When I think of holiday foods, smoked cheese is one that immediately comes to mind. Whether it be the Hickory Farms stands that have always slipped into malls this time of year or the cheese platter at annual Christmas parties, it tends to be everywhere. I remember my parents smoking cheese and have done the same for most of my adult life. I have brought smoked cheese (primarily cheddar) to many holiday parties but have almost as equally used it as gifts.
Smoking cheese on a pellet grill can be one of the most difficult things to accomplish, but with the right grill, knowledge, tools or accessories, you’ll have it ready in time for Christmas.
Smoking cheese is best done when it is cold outside. You would be surprised by the amount of heat your grill conducts from the elements. Especially if the grill is in sunlight, it will be significantly hotter than the ambient temperature. That is why this time of year is perfect for smoking cheese, no matter where you are in US, we’re at the coldest part of the year.
I typically place my cheese in the freezer for about ½ hour before smoking, no matter the method I use. You don’t want to freeze the cheese, but the coldest you can get it, the better. Getting the cheese to its coldest will help keep it from melting and will allow the cheese to take on the most smoke flavor.
Hot smoking is possible but take steps to minimize heat and check often. Use the lowest setting on your grill and place a sheet of ice cubes below your cheese, replacing it as the ice melts. The ice will help to cool the area around the cheese and every time you check the ice you should check your cheese.
Cold smoking is the optimal way to smoke cheese and can be done in any grill. Smoke tubes relatively cheap and are available everywhere. I am currently using an A-maze-N 12-inch, available at many Walmarts across the country. They use the same pellets as we use in any grill and can be lit with a torch or with some lighter gel. Place a smoking tube in any cold grill chamber and let it do its thing with the cheese.