Smoked Cream Cheese – The Perfect Quick, Easy, and Delicious Appetizer

July 13, 2023
Written by John Smits

I’m about to hit you with your new favorite appetizer – smoked cream cheese. It’s delicious. It’s gooey. It’s smokey. Oh, and I saved the best for last – my smoked cream cheese recipe only takes 5 minutes to prep. Toss the block of cream cheese on your smoker, cook it for about two hours, and serve. It’s stress-free, impossible to screw up, and guaranteed to be a hit!

I throw a block of cream cheese on my smoker all the time when hosting a party. It’s literally the perfect appetizer – who doesn’t like to dip stuff in cheese? I’ve got everything you need to know about making smoked cream cheese. I’ll walk you through my favorite recipe, clue you in on what to serve it with, cover how to store leftovers, drop some expert tips, and more. 

Smoked cream cheese might be the ultimate easy appetizer – it’s basically foolproof, it’s incredibly flavorful, and it’s versatile. Fire up your smoker. Let’s cook!

smoked cream cheese.

Classic Smoked Cream Cheese Recipe

Here’s my go-to recipe for smoked cream cheese. This recipe makes a savory appetizer, and once you’ve tried it, I promise you’ll cook it again and again.

Stay tuned for a few ideas on how to remix this recipe. 

Note: Cream cheese is already salty. Avoid seasonings that contain a lot of salt. This recipe is easy to scale if you’re feeding this as an appetizer for a crowd.

What You’ll Need?

  • (1) 8oz block of full-fat cream cheese (Low-fat cream cheese won’t cut it. I use Philadelphia cream cheese.)
  • Cilantro, parsley, green onions, or another green herb for garnish

Ingredients for Seasoning Mix (or 2 tbsp of Your Favorite BBQ Rub or Your Favorite Spices)

  • 1/2 tbsp chili powder
  • 1/2 tbsp brown sugar
  • 1/2 tbsp garlic powder
  • 1/2 tbsp onion powder
  • 1 tsp ground black pepper
  • 1 tsp cumin
  • 1 tsp smoked paprika (regular is fine if that’s all you’ve got)
  • Pinch of cayenne pepper
Variety of Cooking Ingredients

Prep Time: 5 minutes

Cook Time: about 2 hours

Servings: 4 as an appetizer

Suggested Wood: Use oak, hickory, or pecan for a rich smoky flavor. For a lighter smoke flavor, go with apple or cherry wood. Wood chips or wood chunks may be used. If you’re using a pellet grill, use your favorite wood pellets.

  • Preheat your smoker to 225°F. 
  • Remove the block of cream cheese from the refrigerator. With a sharp knife, score a crosshatch pattern into the cheese. Score the top approximately half the depth of the cream cheese.
  • Mix the seasonings together in a bowl with a whisk.
  • Time to season the cream cheese. Dredge the block of cream cheese in the seasonings. Make sure you cover all the sides. The entire block should be coated with the seasoning blend.
  • Put the cream cheese on a baking sheet lined with aluminum foil. (First, spray it with cooking spray or brush it with olive oil so the cream cheese doesn’t stick.) You could also use a small cast iron skillet coated with olive oil or a disposable aluminum pan (also covered with olive oil).
  • Smoke the cream cheese at 225°F. Smoking cream cheese takes around 2 hours. Unlike most things in BBQ, you’re not cooking to an internal temperature. Your smoked cream cheese dip is ready when it’s gooey, brown, and puffy.
  • Plate the smoked cream cheese dip. Put it in your favorite serving ware, decorative bowl – whatever! To level up the presentation, add a fresh green herb, like parsley, rosemary, or cilantro. The old adage “people eat with their eyes” is evergreen. Make the presentation look as good as you can.
  • Serve immediately – no need to rest smoked cream cheese. Feast!

What Type of Smoker to Use?

I like to cook this low and slow on my Traeger pellet grill because it’s set it and forget it. 

If you don’t have a pellet smoker, don’t sweat it. A bullet smoker, kamado, gas grill, or charcoal grill will all get the job done. Just set them up for indirect grilling and try to keep the temp below 250°F.

What to Dip in Smoked Cream Cheese?

Your options here are limitless, which is why I love this recipe. Serve with crackers, or get creative with your ideas! Some of my favorite things to scoop up the smoked cream cheese include:

  • Grilled bread
  • Baguette
  • Naan (drizzled with olive oil and warmed up on the grill, of course)
  • Tortilla chips (hit that cream cheese with taco seasoning!)
  • Crackers (ritz crackers, soup crackers, or fancy ones)
  • Raw veggies (carrot sticks, cucumber slices, celery, red pepper slices)
  • Bagel chips
  • Pretzels (grab a bag of your favorite. Homemade soft pretzels would be next level!) 
  • Apple slices (Brunch, anyone? Yes, please!)
  • Pita chips
Fresh Lebanese Cream Cheese Dip

Mix it Up!

Once you make smoked cream cheese, you’re going to keep smoking it, I promise. There are an array of smoker recipes you can go with. There are also many different ways to season cream cheese. 

Feel free to play around with the seasonings as much as you’d like. Hit the cream cheese block with taco seasoning, stuff it with sliced jalapenos and sliced garlic, and heap it on tortilla chips for a taco night appetizer. Put some cinnamon sugar on it and serve with sliced fruit. The smoked cream cheese variations are endless!

Here are some of my favorite alternative ways to prepare smoked cream cheese dip.

Topped with Crumbled Bacon

Place some bacon on a parchment paper lined baking sheet and stick it in a 400°F oven for 10 minutes. (Or better yet, smoke it on your pellet grill.) Crumble the crispy, delicious bacon and sprinkle it on top of the smoked cream cheese. The fatty bacon brings so much flavor to the game.

Drizzle with Hot Honey

Warm up some honey in the microwave and drizzle a couple of tablespoons over the smoked cream cheese. Use a cinnamon sugar spice blend. The sweet flavors from the honey and sugar are a dynamite combo with the smokey flavor of the smoked cream cheese.

Use cut-up fruit and vanilla wafers to dip in the cream cheese – the extra sweetness is amazing. Melt in your mouth good!

Make It Hot

Once you smoke the cheese, drizzle some buffalo sauce on top. Boom. You just discovered your new favorite recipe. Supply some celery and carrots for a creamy dip with a great flavor that everyone wants to try.

Go Italian

Use Italian seasoning on the smoked cream cheese, and sprinkle it with diced tomatoes. The spice blend is fantastic served with crackers and crusty Italian bread. (Toasted on your pellet grill, ideally!)

Top It With Pepper Jelly

Grab your go-to jar of pepper jelly or use your homemade stuff. Spoon the jelly over the top of the smoked cream cheese. Serve it with your favorite crackers.

Other Ways to Use Smoked Cream Cheese

Even though smoked cream cheese screams “dip,” there are other ways you can serve smoked cream cheese. Think outside the box! Here are some of my favorite “non-dip” uses for smoked cream cheese:

Make It for Brunch

If you smoke cream cheese for brunch, I promise it’ll become a Sunday morning staple. There’s no better way for your family to start their week. 

Top the cream cheese with maple syrup and spread some on French toast for a sweet option.

I like to put smoked salmon and put the smoked cream cheese on top of a bagel. That’s double the smoke and a true breakfast of champions! I use everything bagel seasoning to flavor the cream cheese.

Breakfast Bagel with Cream Cheese

Put It on Burgers

It’s no secret that I love a good burger (smashed or smoked, preferably)! Ditch that processed or American cheese and take your burgers to the next level by putting some smoked cream cheese on them.

Mushroom Burgers with Beef, Cream Cheese and Cream Sauce

Use It to Stuff Peppers or Mushrooms

Hollow out a bell pepper, cut it in half, and spread cream cheese in the cavity. Top with crumbled bacon pulled pork, seasoned ground beef – whatever you like. 

It’s an elegant appetizer that’s oh-so-easy!

Red Grilled Pepper Filled with Cream Cheese

Stuff a Chicken Breast with It

Slice a chicken breast in half, and smear smoked cream cheese inside of it. Reassemble the chicken breast and cook it for a decadent, creamy dinner that’s still nutritious.

To take it next level, wrap the chicken breast in bacon (secure with toothpicks). Still delicious, if slightly less nutritious. 

Light Grilled Chicken Breast Fillet Stuffed with Cream Cheese

Use It as a Sandwich Spread

I love using smoked cream cheese as a sandwich spread. It’s great on any sandwich, but my favorite is a Philly Cheese Steak. You’ll never go back to provolone or American cheese, believe me.

Cream Cheese Sandwich with Parsley and Onions

How to “Cold Smoke” Cream Cheese?

You can also use a technique known as cold smoking to make smoked cream cheese. 

To do this, set your grill up for indirect grilling at 160-200°F. I find this works best on a pellet grill because it’s easy to maintain a low cooking temperature. It’s possible to do on other cookers, but tricky.

If you cold smoke, plan on a slightly longer cooking time – about three hours. The cream cheese will take on an even smokier flavor.

How to Store Leftover Smoked Cream Cheese?

I’ll be honest – my smoked cream cheese recipe is so good I don’t think you’re gonna have any leftovers. In the unlikely event that you do wind up with extras, stick the leftover cream cheese in an airtight container or wrap it tightly in plastic wrap. 

Soft cheeses can be refrigerated for about a week, according to the USDA. If you see any mold on the cream cheese, toss it.

Don’t freeze cream cheese – it doesn’t freeze well. If you put leftovers in the freezer, the cream cheese develops a gritty texture.

How to Reheat Leftover Smoked Cream Cheese?

To reheat, stick the cream cheese in your oven that’s been preheated to 350°F. Place the cream cheese on a baking sheet that’s lined with parchment paper. Bake it until the cheese is warm and gooey – about 10 minutes.

Leftover cream cheese can be served hot or cold. I think it has the best flavor warm, but if you like it cold, serve it straight out of the fridge.

Smoked Cream Cheese – Your New Secret Weapon

Smoking cream cheese is so easy (and tasty) that I throw a block or two on the smoker frequently. It only takes five minutes to prep, and if I’ve got the pellet grill going anyway – why not!

The beauty of smoked cream cheese is its versatility. You can make it savory. You can make it sweet. You can make a dip that’s a cheesy appetizer before serving ribs, for example.

Or, it’s easy to tweak and make sweet. Apples, smoked cream cheese, and smoked pork chops sound like a match made in heaven. What are you waiting for? I’ve filled you in on everything you need to know – time to start the grill!

By John Smits
John bought his first home in 2012 and bought his first grill shortly afterward: the ubiquitous Weber kettle grill. He’s been hooked since the first time he fired up some coals. Now, after over a decade spent making countless delicious meals, John is a passionate advocate for live-fire cooking.
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