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How to Smoke Cheese on an Offset Barbecue Smoker

Lavern Gingerich

If you’ve got a barbecue smoker, you will definitely want to learn how to smoke cheese. Smoked cheese is a real treat, and it’s really not hard to smoke.

There are many ways to serve and enjoy smoked cheese. It makes a delicious snack with crackers. And it’s extremely edible in sandwiches and salads (shredded).

When you smoke cheese, you are cold smoking. You won’t maintain 225 degrees in the smoker like you do when you smoke ribs or chicken. Otherwise, the cheese would melt. You need to build a small fire that cranks out some nice smoke, but keep the heat under 90 degrees F. For this reason, it’s best to smoke cheese in the fall or winter when it’s cold outside. It’s hard to build a fire in your smoker in 80 degree weather and keep the smoker under 90.

Simply follow these 10 easy steps and you’ll find it’s a breeze to smoke cheese.

  1. Pick your cheese. You can smoke about any kind of cheese, including Colby, Mozzarella, Cheddar, Muenster, and Swiss.
  2. Cut the cheese into blocks about 4″ x 4″ x 1″. No seasoning is needed.
  3. Let your cheese adjust to room temperature for at least one hour.

  4. Make a small “fire can.” Start with a large tin can, such as a 46 oz. pineapple can with both ends removed. (This works well for a smoker the size of the TS60 Barbecue Smoker; if you have a larger smoker, you may need to step up to a coffee can.) Fasten a piece of 1/2” x 1/2” wire netting over one end to make a ventilated bottom.
  5. Load the grate. Spray the smoker grate with cooking oil. Put the cheese on the grate spaced at least one inch apart.
  6. Build a fire inside the can. Start with six charcoal briquettes. Light the charcoal with a propane torch or electric starter. Once the charcoal is well lit, set the can on the charcoal grate in the smoker firebox. This way you’ll have a good draft through the tin can. Adjust the firebox vents to one-fourth open position, or give it more air if the fire lags.
  7. Keep the smoke puffing. Add a handful or two of dry wood chips on top of the fire at the beginning. Soak some wood chips in water. You will keep adding dry and wet wood chips throughout the smoke.
  8. Maintain the fire at 90 degrees F. Keep the temperature in the smoking chamber 90 degrees or below. Make as little heat with the fire as you can. Stay close to your smoker because you will  need to add wood chips every 15–20 minutes. Periodically add another briquette about every 30–40 minutes. Add a handful or two of dry wood chips and then add some wet ones on top to keep the fire under control. If your fire gets too hot, just throw on more wet wood chips. But don’t overdo it; your fire will be small, so make sure you give it enough dry fuel to keep it going.
    Fire tip: Periodically before adding fuel, lift the can with a pair of pliers and tap it against the bottom to shake the ashes out the bottom and help the fire burn more efficiently.
  9. Smoke the cheese for 2–6 hours. You will smoke the cheese for a certain amount of time, not until it reaches some internal temperature. This is where you will need to experiment and decide what your preference is. It also depends on what kind of wood chips you used and how much smoke you made. So if you’re in doubt, just create a moderate amount of smoke and leave it on for about three or four hours and adjust it the next time for more or less smoke according to your taste.
  10. Wrap and refrigerate the cheese. Remove your cheese from the barbecue smoker and wrap each piece individually in plastic wrap or put each one in a freezer bag. Refrigerate the cheese for at least a week to let the smoke flavor penetrate the cheese. If you have the patience, you can leave it in the fridge for two weeks or longer; I’ve heard it gets better.

We hope you enjoy our smoked cheese recipe. The key will be to constrain your fire, and like I mentioned earlier, the perfect time to do it is when it’s cold outside—just in time for the holidays.  :)

Just go do it now. Then leave a comment below and let us know how it went.

Have fun!

Lavern

PS. Meadow Creek’s offset barbecue smokers are perfect for cold smoking cheese. And they make it easy and fun to cook some of the most amazing barbecue you have ever tasted or imagined.

35 Responses to “How to Smoke Cheese”

  1. Marlin's Smoked Cheese Recipe | SeriousBBQs.com Says:

    [...] had some questions on how to smoke cheese, so this week, I’m sharing with you our easy 10-step smoked cheese recipe (for offset [...]

  2. David Friend Says:

    This is AWESOME!

    [Reply]

    Lavern Reply:

    I hope it goes well.

    Lavern

    [Reply]

  3. Judy Myers Says:

    Can’t wait to try it. I love smoked cheese. Thanks for the recipe.
    Judy

    [Reply]

    Lavern Reply:

    Thanks for your feedback!

    Lavern

    [Reply]

  4. John Says:

    Lavern,

    Thanks for a GREAT way to be able to smoke cheese! Not having a way to “cold smoke” this is a wonderful way for the rest of us to enjoy smoked cheese!

    John

    [Reply]

  5. Luther Sikes Says:

    Sounds great and appears to be easy enough. I plan to try it this week!!

    [Reply]

  6. Dave Miller Says:

    What is your recommendation on wood chip types? surely certain types are better than others.

    [Reply]

    Steve Turbyfield Reply:

    Use Locust it works GREAT!!!!!

    [Reply]

    Lavern Reply:

    Do you mean locust wood?

    [Reply]

    Geoff Holmes Reply:

    @Dave Miller,

    My suggestion is to simply experiment with different woods until you find a combination you like between the type of cheese you’re smoking. This is similar to pairing a wine with a meat (i.e. Chardonnay with poultry or Merlot or Cabernet with beef). However, I’ve had great success with apple, cherry, peach and almond. Good luck!

    [Reply]

  7. Cynthia Belden Says:

    Do you have a method for this fabulous cheese using a smoker? It’s difficult to get the temperature low enough not to melt the cheese. My thought was to put the cheese in some cheesecloth to contain it. Any thoughts?

    [Reply]

    Lavern Reply:

    Yes, as we explain in the recipe, you can make a small fire “can” to constrain your fire. Or you can buy a smoke generator or use another smoker to make your smoke and connect the two with a dryer hose.

    [Reply]

  8. Mark Thompson Says:

    I have a TS 60 and have done a little cold smoking–I like your method of using the small can fire box. I would also reccommend filling the water reservoir–this really helps to hold the heat down, I actually added ice periodically to mine–Worked great !

    [Reply]

    Lavern Reply:

    Hi, Mark! That is a great idea. I never thought of that.

    Lavern

    [Reply]

  9. Leszek Says:

    Thanks for suggestions. Perfect cheese! Greetings from Poland

    [Reply]

  10. BUS Says:

    TRY HAND RUBBING IN SOME OF YOUR FAVORITE SPICES. I RUB THEM IN AFTER THE CHEESE GETS TO ROOM TEMP.

    [Reply]

  11. Tim Says:

    Just got done smoking some cheddar and put it in the fridge. Looks great and smells great. Hopefully it tastes just as great. Thanks for this.

    [Reply]

    Lavern Reply:

    You are very welcome.

    [Reply]

  12. scott Says:

    I’m stoked…..gonna work on it this weekend. Have u tried Gooda or ….. I cant remember…its a buttery cheese? Anyway thanks for the tips

    [Reply]

    Lavern Reply:

    Great! No, I haven’t tried that kind of cheese. Let me know how it turns out. :)

    Have fun!

    Lavern

    [Reply]

    Debi Reply:

    @scott, I use a grill with a smoker off to the side for my Gouda. About 4 or 5 briquettes will keep the temp down around 75 degrees which works well for this cheese. Try AppleWood!

    [Reply]

  13. John Says:

    I don’t have a smoker but I got a 50gal drum style charcoal BBQ, could I get it to work in that???

    [Reply]

    Lavern Reply:

    Does it have an offset firebox? I don’t know, but I would say try it if you think you can keep it cool enough.

    [Reply]

  14. Richard Womack Says:

    I have an off-set smoker, but my smoker has bar-type racks. After seeing the picture of your racks made with expanded metal, and angle iron, complete with corner handles, I am going to fabricate some of my own in the same fashion. Do you have your smoker set up with multiple shelves or just the single row? Resisting temptation of eating the cheese for at least a week will be hard. Once or twice a year, I make several kinds of Jerky and Kippered meats, which I give for gifts to my friends and relatives. The addition of smoked cheeses will add a nice touch to my gifts. I can’t wait to try it out!

    [Reply]

  15. Richard Womack Says:

    I meant to add the make of my smoker it is a Brinkman with a charcoal/wood fire box. I also have a H2O Electric Smoker by Char-Broil.(which I use as a low temp oven when doing meats because the thermostat allows me to maintain 225-240degrees for long periods of time} I’m going to try it also with cheese because it has the water pan and it quite a bit smaller. I may have to use your idea of piping the smoke to it, and just use it as a smoke box….Thanks…Rich

    [Reply]

    Lavern Reply:

    You are very welcome. Thanks for sharing your story. Great idea to give smoked cheese as gifts! —Lavern

    [Reply]

  16. Jeannine Says:

    Do you have a printable version. I realize reading this is easy, but I’m researching this for my husband, who is dying to smoke some cheese in his new smoker. A printable recipe would be easy to hand to him. Thanks! It does sound easy!

    [Reply]

    Lavern Reply:

    It should work fine to simply print it from your web browser (ctrl+p on a PC).

    [Reply]

  17. Duane Says:

    Ok, been wanting to smoke ssome cheese since I got my EGG. It is on now with some cheddar. Last minute threw some string cheese on. Using indirect cooking, trying to keep heat down. Will let you know outcome. :-)

    [Reply]

    Lavern Reply:

    Great work, Duane. Let us know.

    [Reply]

  18. Lee Says:

    I’m going to give this a whirl this weekend, thank you for the tips.

    Also it is nice to see people leave comments and get replies, so many time the moderator doesn’t reply.
    Thumbs up !

    [Reply]

  19. Lee Says:

    Follow up:
    I did smoke several different types of cheese, Gruyere, Colby Jack, Asiago and Gouda Cheese and I cheated and tasted a little of all and Yummy ! I vacuum sealed the cheese and am going to wait until next weekend to open.
    I smoked two batches, first batch was with 20% Hickory and 80% Pecan, the second batch I used all apple wood.
    On the early taste the apple seemed to be less bitter with a much smoother flavor and the harder cheese like the Gruyere and Asiago had a awesome flavor.
    On the batch with Pecan wood I smoked everything for 3 hours and the soft cheese seemed to be a bit bitter.
    On the Apple smoke I smoked the harder cheese for 2 hours and the softer only one hour the soft cheese was very good this time, not sure if it was due to the type of wood or the time I smoke it..
    At this point I believe I will smoke mostly the harder cheeses and with apple.
    Again thank you for all the tips I wish I could post a couple pictures as I think I did OK
    Have a Great Day!

    [Reply]

  20. Gloria Kelley Says:

    My 17 year old grandson, who is into serious smoking of meats and fish just tried his hand at smoking cheese about a month ago. Tasted them for the first time today and they were absolutely incredibly delicious. He did Colby, mozzarella, and cheddar – all with Applewood.

    [Reply]

    Lavern Reply:

    Great to hear! Thanks for posting.

    [Reply]

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