Smoking Cheese On A Grill & The Best Woods To Use

Smoked cheese can be both luxurious and fancy, or rustic and downright delicious. It really is a no-brainer since cheese is already amazing and smoked foods are already amazing.

Smoking cheese is actually a much easier process than you would think and you’re able to do it easily using an everyday grill. Let’s break down the best cheeses to smoke, the best wood flavors for smoking cheese, and how to smoke cheese on a grill.

How To Smoke Cheese

When you’re smoking cheese, the key is keeping the temperature low. You won’t be starting up the grill, you will just be burning the wood chips or wood pellets for smoking. For this reason, all you really need is a tube smoker and good ventilation.

How To Smoke Cheese Using A Grill

If you’re using a grill as your vessel to hold and smoke the cheese in, then it’s best to use a good quality tube smoker. You will need a hooded grill with vents for airflow as this will help keep the internal temperature of your grill below 90°F. Otherwise, you will risk the cheese melting and turning into a hot mess.

Step 1: Light Up Your Smoker

Place the wood chips or wood pellets into the tube smoker and light it up and place it in the grill. Be sure the flame is out and the smoke is consistent and white.

Step 2: Add Your Favorite Cheese

Place medium to large-sized blocks of your favorite cheeses evenly around the grill. Be sure not to overcrowd the grill.

Step 3: Close The Hood

Simply close the hood, open the vents to allow airflow, and be sure to keep the internal temperature of the grill below 90°F. It takes roughly 1-3 hours depending on the size of your cheese blocks and how smoky you like it, but 2 hours seems to be a sweet spot.

Step 4: Wrap It Up

Simply close the hood, open the vents to allow airflow, and be sure to keep the internal temperature of the grill below 90°F. It takes roughly 1-3 hours depending on the size of your cheese blocks and how smoky you like it, but 2 hours seems to be a sweet spot.

Step 5: Seal & Freeze

You may be tempted to chow down on it right away, and you can certainly do so, but you might find the cheese to be a bit smokey. The best thing to do is either vacuum seal it, or put it into a tight zip-top bag and set it in the freezer for at least 2 weeks. You won’t regret it. Over this time the smokiness develops and spreads evenly throughout the cheese.

Have it with crackers, in a salad, sliced in sandwiches or burgers, or just chomp it down by itself. I’m not judging

Best Cheese For Smoking

One of the most crucial steps is to choose your favorite cheese, otherwise, what’s the point? Although, hard or semi-hard cheeses tend to be the better and easier choice here.

Cheddar:
Cheddar is a firm, sharp-tasting natural cheese. It retains its shape over the smoking process and doesn’t melt. It takes on the smoke well, and you don’t need to worry about any mess so long as you control the temperature. 

Gouda:
A rich and full-bodied flavor. A semi-firm natural cheese with a similar texture as cheddar but a little sweeter. Gouda takes on smokiness well and is one of my personal favorites. 

Swiss:
Swiss cheese is buttery, sweet, and high in protein. It pairs well with strong smoking woods such as hickory.

Pepper Jack:
Pepper Jack, or any Monteray Jack,  is the original “American” cheese. It’s semi-soft, which means you have to be more careful to control the temperature. The wonderful spicy, buttery, and sweet flavors pair incredibly well when smoked.

Others:
In reality, you can smoke all cheeses to varying degrees of success. If you’ve got a favorite, whether it’s soft or hard, or salty or sweet, you can always experiment. Just be careful, if it’s a soft cheese it may melt so keep the temperature extra low!

Wood Flavors To Use For Smoking Cheese

You may prefer to use your local wood, what’s easiest, cheapest, and most familiar to you. You also may have a favourite wood as your go-to. These are the most popular flavors and combinations of smoking woods & cheeses.

Apple

Traditional, classic, and popular. Apple is very versatile and pairs well with most cheeses. Although it’s not the strongest smoky flavor, it still works well. 

Cherry

Cherry gives off a lot of smoke, providing a consistent mild smokiness. It’s notably sweet and fruity and is one of the top woods for smoking pork butt.

Maple

A very mild option when you want to go for a lightly smoked cheese. 

Pecan

Pecan is distinctly nutty, and won’t overpower the cheese. Slightly sweet, and works well for shorter smokes too.

Hickory

Arguably the most popular smoking wood, famous for providing a real oomph of smokiness, with a bacon-like savouriness too. Goes great with most cheeses, and very popular with cheddar or gouda.

Oak

Oak is medium-strong smoking wood which is very consistent and clean. You can deliver a solid smokiness from oak, and it is often used blended with other woods. Oak is great for most things and is my favorite wood for smoking wings.

Final Thoughts

Once you’ve done the process once you’ll be hooked. It’s so easy and it rewards you with amazingly luxurious cheese. I always try to have a slab of apple or hickory-smoked cheddar around, the uses are unlimited. Smoking cheese on a grill makes for a perfect snack, great when entertaining, or as a gift just to share the enjoyment. 

Happy smoking.

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