Is there anyone that can deny the rich, complex flavor of cold-smoked cheese? I think not!
It is the perfect addition to pizza, pasta, burgers, nachos, and charcuterie boards.
While cold smoking cheese seems like a complicated process, it is a relatively easy process.
The key is temperature control. Luckily, we’ve got some cold-smoking tips to make your cold smoking process that much easier.
- What’s the Ideal Cheese for Smoking?
- Tips for Cold Smoking Cheese
- How Long to Cold Smoke Cheese?
- How To Store Smoked Cheese
- What’s the Best Wood for Smoking Cheese
- Tools for Cold Smoking Cheese
- Fuel for Cold Smoking Cheese
- How Prep to Your Smoker for Cold Smoking Cheese
- How to Cold Smoke Cheese
- Final Thoughts
What’s the Ideal Cheese for Smoking?
Truth be told, any cheese that will not melt and slip through your smoker’s grates is perfect for cold smoking.
However, it would be best to select mild, hard cheeses.
Soft cheeses can quickly smoke, which can easily ruin the cheese’s natural flavor. Soft cheese can also melt easily.
Speaking of melting, it is also essential to consider the melting point of cheese. Cheese contains solid milk fats that melt at 90°F (32°C).
Therefore, it is critical to keep your smoker or grill’s ambient temperature below 90°F to stop the cheese from melting all over the cooker’s grates.
Starting with mild cheddar or gouda is best if you are a novice cheese cold smoker.
These cheeses can withstand the smoker’s temperatures and absorb just enough smoke so that the smoke doesn’t overpower the cheese flavor.
Alternatively, you can also cold smoke regular cheddar, pepper jack, or mozzarella cheese.
Tips for Cold Smoking Cheese
When it comes to cold smoking cheese, the temperature of the environment is important.
Always cold smoke your cheese when it is cool outside.
It is easier to maintain a stable smoking temperature below 90°F during cooler months such as winter and spring.
If you must smoke cheese during warm weather, do it at night or early in the morning.
At this time of day, the temperatures will be at their lowest.
Additionally, make sure your smoker is positioned in the shade as it can become too hot even if it is a cool day.
Arrange single-use foil trays filled with ice above and beneath the cheese.
The ice decreases the temperature of the air flowing around the cheese during the entire smoking process.
Use equipment that generates smoke instead of those that create fire.
In addition to this, allow your cheese to come to room temperature before smoking it.
Condensation can accumulate on the surface of cold cheese once the smoking process begins.
Smoke will only infiltrate the outer layers of the cheese if it is left whole.
It is best to slice the cheese into smaller portions to allow it to pull the smoke into its innermost parts.
Oils and bacteria from your hands can be transferred to the cheese, so wear a pair of latex gloves.
This will act as a barrier that prevents the development of mold and extends its shelf life.
As mentioned above, the temperature must be kept below 90°F. Therefore you need a probe smoker thermometer.
Probe smoker thermometers allow you to track the temperature with a receiver, so you do not have to constantly open the smoker’s door to check on your cheese.
Although the goal is to smoke the cheese, it is best to generate a steady smoke for smoking cheese.
To do this, you can use a smoking unit or add pellets or wood chips at specified periods to sustain consistent smoke.
Even though it’s natural to want to slice into your cold smoked cheese, resist the temptation.
Wrap or seal your cold smoked cheese properly, then chill it for a minimum of 24 hours to allow the smoky-infused flavor to blend with the cheese.
Although refrigerating the cold-smoked cheese seems unnecessary, it is essential as it will improve the flavor of the cheese.
How Long to Cold Smoke Cheese?
Unlike smoking a brisket or a turkey, smoking cheese is a relatively quick process. It takes about 2-4 hours to cold smoke cheese.
However, turning your cheese every 30 minutes is best so the smoke can evenly penetrate the cheese on all sides.
The hardest part about cold smoking cheese is the resting period.
How To Store Smoked Cheese
Even though you can store your cold smoke cheese in zip lock bags, vacuum sealers are better for preserving cold smoked cheese.
Fortunately, vacuum sealers can be easily found, and you’ve got the 5 best vacuum sealers at your disposal.
If you vacuum seal cold smoked cheese, leave it in the refrigerator for at least 1 month, but ideally 2, to age before cracking it open. Do not freeze cold smoked cheese.
Freezing the cheese changes its texture from a smooth, creamy consistency to a crumbly unpleasant texture.
What’s the Best Wood for Smoking Cheese
It doesn’t matter what you are smoking; it is important to have the right kind of wood. It is best to select a wood that will complement the cheese rather than overpower it.
Subtle woods such as apple, cherry, and pecan are perfect for smoking with soft, mild cheeses.
On the other hand, if you are smoking hard, robust cheeses, strong woods such as oak or hickory will work just as well as pecan, apple, and cherry.
Tools for Cold Smoking Cheese
The first tool you need to cold-smoke cheese is a smoker or grill with a lid. It doesn’t matter whether it is a Kamado grill, offset smoker, or pellet smoker.
As long as the unit can produce heat and contain smoke, it can smoke cheese.
You will also need a smoke tube. Smoker tubes are designed to be loaded with pellets that are burned to generate smoke.
In addition to this, you will also need parchment paper, or butcher paper, a heat gun,and a thermometer.
Just like having a thermometer is important for searing steak or cooking chicken, it is important to have a thermometer when smoking cheese.
It is the only way you will maintain the perfect temperature for smoking cheese.
Fuel for Cold Smoking Cheese
You will also need a source of fuel: wood pellets or a mixture of charcoal and wood chips.
If you are using charcoal and wood chips to generate the minimum amount of heat, use a couple of pieces of charcoal. Lump charcoal would be best for this task.
Light the charcoal and add a handful of wood chips once they are covered in a layer of ash.
Make sure you soak whatever wood chips you use to smoke the cheese in water for 30 minutes and drain them before adding them to the charcoal.
Arrange your cheese on the smoker’s grates as far away from the heat source as possible. Leave space between the cheese so that air can circulate around it.
If you are using a kettle grill to smoke your cheese, position the grill’s lid so the vent is in the back of the cheese.
Sawdust can also be used to cold smoke cheese. A metal pie plate filled with sawdust can smoke long enough to smoke cheese. However, do not allow the sawdust to burn.
Pellets are also a popular source of fuel for cold-smoking cheese. Once your smoker tube has been loaded, it will produce cold smoke for hours.
However, it is best to arrange your cheese away from the source of the heat.
Lastly, you can also use straw or hay to cold smoke cheese.
Although it sounds strange, the Italians are credited with creating cheeses such as scamorza affumicata which develops a unique flavor after being smoked using straw or hay.
How Prep to Your Smoker for Cold Smoking Cheese
Again, you can use a grill or a smoker for cold-smoking cheese as long as it is properly ventilated.
Instead of an intense, blazing fire, you want to maintain a low temperature that is perfect for storing the cheese while it is cold-smoking.
Fill your smoker tube with fuel all the way to the top. Arrange your smoker tube on the grill or smoker and lean your heat gun against the pellets on the smoker tube.
Turn your heat gun on and allow the pellets to light. Once your tube smoker is lit, make sure there are no flames being produced, only smoke.
Monitor your smoker to make sure the temperature does not exceed 90°F.
How to Cold Smoke Cheese
To smoke your cheese, arrange the cheese on the smoker’s grates, leaving enough space to allow proper air circulation.
Close your unit’s lid and smoke the cheese for 2-4 hours, turning it every 30 minutes.
Remove the cold-smoked cheese from the smoker and wrap them in parchment paper or butcher paper.
Do not wrap the cheese too tight; it needs to breathe. Place the smoked cheese into the refrigerator for 24 hours.
Next, remove the cheese from the parchment paper and vacuum seal it and store it in the refrigerator for 1-2 weeks for best results.
How to Cold Smoke Cheese Using a Charcoal Grill
Contrary to popular belief, smoking cheese using a charcoal grill is actually very easy. Arrange 3-6 pieces of charcoal on one side of your grill and light them.
Allow most of the charcoal pieces to ash over, then add a small handful of soaked wood chips.
Add a single-use tray full of ice to the grill, then add the cheese. Make sure the ice and the cheese are as far away from the heating source.
Additionally, ensure there is adequate space for air to flow around the cheese. Close the grill and allow the cheese to smoke for 2-4 hours, turning it every 30 minutes.
If the smoke subsides, add 1-2 pieces of unlit charcoal and another handful of wood chips. This will provide you with another 20-30 minutes of smoke time.
Remove the cheese from the charcoal grill, then wrap them in parchment paper and place the cold-smoked cheese into the refrigerator for 24 hours.
Vacuum seal the cold-smoked cheese and store it in the fridge for 1-2 weeks before slicing.
How to Cold Smoke Cheese Using a Gas Grill
If you do not have a smoker or charcoal grill, you can also use a gas grill to cold smoke cheese.
Oddly enough, you will not be using the grill to smoke the cheese.
Gas grills are fueled by propane gas which means even on its lowest setting, it will not yield a temperature below 90°F.
Therefore if you try to cold smoke cheese using propane as a fuel source, it will melt all over your grill’s grate, creating a giant mess no one wants to clean up.
Therefore, a gas grill will act as an outdoor housing unit for the smoke.
To cold smoke cheese using a gas grill, you will need a low-heat electric hot plate that boasts 750 watts.
Arrange the hot plate on top of the grill’s cooking surface on the left side of the grill.
Add an aluminum pie plate filled with wood chips on top of the grills cooking grates.
Cover the wood chips with aluminum foil, then penetrate the foil 5-10 times to create holes.
The foil stops the burning wood chips from flaring up and burning you or melting your cheese.
Place a foil pan filled with ice on the right side of the grill.
Add the grills warming rack or an additional rack on top of the ice and wood chips. Arrange the cheese on top of the warming rack.
Turn the hot plate to low. Remember, the goal is to create smoke, not flames. Monitor the grill’s temperature using the dome thermometer.
If the temperature rises above 90°F, turn the hot plate down.
Smoke your cheese for 2-4 hours, turning it every 30 minutes.
If the level of smoke starts to subside, you can add more wood chips to the pie plate during the smoking process.
Remove the cold-smoked cheese from the gas grill and wrap them in parchment paper.
Place the cold-smoked cheese into the refrigerator for 24 hours, then vacuum seal it and store it in the fridge for 1-2 weeks before slicing.
Like smoking brisket, cold smoking cheese is a relatively easy process once you get the hang of it.
Now that you know how to cold-smoke cheese the right way, you don’t have to purchase expensive store-bought cold smoked cheese.
I have been smoking and grilling meat from an early age and enjoy sharing my knowledge and expertise through the hundreds of articles I have written about BBQ. I hope to make everyone’s BBQ journey that little bit easier.