Smoked Cheddar Cheese

Of all the smoked cheeses, Cheddar is definitely my all-time favorite. Once you taste the home-smoked version, you just won’t be content to buy the presmoked stuff any longer. Gouda, Muenster, Edam, mozzarella, Swiss, and pepper Jack are also great choices for this recipe.–Jeff Phillips

LC Smoker Not Required Note

Remember those wooden crates from Hickory Farms, the ones that came around the holidays, shrink-wrapped and packed with wee rounds of smoked cheese? Even as a kid, you knew that they could taste soooo much better. And you were right. Here’s your proof. Nibble it at will, stack it on a cracker, or melt it on a burger. Smoker not required–or so it seems to us–given that the Three Hot Coals and a Woodchuck method described in the recipe below could easily be achieved on a grill.

Special Equipment: Apple, alder, or cherry wood chunks or chips

Smoked Cheddar Cheese Recipe

  • Quick Glance
  • 5 M
  • 4 H
  • Makes two 8-ounce chunks

Ingredients

  • Two 8-ounce blocks Cheddar cheese

Directions

  • 1. Set up your smoker [Editor's Note: or grill] to maintain a temperature of less than 90°F (32°C). It is imperative that the heat be no higher than 90°F (32°C) to prevent the cheese from melting all over your smoker. There are several options for creating the much-needed smoke while keeping the heat to a bare minimum. I know it sounds like a nursery rhyme, but the Three Hot Coals and a Woodchuck method is actually a simple way to cold smoke. Place the cheese on the grate of your smoker. Set three lit charcoal briquettes flat in the charcoal pan or firebox of your smoker. Place a flat wood chunk on top of the charcoal to create smoke. Provide a little airflow and replace the charcoal and/or wood chunks as needed to keep the smoke going for the desired period of time. You can also purchase a device to create smoke that will turn any smoker or grill into a cold smoker. The two devices I have used extensively are the Smoke Daddy and the A-Maze-N Pellet Smoker both of which are inexpensive, hassle-free, and do a wonderful job.
  • 2. Place the blocks of cheese directly on the grate and apply light smoke for about 4 hours. Remove the cheese from the grate and place it in a resealable plastic bag. Store the smoked cheese in the refrigerator for 2 weeks before indulging to allow the smoke flavor to permeate the cheese and even mature slightly. (Uh, if you simply cannot wait 2 weeks, who’s going to tattle on you? Just know that the smoke flavor will be more pronounced and even somewhat bitter or, dare we say, acrid. If you can resist temptation, a perceived virtue that we usually find to be highly overrated, you’ll be rewarded with a more mellow smoke presence.)
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Testers Choice

Testers Choice
Testers Choice
Eydie Desser

Aug 06, 2012

I’m so excited to have tested this recipe since I love smoked cheese! This is so easy. First, if you don't have a smoker but just a grill (gas or charcoal), you must buy an A-Maze-N-Pellet-Smoker from amazenproducts.com and talk to Todd. He’s a wealth of information.

Here were his suggestions:
1) freeze the cheese for 2 hours before smoking, so that the cheese melts less quickly, allowing the smoke flavor to be better dispersed throughout the cheese.

2) fill a milk carton with water and freeze it, wrap it in aluminum foil, and put it on the grate above the heat source, then place the A-Maze-N smoker next to the milk carton.

3) place the grill grate above the lower grate and place cheese off to the side of the smoke.

4) don't let the heat go above 85°, as the cheese starts to melt a bit at 90°. I used apple wood sawdust, enough to cover 1 1/2 rows of the smoker, and lit it on one side. The directions that come with the smoker explain all this...very easy.

I hung an analog meat thermometer in between the grates of the grill and closed the lid. It was only 70° in Santa Monica, so the grill didn't need to be shaded, but if you live where it's really hot, you might want to put your grill in a shaded area or cover it with an outdoor umbrella. I used Gouda and goat cheese. The Gouda took about 5 hours (recipe says 4 hours, but the smoke didn't seem to be reaching the center of the cheese). I smoked the goat cheese for 1 hour. I tasted it right after smoking and the cheese was a little bitter. The recipe says to refrigerate for 2 weeks to mellow out the smoke flavor. One week later, I tasted the Gouda and it was perfect. The goat cheese tastes amazing as well. This is so much fun! And now I can make my wild mushroom tartlets with apple wood–smoked goat cheese and truffle oil. Great combo! Can't wait to try more cheese and cold-smoked salmon and trout. Lots to do with this A-Maze-N smoker!


Comments
Comments
  1. jenijen says:

    I can’t *wait* to try this out! Might have to throw some mozzarella on there, too. Y U M

  2. gina@cateror says:

    I never, ever, would have thought you could home-smoke cheese, but what a great idea! This is so very simple, and I’ll definitely be trying it. My first thought was that it would make a great gift, too, especially with yummy local cheese. Thank you SO much for this post!

    • Renee Schettler Rossi says:

      We were thinking that it’d make a swell gift, too, Gina. Well, until we tried it. Now we’re not certain we can hide it from ourselves long enough to wrap it and gift it…

  3. Sofia says:

    I tried my first smoked cheese and out of three the Parmesan came out outstanding. Still have to practice a bit more as to how to keep the heat as low as possible, but it was a great start and I’m looking forward to doing it more often. Used apple wood and the flavor was amazing.

    • Renee Schettler Rossi says:

      You know what they say, Sofia…practice makes perfect. And if there’s cheese sampling to be done in the meantime, well, so be it….

  4. Buy a cheap soldering iron less then $10 at Walmart, a tin can, and wood chips. Voila, a cold smoker maker for cheap. Throw it in the bbq and away you go. Shouldn’t get higher than outside temp, easy to achieve in northern BC.

  5. Ginny says:

    I have a Cameron Stove top smoker….do you think I’ll have the same success using it as the others mentioned?

    • Renee Schettler Rossi says:

      Yup, I do, Ginny. I have a Camerons and I loooove it. I haven’t smoked cheese in it, but I’ve no doubt that you can. Probably best, anytime you’re adapting a recipe for a regular smoker to be made in your Camerons, to read the instruction manual and to do a little Googling to see if anyone has any advice. I just looked up the instruction manual online and within the first few pages it gives you the recommended time for cheese. Let us know how it goes!

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