How to Smoke Monterey Jack Cheese  (In 3 Simple Steps)

Smoked cheese is a delicacy few can afford these days.

But what if I told you can smoke Monterey jack cheese for a fraction of the price?

All you need is a block of cheese and a smoke.

Read on, and in no time you’ll be munching on your own home-smoked cheese.

cold-smoke-Monterey-Jack-Cheese

Can I Really Smoke Cheese at Home?

If you have some type of outdoor grill, you can absolutely cold smoke cheese in your backyard.

And all you need is a decent-sized block of cheese, some wood chips, and your pellet grill.  That’s it!

Even an electric smoker will allow you to smoke your cheese.  All you need is a grill with a closing lid.

If you don’t have a grill that has a smoke setting, grab yourself a smoking tube. 

They are simple to use and will build enough smoke in your grill to get the desired results.

cold-Smoking-Monterey-Jack-Cheese

What Type of Cheese Is Best for Smoking?

You can successfully smoke any type of cheese on your pellet grill. 

Some may need a little more experience than others though.

For a beginner, I’d recommend starting with semi-hard cheese blocks. 

They are much less complicated to work with. 

Softer cheeses can be tricky and have a low melting point. 

How-To-cold-Smoke-Monterey-Jack-Cheese

Before you know it, you could have melted cheese all over your grill.  A disheartening experience!

Harder cheeses have less chance of melting.

But the high density means it’s difficult to achieve the level of smoke flavor to make it worthwhile.

Nothing will put you off the process faster than having little to no flavor at the end of it!

For this recipe, we are going to use Monterey Jack.

It’s a great mild cheese, with a lovely flavor profile that works well with the nutty flavors of the smoke.

heating-pellet-grill

What Is Monterey Jack Cheese?

Monterey Jack is a great American cheese, originating in California.  It’s said to have Spanish farmhouse influences.

It’s a pale ivory, semi-hard cheese made from pasteurized cow’s milk. 

The taste is quite mild, with a slight sweetness, and has a smooth and creamy texture. 

Perfect for smoking!

Love Cheesy Recipes?

Want some more cheese-based recipes?

Cedar Plank Brie

Smoked Cheddar Recipe

Smoked Cheesy Potatoes

Smoked Pepper Jack

Rotal Dip

Smoked Cream Cheese

Smoked Gruyere

Monterey-Jack-Cheese-on-bench

Do I Need Any Special Equipment for Smoking Cheese at Home?

All you’ll need is some type of barbecue grill with a lid, wood chips, and a block of cheese.

Even if you have a traditional grill, you can still smoke cheese.

If you don’t have the smoker option on your grill, invest in one of the many smoker tubes available. 

This will create smoke in your grill.

How-To-Smoke-Monterey-Jack-Cheese-in-pellet-smoker

The Cheese Smoking Process on a Pellet Smoker

Start with your outdoor smoker or pellet grill. 

You won’t need heat in the grill, just the ability to produce and contain the smoke. 

If need be, use a smoker tube to create the smoke.

Keeping the temps low is important.  Otherwise, the cheese will sweat and melt.

Fire up the grill, pellet smoker, or smoking tube as per the instructions. 

Make sure the wood smoke produced is clean and rolling before adding in your cheese.

Monterey-Jack-Cheese-cold-smoked

Place the cheese blocks on the grill.  Leave enough of a gap between each block so the smoke can circulate each piece.

Then it’s a matter of closing the lid and leaving the smoke to do all the work. 

You’ll need to leave it for about 2 hours. For a light hint of smoke, give it an hour.

If the temperatures or heat source are hard to keep regulated, use a tray of ice to keep them down.

Place a wire rack over the ice tray.

Place the ice tray on the grill grates and place the cheese on the rack.

This will act as an insulator, to keep the temps down while it smokes.

Monterey-Jack-Cheese-in-smoker

What Temperature Should I Smoke the Cheese At?

Low temperatures are vital for smoking cheese.

The smoker temperature should be set below 80-90°F, as anything over 90°F will start to melt the cheese.

It’s recommended to smoke cheese on a cool day, ideally when the outside temperature is 60°F or below.

If the outside is any higher than 60°F you may find you struggle to keep the cheese from sweating and melting.

How-To-Smoke-Monterey-Jack-Cheese

How Long Do I Smoke the Cheese for on the Pellet Grill?

Smoking cheese is a quick process compared to most smoked items.  

Generally, the process will take anywhere between 1 and 4 hours. 

The time depends on the type of cheese you are using, and the flavor you want.

Monterey Jack will take you 1.5 to 2 hours, depending on the depth of flavor you are hoping to achieve.

And now the bad news…

Monterey-Jack-Cheese-on-racks-2

Once the cheese is smoked, you’ll need to let it rest for a couple of weeks. 

This allows the flavors to settle and develop into the blocks of cheese.

Trying to eat it straight after smoking will give you an acrid, harsh taste. 

Better to vacuum seal it and leave it to mellow in the refrigerator for 1-2 weeks.

Monterey-Jack-Cheese-on-racks

What Type of Wood Chips Should I Use for Smoking Cheese?

You won’t need a lot of wood chips for smoking cheese, especially if you use a smoker tube.

For Monterey Jack, wood chunks like maple, cherry, or apple are perfect.

They will bring out the natural sweetness of the cheese.

Starting off it’s best to stick with milder flavors. Stronger flavors like mesquite can overpower the cheese.

pellet-tuber

Smoked Monterey Jack Recipe

Ingredients:

Block of Monterey Jack Cheese, cut into smaller blocks

Wood chips

Monterey-Jack-Cheese

Method:

  • Fire up the pellet grill, or smoker tube, light it with a torch.
  • Let the flame burn for 1-2 minutes before blowing out.
  • Place in the bottom of your smoker and let it smolder. You want a light barely visible smoke. Make sure you have plenty of air flow and leave the smoker off. 
  • Once the smoke is rolling and clean, place the cheese, evenly spaced, on the grill grates.
  • Make sure you place your cheese on clean smoker racks.
  • Keeping the cheese sanitary is a major component of its shelf life after smoking.
  • Close the lid and allow to smoke for 2-4 hour.
  • Every hour, turn the cheese.  Close the lid and allow to smoke for another hour.
  • When the cheese comes out of the smoker it will taste very bitter and ashy.
  • I recommend sealing and letting it rest in the fridge at least 1 month before trying.
  • Vacuum seal and store in the refrigerator for at least a month before consuming.
vaccum-sealed-Smoked-Monterey-Jack-Cheese
vaccum-sealed-cold-Smoked-Monterey-Jack-Cheese

Smoked Monterey Jack Cheese

Smoked cheese can be very expensive, so try smoking Monterey Jack cheese on your own that is just as delicious for half the price.
Prep Time5 mins
Cook Time2 hrs
Total Time2 hrs 5 mins
Course: Appetizer, Dinner, lunch, main, Main Course, Side Dish
Cuisine: American, Barbecue, bbq, dinner, grill, lunch
Servings: 12 servings
Calories: 198kcal
Author: Charlie
Cost: 6

Equipment

  • Pellet smoker

Ingredients

  • Block of Monterey Jack Cheese cut into smaller blocks
  • Wood chips

Instructions

  • Fire up the pellet grill, or smoker tube, light it with a torch.
  • Let the flame burn for 1-2 minutes before blowing out.
  • Place in the bottom of your smoker and let it smolder.
  • You want a light barely visible smoke.
  • Make sure you have plenty of air flow and leave the smoker off.
  • Once the smoke is rolling and clean, place the cheese, evenly spaced, on the grill grates.
  • Make sure you place your cheese on clean smoker racks.
  • Keeping the cheese sanitary is a major component of its shelf life after smoking.
  • Close the lid and allow to smoke for 2-4 hour.
  • Every hour, turn the cheese.
  • Close the lid and allow to smoke for another hour.
  • When the cheese comes out of the smoker it will taste very bitter and ashy.
  • I recommend sealing and letting it rest in the fridge at least 1 month before trying.
  • Vacuum seal and store in the refrigerator for at least a month before consuming.

Smoked cheese is guaranteed to bring any cheese platter to life!

how-to-serve-Smoked-Monterey-Jack-Cheese

Why not try smoking your own next time you have a cool day?

Smoke On!

Charlie

Author: Charlie Reeves
Hi, I’m Charlie, I am head taste tester at Simply Meat Smoking! I love it grilling, smoking, and getting out in the yard with the kids! The family also love to test all my recipes (especially my EXTRA CRISPY pulled pork, smoky pork loin, and ANY SEAFOOD I grill)

You will usually find me playing with the kids, perfecting my brisket bark, or sipping beers with boys around the fire. Can’t wait to share all my delicious smoking and grilling adventures with you!

You can read more on our About Us page.

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