Is anything that cheese can’t solve?
It’s the perfect topping or side to any good BBQ dish, and delicious enough to stand alone.
Here’s everything you need to know. Enjoy our guide on how to smoke cheese.
Here are ten easy steps to help you smoke the best cheese this year.
- What’s the best cheese for smoking?
- Pick a cold day to smoke
- Cut the cheese into smaller portions
- Bring it to room temperature
- Choose the right smoking wood
- Keep the temperature low
- Turn regularly
- Pay attention to time
- Keep the smoke light and constant
- How to set up your smoker for smoking cheese
- How to smoke cheese
What’s the best cheese for smoking?
Any cheese that doesn’t slip through your smoker grates can be smoked, but I recommend choosing something hard or mild.
Soft cheeses absorb smoke very quickly, which can be difficult to get to grips with. They can also melt easily. Talk about mess.
Start with something like gouda or a mild cheddar. They’re robust enough to stand up to smoking temperatures, and will take on smoky flavors well.
Pick a cold day to smoke
Cold smoking cheese is best done during the fall or winter months when the outside temperature is no higher than 60ºF (15°C).
Warmer temperatures can cause your cheese to melt. This is especially true if you’re relying on cooling it instead of using a cold smoker.
Cut the cheese into smaller portions
To help smoke penetrate the entire cheese better, prepare it by removing the rind and cutting it into small wedges of about four inches in length. This will also help reduce total smoking time
It you prefer a softer inside with a smoky skin, aim to cut it into larger pieces.
Bring it to room temperature
While there’s no reason you can’t smoke chilled or even frozen cheese, smoking it from room temperature will give you the best results.
The structure of some cheeses can morph rapidly when smoked from frozen, making them lose their texture, color or even flavor.
Allow your cheese to rest at room temperature for one or two hours before smoking. Wipe off any moisture to help it develop better skin.
Choose the right smoking wood
The importance of a good smoking wood can’t be understated. You need to pick something that matches your chosen cheese perfectly. We’ve seen before how important it is to get the best wood for smoking turkey, brisket, or pork. The same is true for cheese.
Try a delicate wood like cherry, pecan, or apple if you are smoking with a soft and mild cheese.
If you are smoking a hard cheese that’s strong in flavor, try something equally punchy like oak or hickory. You can even mix things up with nutshells or dried tea leaves.
Keep the temperature low
You want to create as little heat with the fire as possible. Keep the vents open, and operate your device below 90ºF throughout the smoke.
Anything above this temperature will result in your cheese sweating and even melting. As well as monitoring the temperature of your smoker carefully, be sure to keep an eye on your cheese and replenish your ice pans as needed.
For even smoke penetration, you should ensure all the surfaces of your cheese gain sufficient exposure to the smoke. Depending on your total smoke time, be sure to turn your cheese every 15 to 30 minutes.
Pay attention to time
Cheese tends to absorb smoke flavors quickly, taking on an acrid, overpowering taste when it’s overdone. The length of the smoke depends on the type of cheese you’re smoking and your taste preference.
Cheese can take anywhere from 30 minutes to several hours, with longer sessions developing stronger flavors. It’s also important to note that any moisture on the cheese will cause it to collect more smoke particles, intensifying its taste.
In general, softer cheeses need a shorter smoke than harder ones. But this will take a bit of experimenting with to get right.
Many pro cheese smokers learn to distinguish smoke times based on the finishing color of the rind.
Keep the smoke light and constant
When it comes to smoking cheese, you want to keep your smoke light and ensure that you’re maintaining a continuous stream. Be sure to add a small number of wood chips or pellets at regular intervals.
How to set up your smoker for smoking cheese
You can use your grill here, or if you have a pellet or offset smoker. Just make sure that it has good ventilation.
Rather than ramp up the heat, we’re just using your smoker to hold the cheese while we cold smoke it. You will need either a tube smoker or cold smoke generator for this.
Use a mild wood like apple, cherry, or pecan. Try to steer away from strong aromas like oak or hickory for now, until you start experimenting with harder cheeses.
Light your tube smoker or generator, making sure there is only smoke and no flames. Use a grill surface thermometer to make sure that heat doesn’t ever go above 90°F (32°C).
How to smoke cheese
Now on to the fun part.
Place your cheese wedges on to the smoker grates. Make sure there’s enough space between them to allow good airflow.
Close the smoker or grill lid and leave for a couple of hours. This should be enough time to allow the smoke to do its thing without letting it get to the point where the flavors overpowers your cheese.
Once two hours is up, remove the cheese from the chamber and wrap in parchment paper. You want to let it breathe a little bit, so don’t wrap it too tightly.
Transfer to your refrigerator and leave for 24 hours. After this, remove it from the parchment paper and vacuum seal it, or use plastic wrap and store in airtight container.
After this, leave in refrigerator for 1-2 weeks. This will help the smokey flavors to mellow slightly and balance out.