Calling all cheese lovers! Learn how to make smoked cheese at home using your grill or smoker with this easy step-by-step guide.
David and I smoked cheese for the first time last winter. Wintertime is the ideal time to smoke cheese since the temperatures need to be low so low. It’s pretty amazing how different it is compared to what you get from the store. Smoking cheese at home is a lot more flavorful and is much cheaper than buying it.
Use our step-by-step guide to help walk you through the simple process of smoking cheese at home in your backyard. The hardest part is waiting for the cheese to rest and the flavors to develop.
What is Smoked Cheese?
When done correctly, smoke-curing cheese imparts a gentle unique rich nutty flavor with subtle hints of toasted earth. As a result of the curing process, the flesh of the cheese forms a yellowish-brown pellicle. Cheese can either be cold-smoked or hot-smoked. This guide focuses on cold-smoking cheese.
What is Cold Smoking?
The cold smoke method involves smoking blocks of cheese on a charcoal grill or smoker for a few hours at a very low temperature. The smoke fills the smoke chamber and penetrates the cheese without getting too hot and melting the cheese.
There are two ways to cold smoke cheese:
- Use an offset or pellet grill to smoke the cheese indirectly so that the heat source is kept away from the cheese but not the smoke.
- Use a regular grill, smoking as indirectly as possible with the cheese over an aluminum pan of ice to help keep the temperature down.
At What Temperature Do You Smoke Cheese?
Temperature is crucial when smoking cheese. Fatty milk solids start to liquefy at about 90 degrees F. You must smoke cheese below 90 degrees F.
It’s also a good idea to keep the weather in mind when smoking cheese—the cooler it is outside, the less you have to worry about temps.
As you can tell by our video, David was scraping snow off our offset smoker before smoking the cheese.
What’s the best cheese for smoking?
Use any variety of hard or semi-hard cheeses with a mild flavor that you like. Soft cheeses are not recommended since they tend to absorb too much smoke.
Suggested Cheeses to Smoke: Cheddar, mozzarella, gouda, Monterey jack, gruyere, brie, and swiss.
If it is your first time smoking cheese, we recommend trying a hard and mild cheese like cheddar before smoking more expensive cheeses.
What Fuel Is Used to Smoke Cheese?
There are many ways to create the smoke for cheese: natural lump charcoal and woodchips, sawdust, straw, and hay. We highly recommend that you use wood pellets and a smoke tube. It’s the easiest way to smoke cheese.
With the help of a smoking tube, wood pellets can generate a nice, light, consistent stream of smoke for hours. You can purchase a smoking tube for very little money, but if you don’t have one, you can line pellets in a snake-like line inside a piece of heavy-duty aluminum foil or a pan to corral them.
You can purchase a smoking tube like ours HERE.
How long does it take to smoke cheese?
It takes anywhere from 2-4 hours to smoke cheese. It all depends on your taste and what you want to achieve.
It’s important to know that after the cheese smokes, it needs to be wrapped tightly to rest in the refrigerator for at least 1-2 weeks before trying it. If you try to eat the cheese right away, the smoke flavor is too strong. Allowing it to rest will allow the flavors to meld and the smoke flavor to mellow. After a week, we recommend trying the cheese to see how it tastes, but we like it even better about two weeks after smoking it.
We know waiting a week or two after smoking the cheese is hard, but it will be well worth it!
What Pellets or Wood Chips Are Best for Smoking Cheese?
Soft and mild smoke is the best for smoking cheese. Wood pellets such as oak, pecan, cherry, maple, or apple will provide good flavor for cheese. Experiment with cheaper cheese to discover the combinations you like best.
How To Store Smoked Cheese
- How to wrap smoked cheese seems to be a highly debated topic. Some say the cheese needs to breathe and wrap in butcher paper, parchment paper, or wax paper. After that, wrap the cheese in plastic wrap or vacuum-seal it. However, plastic keeps the cheese from drying out.
- Ultimately it is your choice as to what you wrap the cheese in. We used Press’n Seal plastic wrap without any issues with moisture or taste.
- Properly wrapped cheese can last 6-8 weeks in the fridge.
- We do not recommend freezing smoked cheese as it will affect the texture.
What’s Needed to Smoke Cheese
- Outdoor grill or smoker – offset grill, water smoker, or pellet grill are ideal, but any grill will work.
- Cool outdoor temperatures – 60 degrees or below is ideal for smoking cheese
- Cheese – Cheddar, mozzarella, gouda, Monterey jack, gruyere, brie, and Swiss.
- Grilling pan or tray – This is unnecessary but extremely helpful with placing and removing the cheese from the grill. Make sure to use a grilling pan or tray with holes to allow the smoke to circulate around the cheese. A cast-iron frying pan will not work well.
- Wood Pellets – mild fruit and nut woods
- Smoking Tube – or aluminum foil or pan
- Butane Torch – Heavy-duty lighter to start pellets
- Wrapping Material – plastic wrap or even a zip-top bag (vacuum seal if you have one). Some may even opt for butcher paper or waxed paper because it can breathe.
Watch Our Video On How To Make Smoked Cheese
How To Cold Smoke Cheese
Step #1: Prep the Cheese
Bring the cheese up to room temperature. Condensation will form on cold cheese when placed on the smoker cold. Condensation and moisture will affect the cheese’s ability to take on smoke. Take the cheese out of the refrigerator for at least two hours before smoking it.
Wipe off any moisture that forms on the cheese before smoking it.
Step #2: Make the Smoke
Light your smoking tube per the manufacturer’s instructions and place it in your smoker. Make sure there are no flames. Remember, you only want the smoke without heat. When a steady stream of smoke comes from the tube, arrange the cheese non-touching on a grill pan or directly on the grilling grate. Make sure there is plenty of airflow between each block so that smoke can reach the cheese on all sides.
Step #3 Smoke the Cheese
Use a grilling grate thermometer to monitor the grill temperature on warmer days.
Close the lid and let the magic happen. Smoke the cheese for 2-4 hours.
Step #4 Remove, Wrap, and Wait!
When the cheese has finished smoking, remove the cheese from the smoker. Wrap the cheese up and wait for the flavors to meld and develop for at least a week. In our opinion, we like it best after two weeks of rest. Eat or use, then store sealed in plastic wrap for 6-8 weeks in the refrigerator.
Smoked Cheese Tips And Tricks
- Check the Weather: Choose to smoke cheese when the weather is cooler than 60 degrees outside.
- Use a Probe Thermometer: If there is any question about the temperature of the grill or smoker, use a probe thermometer (like this one) to monitor the temperature. Make sure that the temps DO NOT rise above 80-90 degrees F.
- Ice Pan: A foil pan of ice placed inside the smoker under the cheese can reduce the temperature around the cheese for the duration of smoking.
- Small Blocks: For best results, blocks of cheese should be relatively small, like a pound or less, about 3-4 inches in length. Smaller chunks will take on the smoke better than larger chunks.
- Room Temperature: Allow the cheese to come to room temperature and wipe away any moisture that forms on the surface of the cheese before smoking.
- No heat or flame: You want to smoke the cheese with a steady light and consistent stream of smoke without heat or flame.
- Rotation: Consider rotating the cheese if the smoke only comes from one direction inside the smoke chamber. Moving the cheese around ensures the cheese blocks take on smoke equally.
What to do With Smoked Cheese
Rich smoky cheese compliments nearly everything you make with it. Here’s a list of things you can do with smoked cheese:
- Snack or Appetizer
- Pasta – Mac & Cheese, Lasagna
- Sandwiches – Burgers, sandwiches
- Cheese Sauce
- And so much more!
We hope you enjoy making smoked cheese at home. If you try this recipe, don’t forget to give us some feedback. Comment and rate the recipe below!
Smoked Cheese: A Step-by-Step Guide
- Outdoor grill or smoker – offset grill, water smoker, or pellet grill are ideal, but any grill will work
- Wood Pellets
- Wrapping Material – Wax Paper then inside a zip-top bag (vacuum seal if you have one)
- Cheese Cheddar, mozzarella, gouda, Monterey jack, gruyere, brie, and swiss.
Prep the Cheese:
- Bring the cheese up to room temperature. Take the cheese out of the refrigerator at least two hours before smoking it.
- Wipe off any moisture that forms on the cheese before smoking it.
Make the Smoke:
- Light your smoking tube per the manufacturer’s instructions and place it in your smoker. Make sure there are no flames. When a steady stream of smoke is coming from the tube, arrange the cheese non-touching on a grill pan or directly on the grilling grate. Make sure there is plenty of airflow between each block so that smoke can get to the cheese on all sides.
Smoke the Cheese:
- Close the lid and let the magic happen. Smoke the cheese for 2-4 hours.
Remove, Wrap and Wait!
- When the cheese has finished smoking, remove the cheese from the smoker. Wrap the cheese up and wait for at least a week for the flavors to meld and develop. In our opinion, we like it best after two weeks of rest. Eat or use, then store sealed in plastic wrap for 6-8 weeks in the refrigerator.