This recipe explains step by step how to smoke cheddar cheese–even store-bought cheese–into smoky applewood exquisiteness. Hickory Farms, be worried.
This home-smoked Cheddar cheese brings back memories of those crates from Hickory Farms—you know the ones, they were shrink-wrapped and crammed full of small rounds of smoked cheese and sausage and they were everywhere as the holidays neared. Even as a kid, you just knew that the cheese could taste soooo much better. And you were right.
This recipe is your proof. As for what to do with your stash of smoked Cheddar, you can nosh on it at will, stack it on a cracker, post pictures of it on social media, melt it on a burger, slip it in a patty melt, or, if you’re the unselfish sort, you can gift it to loved ones—and not just at the holidays. Originally published August 6, 2012.–Renee Schettler Rossi
Smoked Cheddar Cheese
- Quick Glance
- 5 M
- 4 H
- Makes two 8-ounce chunks
Special Equipment: Apple, alder, or cherry wood chunks or chips
- Two (8-ounce) blocks Cheddar cheese
- 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, no one’s going to tattle on you. But 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.)
How To Make Smoked Cheese Other Than Cheddar
- This smoked Cheddar cheese recipe works just as well with Gouda, Muenster, Edam, mozzarella, Swiss, and pepper Jack, infusing each with applewood awesomeness.
Recipe Testers Reviews
I’m so excited to have tested this. I love smoked cheese! And it's so easy to make at home. 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 the cheese off to the side of the smoke.
4) Don't let the heat go above 85°F (29°C), as the cheese starts to melt a bit at 90°F (32°C). I used applewood 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. It's very easy.
I hung an analog meat thermometer in between the grates of the grill and closed the lid. It was only 70°F 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 (the 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 applewood–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!