Ideal for adding to burgers, sandwiches, or even a pasta sauce, smoked cheese is a delicious dairy treat that comes pretty expensively from artisan stores. But… did you know you can replicate it perfectly at home?
Cold smoking cheese on your grill or smoker – whatever rig you have – is an easy, simple yet incredibly effective way to take a store-bought block of cheese from tasty to delectable – provided you know what you’re looking for, that is.
Got no idea where to start? No problem! We’re here with five kinds of cheese to take a look at, each responding wonderfully to the method without melting everywhere and leaving cheesy residue all over the place. Bon appetit!
Best Infrared Grill
Hailing from the town of Gouda in the Netherlands, this is a cheese that’s been in production for centuries. Similar in nature to Edam, the red wax rind on this Spring Koe take on the original shows they are in keeping with tradition.
Smooth and semi-hard, it’s ideal for smoking – you can eat it as-is for a tasty treat, improve any creamy sauce, or even make delicate entrees with this versatile sweet yet nutty flavor that responds exceptionally well to the grill.
Straight from the Whole Foods Market, this gouda in particular has been selected exclusively for stores, hand picked from farmers and producers of the finest quality cheeses around the world, delivered right to your door.
As a result, you’ll find zero hydrogenated fats, high fructose corn syrup, or any other unwanted chemicals – all of the 100+ banned preservatives, flavors, colors, and sweeteners are banned from their ingredients list. Great news for smoke fans!
Though it’s slightly pricier than what you might spend on a block of cheese, this way you’re ensuring the best possible taste and all of the health benefits that good quality cheese offers to you and your family.
- Doesn’t crumble, stays smooth to the touch and taste!
- Light and creamy, never overpowering – the perfect cheese to smoke
- Semi-hard texture, ideal for the grill
- Made in the Netherlands for that authentic, traditional gouda flavor
- Those who prefer a stronger cheese flavor might look elsewhere
Looking for an intensely flavorful, tangy cheddar with a slightly crumblier texture? You’ve found it with Cabot’s Seriously Sharp, which brings bold flavors to any sandwich, snack, or even just on its own as is!
Being naturally lactose-free, this is great for those with allergies; it is also completely free from artificial growth hormones, as the milk in their products is taken from cows that have not been treated with rBST.
Diverse and artisanal-tasting without the boutique price tag, this is a cheddar that packs a punch, with an intense flavor that works in a wide variety of dishes. For a versatile cheese to smoke that most everyone will enjoy… this is it.
Their Freshness Guarantee ensures that every purchase comes fresh, with a shelf life label declaring exactly how many days you have before you consume the product before, so you’ll never have to endure the pain of moldy cheese again.
Having won every major award for taste manufacturers can score – including World’s Best Cheddar in 2018! – you know that Cabot farmers are dedicated to making the best, highest quality milk on the market, so they offer the tastiest, creamiest flavors.
- Super easy to slice up for sandwiches
- Made by farmers and supporting them – a worthy cause
- Backed up by just about every award a cheese can win
- Wonderful consistency for smoking
- 200mg of sodium per serving, which is pretty hefty
All natural and always creamy, this beautiful wheel of Brie from President has a delicious creamy buttery taste that pairs fantastically with your smoker. Take it to the next level, without making a melty mess everywhere.
Conveniently, the rind on this bad boy is edible, so there’s no need for messing around when it comes to serving. You can even smoke the entire thing as-is and still impart a wonderful smoky flavor, though cutting it up will help to carry it through.
Crafted just as it would be in the traditional French process, using 100% cow’s milk, this is a staple cheese that the majority of flavor palates will enjoy. Though it’s on the softer side, you’ll still be more than successful in smoking it!
The manufacturer recommends you pair it up with apples, pears, apricots, pears, mixed berries, olives or pistachios. Alcoholic drinks that match well include Merlot, Champagne, Chardonnay, Cabernet, Sauvignon Blanc, and Bordeaux.
They also suggest that as it is one of their quite multifaceted cheeses, you can use it in a variety of ways: either added to a cheese plate, baked fully for a delicious starter or added to your next torte for a sharpness that cuts through sweet fruit.
- Perfect for a picnic and for your smoker!
- Prepared traditionally in the French fashion for authentic flavors
- Affordable and flavorsome
- Manufactured by “Europe’s leading cheese experts”
- Not quite “spreadable” as some people like their Brie to be
Crafted exactly the same way as it has been since the 12th century, Emmi Roth uses the same recipe at over 160 modern creameries throughout Switzerland to produce their unrivaled and beautifully flavored traditional Le Gruyere Swiss cheese.
All of their farmers feed each cow a sustainable, natural diet consisting only of pasture grass in summer and hay during the winter. Likewise, every cheesemaker uses only the freshest milk from nearby farmers, grabbed twice a day.
Produced luxuriously in copper vats, which impart a unique and especially complex flavor, Emmi Roth’s Gruyere is aged for five months, slowly maturing in their deep dark cellar. Each wheel is hand turned, brined and brushed with care and concern.
Gluten-free, non-GMO and never sourcing milk from rBST-positive cows, this is a high quality cheese at an especially affordable price. Its inimitable taste boasts notes of dried fruits, spices, and candied walnuts, which is only enhanced by smoking!
For those who prefer a stronger, longer-lasting and more intense flavor, you might want to instead opt for their Reserve Le Gruyere, which is aged for over ten months instead of the usual five. Not for the faint of heart!
- Produced by some of the finest cheesemakers in Switzerland
- Whole Foods Market chosen – no hydrogenated fats or preservatives
- Free of unwanted oils for a cheese that smokes beautifully
- Third party audited – traceable directly to the farm
- Expensive considering how small the block is
Last but not least, and perhaps only for those with a more refined palate, is this Original Blue from Point Reyes Farmstead, produced on their family farm for over twenty years since they began producing cheese all the way back in 2000.
Made using microbial, vegetarian rennet, as well as being all natural, gluten-free and fully rindless, this is a fantastic cheese to smoke. It’s not going to melt all over your grill, and there’s no need to prepare it – simply pop it right in there!
Aged for three and a half months, this bad boy definitely has a bold and somewhat addictive flavor. Occasional hints of sweet milk are sliced through by a zingy, peppery finish that pairs wonderfully with salads, burgers, even mashed potatoes.
Made using only real, unpasteurized raw cow’s milk, from cows free of rBST, you know you and your family are getting the tastiest and safest eating experience. Not only does it taste fantastic, but it’s also good for you as well!
If you need convincing, this cheese has won countless awards, from as recent as the California State Fair’s 2019 Gold Award (which they could have won in 2020 if it wasn’t for Covid!) back to Best In Show at the State Fair Cheese contest in 2010.
- Beautiful as a standalone cheese or paired with others
- Comes from the same farm for every single batch
- All the benefits of buying cheese via the Whole Foods Market but online
- Pairs deliciously with red wines like Zinfandel or Cabernet
- Definitely on the pricier, stinkier side!
What Makes A Good Cheese For Smoking?
First things first, you want a nice semi-hard or hard cheese when you’re smoking; nothing against soft cheese, it’s delicious in its own way, but it will ruin your grill grates. Though it’s cold smoking, they still have a tendency to start melting.
Plus, as it’s softer and easier to manipulate, it also picks up significantly more smoked flavor than its hard counterparts. The idea of smoking cheese is to absorb a subtle taste, rather than ruin your favorite flavors with the taste of burnt barbecue.
That being said, although parmesan is fairly hard in a block, it isn’t ideal for smoking as it tends to have a strong, pungent aroma that isn’t exactly appetizing once it’s been in the grill for a couple of hours.
Also important to consider is the quality of cheese: though pretty much any block you grab down at the store is going to be fine, you want to avoid those cheeses that are cheap and therefore pumped up with extra oils and unnecessary preservatives.
As such, you should be opting for a healthier cheese, surprisingly: these are easier to spot, as they usually come cut from a giant block or wheel at the deli counter, and/or have a rind attached to them, some of which are actually edible.
Like with most things, the more money you invest into the cheese you want to smoke, the better the outcome is going to be. We’re not suggesting you go ham every time, but at least treat yourself to luxury now and again!
Top Tips for the Best Possible Cheese Smoke
- If you have time, dry out your cheese overnight before smoking – pop it in the refrigerator on a plate, unwrapped – much like the process of curing meats before cooking, this will help your cheese take on more of the taste, as well as stop any unwanted bacteria forming as it cold smokes
- Start smoking with your cheese at room temperature – a moist skin will repel flavor from the smoke, where a dry one can better absorb it, so be sure to wait that extra few minutes
- Good woods for cheese smoking include hickory, cherry, apple, pecan, oak, and sugar maple; although many recommend mesquite, it is difficult for beginner smokers – though it offers beautiful earthy flavors, it can really overpower the cheese if you don’t get it right, so it’s best to steer clear until you’ve got some experience
- Use only food-grade hardwood that is a hundred percent natural, as those with additives or fillers that aren’t stated as food safe are potentially dangerous – they range from simply adding a gross taste to being literally toxic and unsafe for human consumption
- Keep an eye on the internal temperature of your grill before, during and after the smoker – you want it to be as close to or below 100 degrees Fahrenheit as possible throughout the entire smoking process
- Position your cheese as far away from the firebox as you can, preferably on grates and not close at all to the radiant heat – should you notice things getting a little hot, fill up a heatproof tray with ice and a little water, positioning it between the firebox and your cheese – it won’t block the smoke from dissipating, but it will provide a shield from the direct heat
- Be sure to burn your wood right through until it’s reduced to a pile of smoking embers – you might need to leave the lid of the grill up for a little bit to avoid generating too much heat – then remember to close all of the vents afterward!
- Though you’re cold smoking the cheese, take into account the outdoor ambient temperature – you don’t want things to get hotter than intended, because you’ll either ruin the cheese or your grill!
- If you’d like to infuse the smoky flavors throughout the entire cheese, break it up into smaller chunks, or keep it in a larger block for more of a surface or background taste
- Try and have a little patience – wrap your cheese up in wax paper once cooled to room temperature, then pop in the fridge for up to two days, as this will help to seal in all of that gorgeous smoky flavor
- Not going to consume your cheese within the first few days of smoking? No problem, you can deep freeze it easily in freezer bags for up to half a year, though it’s recommended you get the vacuum sealed kind in order to preserve and even enhance the smoky flavor
Frequently Asked Questions
Can you smoke store-bought cheese?
Absolutely! It doesn’t matter where you get your cheese from, as long as it meets the criteria for smoking then you’ll be fine to use it. As a quick recap, if you’re looking to smoke a block of cheese, you want it to be:
- Hard or semi-hard: soft cheeses will melt all over your poor grill, making a terrible mess that’s very difficult to clean up after, as well as absorbing way too much of the smoke for the subtle flavor you’re trying to achieve.
- Good quality: those cheap plasticky cheeses down at the store aren’t going to cut it – you need deli counter quality hunks of cheese that still have their rinds attached for a successful smoking attempt!
Is smoked cheese good for your health?
As much as any good quality cheese can be! Though it’s dairy and our bodies only need a small amount of that to function, what’s found inside cheese is actually pretty healthful, especially all of the calcium and other nutrients found in this milky food.
You’ll also find that cheese, whether smoked or otherwise, has a lot of the essentials our immune and digestive systems need to function optimally including zinc, vitamin B12, phosphorous, vitamin A and riboflavin.
Like we pointed out above, the best cheeses for smoking are actually your healthiest blocks, as these are not filled with the artificial preservatives and additivies that you’ll get from picking up the most budget-friendly cheese at your local bodega.
How do you eat smoked cheese?
There are many ways to enjoy it! The most simple is adding a slice to your sandwich, burger or other bread-based dishes for a creamy, smoky element that works well with just about any other filling you could fancy.
Otherwise, you could throw it on a pizza, add it to pasta, chop up and mix into mac and cheese, whip up eggs and make an omelet… pretty much all of the dishes you would normally enjoy with cheese are only going to level up with smoked cheese!https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yY4sg4SHQRg