Learn everything you need to know about how to make Smoked Cream Cheese!
A smoked cream cheese block is really easy to make on ANY grill or smoker and can be simply seasoned, covered in hot pepper jelly, or used in a dip!
Whether you've got a gas or charcoal grill, a Pit Boss or Traeger pellet grill, or even a Masterbuilt electric smoker, we've got you covered!
Why Smoked Cream Cheese?
Want to serve the most talked about dish at your next family barbecue or get together? Then a smoked cream cheese block is the way to go.
Like our smoked hard boiled eggs, when slow smoked, a simple boring block of cream cheese takes on many new a delicious flavors that can be used in a variety of ways.
You can season your smoked block of cream cheese with your favorite BBQ seasoning and sauce to then dip with crackers, cover it with hot pepper jelly for a sweet and spicy treat, or incorporate it into another appetizer like our amazing smoked cream cheese dip with cheddar and bacon.
Smoked Cream Cheese is thankfully incredibly easy to make, but there are few tips to make sure you get the right smokey flavor and also don't make a mess on your grill.
So let's get to it!
How to Prepare a Block of Cream Cheese for Smoking
Score, Oil, and Season the Smoked Cream Cheese First
Remove the cream cheese from the packaging and gather the following items:
- A basting brush,
- A good sharp knife like our favorite boning knife from iMarku,
- Cooking oil
- Your Favorite BBQ seasoning
Score the top of the block(s) of cream cheese diagonally in both directions with a good sharp knife like our favorite from imarku.
This will give you not only a nice presentation but more surface area for smoke to penetrate as the smoked cream cheese block opens up on the grill.
Brush some oil on all sides of the block(s) of cream cheese. You don't need a high smoke point oil because we're going to be smoking at a VERY low temperature. So any cooking oil is fine.
Finally sprinkle your chosen BBQ rub(s) on the top and sides of the cream cheese block.
Use Foil or a Grill Mat
You also want to think about what you are going to put the smoked cream cheese block on in the smoker or grill.
We found that putting the cream cheese on some foil rubbed in cooking oil kept it from sticking like it would to the grates directly.
It also made cleanup much easier afterwards.
Another sturdier option is to use a grill mat, which are becoming increasingly popular in many BBQ circles, especially for delicate foods like cheese, veggies, and even small slippery seafood like smoked oysters.
Our personal favorite is the PhatMat Non Stick Grill Mat.
Just oil it up, throw it down on your grill to put on your smoked cream cheese.
You can slide it around as needed to make room for other food without having to move the block of smoked cream cheese itself.
It keeps your grates really clean, and when you are done, you just throw it right in the dishwasher!
The Best Seasonings for Smoked Cream Cheese
We especially like a good old fashioned spicy and sugary BBQ rub on our smoked cream cheese.
Make sure to pick something that will also give it a nice dark color like Blues Hog Original.
Cream cheese itself doesn't have much flavor so go ahead and go big and bold with your flavor choices.
You can also baste with a little of your favorite barbecue sauce as well.
Since we are smoking these low and slow you don't have to worry about any sugars burning so have fun with it.
We recommend smoking 3 or 4 blocks with multiple flavor combinations to give your guests a nice variety to sample from!
The Best Smoking Wood for Smoked Cream Cheese
Once again, have some fun and don't be afraid to go big and bold here with your flavors.
While we normally shy away from hickory and mesquite for longer smokes so as not to overpower a nice smoked rib roast or rack of lamb, since cream cheese is so bland to begin with you really do need to add some distinct flavor purposefully.
You can use an apple cherry wood if you pla to pair the smoked cream cheese with a hot pepper jelly.
Or, use a savory hickory wood if want to mix it into some delicious smoked cream cheese dip with bacon and cheddar cheese.
When in doubt, if using a pellet grill like a Pit Boss or Traeger, we always do well with a bag of Bear Mountain Gourmet BBQ Pellets.
You get a nice subtle sweetness and plenty of straightforward smokey flavor.
Best Times and Temperatures for Smoking Cream Cheese
What Temperature Should You Smoke Cream Cheese?
We want to slow smoke our cream cheese blocks as low as possible.
We are looking to add smoky flavor, not cook them.
As long as you can keep that temperature below about 220°F, you shouldn't have any problems with your smoked cream cheese melting in you.
For this reason we are going to smoke our cream cheese at only 180°F with INDIRECT heat.
We find either an electric smoker or a pellet grill like a Traeger or Pit Boss works best for this as you can set them to either 180*F or put them on the "Smoke" setting depending on your model.
If you don't have one of these we'll show you some other options how to set those up for LOW indirect heat below.
How Long Does it Take to Smoke Cream Cheese?
We found about 2 hours to be enough time to really infuse some nice flavor into our smoked cream cheese blocks.
You are welcome to let them go for longer if you want an even deeper smokey flavor, or if you are using a milder fruitwood such as apple.
Setting Up a Grill or Smoker for Smoked Cream Cheese
New to smoking?
Here are the best instructions for setting up different types of grills and smokers to smoke your hard cream cheese.
Smoked Cream Cheese in a Vertical or Offset Charcoal Smoker
Fill your firebox or lower charcoal basin with only about a quarter chimney's worth of unlit charcoal and create a small hollowed out depression in the center where you can add your lit briquets.
If your smoker comes with a water pan, like the Weber Smokey Mountain, don't bother with filling it.
Light a charcoal chimney with only about 2 lumps or briquettes of charcoal and wait about 10 minutes for them to fully ignite.
Once lit, add the 2 lit briquets to the center depression you created.
Add 1 chunk of smoking wood placed on top of the lit briquettes and put your smoked cream cheese on.
Make sure to use your greased foil or Phat Mat.
Then slowly close down the top and bottom dampers to only about ¼ open and try to maintain a temperature of no more than 180°F.
Smoked Cream Cheese in a Propane or Electric Smoker
Propane and electric options are some of the easiest smokers for beginners to start with.
For Propane: Open your gas valve and light the bottom burner. Adjust it down as low as possible without it going out to keep the temperature no higher than 180° F.
Need a refresher? Check our our Complete Guide to How to Use a Propane Smoker HERE.
Fill the smoking wood tray with your chosen wood chips and keep the top vent closed about ½ way.
Use your foil or Phat Mat and place your cream cheese on the top rack as far as away from the burner as possible.
If the propane smoker still gets too hot, place a foil pan filled with ice on the tray below the cream cheese to act as a buffer.
Do not bother to fill the water tray if there is one.
Use your foil or Phat Mat and place your cream cheese blocks on the top rack.
If the electric smoker gets too hot, place a foil pan filled with ice on the tray below the cream cheese to act as a buffer.
Smoke the cream cheese for about 2 hours.
However, we recently found a great solution.
If you are tired of having to reload fresh wood chips into your electric smoker, especially on longer cooks like pork butt and brisket, then check out this Masterbuilt Automatic Slow Smoker Attachment.
It basically burns new fresh wood chips at a constant rate, much like how a pellet grill works, freeing you up to do other things while getting your food nice and smokey!
Smoked Cream Cheese on a Pellet Grill
Fill the pellet hopper with your choice of smoking wood pellets.
Plug in the pellet grill and turn the temperature to 180°F or the "Smoke" Setting if it has one. Make sure you have the pellet grill set up for INDIRECT cooking.
Never used a pellet grill before? Read our Ultimate Guide to Pellet Grills to learn why they are so easy and how to set one up for success every time.
On a gas or charcoal grill you will likely need to use a smoker box filled with wood chips, or a pellet tube smoker filled with wood pellets.
Think you need a fancy smoker to smoke food at home?
Great smoked food can be made right on your current gas or charcoal grill.
If you are unfamiliar with these gas grill smoking devices mentioned above, no worries, we have you covered!
Or check out this handy comparison between smoker boxes and pellet tube smokers if you can't decide which is right for you.
In the case of smoked cream cheese, we would opt for the pellet tube smoker on a gas grill since we will be smoking longer than the 30 minutes that a smoker box lasts about.
If using a charcoal kettle style grill like in the picture below, use one chunk of smoking wood.
Set up your gas or charcoal grill for indirect cooking with only one burner or a very, VERY small amount of lit briquets on one side and plan for your cream cheese to be on the other side.
Remember, we are smoking the cream cheese INDIRECTLY, with as little heat as possible. So put one far side burner on LOW just to light the smoker box on a gas grill, or light only 1 or 2 charcoal briquets placed in a small pile of unlit ones on a charcoal grill.
Once the temperature of your grill is around 160°F, place your smoker box or pellet tube smoker over the lit burners or place a chunk of wood on the lit charcoal and once smoke begins coming out, place your foil or Phat Mat with the cream cheese on the opposite side.
Keep the temperature as low as possible and smoke for about 2 hours.
Check out our Favorite Gas Grills priced UNDER $200 Here.
Best Ways to Serve Smoked Cream Cheese
After 2 hours, carefully remove the entire sheet of foil or the grill mat with the smoked cream cheese from the grill and set aside to cool a little bit.
Some grease will have leached out of the cream cheese so you can soak this up around the edges of the block with a paper towel before transferring the smoked cream cheese from the foil to a serving platter for a nicer presentation.
Serve your warm, smoked cream cheese with a variety of crackers and vegetables as an appetizer, cover with a a hot pepper jelly for a sweet and savory snack.
Or set it aside to incorporate into our recipe for smoked cream cheese dip.
Smoked Cream Cheese
- Smoker or Pellet grill -OR-
- Gas or Charcoal Grill setup for indirect heat
- Hickory, Mesquite, and/or Apple pellets, woodchips, or chunks
- Aluminum Foil or a Grill Mat
- 1 8 oz Block of Cream Cheese
- Cooking Oil
- Barbecue Rub Seasoning to taste
- 2 tablespoon Hot Pepper Jelly optional
Prepare the Cream Cheese
- Spray or brush some cooking oil onto a sheet of aluminum foil.Cooking Oil
- Place your cream cheese block on the greased sheet of foil.1 8 oz Block of Cream Cheese
- Score the top of the cream cheese crosshatch style with a sharp knife.
- Brush some cooking oil on the top and sides of the block of cream cheese.Cooking Oil
- Sprinkle your BBQ rub seasoning on the top and sides of the cream cheese block.Barbecue Rub Seasoning
Set Up the Grill or Smoker
- Preheat the smoker, or grill setup for indirect cooking, to no higher than 180°F.
- If using a pellet grill, load the hopper with your chosen pellets, turn on the grill, and set the temperature for 180°F or the "Smoke" setting.
Smoke the Cream Cheese Block
- Once the grill or smoker is near its temperature, add your wood chips, wood chunks, or pellets into a pellet tube smoker and place it over the direct heat and close the lid.
- Once the grill or smoker is producing smoke, place the foil with the cream cheese on it into the smoker, or on the cool side of the grill. Close the door or lid.
- Smoke at no higher than 180°F for 2 hours.
- Carefully remove the foil with the smoked cream cheese on it from the grill or smoker and place somewhere to cool for 10 minutes.
- Gently soak up any grease around the smoked cream cheese with a paper towel and then transfer to a serving platter.
- Serve warm with crackers or vegetables for dipping and spreading.
- Optional: Finish by gently spooning hot pepper jelly on top of the smoked cream cheese block for some extra sweet and spicy flavors.2 tablespoon Hot Pepper Jelly