A smoked cream cheese appetizer that’s perfect for sharing as a prelude to smoked meats!
Go straight to the Recipe Card or
Read on for recipe relevant information and step-by-step pictures (2 mins)
About This Smoked Cream Cheese Recipe
Smoking cream cheese hardly requires a recipe, but it does merit a casual discussion.
It is one of these easy going, do-it-your-own-way methods of creating something special from a generic food. Just add smoke and use your imagination in terms of seasoning and ways to enjoy the result. You begin with plain cream cheese – the essential ingredient.
Cream Cheese Block or Tub?
Your typical foil wrapped cream cheese block is obviously easier to handle but if you all you have is a tub container you can use that too.
To get it out in one piece simply massage the outside of the plastic tub to loosen the cream cheese, then turn it upside down while applying gentle pressure with your fingertips around the outside of the container. It should slide out relatively easy and you can smoke it just the same as the block counterpart.
You Will Also Need
- a small sheet pan, metal plate or cast iron skillet – to place the cheese onto (going directly for the grill grates doesn’t work)
- parchment paper – to line the sheet pan; you can also use aluminum foil
- seasoning – to liberally coat the outside of the cream cheese (choose your favorite bbq rub, bagel seasoning or compose your own savory mix)
What Type of Wood Is Best for Smoking Cream Cheese?
The choice of smoking wood is really up to you. Keep in mind that you do not need to ‘baby’ full fat cream cheese – it can absorb quite a bit of smoke without the flavor becoming overpowering.
If you prefer a more intense smokey presence then hickory wood is a great option (we shy away from mesquite, but if you like it – why not?)
If you would rather enjoy a more subtle smoke taste look for a fruit wood such as apple or cherry.
How to Smoke Cream Cheese
Cream cheese does not have to be cold smoked (like delicate ricotta for example) and can easily withstand higher temperatures suitable for smoking meats.
This is the main reason we like to prepare it alongside meats we are already planning to smoke low and slow. Why waste a good smoking set up for only one food?
The cheese simply sits in the smoking chamber together with the meat until it is done. It is a wonderful snack to share while waiting on the actual carnivore main course to finish cooking. We also typically smoke two bricks of cream cheese – the extra one never goes unused (see Serving Ideas below).
And of course, our choice of wood chips or chunks is determined by the actual protein we are smoking.
Prep. Set up your smoker as you normally would. Season the block of cream cheese and place it onto the lined sheet pan. If using a pellet smoker or pellet grill follow the manufacture’s instructions.
Smoke. Smoke at 200-225 F for about ninety minutes or so. You may want to rotate the sheet pan about forty-five minutes in to ensure all sides get equal exposure to the heat and smoke. When the cheese is soft when pressed gently and has formed a thin crust it is ready.
Important Cook’s Notes
- You do not need to brush the cheese block with olive oil before you coat it with spices – smoke adheres best to dry surfaces and you will have better results in terms of stronger flavor if you leave the cheese as is.
- Smoke loves salt. Feel free to simply sprinkle the cream cheese with only a bit of salt (and maybe pepper) if you would like to experience an unadultared smoke flavor without the taste interventions of a seasoning. It is a wonderful variation.
- If the temperature of the smoking chamber is maintained within the low and slow range of 200-225F cream cheese will not melt when smoked, even past the ninety minute mark. It will simply become soft and gooey on the inside while the outside will form a thin, appetizing crust.
- If you are using a stronger smoking wood and want to limit the intensity of flavor simply pull the cream cheese out a bit earlier and place it on top of the smoker lid to keep warm. Alternatively, tent it with parchment paper and keep in near the heat source as needed.
How to Enjoy Smoked Cream Cheese – Serving Ideas
Serve as appetizer. A thick smoked cream cheese dip is the natural result from the smoking process. Dip carrots, celery sticks, other veggies, crackers, tortilla chips or even candied bacon chips. If you allow the cheese to cool down slightly, it will be closer to a spread and you can serve it with a cheese knife, cut into slices.
A gourmet spread. Allow it to cool down and enjoy on toast or crackers. Try spreading it over plain baguette bruschetta or toasted bagels before you place some cured salmon on top.
Integrate it into warm dishes. We love to fold in warm or room temperature smoked cream cheese into bowls of pasta, or grilled/sauted veggies or boiled potatoes like these. It melts and coats the ingredients, lending its lovely flavor to the whole dish.
Mashed potatoes. Simply mash it in with the potatoes and enjoy.
When Does Cream Cheese Go Bad When Smoked?
If properly stored smoked cream cheese can last for up to five days. Make sure you keep it refrigerated in an airtight container.
After five days you should discard any leftover quantity.
You Might Enjoy
- 8 oz block of cream cheese*
- 1 tbsp seasoning (your choice of rub or favorite mix)
- Line a quarter sheet pan or similar metal plate with parchment paper. Season the cream cheese liberally and place it on top.
- Set up your smoker according to the manufacturer's instructions.** The temperature in the chamber should be in the 200-225 F range.
- Place the seasoned cream cheese in the chamber and smoke for about 90 minutes or until gooey and soft with a thin crust on the outside.
- Serve immediately for a smoked cream cheese dip with crackers and veggies. Allow to cool down if you would rather use as a spread. Any leftover quantity can be stored in an airtight container and refrigerated for up to 5 days.
*If you have a tub of cream cheese you can smoke it just the same. To release it in one piece from the container simply massage the outside of the plastic tub to loosen it, then turn it upside down while applying gentle pressure with your fingertips around the outside of the container. It should slide out relatively easy.
**See blog post for smoking wood options and how to piggy back on a smoking set up you are already preparing for smoking proteins low and slow.
Nutrition Information:Yield: 8 Serving Size: 1
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 100Total Fat: 10gSaturated Fat: 6gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 3gCholesterol: 29mgSodium: 659mgCarbohydrates: 2gFiber: 0gSugar: 1gProtein: 2g
Based on 1 oz per person.