uniformly into the half-and-half, and it gives the macaroni and cheese its traditional orange color. However, while Colby is our family’s favorite, we have made this dish with Cheddar cheese. If using cheddar, you will want to make sure that you choose a mild, medium, or sharp cheddar cheese and not an extra sharp or aged cheddar. Aged cheeses can separate when melted, and they will not bake into the macaroni and half-and-half, creating the signature cheesy, melty sauce for this dish.
Then topping the dish with the Asiago cheese kicks the baked dish up a notch, further adding its mild nutty, creamy flavor. Even an aged Asiago cheese sharp flavor is excellent for this recipe.
I'm a BIG fan of Grating the Cheese Yourself...
No matter what cheese you choose, I’m a big fan of grating or shredding cheese yourself. If you’ve seen some of the other recipes on this site, you will notice that I talk about it in those recipes too.
The stuff in the bags is more convenient, of course, but it’s coated with an anti-caking powder to prevent it from clumping and sticking together. Unfortunately, that coating also prevents it from melting because it blocks moisture, which is not what you need when making baked macaroni and cheese, and you want the cheese and the half-and-half to come together, creating a creamy sauce. Not to mention, the cost is more expensive. So do yourself a favor, shred the cheese yourself for a better melt, and save money. It only takes a few minutes.
What to Grill-Bake It In
We like to cook it in the lid of this Lodge 10-1/4-inch cast-iron double dutch oven, we have also made it in the Lodge 10-1/4-inch cast iron round pan (available in three sizes), but any cast iron pan, skillet, or high-heat rated baking dish will do. Remember that whatever dish or pan you use on your grill or in a smoker can cause discoloration. So you may want to think twice before throwing this mac and cheese in your favorite baking dish.
A few more great points we love about using cast iron pans or skillets:
- Cast iron seamlessly goes from cooking on the stovetop, oven, or grill to the table without dirtying too many dishes.
- Using the lid of the dutch oven or using a shallow round pan will give plenty of surface area for the mac and cheese to draw in the flavor of the smoke.
- Cast iron is the ultimate grill-safe pan and won’t be damaged when using it on the grill.
A Note About the Grill Temperature...
You’ll want to keep the temperature at the level of the grill grate relatively low. Keeping it around 250°-300°F will ensure that the macaroni noodles don’t overcook and become dry.
So, when preheating the grill, bring it up to around 350°F to get the woodchips smoking. Then, put your choice of grilling wood in the smokebox (applewood is our favorite), and start the smoke. Note: You will reduce the temperature to around 250°-300°F when you place the pan on the grill.
After the pan is on the grill, take a peek (about 10-15 minutes later) to ensure that temps are baking without burning and adjust the heat up or down if necessary. Then close the lid and leave it to continue baking and smoking until 20-25 minutes have passed.
Can you reheat this Lobster Mac and Cheese?
Whatever version of baked macaroni and cheese you make, it tends to thicken up when it’s cooled. So I recommend reheating as follows:
To reheat a significant amount:
- Break up the cool mixture evenly in the baking dish or skillet. Add a little more half-and-half (or milk), then place in an oven set at 325°F for about 20 minutes until warmed through.
If reheating one or two servings:
- Place the servings in a microwave-safe bowl with a small amount of milk or half-and-half and heat on 50-percent power at 45-second intervals until warmed through.
Can you freeze Lobster Mac and Cheese?
Typically dairy does not freeze very well, and it can separate and curdle upon thawing. Therefore, I would recommend eating up any leftovers within a day or two.
Inspiration is everywhere!
If you’ve read this far, you might be wondering how we came up with this whole lobster mac and cheese recipe anyway?
Well, let’s just say that airports and restaurants can be a great source of inspiration for those of us who love trying new food combinations.
Initially, making lobster mac and cheese came from seeing a poster on the plane train at the Atlanta airport. Because he was starving, the idea hit Dear Hubby head-on, and he had to have some. So my dear sweet hubby did what any time-strapped travelin’ guy would do; he took a picture of the poster on his phone to show me once he got home.
We both dug into the idea of creating our signature recipe version of mac and cheese with lobster. Then after several attempts made on the stovetop, baked in the oven, grill-baked, and finally grill-baked with smoke, we came up with our favorite that you’re reading about here.
So why has it taken me over two years to share it?
Seriously, there are so many recipes we want to share and not nearly enough time to share everything. So it often ends up that I’m pulling from ideas that have become favorite standbys for how we eat around here. And while I don’t exactly know why, I always think of things like campfires, grilling, and smoky-tasting foods with rich woodsy flavors when I think of Fall. That’s most likely because it takes me back to when I was growing up. A time when dinnertime at our cabin in northern lower Michigan meant scarfing down rustic cooked meals around a dimly lit table with smells of woodsmoke from the Frankin fireplace that warmed our cozy, woodsy shelter wafting through the air.
And then, there’s the original version of this recipe that takes me back to summertime dinners sitting shoulder to shoulder between cousins around grandma and grandpa’s porch table at their cottage at the lake eating grandma’s baked macaroni and cheese and fresh-caught bluegills. So good!
For more healthy recipes that you can meal prep, check out this month’s round-up of ideas in the Meal Prep Collection!
Once you try this Smokey Grill-Baked Lobster Mac & Cheese, be sure to check out a few of our other always gluten-free recipes with seafood.
 If you need to be gluten-free, make sure to look for the certified gluten-free designation on the macaroni and imitation lobster packaging.
 And if you can’t find imitation lobster, you could always substitute real lobster in this dish.
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Smokey Grill-Baked Lobster Mac & Cheese
- 10-1/4-inch Cast Iron Pan or Skillet
- Large Saucepan
- Medium Skillet
- Cutting Board
- Cheese Grater
- Utensils (Cooks Knife, Measuring Cups & Spoons, Rubber Spatula or Large Spoon)
- 2 cups gluten-free Elbow Macaroni cooked
- 3-1/2 tablespoons Butter divided
- 1 cup sweet Peppers mixed varieties
- 2 Jalapeno Peppers minced
- 3 cups Colby Cheese grated
- 8 ounces gluten-free Imitation Lobster chunk-style (drained) 
- 1 teaspoon Garlic minced
- 1 teaspoon Cumin
- ¼ teaspoon Black Pepper
- ⅛ teaspoon Salt
- 2 cups Half-n-Half
- ⅓ cup Black Olives sliced
- ¼ cup Asiago Cheese grated
- ¼ teaspoon Chili Powder
- Preheat the grill, bring it to around 350°F to get the woodchips smoking. Then, put your choice of grilling wood in the smokebox (applewood is our favorite), and start the smoke. Note: You will reduce the temperature to around 250°-300°F when you place the pan on the grill.
- Next, get the pan ready by buttering the interior of a high-heat baking pan or cast-iron skillet liberally with ½ tablespoon butter. Set the pan aside until needed.
- Cook macaroni noodles according to the package directions.2 cups gluten-free Elbow Macaroni
- As the macaroni cooks, dice the sweet peppers, mince the jalapeno pepper, mix to combine, then measure to equal one cup. Set aside. Next, grate the Colby and Asiago cheeses. Set aside.1 cup sweet Peppers, 2 Jalapeno Peppers, 3 cups Colby Cheese, ¼ cup Asiago Cheese
- Add the peppers to the medium skillet over medium-low heat with 1 tablespoon butter and sauté for 2-3 minutes. Add the chunk lobster and garlic, continuing to sauté until it just begins to brown.1 cup sweet Peppers, 2 Jalapeno Peppers, 8 ounces gluten-free Imitation Lobster, 1 teaspoon Garlic
- Drain the macaroni when cooked tender and firm but no longer crunchy - al-dente’ (Ahl-DEN-Tay). Add the remaining 2 tablespoons butter to the noodles, the cumin, black pepper, and salt, stirring lightly to combine. Next, add the sautéed peppers and lobster mixture and fold in.
- Add half of the combined macaroni, pepper, and lobster mixture to the prepared cast iron skillet to assemble. Pour in the Half-n-Half, then cover the layer with half of the grated Colby cheese. Repeat with another layer of the remaining macaroni, pepper, and lobster mixture, then cover with the rest of the grated Colby cheese. Top with the sliced black olives and the grated Asiago cheese. Sprinkle the chili powder over the top.3 cups Colby Cheese, 2 cups Half-n-Half, 1/3 cup Black Olives, ¼ cup Asiago Cheese, ¼ teaspoon Chili Powder
- Now, reduce the grill heat and place the filled pan onto the preheated grill to smoke and bake for approximately 20-25 minutes or until the mac and cheese is lightly browned, and bubbly around the edges and the cheese is melty.
(Nutritional values are an approximation. Actual nutritional values may vary due to preparation techniques, variations related to suppliers, regional and seasonal differences, or rounding.)
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