Cold Smoked Cheese: A DIY Guide

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Smoked cheese is a luxurious, delectable indulgence that is normally only available at specialty grocers, but what if it didn’t have to be that way?

If you have a grill, you can cold smoke cheese in your own backyard with very little effort, and we’ll show you how.

What you’ll need to cold smoke cheese

Cold Smoked Cheese: A DIY Guide

To the uninformed, smoking your own cheese may seem to be a difficult operation, but it is really rather easy and does not need any specialist equipment.

The first thing you’ll need is a grill or smoker, and your cold smoking procedure may alter significantly depending on the equipment you have.

1. Using a smoker

Obviously, a smoker is the best piece of equipment for smoking cheese. If you’re purchasing one for this purpose, opt for one with lots of airflow.

Melting your cheese is the fastest way to end your cheese smoking adventures, thus it’s critical to utilize a smoker with temperature control. You should maintain your smoker no hotter than 90 degrees Fahrenheit (32 degrees Celsius).

For novices, there are dozens of fine smokers on the market, but if you want to smoke a lot of cheese, you may want to consider an electric smoker like the Masterbuilt, which includes an optional cold smoking attachment.

2. Using a charcoal grill

If you don’t have a smoker, don’t worry; a basic charcoal grill will suffice. You just need to alter your method.

To cold smoke cheese in a grill, you’ll need one with a cover and one that’s outside. Unless you’re crazy about smoked cheese and want your whole home to smell like it.

It’s recommended to employ a two-zone cooking strategy when smoking cheese over a charcoal barbecue.

  • Depending on the size of your grill, light three to six coals and place them on one side of your firepit.
  • Place your wood chips on top of the ash-covered coals.
  • To keep the temperature low, place the cheese as far away from the heat of the coals as possible, on a rack over a bowl of ice.

The concept is that the flames allow the wood to smolder, producing that wonderful smokey flavor, while the ice dish stops the cheese from melting and the lid keeps the smoke flowing around the cheese.

3. Using a gas grill

A gas grill may be used to smoke cheese just as simply as a charcoal barbecue, but you will need a few more pieces of equipment.

Unfortunately, even on the lowest setting, most gas grills produce enough heat to reach temperatures beyond 90°F (32°C). Those additional BTUs are fantastic for searing a steak, but they can quickly turn your cheese into a puddle.

To solve this problem, utilize your gas grill to restrict and disperse the smoke over the cheese, and depend on a smaller source of heat to generate the smoke.

One of the easiest methods to do this is to get a low-cost electric hot plate in the 750-watt range.

Your wood chips will be placed in an aluminum dish on top of the hotplate, covered with foil and punctured with holes to prevent flare-ups. The low heat of the hot plate will allow them to smolder without melting the cheese, which will be hung over ice in the same way as a charcoal barbecue would.

Using your gas grill to cold smoke cheese takes a bit more work, but purchasing a basic hot plate is generally less costly than purchasing a smoker, and the hot plate may still be used on its own.

4. Use a cold smoke generator

You may purchase different tubes, trays, and cold smoke generators that can be put inside a grill or smoker to make smoke with little to no heat.

These tubes are typically meant to store wood pellets and may be lighted at one end before being placed in your grill chamber.

Each model carries a varied quantity of pellets or wood chips, and you may reload them many times for a longer cook time.

This is a fantastic alternative if your smoker isn’t capable of smoking at low temperatures, but you still want to take use of the insulated atmosphere.

Fuel for smoking

Cold Smoked Cheese: A DIY Guide

Now that you have your smoking equipment set up, it is time to discuss what smoking fuel you will be utilizing.

Charcoal vs. wood chips vs. pellets

When it comes to smoking delicate items like cheese, you must be very careful with the fuel you use and the wood chips you use to get that smoky taste profile.

If you use a charcoal barbecue, make sure you use all-natural lump wood charcoal.

While the evidence for this is primarily subjective, it is definitely advisable to err on the side of caution and use lump wood charcoal instead.

Your wood chips, and you’ll want smaller chips rather than pieces, should be picked to complement the flavor of your cheese. If you like a softer smoke character, use apple or cherry wood. If you like something bolder, hickory or mesquite are excellent alternatives.

Unless fitted with a cold-smoking attachment, most pellet smokers are too hot to smoke cheese in. There is another alternative if you wish to utilize wood pellets. The Buzzlett Pellet Smoker may be loaded with wood pellets instead of wood chips and used in lieu of your tin of wood chips.

Other fuels

If you want to experiment with other fuels to get that smoky taste, there are a few less-used possibilities.

Sawdust may be used in place of wood chips when cooking over a hot plate or charcoal. Sawdust does not burn long enough to be beneficial for smoking meat, but it does work well for the shorter smoking durations required for cheese.

If you want to go more traditional, add straw or hay, like the Italians do with cheeses like Scamorzi Affumicate. Because straw and hay have such powerful flavors, smoking periods may be as low as 10 to 15 minutes.

Cheeses to smoke

Cheese selection is equally as crucial as smoking fuel selection.

Cheddar, Brie, Colby, Gruyre, pepper jack, mozzarella, and provolone are all wonderful options, but the key is to pair the cheese with your preferred wood chips.

A good rule of thumb is to combine strong-flavored cheeses with light woods so that the two tastes compliment one other without becoming overpowering.

Of course, you can smoke numerous varieties of cheese at the same time. If you do this, we recommend using a toothpick to tell them apart.

Smoking imparts a hay-colored patina to the cheese, making differentiation difficult. Assigning a certain number of toothpicks to each cheese (one for cheddar, two for provolone, etc.) can help you distinguish them once they’ve been smoked.

As previously said, the key to cold smoking cheese is the cold aspect.

You must maintain the temperature below 90F (32C) at all times, which requires purchasing a thermometer and doing frequent inspections.

Condensation issues

If you take your cheese directly from the fridge to your smoking setup, it may acquire a good bit of condensation throughout the smoking process.

Some argue that this condensation reduces the quantity of flavor given to your cheese since smoke particles stay to the water rather than the cheese.

Fortunately, cheese absorbs flavors rapidly, so this shouldn’t be a problem.

If you’re worried, you may reduce the quantity of condensation by bringing the cheese to room temperature before smoking it.

How to cold smoke cheese at home (step by step guide)

It’s time to get started now that your smoking apparatus is set up and your cheese and wood have been selected! All you have to do now is follow our step-by-step instructions:

1. Prepare your cheese

After you’ve picked your cheese, cut it into smaller blocks following the instructions we provided before. The more surface area the cheese has, the more smoke it will absorb.

If you’re smoking more than one kind of cheese, use toothpicks to distinguish between them.

2. Light the fuel 

If you’re using a charcoal barbecue, ignite the coals and arrange them securely at one end of the firepit.

Remember that we are not utilizing the burners on a gas barbecue. Set up your hot plate and set it to the lowest setting.

Once your coals have been ashed over or your hot plate has been warmed up, set your chosen fuel, whether it’s wood chips, pellets, or even hay, over the heat and wait for it to smolder.

This is also a good opportunity to take your initial temperature reading and ensure that it is less than 90F (32C).

3. Place the cheeses in the smoker

When your fuel has begun to smoke and the temperature is below 90F (32C), put a bowl of ice in your smoker or grill and hang your cheese over it with a thin wire mesh, similar to a cake cooling rack.

If using a smoker, lay the cheeses on the top rack and make sure all of the vents are open. If you’re grilling using a gas or charcoal grill, keep your cheeses as far away from the fire as possible.

4. Smoke the cheeses for 2 – 4 hours

It is not necessary to smoke cheese for a lengthy amount of time. When utilizing wood chips or pellets, two to four hours is sufficient, and hay may be used in as little as 15 minutes.

During this period, you should maintain a consistent, light blue cold smoke and open the smoker every 30 minutes or so to rotate and flip your cheeses for optimal exposure to the smoke.

Keep an eye on the temperature and open your smoker or grill if it gets close to 90F (32C).

5. Remove and rest the cheeses

Resting the cheese is almost as vital as smoking it. Freshly smoked cheese may be extremely bitter, and it will need some time to relax and mature before developing that ideal smoky flavor.

After smoking, your cheese may have some oil or moisture on it. Dab it with a kitchen towel before wrapping your cheese in waxed butcher paper and storing it in the refrigerator.

You should rest your cheeses for at least 24 hours after smoking them, but you should wait up to two weeks for the finest benefits. We know that deferred gratification is unpleasant, but it will be worthwhile in the end.

6. Unwrap, slice, and enjoy!

After the tastes have developed and the wait is over, you may unwrap your cheese and enjoy the benefits of your effort!

Wrapping it all up

As you can see, cold smoking your own cheese is a simple process. In truth, it’s fairly simple. All you need is the proper setup and the instructions indicated above.

Wood combinations that appeal to you. The good news is that you get to eat everything you try!The difficult aspect is fine-tuning the procedure to get the desired smoking durations and cheese.

Do you have any favorite combinations of smoking woods and cheese? Perhaps you’ve perfected the cold smoking method and can provide some advice to others who are just getting started? We’d appreciate it if you could tell us in the comments section below.


How long to smoke cheese in a cold smoker?

Smoke your cheese for around 2 hours.

For a light smokey taste, we suggest smoking cheese for 45 minutes to 2 hours. If you want a strong smokey taste, smoke the cheese for at least 2 hours. Also, flip the cheese every 15 to 30 minutes to ensure that each side is equally smoked.

What pellets are best for cold smoking cheese?

One of the greatest woods for cold-smoking cheese is applewood. It contains the maximum concentration of mild tastes while yet allowing you to enjoy the natural flavor of the cheese. You may use our Bradley Smoker Apple Wood Bisquettes, which will complement the natural flavor of the cheese with their mild, fruity, and sweet flavor.

How long to let cheese sit after smoking before vacuum sealing?

Remove the cheese from the grill and wrap it in parchment paper or uncoated butcher paper after it has finished smoking. Refrigerate it for 24 to 48 hours. Close firmly. Remove the cheese from the paper and seal it with a vacuum sealer.

What is the best wood to cold smoke cheese?

Mild woods with little smoke, such as applewood or maple, are ideal for smoking cheese. Hardwoods that are more durable, such as oak and hickory, are also terrific options.

How do you cold smoke cheese in a propane smoker?

Set your smoker to keep the temperature below 90°F (32°C).
Place the cheese on the grate of your smoker to generate cold smoke.
Place the cheese blocks directly on the grate and smoke for approximately 4 hours.
Place the cheese in a resealable plastic bag after removing it from the grate.

How cold is too cold smoking cheese?

At 90°F (32°C), solid milk fat in cheese starts to liquefy. Because of this threshold, the most essential thing to remember while cold smoking cheese is to maintain the interior temperature of your grill or smoker below 90°F (32°F) to prevent the cheese from melting.

Do you soak pellets before smoking?

Is it necessary to soak wood pellets? No. Wood pellets do not need any moisture. Because wood pellets are formed of compressed sawdust, soaking them in water or any other liquid causes them to dissolve.

How long to let smoked cheese mellow?

After the cold smoked cheese has cooled somewhat, store it in zip top bags and refrigerate for 2 weeks to “age” and mellow out.

Should you vacuum seal smoked cheese right away?

After smoking, we suggest letting the cheese to rest. Wrap it well, or vacuum seal it if possible, and store it in the refrigerator for 24 hours. This enables the smokey tastes to penetrate the cheese and soften it.

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