posted January 17, 2023
Smoked Cheese: A How-to Guide
Smoked cheese is the perfect snack, sandwich addition, or flavor booster to pasta or soups. I’ll teach you how to smoke cheese so you can replicate this gourmet product at home!
Smoked cheese is typically only seen at high-end grocers or specialty stores and it comes with a price tag. Luckily, if you’ve got any type of grill at home, you can easily recreate those expensive results over and over again with fantastic results. Plus, you get to have a lot of fun doing it!
Keep in mind that smoking your own cheese at home will take some extra materials or equipment, and there’s a bit of waiting/resting time involved. But if you’re willing to put in the time and effort, you’ll end up with the most amazing, homemade smoked cheese around.
Materials Needed to Smoke Cheese
Here’s what you’ll need to smoke cheese:
- An outdoor grill. Any variety will do. You don’t need a super fancy or expensive grill to smoke cheese!
- A cool day. You do not want to be smoking this cheese when the temperature is hot outside. The internal temperature of your grill needs to stay well below 90 degrees F.
- A smoke tube. This will help you infuse your cheese with all that amazing smoky flavor.
- Wood pellets. As far as smoke, I prefer using mild wood varieties. My favorites are apple, cherry, maple, or pecan.
- Parchment paper.
- Vacuum sealer. This last item is not necessary but highly recommended to help your smoked cheese last as long as possible.
Best Cheese for Smoking
Feel free to choose your favorite cheese to smoke, though I do recommend hard or semi-hard cheeses for smoking. Soft cheeses have a tendency to take on too much smoke flavor, as well as giving you trouble keeping them from falling through your grill grates.
My favorites are a nice cheddar, hard mozzarella, pepper jack, and gouda. Any of these take on smoke beautifully. I recommend you purchase the large blocks and cut them down into 2-3 inch bricks. Once you feel confident with your technique and flavor profiles, you can branch into more expensive cheeses!
How to Smoke Cheese
Let’s get down to the entire process now, shall we? Here’s how to smoke cheese.
- Select a grill. Select an outdoor grill or smoker to smoke your cheese. You won’t be turning on your grill as a heat source, it’s simply acting as the vessel for holding your cheese and keeping the smoke flowing around it.
- Light the tube smoker. To make your grill into a cold smoker, light a tube smoker inside the grill. There are different sizes and varieties, but I find I get the most use out of this tube smoker because it lasts long enough but doesn’t take up a lot of space. Light the tube smoker according to the manufacturer’s instructions and place it in your smoker. Make sure the flame is extinguished and the smoke is rolling.
- Smoke. Arrange your cheese on the grates, making sure they aren’t touching on the sides and there is airflow around each piece of cheese. Close the lid and smoke for 1-2 hours.
- Refrigerate. Once your cheese is done smoking, remove it from the grill and wrap it in parchment or untreated butcher paper. Refrigerate for 24-48 hours.
- Vacuum seal the cheese. Remove the cheese from the paper and vacuum seal the cheese. If you don’t have a vacuum sealer, place it in a zip-top freezer bag and get out as much air as you can. Label and date the cheeses.
- Refrigerate for 2 weeks. Place your sealed bags in the fridge for 2 weeks. If you sampled some of your cheese right after smoking, you will taste really smoky, almost acrid, cheese. As it sits in the fridge, that smoke flavor will distribute throughout the cheese and mellow out significantly.
- Enjoy! After 2 weeks, your cheese will be lovely and ready to enjoy.
How Long to Smoke Cheese
There is no hard and fast rule for how long to smoke cheese. You can leave it on the smoke anywhere from 30 minutes to over 2 hours depending on how smoky you would like the final product.
If you want lighter smoke flavor, leave your cheese on the smoker for around 1 hour. Personally, I like to leave my cheese on for about 2 hours. I find that it takes on enough smoke flavor without becoming overwhelming.
More Smoked Cheese Recipes
Whether you’re looking for other smoked cheese recipes, or you need some inspiration on how to use this gorgeous, new smoked cheese coming off your smoker, check out a few suggestions below!
Smoked Cheese Recipe
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This post was originally published in December 2018. We recently updated it with more information and helpful tips. The recipe remains the same.
- 16 ounces block of cheese (cut into small blocks)
- Select your grill. The grill for this smoked cheese isn't preheated, you're simply using it to cold smoke the cheese. Be sure to use a grill that has good ventilation and one that you can easily track the temperature inside the grill. You do not want the temperature to go above 90 degrees F.
- Light the tube smoker. Light the tube smoker according to the manufacturer’s instructions and place it in your smoker. Make sure the flame is extinguished and the smoke is rolling before you place the cheese on the grill.
- Smoke the cheese. Arrange the cheese on the grill grates. For best results, make sure they aren’t touching on the sides and there is airflow around each piece of cheese. Close the lid and smoke the cheese for about 1 hour for a lighter smoke flavor or 2 hours for a bolder smoke flavor.
- Wrap and refrigerate. Once the cheese is done smoking, remove it from the grill and wrap it in parchment paper or untreated butcher paper. Put it in the fridge for 24-48 hours.
- Seal tightly. Remove the cheese from the paper and vacuum seal it. If you do not have a vacuum seal, place the cheese in a zip-top bag and remove all the air before sealing tightly.
- Refrigerate and rest. Once the cheese is sealed, place it back in the fridge for 2 weeks to allow the smoke to distribute through the cheese and mellow.
- Enjoy. After that 2 week resting period, you're ready to open up that cheese and enjoy it however you please!
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