Can you smoke pepper jack?

Do you consider yourself a cheese aficionado who craves the smoky taste of your favorite dairy product? Have you ever questioned whether you can smoke pepper jack cheese?

Smoking cheese has become a prevalent trend among foodies in recent years, offering a distinctive smoky flavor that can elevate any dish. However, there seems to be some confusion regarding which types of cheese are suitable for smoking. Pepper Jack is one such cheese that has sparked some debate within the smoking community.

So, can you smoke pepper jack cheese? The answer is a resounding YES. But before you get started, there are a few things to keep in mind. The type of wood pellets you use will significantly impact the flavor of the cheese. Additionally, the temperature and duration of smoking will also play a role in achieving the desired outcome.

In this blog post, we’ll delve into the world of smoking cheese and explore everything from its benefits to the best wood pellets to use. We’ll also provide tips on how to achieve that perfect smoky flavor. By the end of this post, you’ll have all the information necessary to smoke pepper jack like a pro. So grab your smoker and let’s get started.


What Makes Pepper Jack Ideal for Smoking?

Surprisingly, smoking cheese is not only possible but can also enhance the flavor of certain varieties. When it comes to smoking cheese, pepper jack stands out as an excellent choice.

What makes pepper jack ideal for smoking? There are several reasons why this spicy and creamy cheese is perfect for smoking:

Firstly, pepper jack has a high fat content compared to other cheese varieties. This high fat content makes it an ideal absorber of smoke flavor and adds richness to the cheese. Smoking also enhances the spicy flavor of the cheese by infusing it with the smoky flavor of the wood used for smoking.

Secondly, the semi-soft texture of pepper jack allows it to absorb smoke easily without melting too much. This ensures that it retains its shape and texture throughout the smoking process.

Thirdly, pepper jack’s unique flavor, resulting from blending Monterey Jack with jalapeño peppers, is elevated by smoking. The smoky flavor of the wood used in smoking pairs perfectly with the spicy flavor of the cheese, creating a delicious and complex taste.

Fourthly, when smoked, pepper jack cheese takes on a beautiful golden color and develops a firm rind. The rind not only adds to the visual appeal of the cheese but also acts as a protective layer that preserves the soft interior from drying out during storage.

To create a perfect smoked pepper jack cheese, it’s essential to use the right type of wood. Hardwoods such as oak, hickory, and mesquite are too overpowering and can mask the delicate flavors of the cheese. Softer woods like apple, cherry, and pecan are better choices for smoking cheese as they provide a milder smoke flavor that complements the cheese.

It’s also important to keep the temperature low during smoking to prevent the cheese from melting or becoming too soft. A temperature range of 70-85°F is ideal for smoking pepper jack cheese.

The Benefits of Smoking Pepper Jack

As an expert on the benefits of smoking pepper jack, I can tell you that this semi-soft cheese is perfect for smoking, and here’s why:

  • Unique and delicious flavor: Smoking pepper jack cheese adds a smoky aroma and deepens its already spicy taste. Its firm rind and golden color make it visually appealing, while its complex flavor profile complements a variety of dishes.
  • Health benefits: Pepper jack cheese is lower in fat and calories than many other types of cheese, making it an excellent choice for those who are watching their weight or maintaining a healthy diet. Smoking the cheese also creates a protective layer that can extend its shelf life.
  • Easy to do at home: With just a smoker and some wood chips, you can smoke your own pepper jack cheese in a few hours. This is an enjoyable activity for those who love grilling and smoking their food.

Using smoked pepper jack cheese in your dishes is a fantastic way to add an extra layer of flavor and texture. Here are some ideas:

  • Top off your burger or grilled chicken sandwich with melted smoked pepper jack cheese.
  • Mix it into your morning omelet or scrambled eggs to add some spice.
  • Melt it into a quesadilla or sprinkle it over nachos for a zesty kick.
  • Add it to your fruit salad for a unique sweet and savory twist.

Different Types of Wood Suitable for Smoking Cheese

Smoking cheese is an art that requires just the right touch of flavor to achieve perfection. That’s why choosing the right wood for smoking cheese is key. Here are five types of wood that work well for smoking cheese and the flavors they impart.


Applewood is a popular choice for smoking cheese because of its mild and sweet flavor. With its fruity aroma, applewood works best with milder cheeses like mozzarella or gouda. However, it also complements stronger cheeses like cheddar and provolone, making it a versatile option.

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While hickory is often associated with smoking meats, it can also be used for smoking cheese. It has a strong and robust flavor that can overpower some types of cheese, so it’s important to use it sparingly. Hickory pairs well with hard cheeses like parmesan or asiago, creating a bold and smoky flavor.


Mesquite is a wood that’s mostly used for smoking meats, but it can also be used for smoking cheese. It has a bold and earthy flavor that can add depth and complexity to stronger cheeses like cheddar or gouda. However, mesquite can be overpowering if used in excess.


Alder is a mild and delicate wood that’s commonly used in the Pacific Northwest for smoking fish but can also be used for cheese. It provides a slightly sweet and nutty flavor that pairs well with most types of cheese. Alder works especially well with delicate cheeses like brie or camembert.


Cherry wood provides a sweet and fruity flavor that’s similar to applewood but slightly stronger. It’s perfect for adding a subtle sweetness to most types of cheese, but it can be overpowering when used excessively. Cherry wood is an excellent choice for smoked gouda or havarti.

It’s important to keep in mind that not all types of wood are suitable for smoking cheese. Pine or cedar should never be used because they contain harmful resins when burned. Additionally, only use food-grade wood chips that haven’t been treated with any chemicals or additives.

Tips for Smoking Pepper Jack Cheese

Smoking pepper jack cheese is an excellent way to do just that. However, smoking cheese can be a tricky process and requires some preparation beforehand. Here are some tips for smoking pepper jack cheese like a pro:

Choose the Right Type of Cheese

Not all types of cheese are suitable for smoking, and pepper jack cheese is one of the best options for smoking. The creamy texture of pepper jack cheese pairs well with smoky flavors, making it a popular choice for smoking. Plus, its spicy kick adds an extra layer of flavor to your dishes.

Use Cold Cheese

It’s essential to use cold cheese when smoking as it will hold its shape better during the smoking process. If the cheese is too soft or warm, it will melt and lose its shape, making it difficult to smoke. Consider freezing the cheese for 30 minutes before smoking to make it easier to handle.

Preheat Your Smoker

Preheat your smoker to around 85°F to 100°F before adding the cheese. It’s essential to maintain a low temperature while smoking as high temperatures may cause the cheese to melt and lose its shape. A cold smoker or creating your own by placing a tray of ice between the cheese and the heat source can help regulate the temperature.

Use Wood Chips

Wood chips, such as applewood or hickory, are great choices for smoking pepper jack cheese. Soak the wood chips in water for at least 30 minutes before using them in your smoker. This will help create a flavorful smoke that complements the spiciness of the pepper jack.

Smoke for a Short Period

Smoking cheese doesn’t require a long time in the smoker. Ideally, you should smoke the pepper jack cheese for around an hour or until it develops a smoky flavor. Keep an eye on the color of the cheese, and remove it from the smoker when it turns a light golden color.

Let it Rest

After smoking, let the pepper jack cheese rest at room temperature for an hour or so before refrigerating it. This will allow the smoky flavor to develop fully and give the cheese more time to set. Once it’s ready, store it properly in an airtight container in the fridge to maintain its flavor and texture.

Temperature Considerations When Smoking Cheese

Smoking cheese is a culinary art that requires careful temperature considerations to achieve the perfect balance between flavor and texture. Cheese is a delicate food that can easily lose its shape or melt when exposed to high temperatures. Therefore, it’s crucial to keep the temperature low and steady during the smoking process.

To begin with, the ideal temperature range for smoking cheese is between 60°F and 70°F. This temperature range allows the cheese to absorb the smoky flavor without losing its shape or texture. To achieve this, using a cold smoker is highly recommended. Cold smokers can maintain a low and consistent temperature for an extended period of time, ensuring that your cheese comes out perfectly smoked.

Apart from the smoking temperature, the ambient temperature of the room where you smoke your cheese also plays a significant role. To prevent your cheese from sweating or losing its texture, smoke it in a cool and dry room with low humidity levels. High humidity levels can cause your cheese to sweat, while high temperatures can make it melt or deform. So, choose a suitable location that meets these requirements.

Monitoring the internal temperature of the cheese regularly is also essential when smoking cheese. The internal temperature of the cheese should not exceed 90°F, as this can cause it to melt and lose its shape. By using a thermometer to check the internal temperature regularly, you can ensure that your cheese is not overheated and comes out perfectly smoked.

Equipment Needed to Smoke Pepper Jack Cheese

To achieve that smoky flavor, you’ll need some specialized equipment. Let’s explore the essential tools needed to smoke pepper jack cheese.

First and foremost, you’ll need a smoker. The market offers various types of smokers, including electric, gas, and charcoal smokers. Each has its unique benefits and drawbacks, but ultimately, your choice will depend on your personal preferences and budget. Ensure that your smoker can maintain a low and steady temperature to prevent the cheese from melting.

Next, you’ll need wood chips or chunks to generate smoke. Different types of wood can impart varying flavors to your cheese, so it’s worth experimenting with different varieties like apple, hickory, mesquite, and oak. Wood chips or chunks are readily available in stores or online.

To monitor the temperature inside your smoker, invest in a good thermometer. Cheese is finicky when it comes to temperature. If the temperature gets too high, it can melt and become a gooey mess. On the other hand, if the temperature is too low, the cheese won’t take on as much smoky flavor. A thermometer will help you keep your smoker at the optimal temperature for smoking cheese.

Finally, choose something to place your cheese on while it smokes. Wire racks or bamboo mats work well for holding the cheese in place while allowing smoke to penetrate evenly. Alternatively, wrapping your cheese in cheesecloth or butcher paper is another great option. Just ensure that the cheese is exposed to the smoke and not touching any surfaces that could transfer unwanted flavors or bacteria.

Step-by-Step Guide to Smoking Pepper Jack Cheese

Smoking this popular cheese variety is a unique way to give it a rich, smoky flavor that will take any dish to the next level. As an expert in this process, I’m here to guide you through the step-by-step process.

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Firstly, it’s crucial to ensure that you have all the necessary equipment. You’ll need a cold smoker, wood chips or chunks, a thermometer, and wire racks or non-stick surfaces for your cheese. Keeping the temperature inside the smoker at or below 90 degrees Fahrenheit is key to preventing the cheese from melting or becoming too soft.

Next, cut your pepper jack cheese into blocks or slices of your desired size and let it come to room temperature. This will help it absorb the smoke flavor better in the smoker. Once ready, place the cheese on wire racks or non-stick surfaces inside the smoker.

Set up your smoker according to the manufacturer’s instructions and let it run for at least 2-3 hours, depending on how much smoke flavor you want. It’s essential to monitor the temperature inside the smoker and keep it within the recommended range. If necessary, use ice packs or other cooling methods to prevent overheating.

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After smoking, remove your cheese from the smoker and wrap it in plastic wrap or wax paper. Let it rest in the refrigerator for several days to allow the smoke flavor to develop fully. This waiting period may be difficult, but trust me – it’s worth it.

In summary, smoking pepper jack cheese is a straightforward process that requires attention to detail to achieve delicious results. Here’s a quick recap of the steps:

  • Gather all necessary equipment.
  • Cut the pepper jack cheese into blocks or slices and let it come to room temperature.
  • Place the cheese on wire racks or non-stick surfaces inside the smoker.
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  • Set up and run the smoker according to the manufacturer’s instructions.
  • Monitor the temperature inside the smoker and keep it within the recommended range.
  • Remove the cheese from the smoker and wrap it in plastic wrap or wax paper.
  • Let it rest in the refrigerator for several days to allow the smoke flavor to develop.

Ideas on How to Enjoy Smoked Pepper Jack Cheese

This delicious treat can be enjoyed in a variety of ways, from snacking on it alone to using it as an ingredient in your favorite dishes.

To start, let’s talk about snacking. Smoked pepper jack cheese is perfect on its own as a snack. The smoky flavor is enough to satisfy your cravings and provide you with a tasty treat. But why stop there when there are so many other ways to enjoy it?

For those looking to incorporate smoked pepper jack cheese into their meals, try using it in sandwiches or burgers. The smoky flavor adds depth to the sandwich or burger, taking it to the next level of deliciousness.

Feeling adventurous? Add some smoked pepper jack cheese to your macaroni and cheese or quiches for a unique twist on these classic dishes. You won’t regret it.

And let’s not forget about pizza. Adding smoked pepper jack cheese as a topping will elevate your pizza game, making each slice even more flavorful. It’s also an excellent addition to any charcuterie board, providing a tasty addition to the variety of meats and cheeses on display.


In conclusion, the art of smoking cheese has taken the culinary world by storm, and pepper jack cheese is a fantastic option for those looking to experiment with this technique. Its high-fat content makes it an ideal canvas for absorbing smoke flavor, while its semi-soft texture allows it to do so without melting too much. The result? A complex and delicious taste that will leave your taste buds begging for more.

But what’s the secret to achieving the perfect smoked pepper jack cheese? It all starts with the right type of wood pellets. Softer woods like apple, cherry, and pecan are excellent choices as they provide a milder smoke flavor that complements the cheese beautifully. And when it comes to temperature, low and slow is the way to go – this prevents the cheese from melting or becoming too soft.

One of the best things about smoked pepper jack cheese is its versatility in cooking. From topping burgers or pizza to mixing into omelets or scrambled eggs, adding to macaroni and cheese or quiches, or simply snacking on its own, there are endless ways to enjoy this delicious treat. And with lower fat and calorie content than many other types of cheeses, you can indulge guilt-free.

So, why not try your hand at smoking some pepper jack cheese at home? With just a smoker and some wood chips or chunks, you’ll be able to create a unique and flavorful addition to your favorite dishes in no time.

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