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Smoked Shotgun Shells

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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
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 onto the bacon and then give it a good sprinkle with my original 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 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.


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 Time: 30 minutes
  • Cook Time: 2 hours 30 minutes
  • Total Time: 5 hours


Units Scale
  • 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


  1. 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.
  2. 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.
  3. Brush barbecue sauce onto the top and sides of the bacon wrapped shell then apply a coating of Jeff's original rub.
  4. 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)
  5. Set up smoker for cooking at 225°F using indirect heat. If your smoker uses a water pan, fill it up.
  6. 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.
  7. Brush sauce onto the wrapped shells and let them caramelize in the heat for about 10 minutes before removing them from the smoker.
  8. Serve immediately.

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