Learn everything you need to know about how to make smoked pig shots!
These cheesy bacon and kielbasa appetizers will be a surefire hit at your next BBQ!
ether you've got a gas or charcoal grill, a Traeger or Pit Boss pellet grill, or even a Masterbuilt electric smoker, we've got you covered!
What are Smoked Pig Shots?
If you live for all things BBQ but haven't yet tried a smoked pig shot, you haven't truly lived.
Now, there are a hundred ways to make a smoked pig shot, including even this cool pineapple cream cheese version.
But here is our favorite:
Picture a regular shot glass, but replace the glass with smoky, crispy, bacon and kielbasa. Then replace the liquor inside the shot glass with a melty jalapeno, cheddar, and cream cheese mixture and finally drizzled with a little honey for some subtle sweetness to balance out the rich saltiness of the other ingredients.
Now THAT's a perfect bite, and an appetizer that will surely be a conversation starter at your next big barbecue get together.
And the best part...smoked pig shots are incredibly easy and fun to make!
How to Prepare the Pig Shots for Smoking
Prepare the Jalapeno Cheddar Mixture
First you want to get your filling ready. Here are the ingredients you will need:
- 8 ounces of cream cheese (smoked or regular)
- 1 jalapeno, diced (remove the ribs and seeds)
- 1 cup shredded cheddar cheese
- 2 teaspoon chili powder
- 2 teaspoon smoked paprika
- 1 tablespoons of your favorite BBQ rub
It's easier if you soften, (or better yet, smoke the cream cheese) first. Then mix everything together in a small mixing bowl.
You can use any BBQ rub you like to season up your filling, or even just simple salt and pepper if you wish.
We are big fans of Blues Hog BBQ Rub around here and we used it on our smoked pig shots as well as our smoked jalapeno poppers we made on this day.
Once you've prepared the filling, set it aside to begin assembling your pig shots.
Assemble the Pig Shots
Next you will make the "shot glass" in which to place your filling. You will need:
- 1 package of Kielbasa
- 1 package of Thick Cut Bacon
- Toothpicks (2 per pig shot)
Make sure to use "Thick-Cut" bacon as the bacon will need to be sturdy enough to form the walls of your pig shot and hold the filling in place.
Otherwise the sides won't stand up straight and you may end up with a mess on your grill.
Slice the Kielbasa into about ½ inch disks which will be the bases of each pig "shot glass."
Then, cut each strip of bacon roughly in half, leaving it long enough to wrap completely around each kielbasa slice and secure with a toothpick.
Repeat this with each slice of kielbasa. You should have enough kielbasa and bacon for about 18 smoked pig shots.
Fill the Pig Shots
Now you are going to fill each pig shot glass with the jalapeno cream cheese cheddar mixture.
Be forewarned the mixture does expand on the grill or smoker while cooking so don't fill them completely to the top.
We found using a small cookie dough scoop to be the easiest way to drop the right amount of filling into each pig shot without getting it everywhere.
Once you fill each one, secure the top of the bacon slices with a second toothpick going through the filling. This will keep the top bacon corner from curling back as it cooks and the filling from leaking out.
Use a Grill Basket or Phat Mat
We placed our smoked pig shots directly on our oiled pellet grill, but next time we would use one of our grill mats or even an opened grill basket to make it easier to move them around all at once.
Trying to pick up each individual pig shot with tongs without squeezing out some filling turned into a bit of a challenge.
We are particular fans of the ORDORA Portable Grill Basket because it comes with its own handle, making it much easier to manage and move lots of delicate food, even shrimp, scallops, and asparagus around with one quick motion.
Another option is to use a grill mat, which are becoming increasingly popular in many BBQ circles, especially for delicate veggies and small seafood like oysters.
Our personal favorite is the PhatMat Non Stick Grill Mat.
Just throw it down on your grill to keep your food all in one place and you can slide it around as needed to make room for other food without having to move each individual item.
It keeps your grates really clean, and when you are done, you just throw it right in the dishwasher!
Best Wood for Smoking Pig Shots
Fruitwoods such as apple and cherry as well as oak will give you a subtle smoke flavor on your smoked pig shots.
Or if you want a more distinctive smoky flavor, try some hickory or mesquite instead.
So have some fun and use some of those more distinctive flavored woods on your smoked pig shots!
Best Times and Temperatures for Smoking Pig Shots
Best Temperature to Cook Smoked Pig Shots
Because we need to cook the bacon and render out the fat, we can't smoke these completely low and slow or we will have too chewy bacon rather than a nice crispy strip to bite through on our pig shot.
For this reason we are going to smoke our pig shots at 300°F with INDIRECT heat.
If you are using a gas or charcoal grill, will discuss how to set those up for indirect heat below.
How Long Does it Take to Smoke Pig Shots?
The amount of time it takes will vary a little depending on your grill ro smoker and alos how thick the bacon you use is.
We found it took about 1 hour and 15 minutes to completely cook our smoked pig shots.
You can smoke them at a lower temperature before you turn up the heat if you want to add even more smokey flavor.
Once the bacon has changed from a pink to a nice dark color and feels firm when you tap it, the pig shots are likely done.
Setting Up a Grill or Smoker for Smoked Pig Shots
New to smoking?
Here are the best instructions for setting up different types of grills and smokers to smoke your pig shots.
Smoked Pig Shots in a Vertical or Offset Charcoal Smoker
Fill your firebox or lower charcoal basin with only about a 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, go ahead and fill it.
Light a charcoal chimney about ¼ of the way and wait about 10 minutes for them to fully ignite.
Once lit, add the lit briquets to the center depression you created.
Keep the top vents half closed and the bottom dampers about ½ way open until the temperature is in the 250°F range.
Add 1 chunk of smoking wood once the smoker is up to temperature, grease the grill grates, and put your pig shots on.
Then slowly close down the top and bottom dampers to only about ¼ open until you are maintaining a temperature of 300°F.
Continue to adjust the dampers open and closed as necessary to maintain this temperature
Smoked Pig Shots 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 to keep the temperature no right at about 300° 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.
Oil the trays and place your pig shots on the top racks as far as away from the burner as possible.
If your propane smoker tends to run hot, place a foil pan filled with water on the tray below the pig shots to act as a buffer.
Go ahead and fill the water pan if there is one.
Oil the trays and place your pig shots on the top racks.
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 Pig Shots on a Pellet Grill
Fill the pellet hopper with your choice of smoking wood pellets.
Let the pellet grill run through its start up process. When the pellet grill has come up to temperature, place your pig shots on the oiled grill grates, or preferably in a grill basket, or on a Phat Mat, and close the lid.
Turn and rotate the pig shots as needed depending on how even the heating of your pellet grill is.
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.
Smoked Pig Shots on a Gas or Charcoal Grill
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 pig shots, we would opt for the pellet tube smoker on a gas grill since you need to smoke them for about 75 minutes.
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 small amount of lit briquets on one side and plan for your pig shots to be on the other side.
Remember, we are smoking the pig shots INDIRECTLY, so as not to burn the bottoms.
Once the temperature of your grill is around 250°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 pig shots on the opposite side on the well oiled grate.
Continue bringing the temperature up to 300°F and smoke at this temperature for about 75 minutes, rotating for even cooking as necessary.
Check out our Favorite Gas Grills priced UNDER $200 Here.
Finishing and Serving Smoked Pig Shots
We like to finish our smoked pig shots with a little drizzle of honey for some sweetness to balance out all the salty richness of the bacon, kielbasa, and cheese.
You only need a little bit, and can drizzle it on during the last 5 minutes of the cook.
Carefully remove the smoked pig shots from the grill or smoker and set on a wire rack or plate to cool a little before serving.
Make sure to remove them yourself or ask your guests to remove the toothpicks before eating!
Smoked Pig Shots with Jalapeno Cheddar Filling
- Smoker, Grill or Pellet Grill
- Wood for smoking (chunks, chips, or pellets).
- Cutting Board
- Small Mixing Bowl and Spoon
- Small Cookie Dough Scoop
- 36 Toothpicks
- Grill Mat or Basket
- 1 package Kielbasa
- 1 package Thick Cut Bacon
- 8 ounces Cream cheese smoked or regular
- 1 Jalapeno diced (remove the ribs and seeds)
- 1 cup Shredded Cheddar Cheese
- 1 tablespoon of your Favorite BBQ Rub such as Blues Hog Original
- 2 teaspoon Chili Powder
- 2 teaspoon Smoked Paprika
- 1 tablespoon Honey optional to drizzle
- extra jalapeno slices and green onion or chives for garnishing optional
- Preheat Grill or Smoker set up with INDIRECT heat to 300°F. Fill the water tray if there is one.
Prepare the Jalapeno Cheddar Mixture
- Soften the cream cheese on the counter while you dice the jalapenos and remove the ribs and seeds.8 ounces Cream cheese, 1 Jalapeno
- Shred the cheddar cheese.1 cup Shredded Cheddar Cheese
- Mix the cream cheese, diced jalapenos, cheddar cheese, BBQ rub, chili powder, and smoked paprika together in a small bowl and set aside.1 tablespoon of your Favorite BBQ Rub, 2 teaspoon Chili Powder, 2 teaspoon Smoked Paprika
Assemble the Pig Shots
- Slice the Kielbasa into about ½ inch flat disks which will be the bases of each pig “shot glass.”1 package Kielbasa
- Cut each strip of bacon roughly in half, leaving it long enough to wrap completely around each kielbasa slice and secure with a toothpick through both the bacon and kielbasa.1 package Thick Cut Bacon
- Repeat this with each slice of kielbasa. You should have enough kielbasa and bacon for about 18 smoked pig shots.
Fill the Pig Shots
- Fill each pig shot about ½ to ¾ full with the jalapeno cheddar mixture ideally using a small cookie dough scoop or piping bag. The mixture does expand on the grill or smoker while cooking so don’t fill them completely to the top.
- Once you have filled each one, secure the top of the bacon slices with a second toothpick going through the filling.
Smoke the Pig Shots
- Place your smoking wood chunk on the hot charcoals if using a charcoal grill or pellet tube or smoker box if using a gas grill. If using a propane or electric smoker, fill the wood chip tray.
- Oil the grill grates and carefully place the pig shots on the preheated grill or smoker set up for indirect heat. Close the lid or door.
- Rotate around as needed for even cooking. Use a grill mat ideally.
- Smoke for about 60-70 minutes until the bacon is dark and mostly crispy.
Finish and Serve
- Drizzle gently with the honey for the last 5 minutes to finish.1 tablespoon Honey
- Carefully remove from the grill or smoker. Garish with a jalapeno slice or some chopped chives.extra jalapeno slices and green onion or chives for garnishing
- Let cool on a wire rack or cutting board for 10 minutes, remove the toothpicks before eating and enjoy!