Learn how long to cold smoke cheese, as well as how long you need to let the cheese “Breathe” and “Rest” in the refrigerator after smoking it for the BEST results.
Smoked cheese is incredibly flavorful and preferred by many cheese connoisseurs. Smoking cheese takes it up a level and unlocks a new exciting experience for the eater.
Smoked cheese can be used in a variety of ways to enhance your food – dips, pizza, burgers, nachos, as well as many more.
You can even put smoked cheese on a platter with grapes to give your guests a welcomed surprise when they tuck into their appetizers.
There are endless possibilities in store for you when you decide that you’re ready to begin your cold smoking adventure.
However, cold smoking is not as easy or straightforward as it may sounds. It must be done with accuracy and your full attention to ensure that it’s done right.
Luckily, we’ve researched for you and have included it all in this handy guide.
By the time we’re through, you’ll be confident to begin your new favorite hobby – cold smoking cheese!
What is Cold Smoking?
Cold smoking can be used to preserve foods (such as smoked salmon or beef jerky) and make them last a lot longer than they typically would, as well as giving them a distinct smoky flavor.
Cheese is one of the most popular foods to begin your cold smoking journey as there are seemingly endless varieties to choose from as well as uses for the final product.
Cold smoking can be done on ANY existing grill or smoker. It does however requires a smoker box or cold smoke generator that will do most of the work for you.
We recently covered our favorite Cold Smokers for 2021 HERE if you want to check them out.
However, there are plenty of workarounds like using a cold smoke generator, waiting for a cold winter day, or even using a tray of ice placed underneath the cheese.
We recently went in depth on how to cold smoke gouda cheese using a variety of methods that you can read all about here.
Before we jump into the ins and outs of how long to cold smoke cheese, if you’ve never cold smoked before, here is a great overview video from Kent Rollins to get you started:
How to Choose the Right Cheese for Cold Smoking
Even though you’ll be using a cold smoker, you still need to choose a cheese that has a higher melting point than the rest.
Solid milk fat in cheese traditionally begins to melt at 90 degrees Fahrenheit, so choosing a cheese that has a melting point lower than this will make the task even harder.
Cheddar, halloumi, gouda, and mozzarella are all great cheeses to choose from due to their higher melting points.
Additionally, don’t feel as though you need to buy premium cheese for smoking. Even inexpensive supermarket cheese will work fine and becomes delicious after being smoked.
One caveat: If your cheese comes with wax or a rind on the exterior it will need to be removed before you begin smoking it. I
f you don’t take this off, the wax or rind may prevent the smoke from being able to penetrate the cheese properly and you won’t get as rich of a flavor.
How Long to Cold Smoke Cheese
Time on the Smoker
Once you have setup your smoker (see our article on making smoked gouda HERE to learn exactly how to do this on any grill or smoker), you need to know how long to smoke the cheese.
Most people cold smoke their cheese anywhere from 1-3 hours in total.
However, as always, there are some things to consider:
- The thicker your block or wheel of cheese, the longer you will need to smoke it. You can save time by cutting the cheese into smaller blocks so you have more surface area exposed yo the smoke.
- The harder and denser your cheese, the more smoke you will need to expose it too as well vs a softer cheese.
- If this is your first time smoking cheese, or smoking a certain VARIETY of cheese, go easy on the smoke time until you learn how it tastes.
- If you have enough cheese on hand, you can also start several blocks at the same time. Then remove them in 30 or 60 minute intervals as an experiment to see which you end up liking the best.
Controlling the Temperature When Cold Smoking Cheese
As most types of cheese don’t melt until they reach temperatures of 90 degrees Fahrenheit, you’ll need to ensure that the temperature inside of your smoking device does not exceed this number.
To make this job a little easier, you can leave a temperature probe inside the smoker near your cheese so that you can easily read the results whenever you’re checking.
We use this one from ThermoPro almost everytime we smoke anything.
To help with keeping the temperature below 90 degrees Fahrenheit, an easy tip is to cold smoke your cheese when it is cool outside.
Cold smoking in warmer weather will make the cheese much more likely to melt because the outside temperature is helping to heat up the smoke chamber.
If you want to smoke your cheese in the middle of summer, perhaps do so early in the morning or late at night when the temperature has dropped off a little.
You can also place ice around and underneath the cheese in foil trays to help keep the ambient temperature down; however, this will take more effort because you’ll have to keep replenishing the ice once it melts.
Using a cold smoke generator makes this easier since you won’t have to fire up your grill or smoker to help make the smoke. We like this setup from Smokehouse Products.
For an even easier approach, an indoor smoking gun lets you bypass the grill all together by shooting smoke into a ziploc or plastic container where you will also place the the cheese.
Letting the Smoked Cheese Mellow
Refrigerate in Parchment Paper for 24-48 Hours
Smoking cheese is different from smoking meat as you will NOT be eating the cheese right after you smoke it.
If you take a bite out of some freshly smoked cheese, all the smoke flavors will still be concentrated right on the surface of the cheese and taste acrid and bitter. The center will have no smoke flavor.
After you remove the cheese from the smoker, wrap it in a cloth or some parchment paper and to let it “breathe” and refrigerate it for 24-48 hours.
Vacuum Seal for 2 Weeks Before Serving
Next comes the hardest part about smoking cheese…the waiting.
After you have let your cheese breathe for 24-48 hours in the refrigerator you need to let it “mellow.”
You will need to place it in an airtight container such as a zip lock bag, or better yet, a vacuum sealed bag and put it back in the refrigerator for at least 2 WEEKS.
This will give the smoke flavors that accumulated on the outside of the cheese to permeate into the rest of the cheese and also mellow out in flavor.
How Long to Cold Smoke Cheese – The Verdict
We hope that we’ve answered some of your questions about cold smoking cheese.
Once you master the cheese, you might even feel brave enough to move onto meats! Follow our tips and tricks mentioned above and prepare to try the best cheese you’ve ever tasted!
What Other Food Can I Smoke?
Looking for some more smoky inspiration?
So glad you asked.
Check out some of our other great recipes of smoked and grilled food to try out at your next outdoor BBQ!
- Smoked Fresh Ham with Dark Rum Citrus Glaze
- Smoked Leg of Lamb with Guinness Marinade
- Smoked Lamb Chops with a Balsamic Butter Sauce
- Smoked Rack of Lamb with Garlic and Rosemary or Smoker
- Smoked Oysters in a Garlic White Wine Sauce
- Smoked Bratwurst with Beer Braised Onions
- Grilled Bratwurst
- Smoked Gouda Cheese
- Perfect Grilled Hamburgers
- Pellet Grilled Steak
- Pellet Grill Turkey
Trash Can Turkey – OK, technically not made on a grill but one of the most fun ways there is to cook a Turkey…at over 700 degrees in only 2 hours! You’ve got to check it out!