Smoked Shotgun Shells

I first heard about these smoked shotgun shells sometime last year but didn't really get around to trying them until recently.

They are so named because of their uncanny resemblance to the real thing and boy are they tasty!

I took them a step further and inserted a good size chunk of cheese in the middle, just because I can.

Just another amazing appetizer that you have to try very soon and be sure to comment below and let me know what you think!

Helpful Information
  • Prep Time: 30 minutes
  • Cook Time: 2.5 hours
  • Smoker Temp: 225°F then 275°F
  • Meat Finish Temp: 160°F
  • Recommended Wood: Hickory, Maple, Apple
What You'll Need
IMG 0492 1000x715Please note that my rubs and barbecue sauce are now available in 2 formats– you can purchase the formulas and make them yourself OR you can buy them already made, in a bottle, ready to use.

Step 1: Cut Cheese into Chunks

Using a block of cheddar, cut cheese into chunks or rectangles that will fit down into the manicotti shells. You can make these any length you want as long as the width will allow you to place them inside the shells.

Mine are about ½ inch square by 1 inch long.

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Set the cubes of cheese aside.

Step 2: Stuff Shells

Open the chub of ground breakfast sausage and press the manicotti shells into the sausage to fill about 1/3 of the shell.

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Insert a cube of cheese pressing it in firmly with your finger but not enough to break the shell.

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Now flip the shell over and fill the other side with sausage by pressing it into the sausage.

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Step 3: Bacon Wrap

I recommend using thin sliced bacon and if you can stretch each piece of bacon a little longer than it is, this will be helpful.

I don't like to layer the bacon too much so using a single piece will be best even if it doesn't completely cover the entire shell. It's ok for part of the shell to be seen.

Wrap the bacon around the shell as tightly as you can and lay the finished product onto a pan with a rack.

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Step 4: Sauce and Rub

Brush a little barbecue sauce (Purchase formula here | Purchase bottled sauce) onto the bacon and then give it a good sprinkle with my original rub (Purchase formula here | Purchase bottled rub).


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Step 5: Smoke Time

Set up your smoker for cooking at 225°F for 2 hours using indirect heat. If your smoker uses a water pan, fill it up.

I used the Camp Chef Woodwind pellet smoker for these with Pit Boss competition blend pellets. This is a mix of hickory, maple and apple.

If you are using a different smoker, you can use either of these woods, a mix of these woods or your own favorite.

Once the smoker is ready, place the pan of appetizers onto the grate and close the lid.

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Let them cook for 2 hours at 225°F.

At the end of 2 hours, increase the heat to 275°F to help crisp up the bacon. Let them cook for an additional 30 minutes at this higher heat or until the bacon is as crisp as you like it.

Brush the smoked shotgun shells with Jeff's barbecue sauce (Purchase formula here | Purchase bottled sauce) about 10 minutes before they are finished cooking.

Step 6: Serve the Smoked Shotgun Shells

Serve the smoked shotgun shells to your guests and accept the praise graciously!

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  • While not a huge deal, most of the manicotti shells available in the States are cut diagonally on the end. In my opinion, it would look much more like a smoked shotgun shell if the ends were straight cut like most cannelloni shells. Unfortunately, these are difficult to find.
  • These are very rich with the hot sausage. Another great option would be to make a meatloaf mixture with either all ground beef, or half ground beef and half ground sausage. Mix in onions, peppers, etc. and stuff that into the shells.

Try your own ideas with these smoked shotgun shells and let me know if you come up with something amazing.

Order Jeff’s Rubs and Barbecue Sauce TODAY!
Jeff's Rubs and Sauce

✅ My rubs and sauce will be the best thing you’ve ever tasted and it’s a great way to support what we do!


You can also order the formulas for my rubs and sauce and make these yourself at home. Grab those HERE and download immediately.

Jeff’s Smoking Meat Books

smoking-meat-book-coverSmoking Meat: The Essential Guide to Real Barbecue – The book is full of recipes and contains tons of helpful information as well. Some have even said that “no smoker should be without this book”!

With more than 1000 reviews on and a rating of 4.7 out of 5 stars, it comes highly recommended and is a Bestseller in Barbecuing & Grilling books on Amazon.

AmazonBarnes & Noble | German Edition

smoke-wood-fire-book-coverSmoke, Wood, Fire: The Advanced Guide to Smoking Meat – Unlike the first book, this book does not focus on recipes but rather uses every square inch of every page teaching you how to smoke meat. What my first book touched on, this second book takes it into much greater detail with lots of pictures.

It also includes a complete, step-by-step tutorial for making your own smoked “streaky” bacon using a 100 year old brine recipe.

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Printable Recipe

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Print Recipe
3.77 from 65 votes

Smoked Shotgun Shells

These delicious appetizers resemble a shotgun shell giving them their clever name. Manicotti shells are stuffed with ground sausage, and wrapped in bacon then smoked to perfection.
Prep Time30 mins
Cook Time2 hrs 30 mins
Fridge Time2 hrs
Total Time5 hrs


  • 11 manicotti shells
  • 1 lb ground sausage (hot or mild)
  • 8 ounce block of cheddar cheese
  • 1 lb bacon (thin sliced)
  • 1 cup Jeff's barbecue sauce
  • 1/4 cup Jeff's original rub


  • Press manicotti shell into ground sausage to fill about 1/3. Add a ½ inch square x 1-inch long piece of cheese into the shell then finish stuffing sausage into the rest of the shell.
  • Tightly wrap a single piece of bacon around the manicotti shell. It is best to stretch the bacon first so it is long enough to wrap and cover the entire shell. Place the wrapped shells onto a pan with a rack.
  • Brush barbecue sauce onto the top and sides of the bacon wrapped shell then apply a coating of Jeff's original rub.
  • Place pan of stuffed, wrapped shells into fridge for 2 hours or even overnight to help the shells to soften a little. (Not absolutely necessary but improves the bite)
  • Set up smoker for cooking at 225°F using indirect heat. If your smoker uses a water pan, fill it up.
  • Place the pan of appetizers onto the smoker grate and let them smoke cook for 2 hours or until the bacon starts to get crisp. It is sometimes helpful to crank up the heat to 275 for an additional 30 minutes to get a better texture on the bacon.
  • Brush sauce onto the wrapped shells and let them caramelize in the heat for about 10 minutes before removing them from the smoker.
  • Serve immediately.



  1. Dave At the Rockin 1199 March 13, 2022 at 9:58 am - Reply

    Hey Jeff,
    I have A Chubby Reverse smoke water bath smoker, can I forgo the pan and just have shotgun shells directly on my rack?

  2. D Hesselein February 8, 2022 at 1:27 pm - Reply

    Made them and they were really good.. was a bit salty from bacon and sausage. Maybe next time, I will use low sodium bacon..

  3. Shawn January 21, 2022 at 2:53 pm - Reply

    4 stars
    While this recipe is good .I followed the first time I made them as well… well now I make a cream cheese Jalapeño sausage mixture and put this in in-between the sausage on the ends which stop the cheese from dripping out.. cheers

  4. john November 8, 2021 at 8:15 am - Reply

    5 stars
    I thankfully doubled the bacon because spots that are not covered in bacon get hard. I would go shredded cheese next time to fill that void in the middle better. I am also going to try and put Ricotta in the middle, sprinkle with SPG and Italian seasonings and serve with spaghetti sauce to dip them with.

  5. garry a workman October 31, 2021 at 11:28 am - Reply

    5 stars
    I made these yesterday for the big game here in Michigan, but changed it up a little. I mixed 5 pepper Italian sausage with chopped green onions and shredded mozzarella cheese. I also added ground turkey. Smoked them on a Traeger for 2 hours and crisped the bacon on my weber gas grill. Used marinara for dipping. HUGE crowd pleaser. Thanks for the inspiration.

  6. Karen October 31, 2021 at 9:38 am - Reply

    I don’t have a smoker, but would love to make these. Any suggestions on oven time and temperature?

    • Tara Lyman December 27, 2021 at 7:41 am - Reply

      I'm wondering same thing

      • Bonnie January 18, 2022 at 1:53 pm - Reply

        I just added a bit of liquid smoke to the sauce and cooked in oven at 225 for two hours, then 275 for 45 minutes. They came out perfect!

    • Jeff Phillips December 27, 2021 at 12:36 pm - Reply

      Karen, I have not made these in the oven however, I think you could preheat the oven to about 325 or 350 and get these done in around 30 minutes give or take 15 minutes. The bacon would need to be crisp and the manicotti would need to be soft.. also the stuffing inside would need to reach 160°F to be safe. I still recommend making these ahead of time and leaving them in the fridge overnight to allow the moisture in the meat to start softening the shells. If anyone makes these, let us know how it goes, I will do the same if I get a chance to try them in the oven.

  7. David October 24, 2021 at 5:52 pm - Reply

    I will make these soon. I am curious about the Manicotti getting enough moisture to fully cook?

    • Jeff Phillips October 25, 2021 at 9:42 am - Reply

      I made this several times and mine turned out perfectly soft and ready to eat. The very edges were a little more dry but I didn't mind that at all. Be sure to give it some fridge time to soften a little more before cooking them.

  8. Glenn Levine October 23, 2021 at 5:31 pm - Reply

    I followed this recipe exactly and after 2.5 hours the sausage was only 125 degrees with an instant read thermometer. I am using a trager smoker. Have you had this issue. I just raised the temp to 300 and will give another 30 min and check again.

    • Jeff Phillips October 25, 2021 at 9:40 am - Reply

      I have not had this issue but it is very important that the sausage reach at least 160 so give it the time it needs and everything else should be fine.

  9. Bill Griffin October 17, 2021 at 9:43 am - Reply

    Recipe mentions cheese. Grate that and mix in sausage?

    • Jeff Phillips October 17, 2021 at 8:02 pm - Reply

      You could grate it and mix it in if you wanted to. I cut the block of cheese into chunks and placed it in the center of the manicotti. 1/3 sausage, then chunk of cheese then more sausage so the cheese ends up in the center. At the end you have a melty bit of cheddar. See steps 1 and 2 of the recipe.

  10. Claire October 7, 2021 at 1:49 pm - Reply

    Hey — haven't tried them yet but will as we are HUGE smokers that love firearms. Go to your local grocery and look for Johnsonville Sausage Strips. Just like bacon in original and maple flavors. We wrapped some hot dogs and they were AWESOME.

    • Jeff Phillips October 8, 2021 at 4:57 pm - Reply

      The sausage strips sound amazing.. I will look for them locally.

  11. Gary Edgar October 7, 2021 at 9:42 am - Reply

    Haven't tried these yet, but does the shell soften up while it's cooking. It seems like the shell would remain dry if you don't at least cook the shell a little bit.

    • Jeff Phillips October 7, 2021 at 11:57 pm - Reply

      Gary, the shell picks up moisture from the sausage and the bacon and ends up plenty soft by the time it's done with the fridge time and the cooking.

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