Mastering the Art of Smoking Cheese: A Comprehensive Guide with Recipes

How to smoke cheese: A Step-by-Step Guide

Smoking cheese is a process that imparts a unique smoky flavor that adds notes of meatiness, earthiness, and nuttiness. Smoking not only enhances the flavor of cheese, but also helps to preserve it for a longer period of time. In this article, we provide a concise, step-by-step guide to smoking cheese at home, along with some useful tips and recommendations.

What is smoked cheese?

Smoked cheese refers to any type of cheese that has undergone the smoking process to impart a distinct, rich and nutty flavor. The smoking process can be done through hot smoking or cold smoking methods. As a result, smoked cheese develops a yellowish-brown layer on its surface.

Best cheeses to smoke

When it comes to smoking cheese, it is recommended to use hard or semi-hard varieties. Soft cheeses tend to absorb too much smoke and can melt at room temperature. Some of the best cheeses to smoke include Cheddar, Mozzarella, Gouda, Brie, Swiss, and Monterey Jack. If you are new to smoking cheese, start with hard, mild flavored cheeses like cheddar before experimenting with more expensive varieties.

Methods for Smoking Cheese

There are three main methods for smoking cheese: hot smoking, cold smoking, and liquid smoking.

Method 1: Hot smoking

Hot smoking is a common technique for smoking various foods. However, it may not be the best choice for smoking cheese. The temperatures used in hot smoking, which typically range from 130°F to 175°F, are high enough to partially cook and melt the cheese. While hot smoking allows for a quicker smoking process, it is important to note that the cheese should be kept cool during this method. Placing a large pan of ice under the cheese in the smoker can help maintain a lower temperature.

Method 2: Cold Smoking

Cold smoking is the preferred method of smoking cheese. It involves exposing the cheese to smoke at temperatures below 90°F. This allows the cheese to soften and absorb the smoky flavor without cooking or melting. Cold smoking typically takes a few hours, depending on the desired level of smokiness. A cold smoke generator, compatible with a variety of smokers and grills, is used to keep the smoke at a controlled temperature. The generator gradually smolders wood-based fuel, allowing the smoke to penetrate the cheese without overheating it.

Method 3: Liquid smoking

Another method of smoking cheese is to use liquid smoke instead of real smoke. Liquid smoke is derived from real smoke and is incorporated into the cheese during the fermentation process. The resulting flavor is almost indistinguishable from traditionally smoked cheese. Liquid smoking allows the smoke flavor to penetrate the cheese more thoroughly than hot or cold smoking methods.

Cold Smoking Cheese: Step-by-Step Guide

Cold smoking is the most commonly used method for smoking cheese because it produces excellent results when done properly. Here is a step-by-step guide to cold smoking cheese:

  1. Prepare the cheese: Bring the cheese to room temperature by removing it from the refrigerator at least two hours before smoking. Wipe off any excess moisture from the surface.
  2. Light the Cold Smoke Generator: Light the Cold Smoke Generator and place it in the smoker or grill. Make sure there are no flames, but a steady stream of smoke comes out of the generator.
  3. Arrange the cheese: Place the cheese on a grill pan or rack, making sure the pieces do not touch. Leave enough space for airflow so that the smoke can penetrate the cheese from all sides.
  4. Monitor the temperature: Use a thermometer or automatic cold smoke generator to monitor the temperature of the grill or smoker. Allow the cheese to smoke for a few hours, depending on the desired level of smokiness.
  5. Remove the cheese: When the cheese is finished smoking, carefully remove it from the smoker. Wrap it tightly in plastic wrap or sealed bags to preserve the smoky flavor.
  6. Allow to age: Let the smoked cheese rest for at least a week to allow the flavors to develop. This aging period enhances the overall flavor and texture of the cheese.

Temperature and Fuel Considerations

Temperature control is critical when smoking cheese. Cheese begins to melt at 90°F, so it is important to smoke at a lower temperature to prevent melting. Choosing a cooler day with an ambient temperature below 60°F is recommended to maintain ideal smoking conditions.
The choice of fuel also plays an important role in the smoking process. Wood pellets are highly recommended for smoking cheese. They can be used with a smoking tube or cold smoke generator to produce a consistent level of smoke for several hours. Hardwoods such as apple, hickory, alder, oak, and chestnut are popular choices for imparting a pleasant smoky flavor to cheese. It’s possible to experiment with different combinations of woods to create unique flavor profiles.

Tips for Smoking Cheese

To ensure a successful and flavorful smoking experience, consider the following tips:

  1. Patience is key: Smoking cheese is a gradual process that requires patience. Allow enough time for the smoke to penetrate the cheese, and give the cheese plenty of time to mature after smoking for optimal flavor.
  2. Use a smoke source that is safe for cheese: Make sure the smoke source you use is suitable for smoking cheese and does not contain harmful additives. Pure wood pellets or chips specifically designed for smoking foods are the best options.
  3. Avoid strong smelling foods: When smoking cheese, it’s important to keep it away from strong smelling foods, as cheese can easily absorb these odors.
  4. Best Storage: After smoking, store the cheese in airtight containers or wrap tightly in plastic wrap to preserve the smoky flavor. Store in the refrigerator to maintain freshness.
  5. Experiment with different flavors: Once you are comfortable with the basic smoking process, feel free to experiment with different types of cheese, wood combinations, and smoking times to create unique and exciting flavor combinations.

Enjoying Smoked Cheese

There are many ways to enjoy smoked cheese. Here are some ideas for incorporating smoked cheese into your culinary creations:

  1. Snacking: Enjoy smoked cheese on its own as a tasty snack. Pair it with crackers, fresh fruit, or cured meats for a delicious charcuterie board.
  2. Sandwiches and burgers: Add slices of smoked cheese to your favorite sandwiches and burgers to enhance their flavor. The smoky flavor pairs well with a variety of fillings and condiments.
  3. Pasta and pizza: Grate or shred smoked cheese over pasta dishes or sprinkle it on homemade pizzas for a smoky twist.
  4. Dips and sauces: Incorporate smoked cheese into dips such as spinach and artichoke dip or queso dip for a unique and savory flavor. It can also be used to create smoky cheese sauces for vegetables or nachos.


Smoking cheese at home is a rewarding and enjoyable culinary adventure. By following the step-by-step instructions and tips provided in this article, you can create delicious smoked cheeses that will impress your family and friends. Whether you prefer cold smoking, hot smoking, or liquid smoking, experimenting with different types of cheese and wood combinations will allow you to discover your favorite flavor profiles. So gather your supplies, choose your cheese, and embark on a journey to create your own delicious smoked cheese creations.


Can I smoke any kind of cheese?

Yes, you can smoke different types of cheese. However, it is recommended that hard or semi-hard cheeses be used for smoking as they are more resistant to the smoking process. Soft cheeses tend to absorb excessive smoke and may melt at room temperature.

What type of wood should I use to smoke cheese?

When it comes to choosing wood for smoking cheese, it’s best to opt for hardwoods with mild flavors. Popular choices include apple, hickory, alder, oak, and chestnut. Experiment with different combinations to create unique flavor profiles.

How long should I smoke cheese?

Smoking time for cheese can vary depending on personal preference and the desired level of smokiness. In general, cold smoking cheese takes a few hours. Start with a shorter smoking time and gradually increase the smoking time until you achieve the desired flavor.

Can I use liquid smoke instead of traditional smoking methods?

Yes, you can use liquid smoke as an alternative to traditional smoking methods. Liquid smoke is derived from real smoke and can be incorporated into the cheese during the fermentation process. It provides a smoky flavor similar to traditionally smoked cheese.

How should I store smoked cheese?

After smoking, it is important to store smoked cheese properly to preserve its flavor and freshness. Wrap the cheese tightly in plastic wrap or place it in an airtight container. Store in the refrigerator to prevent the smoky flavor from dissipating and to ensure that the cheese stays in good condition.

How long does smoked cheese keep?

When properly stored in the refrigerator, smoked cheese can last for several weeks. However, it is best to consume it within a week or two for optimal flavor and texture.