Smoked Cheese: A How-to Guide

December 23, 2018

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

Smoked Cheese

Smoked cheese is typically only seen at high-end grocers or specialty stores and they come 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! Here’s what you’ll need:

An outdoor grill (any variety)
A cool day (the internal temperature of your grill needs to stay well below 90 degrees F)
A Smoke Tube
Wood Pellets
Parchment Paper
Vacuum Sealer (not necessary, but recommended)

Best Cheese for Smoking

Select your favorite varieties of cheese. I 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 to start with are a nice cheddar, hard mozzarella, pepper jack, and gouda. Any of these take on smoke beautifully. I buy 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!

smoking cheese

How to Smoke Cheese

To make the best smoked cheese, start with an outdoor grill or smoker. You need a grill that has good ventilation (electric vault smokers don’t always work for smoking cheeses). You won’t be turning on your grill as a heat source, it is simply acting as the vessel for holding your cheese and keeping the smoke flowing around it.

Cheese is notoriously melty, so the first requirement of smoking cheese is cool temperatures. I use a Thermoworks thermometer inside my grill to be sure it stays under 90 degrees F.  To make your grill into a cold smoker, I use a tube smoker. There are different sizes and varieties, but I find I get the most use out of this 12 inch tube smoker because it lasts long enough to smoke a bunch of cheese but doesn’t take up a lot of space in the grill.

As far as smoke, I prefer using mild wood varieties. My favorites are apple, cherry, maple or pecan.

Light your 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. Arrange your cheese bricks on the grates of your grill. Make sure they aren’t touching on the sides and there is air flow around each piece of cheese. Close the lid and let that wood smoke do its’ thing. I like to leave my cheese on for about 2 hours. I find that it takes on enough smoke flavor without becoming overwhelming. If you want lighter smoke flavor, only leave your cheese in for 1 hour.

how to smoke cheese

Now comes the hard part. Waiting. Once your cheese is done smoking, remove it from the grill and wrap it in parchment or untreated butcher paper. It needs to breathe for a little bit. Put it in your fridge for 24-48 hours. From there, remove it from the paper and vacuum seal your 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. I do this by submerging the bag in water, leaving the top seal above the water line. The water will force out a majority of the air and when the zip top is almost under water, you seal it tightly (don’t let any water in the bag). Now label and date those cheeses so you don’t forget which cheese is in which bag.

Place your sealed bags in the fridge and wait. For 2 weeks. Not kidding. If you sampled some of your cheese right after smoking, you will taste really really smoky, almost acrid, cheese. The smoke is heavy on the outside of that cheese. As it sits in the fridge, that smoke flavor will distribute throughout the cheese and mellow out significantly.

After 2 weeks, your cheese will be lovely and ready to munch on as is, mix into Mac and Cheese, or melt onto a glorious cheeseburger. Enjoy!

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46 thoughts on “Smoked Cheese: A How-to Guide

  1. I just saw someone say they smoked cheese recently. It was the first time I had heard of doing it and I was looking for the method so this is perfect timing! This sounds like it would make great gifts around Christmas time!

  2. I must say this is the first I’ve heard of wrapping the cheese in parchment paper before sealing for 2 weeks. I just took my cheese out of the paper and vacuum sealed it. It smells and looks fantastic! Can’t wait to see how it turns out in 2 weeks!!

  3. Some sourses says that you should put a bit of water in any vessel inside smoker in order not to make cheese/meat too dry.
    Any thoughts on that?

    I do my first cold smoked chees tommorow 🙂

  4. I just left mine in the paper for two weeks and it was fine. Really great posting though. I’m now regularly cold smoking cheese at home now. Love it. And so do my friends. Can recommend this method.

  5. Just an update to my previous posting. I have a property in Spain and picked up some cheap Maasdam (Dutch cheese similar to Edam), and some Entrepinares Curado. These have both been smoked and sampled and I have to say they are worth trying. I’ve done two batches, a two hour smoke and a four hour smoke. Both excellent but as earlier advice states, the two hour smoke is a lot milder. I prefer strong flavours but love both these. I used apple wood again but have some cherry wood to smoke a second batch. Will let you know how it goes.

  6. We made this before thanksgiving and it was great! Our fridge took a few days to clear out the smoky smell after being in the parchment paper. What happens if we skip the parchment paper step and go straight to the foodsaver wrap? Or what do you think about storing in a cooler for the 24-48 hours? Thanks!

    1. I would like to know this as well… The smell in my fridge is bordering on unbearable. Definitely going to have to invest in a minifridge just for this purpose

      1. After a four hour smoke with any and all cheeses I wrap it with saran wrap write on the outside of their saran wrap with a marker date it. Place it in the fridge. I wait two weeks unwrap it then vacuum pack it. It don’t have smoke smell in the fridge

        1. I have smoked cheese for four years now. I smoke 50 pounds cut into one pound blocks with apple and cherry wood. Smoke for four to five hours. I remove from smoker and allow to set for an hour or so. Then I double wrap each block in plastic wrap,refrigerate and let mellow out for 3-4 weeks. Double wrapping eliminates a great deal of the “smokey” smell. I have kept this cheese as long as 8 months in fridge and it is just as good as day one!

    2. I vacuum seal my cheeses right away. Only thing I do before sealing is pat dry with a paper towel.
      I’ve kept smoked cheese for a year this way and it is outstanding.

    1. Some smokers have these shelves available for making beef jerky. I believe that many use them for smoking vegetables also. They are handy. I’d look for jerky racks for the maker of your smoker or head to your most well stocked BBQ shoppe and see if they have jerky racks.

    2. A non-stick grill mesh mat to top you BBQ’s/ smoker’s grill or even over a cooling rack works well, as it usually made of a material that does not transfer heat and keeps everything inside & it is easy clean up.

  7. We were given smoked cheese last year at Christmas, loved it. Just bought smoker and want too make my own.
    If you are using a smoker is it necessary to use a smoking tube?

    1. Not if you can keep the temperature of your smoker low enough. It’s really easy to accidentally melt your cheese so I recommend the smoke tube.

    2. I use my electric Bradley smoker. Turn oven heat off. Use just the smoke generator. Place a bowl of ice cubes with some water in the bottom. Keeps the temp around 90 degrees. 2 hours is good. Hard to let it season for two weeks but worth it. Much more uniform flavor.

  8. I’ve smoked extra mature cheddar with hickory pellets & must say I really found it difficult waiting to give it a taste. When the day arrived to taste it wow do I like it I pretty much did it by the suck it see method. After I had read your very useful guide, the advice it is almost the same process that I did mine. I’ve just purchased my next blocks of cheddar but I am going to use apple pellets this time. I would absolutely recommend people give it a go it’s not difficult to do & the rewards are very yummy.

  9. Thank you for your Info/site. I am new to cold smoking in England (UK). I am using mild cheddar over oak. First small block, smoked for about 3 hours. rested on a rack for a few hours. Wrapped and refrigerated. Tested after 3 days. Very good.
    Will keep on tasting every day to get the right relaxation/mellowing time.

  10. Love your article. I smoke the cheese in a Pit Boss vertical smoker and use a 6 inch smoker tube with apple pellets. 1st attempt smoker got too warm and cheese melted a bit. Now I put about an inch of water in a foil pan and freeze over night. temp stayed under 80 degrees & no melting issues. Hard to wait for 2 weeks. Thanks for your tips.

  11. Hello Just ordered a smoker tube on Amazon. What is the (mat or screen?) that the cheese is sitting on in the grill?
    Can’t wait to try your instructions.
    Thanks!

  12. I’ve been smoking cheese, salmon, ribs, steaks, and other meats for about 10 years. For most hardcore cheese smokers aging cheese for two weeks is the very minimum you should wait. And I am talking if you a desperate to eat some. I and many experienced smokers always let my cheese age a minimum of 4 weeks, even six weeks for even better taste. Depending on the type of wood, I smoke mine for up to 5 hours.

    1. Thank you very much. I have been looking all over the Internet for recommended times and found your comments to be very helpful.

  13. I’m in the middle of my second weekend of smoking cheese. My goal was to give them as holiday gifts. I’m curious about packaging them. After a day in parchment paper in the refrigerator, I have vacuumed sealed the cheese without the parchment paper. I understand the sealed bag provides the greatest longevity for the cheese but am left thinking how unattractive it is in terms of presentation. Is there any negative effect vacuum sealing the cheese wrapped in the parchment paper? The only other way I can think about doing it would be to just wrap the vacuumed sealed cheese in parchment paper for better presentation. Any thoughts on achieving the greatest presentation for the cheese.

  14. I wrapped my smoked cheese in parchment paper and then heard we needed to wait a couple of weeks to let it do it’s thing. I unwrapped it today and the edges are all hard and crusty I like cheese set out and dried out. What should I have done differently?

  15. Do I need warm temps to smoke cheese? Temps around here are a little below freezing, is it ok to leave cheese to cold smoke for a few hours like this or do I need the 70-80 deg range for best results?

    1. I live in a cold climate as will it’s about -10 or so, I have a Bradley smoker in a small shed, I just hang my cheese from the roof while I’m smoking meat, the temperature is below 0 inside the shed and the cheese taste great. I leave the cheese there until the meat is ready, sometimes longer.
      It’s always turned out great.

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