Smoked Shotgun Shells

5 from 1 vote
5 from 1 vote

Incredible smoked shotgun shells made with manicotti pasta, stuffed with ground sausage and melted cheese, and wrapped in crisped bacon and a BBQ glaze. Smoked appetizers don’t get much better than this.

smoked shotgun shells

If you’re searching for the perfect BBQ appetizer, look no further than these smoked shotgun shells. These fun, bitesize treats are sticky, meaty, and exactly the kind of nibble that will have you coming back time and again.

Admittedly, the name might raise a few eyebrows, but as soon as you see these tasty bites, you’ll understand. Looking exactly like their namesake, smoked shotgun shells are manicotti pasta tubes stuffed with ground meat and cheese, wrapped in bacon, slathered with sticky sweet BBQ sauce, and smoked. Now tell us that doesn’t sound delicious!

smoked shotgun shells


These tasty bites are easy to whip up, requiring only a handful of ingredients. Keep the following items stocked at home, and you’ll have smoked shotgun shells on the menu whenever the craving strikes.

smoked shotgun shells ingredients
  • Manicotti Shells: This pasta shape is the best for shotgun shells as it is large enough to stuff with delicious fillings and robust enough to hold its shape
  • Ground Meat: Beef is often the go-to for ground meat, but we like to mix it with minced pork to ensure there’s high enough fat content to keep the shells moist and add flavor 
  • Cheese: Cheddar, Colby-Jack, or Monterey Jack are the most traditional cheese to use 
  • BBQ Rub: Mixed into the stuffing and then sprinkled over again just before the shells sit for their long refrigeration, this will provide the seasoning for the shells. We like rubs with smoky, salty and sweet flavor profiles, so something like Meat Church’s Honey Bacon or Lambert’s Sweet Rub O’ Mine.
  • Bacon: The heart of all good recipes. These salty ribbons of meat will hold everything together while providing a tasty, salty outer layer to the shells
  • BBQ Sauce: The finishing touch that provides a sticky and sweet finish. Use your favorite BBQ sauce or even switch it out for hot honey or sweet chili. Stubb’s Original Barbecue Sauce is always a winner or try 12 Bones Blueberry Chipotle BBQ Sauce for something a little different. 


The beauty of smoked shotgun shells (aside from being an extremely tasty BBQ appetizer that will have anyone you serve them to begging for the recipe), is that the ingredients can be switched up depending on what flavors you want to create. The recipe we’ve given below is a simple starter for you but other combinations you could try include:

  • Jalapeño Pepper: Add chopped pickled jalapeños to the ground meat and cheese mixture and then glaze the bacon-wrapped shells with hot honey 
  • Waldorf: Finely chop apple, cranberries, and blue cheese and combine with ground pork. Glaze the bacon with apple or cranberry sauce 
  • Hot Italian: Finely grind fennel seeds and chili flakes and mix with ground pork or sausage meat – serve the final shells with arrabbiata dipping sauce 
  • Spicy Thai: Combine ground pork with finely chopped cilantro, fresh red chili, and cilantro to make the stuffing, and then use sweet chili sauce to glaze
brushing bbq sauce glaze to smoked shotgun shells

Quick Tips

  1. Keep the manicotti pasta uncooked—this will make it easier to stuff them 
  2. Be very careful when stuffing the shells so as not to shatter them
  3. To make sure the pasta is stuffed the whole way through, gently push the end of a chopstick into either end
  4. Don’t skip the refrigeration step—this gives the pasta time to soften so you won’t have crunchy shells 
  5. Make these ahead of time by storing the shells in the fridge for up to 3 days to have on hand whenever the craving strikes
  6. You can use any wood you prefer to smoke the shells, we like to add a little hickory into our mix to give a little sweetness 
smoked shotgun shells
smoked shotgun shells

Smoked Shotgun Shells

5 from 1 vote
Incredible smoked shotgun shells made with manicotti pasta, stuffed with ground sausage and melted cheese, and wrapped in crisped bacon and a BBQ glaze. Smoked appetizers don’t get much better than this.
Print Recipe Pin Recipe
Prep Time30 minutes
Cook Time1 hour 50 minutes
Refrigeration Time4 hours
Total Time6 hours 20 minutes
Servings: 28 shells


  • 28 manicotti shells
  • 1 lb ground beef
  • 1 lb ground pork
  • 8 oz sharp cheddar cheese shredded
  • 4 tbsp BBQ rub Meat Church Honey Bacon or Lambert’s Sweet Rub O’ Mine
  • 2 lbs bacon
  • 1 cup BBQ sauce Stubb’s Original Barbecue or 12 Bones Blueberry Chipotle BBQ


  • Add the ground beef, ground pork, shredded cheese, and 2 tbsp BBQ rub to a large bowl. Use your hands to mix thoroughly.
  • Carefully stuff the manicotti shells with the ground meat mixture
  • Tightly wrap each stuffed tube with streaky bacon, covering as much of the pasta as possible
  • Season the bacon-wrapped tubes with the remaining BBQ rub, and then cover and place in the refrigerator to rest for 4 hours
  • Once the shells have rested, fire up your smoker to 250°F (120°C)
  • Set the shells on a wire rack and place in the smoker. Smoke until the meat’s internal temperature hits 165°F (74°C), about 1 hour and 30 minutes.
  • Increase the heat to 350°F (180°C) to crisp the bacon—this should take about 10 minutes
  • Glaze the crisped shells with BBQ sauce and cook for a further 10 minutes until sticky. Keep an eye on them to make sure they don’t darken too much.
  • Remove from the smoker and serve immediately

About the Author

Ben Isham-Smith

A BBQ obsessive, Ben is behind 250+ of The Online Grill’s recipes, as well as countless barbecue guides to help barbecue newbies get to grips with the world’s best form of cooking.

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