Cold Smoked Cheese: A DIY Guide

Jason Webster
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What you’ll need to cold smoke cheese

Below, I am going to outline the ingredients and equipment you need for cold smoking cheese.

As always, this list is by no means exhaustive. You may also need to improvise. But this is a great place to start.

If you want more information about DIY cold smoking cheese, here is a great blog by ColdSmokeCheese on the subject.

Using a smoker

The most important machine used in smoking cheese is the smokehouse. You can buy a commercial smoker from most hardware stores or “build your own” by buying the necessary parts and assembling them yourself. Commercial smokehouses are expensive and require regular maintenance and knowledge on how to use them, so I am going to walk you through the process of building your own smokehouse. It may take a while to finish it and it can be difficult to use, but once you have it, you can continue to use it for many projects.

In order to use a smoker, you need to have ventilation and a fire box to produce smoke. The smoke, in turn, needs to be transported to the cheese through a ducting system.

Building the exterior of your cheese smoker is very easy. Just measure the diameter of your smoke pipe, cut a section of 4” diameter PVC piping of equivalent length, and drill four vent holes using a 1” diameter, 1/8” deep hole saw. Solder or use tape to hold the pipe end together, then place a nichrome wire, cut to the length of the pipe diameter, inside. Add some fire-retardant insulating material to the outside and you are done.

Using a charcoal grill

If you have a charcoal grill, you should use it to cold smoke your cheese. The heat source needs to be indirect. So adjust the charcoal on your charcoal grill so that the heat source on both sides is about 15 …F lower than the internal temperature of the refrigerator.

The internal door of the refrigerator should remain closed and never open when there is smoke.

If you need to open the door, you must leave the door open for at least 5 minutes before closing it.

Also, make sure the room temperature is above 50 …F or 14 …C. You should not smoke anything in the refrigerator when the temperature is below 50 …F.

Place the cheese in the refrigerator for the required smoking time. You can add a little bit of the burnt wood chips to the charcoal to create a stronger flavor if you prefer. Check periodically to see how the cheese is smoking.


Cheese is as diverse as it is delicious. Artisanal cheese is made with care and love by people who really know what they are doing and have the passion to do it. This artisanal approach to food means that each cheese tastes and looks different.

Using a gas grill

You will need:

A smoker box: This is an aluminum foil wrapped box that is designed to slide into the gas grill chamber. The gas flows through it during the grilling, imparting smoke into the food. When buying a smoker box, make sure it fits the size of your grill.

Wood chips: These are the same as for smoking meat. Make sure they are made for use with a gas grill.

A food thermometer: This is to ensure the food is cooked to safety standards

A very sharp knife: For slicing the cheese

Racks: To put the cheeses on placed on top of a baking sheet on the grill.

Smoked cheeses: The cheeses you are using


To prepare for the process, you have to first preheat the grill to medium heat. To load the grill with less smoke, put the lid on.
Now place the smoker box of wood chips on the grill. You can use either a foil packet full of chips or chips dumped straight into the smoker box. Fill the smoker box with an even layer of chips. Finally, close the lid of the grill and allow the chips to get smoky.

Once the chips in the smoker box are starting to give off smoke, it’s time to prepare the cheeses.

Fuel for smoking

A cheese needs to be cheap, easy to smoke, and dry enough to burn consistently. Common fuel sources are corncobs or hardwood. The cheapest fuel comes from dry mushroom compost, scrap lumber, or kindling bought from a hardware store.

Dry bamboo shoots work well for cold smoking cheese. You can place the fuel in small bowls in a cardboard box for easy lighting.

An example of a inexpensive fuel source: Pine needles.

Pine needles are easy to collect and often free. Also for some reason pine needles burn with a very clean and pleasant smell. They are easy to handle, light ,and compact and not awkward to use.

Charcoal vs. wood chips vs. pellets

Smoking meats and seafoods is an art that is usually best done with real wood smoke.

There are plenty of woods to choose from, with willow being the preferred kind for smoking cheeses.

However, smoking cheeses with real smoke can be a bit tricky and not within the scope of this quick guide to cold smoking.

There are alternatives if you want to try your hand at smoking cheeses using most of the same techniques as you would with traditional smoking.

You can do this using smoker pellets or liquid smoke.

Wood pellets are made using sawdust, chips, or shavings from various hardwoods, and will produce the same mild smoky flavor that you need in a cheese without producing a large amount of actual smoke.

Liquid smoke is also an option, but should be used in moderation as it is more concentrated and can produce a very strong smoky flavor.

Another popular alternative is to use hickory, cherry, peach, or apple wood chips for cold smoking cheese.

The process is similar to using pellets except that you will need a lot of wood chips or chunks and they need to be soaked in water for a few hours before using.

This will help them produce more smoke than if they were used dry.

What kind of wood chips you use is entirely up to you and what kind of flavor you wish to achieve in your cold smoked cheese.

Other fuels

Smoking cheese over wood chunks is the very nature of smoking food. But there are other fuels that can be used to smoke cheese just as effectively.

Gas smoke is a common substitute, as is liquid smoke. Of course, adjusting the amounts of gas or liquid used in smoking cheese will be necessary to account for the lack of wood for longer smoke periods.

Smoke will enhance the flavor of your cheese, adding an extra dimension of complexity and moisture to the finished product. Smoked cheese also has a longer shelf life and retains its moisture, which is a must for anyone looking to expand their cheese collection.

Cheeses to smoke

Of all the cold processed smoked cheeses you could make at home, the easiest one to pick first is probably a smoked Cheddar.

Cheddar is widely available, smells and tastes fantastic smoked, and is very easy to work with.

All of these factors make it a desirable cheese if you are new to the cold process.

Cheeses such as mozzarella, fresh burrata, and Provolone are more difficult to work with, so you should try and gain some experience before attempting them.

Condensation issues

Smoking cheese requires hot smoke, which can only be created by fire. To be precise, the fire needs to be at least 130 degrees Fahrenheit.

The idea here is to evaporate most of the water in the curd, which will result in a firm cheese with no liquid pockets.

This also means that your cheese will get smokey, and that is something you will really have to consider before getting into making smoked cheese.

If you are intolerant to smoke, you will need an entire separate room just for smoking. Smoking can permeate surfaces and linger for quite some time.

Otherwise, if you don’t mind smoking in your kitchen, by all means go for it. Just be sure to place the smoker in a well-ventilated area to allow the smoke to dissipate. If you smoke cheese over a long period of time, absorption of the smoke will continue, even if the smoke source has gone out. It’s best to know ahead of time if you are comfortable with this method.

How to cold smoke cheese at home (step by step guide)

Cold smoking cheese is actually quite easy to do at home. Typically, you need to wrap cheese in cheese cloth and smoke them using an improvised device. And to make cold smoked cheese, you will need a smoker with indirect heat.

Alternatively, you can use a barbecue with a water pan. If you’re using a gas grill, you will need to place the cheese on a wire rack suspended over the pan.

For a basic cold smoker, you will need a home-made smoker and a stove or an electronic heating element.

To ensure that the temperature remains around 55 °C over several hours, you will need to bury the heating element inside a tin can filled with water and place the tin can and the smoker in a larger container with water.

Add a thermometer in the cheese and a glass jar filled with a mixture of milk and water on the top of the lid.

The temperature should drop to 37 °C when you close the lid.

If you have a fryer, you can use its oil and heat it to between 120 and 130 °C. To keep the temperature constant, bury the heating element in a tin can filled with water and place the tin can and the fryer in a larger container with water and leave the thermometer in the oil.

Prepare your cheese

Check that the cheese has no cracks or holes. If so, you may need to reseal it using the towel method. or some extra wax.

It also helps to wash the cheese with a vinegar & water solution just before you are ready to smoke it. This will help to create a barrier between the cheese and the smoke.

If the rind is very dry, brush a thin layer of olive oil onto it. This will help the smoke stick to the rind.

Light the fuel

Light the fuel and let it burn. If you are using a charcoal and wood lighter, open the vents and place your wood chips on it and in the fire box. Close the fire box and let the wood smolder for 10 minutes or more. Open the vents and a build a charcoal pile about the same height as the smoker. You can use charcoals, chunks, rocks, or whatever will burn for heat.

Place the cheeses in the smoker

Place the cheeses in the smoker. Follow the instructions here if you are using a smoker.

Smoke the cheeses for 2 – 4 hours

At 80 “ 100 degrees F in your smoker or food dehydrator. The amount of time you smoke the cheese will depend on how strong you want the flavor. The process is the same for all cheeses.


Place the cheese on a piece of aluminum foil and wrap it up.

Place the wrapped cheese in the smoker at below 200 degrees F. The smoke should not touch the cheese directly.

Let it smoke for at least two hours for a mild flavor.

Remove and rest the cheeses

Letting the cheese rest helps to absorb smoke evenly throughout your cheese making. Ideally, you can use a cheese press or terracotta pot to weight and press the cheese.

As soon as your cheese is removed from the smoker, season it with herbs and seasoning of your choice. Try adding a few sprigs of herbs like thyme, oregano, dill, parsley, or rosemary to heighten the flavor of your smoked cheese.

Make sure you lightly pat off the excess moisture before you wrap the cheese in food grade plastic wrap and foil.

Unwrap, slice, and enjoy!

Smoked cheese is one of life’s simplest and most delicious pleasures. No matter how much cheese you think you could possibly consume, there’s always room for some smoked cheese.

Wrapping it all up

There you have it! The book is now in your hands. If you have taken the steps I listed and feel confident about your skill set you are ready to truly begin your adventure!

You have learned about the many aspects of backpacking, from a simple tent set up to how to properly pack your gear!

You can now set off on your next adventure with confidence knowing that you will be prepared for whatever uncertainty presents itself.

I hope that you have enjoyed this guide! I have tried my hardest to ease any worries you may have and mitigate any potential disasters that any new backpacker should avoid at all costs.

I hope that this guide has not only given you the knowledge to prepare for your next backpacking adventure but a spark of natural excitement that you can carry with you wherever you go!

Good luck out there and as always, have a blast on your next backpacking adventure!

The Best Portable Charcoal Grills for 2022

We all adore cheese, right? Every vegetarian can tell you how much cheese is included in most of the snacks and meals that they make.

It tastes great and brings a lot of flavor to any dish. But what happens when you can’t find a cheese that melts and incorporates itself well? It’s just no fun!

On the other hand, smokey cheese is easy to make and it’ll satisfy your craving for cheese. It brings a lot of flavor to your food. It can be pretty bad for your stomach and digestion system but you can always control your portions and keep it to a minimum.

Making it without a proper smoker takes a few steps and you need to have some patience as well. If you make cold smoked cheese at home you can control the cheese making process and have some cheese for a meal or two.

But what happens if you were to make cold smoked cheese in the most portable, convenient and hassle-free way? This is easy to set up, clean, and take down quickly.