You know and love cheese with all your heart. But are you ready to level up your cheese?
We’re talking about smoked cheeses. These delectable hunks of dairy have a complex flavor brought on by the smokiness and aging that makes them almost irresistible.
You can add them to charcuterie boards, shred them into sauces, put them in sandwiches, on crackers, or just munch on them as a snack.
The downside? Smoked cheeses can be pretty pricey. Luckily for us, smoking cheese at home is perfectly easy and doable.
If you have a smoker or grill, knowing how to smoke cheese can save you a ton of money. All you need is a good smoked cheese recipe.
So, how do you smoke cheese? We go into detail about the best cheeses to smoke and walk you through the entire smoking process. Sounds interesting to you? Stick around and find out more!
What are the Best Cheeses for Smoking?
While all smoked cheeses taste great, not all are great for smoking by yourself at home. You need to pick high temperature cheese or something that can hold up at a high temperature without melting.
The best cheeses for smoking are robust ones, like mozzarella, gouda, and pepper jack. You can also smoke cheddar cheese with excellent results.
The important thing is that your cheese has to be firm. Softer cheeses will crumble and will retain too much of the smoky flavor and can taste acrid.
Homemade cold smokers can be a little unpredictable so you need to err on the side of caution. Solid cheeses will hold onto the right amount of smokiness, which will give them a perfect and complex flavor profile.
It is also important to remember that you shouldn’t use shredded cheese as it will melt in the smoker. Using large blocks will also mute the smoky aspect.
Instead, cut the cheese into 2 to 4 inch blocks. If you want a mild smoky flavor, keep your blocks of cheese bigger.
What You Need for Smoking Cheese
You might think that smoking cheese requires a lot of sophisticated equipment. If you have a cold smoker, that’s great, but it isn’t the only way to get the job done. You can make a cold smoker box yourself, for just a dollar!
Anyone with a grill or smoker can cold smoke cheese. Here’s what you need to smoke cheese in a smoker or grill (electric or otherwise).
- Smoker Tube (You can find these on Amazon and most hardware stores; or even make a DIY tube smoker).
- Any kind of smoker or grill
- Wood chips or charcoal bricks
- Parchment or butcher paper
How to Smoke Cheese
Now let’s get on with the actual smoking process. You can use these steps to smoke cheese in an electric smoker or to smoke cheese on a pellet grill.
Using a Smoking Tube:
- Fill your smoke tube with any wood pellets or chips to the brim. Use something mild like apple, cherry, or maple wood for the best flavor.
- Take a heat gun and hold it against the pellets on the smoker tube. Do this on your grill or smoker, if you want to smoke cheese on a Traeger or something similar. Set the smoke tube with pellets directly on the grill and then set the heat as it creates flames.
- Turn the heat gun on and allow it to set the pellets on fire. They need to catch on fire to allow the pellets to smolder and create smoke.
- Put your cheese pieces on a wire rack in your smoker and shut the lid. Allow the cheese to smoke for 2 hours. After an hour, turn the cheese over and then keep smoking for another hour.
- The temperature needs to stay at 90F, as anything higher will melt your cheese. This low temperature is why the process is known as cold smoking.
- Once the smoking process is complete, remove the cheese from the grill. The flame should be out, with no more smoke coming from the pellets.
- Wrap the cheese parchment paper or butcher paper and let label them if needed. Let the cheese rest in your fridge for at least 2 weeks.
This will age the cheese and give it a more mature taste. If you try eating the cheese before this time, it will taste acrid and gritty.
This process is ideal for smoking cheese in a Masterbuilt electric smoker, and similar models. You can store smoked cheeses like this in the fridge for up to 6 months.
Using a Charcoal Grill:
Want some smoked cheddar cheese?
High temp cheddar cheese tastes heavenly when smoked and will take your grilled cheese sandwich to new heights. If you haven’t tried smoked mac and cheese Pit Boss-grill style, you don’t know what you’re missing out on.
You can also use this process for pepper jack and gouda adjust the steps to work with propane smoker recipes too. The Little Chief Smoker manual will also make the process much easier.
- On one side of the grill, light up around three to six charcoals and allow them mostly to ash over. Then place a handful of wood pellets on top.
- Inside the grill, put an aluminum tin full of ice, keeping the grate and cheese as far away as you can from lit charcoal heat sources. For most typical grills, it is best to have the heat source on the right and the ice tin and cheese to the left.
- You need to make sure that the temperature does not surpass 90 degrees Fahrenheit. Also, the ice tin should not be placed right over the charcoal fire as this will melt your ice pretty quickly.
- Once the coals are lit and the wood chips are placed on top, quickly put the aluminum tin and place your cheeses on the grate. Keep enough room between cheese chunks to allow the smoke to circulate easily.
- Close the dome of the grill quickly and let the system smoke. In case the smoke dies down after the first 20 or 30 minutes, just add one or two more unlit charcoal briquettes and another fistful of wood, which will give you another 20 or 30 minutes of cold smoking.
- You may need to add or remove charcoal depending on how your grill or smoker works. Just remember to keep the temperature at 90F.
- Around halfway through the smoking process, turn the cheeses on the grate, moving them front to back and flipping the blocks over.
- If you want your cheese to have a pronounced smokiness, smoke them for 3-4 hours. If you want a milder level of smoke, you can limit it to one or two hours.
Tips for the Best Smoked Cheese
If you’re smoking cheese for the first time, you might feel unprepared. These tips will make sure your cheese tastes just like the stuff from the store!
- Freeze your cheese for 2 hours before smoking, after cutting them into blocks. This further prevents the cheese from melting and allows the smoke to infuse into the cheese evenly.
- Position the grill grate above the lower grate and put the cheese off on the side of the smoke.
- For better smoke dispersal on all sides, turn over the cheese pieces every 30 minutes.
- Monitor the thermometer constantly to keep the temperature at 85 to 90F.
- Smaller cheese pieces equal a larger surface area and more exposure to the smoke.
Any Other Questions?
Below, you will find answers to questions people often have about smoking cheese.
01. How Long Should I Smoke My Cheese?
For a slight to average smokiness, smoke the cheese for 1-2 hours. If you want a more intense smoky flavor, you can smoke them for 3 or even 4 hours.
02. How to Store Smoked Cheeses and Keep Them Fresh?
After the two weeks in the fridge are up, take out your cheese from the parchment paper. Allow them to breathe a little and then place them in vacuum-sealed bags.
If you don’t have a vacuum sealer, place them in Ziploc bags and push out as much air as you can. Then, you can keep them in the fridge or a pantry in cool weather.
03. What is the Best Wood for Smoking Cheese?
Mild flavored wood is the best for smoking cheese. These include apple, maple, cherry, peach, and pearwood.
04. How Long Can Cheddar Cheese Sit Out?
Hard cheeses like cheddar can sit out for around 8 hours without melting, crumbling, or going bad.
05. How to Use a Smoke Tube?
To use a smoke tube, fill it up with wood chips or pellets. Use a heat gun or torch to light them on fire, and allow the pellets to start producing smoke.
Adding smoked cheese to recipes that call for regular cheese is the easiest way to jazz up basic recipes. Once you know how to smoke cheese, you can save lots of money as you won’t have to buy overpriced ones. The process is fairly easy and won’t even take up much time!
If you want a fun weekend project that yields delicious results, give DIY smoked cheeses a shot. Top your salad with cubes of smoked cheese. Make yourself an extra-special BLT.
But don’t just keep your smoked to yourself. Next time you put together a cheese platter for your guests, watch their shock when you reveal you smoked the cheese yourself!