Smoked shotgun shells are one of my favorite appetizers to make on the pellet smoker. Use uncooked manicotti noodle shells and stuff them with a mixture of ground beef, spicy ground sausage, cream cheese, and shredded cheddar cheese then wrapped them in bacon.
Smoke them and then painted them with bbq sauce to finish the whole thing off. I smoke mine on my Rec-Tec smoker but I know a lot of my friends have the Trager smoker and love to use it to make these, call them Trager smoked shotgun shells. Got to love good branding!
The internet calls these, 'smoked shotgun shells' but I would have called them smoked, stuffed, bacon-wrapped manicotti shells, without the ammunition reference. But here we are.
Make a batch of these when you are making a smoked pineapple, smoked brisket or a whole smoked turkey! Give your guests a smoked appetizer while the main even is cooking.
- 😍 Here is why this recipe is amazing:
- 🥓 Ingredients needed to make smoked shotgun shells:
- 📝 Ingredient notes:
- 🔄 Substitutions
- 🥣 Helpful Kitchen Tools
- 🔪 How to make Smoked Shotgun Shells, basic instructions
- 📷 Shotgun Shells Recipe, easy photo instructions
- ❄️ Storage Tips
- ♨️ Reheating Instructions
- 📝 Frequently asked questions, answers and tips:
- Smoked Shotgun Shells
- 👩🏻🍳 Sarah Mock
😍 Here is why this recipe is amazing:
- The addition of the cream cheese and ground sausage will give added moisture to the beef stuffing!
- The perfect appetizer for when you are smoking your favorite recipe and need a snack while you wait.
- Bacon slowly renders, softening and cooking the manicotti shells while cooking to a crisp.
🥓 Ingredients needed to make smoked shotgun shells:
Here is a visual overview of the ingredients in the recipe. Scroll down to the recipe at the bottom for quantities.
📝 Ingredient notes:
- Manicotti shells - This recipe requires you to stuff raw, uncooked manicotti shells with a meat and cheese mixture. I find that stuffing raw shells is easier than stuffing a par-boiled shell.
- Ground Beef - 85/15 is the mix that I use. For this recipe, you are going to NEED the fat in the meat to help soften and then cook the pasta shell.
- Hot Sausage - I am using a hot ground sausage for the recipe for added flavor but using a mild sausage or sage sausage will work as well.
- Cream Cheese - Use full-fat cream cheese because the shells need moisture and the meat needs extra moisture.
- Shredded Cheese - cheddar cheese is featured in this recipe.
- Bacon - use regular cut bacon to ensure the bacon is crisp by the time the stuffed manicotti shells are done cooking.
- BBQ Sauce - the bottled sauce is perfect for this recipe but use what you love!
For an added kick of flavor add a few tablespoons of your favorite spice rub to the meat mixture.
🥣 Helpful Kitchen Tools
- Disposable pastry bag - makes it easier to stuff the shells.
🔪 How to make Smoked Shotgun Shells, basic instructions
- Mix the meats, cheese, and cream cheese until thoroughly combined.
- Fill each raw manicotti shell with the meat mixture.
- Wrap each shell with a piece of bacon.
- Refrigerate the filled shells for a minimum of 6 hours or up to 48 hours.
- Heat your smoker to 250 using your favorite wood pellets or smoking wood chips.
- Place the meat-stuffed manicotti shells on the smoking grate and smoke for 1 hour.
- Brush BBQ sauce over each shell, and raise the temperature of the smoker to 300.
- Cook until the bacon starts to crisp.
- Carefully turn over each shell, basting with BBQ sauce.
- Continue to baste and flip until the bacon is crisp and the sauce is sticky.
📷 Shotgun Shells Recipe, easy photo instructions
- In a bowl combine the ground sausage, ground beef, cream cheese and shredded cheese.
2. Be sure the cream cheese and shredded cheddar cheese is thoroughly mixed throughout.
3. Fill a disposable piping bag with the meat mixture and squeeze the seasoned meat mixture into each raw shell.
4. Check to be sure that the meat is completely filling the pasta shell.
5. The meat will shrink as it cooks so don't be afraid to over-stuff the shells.
6. Wrap each stuffed manicotti shell with a piece of bacon. Allow the weight of the bacon to hang and pull as you wrap it around the shell.
7. Place the wrapped shells on a baking sheet, cover with plastic wrap and allow the shells to rest in the refrigerator for a minimum of 6 hours to allow the pasta shells to start to soften.
8. Heat your smoker to 250 using your favorite wood pellets or smoking wood chips.
9. Place the stuffed shells on the grate and close the lid to trap the smoke.
10. Allow the shells to smoke, undisturbed for one hour.
11. After 60 minutes, squirt a line of BBQ sauce on each smoked shell.
12. Raise the temperature of the smoker to 300. Brush the sauce from edge to edge, including the pasta shell to keep the shell from overcooking and getting crunchy.
13. Cook for 10 minutes, allowing the bacon to crisp and the sauce to concentrate.
14. Flip each shell, brushing on more barbeque sauce.
15. Bake for an additional 10 minutes until the bacon is crisp.
16. Be sure the internal temperature of each stuffed shell reaches 165F. Brush more sauce on each shell until your desired crispness and coating is achieved.
❄️ Storage Tips
Be sure to cover the shells with plastic wrap or keep them in a zip-top bag for up to 48 hours before smoking.
♨️ Reheating Instructions
If you have any leftovers, you can microwave them on 50% power in 30-second increments until heated through. But I found the best way to reheat is in the oven.
📝 Frequently asked questions, answers and tips:
For sure! No smoker is needed. You are able to make them on the grill using the temperatures listed on the recipe card. The only thing you will be missing is the smoky flavor. Add a stop or two of liquid smoke to your sauce if you would like to have a smoky flavor without a smoker.
If the edges of the shells are not kept moist enough, they will dry out. Be sure the bacon is touching the entire pasta shell. Extra sauce can also be brushed on the shells as they are in the final cook.
👩🍳 Chef Tip
When wrapping the shell with bacon you will get the best wrap by aligning the bacon with the angle of the cut edge of the pasta shell.
Smoked Shotgun Shells
There is more to a recipe than just the recipe card. Frequently Asked Questions within the blog post that you may find helpful. Simply scroll back up to read them!
HELPFUL KITCHEN TOOLS
- 1 package Manicotti shells
- 1 pound Ground beef
- 1 pound Italian Sausage, bulk sausage
- 1 cup Shredded cheddar cheese
- 4 ounces cream cheese
- 1 pound bacon
- 1 cup BBQ sauce
- In a bowl combine the ground sausage, ground beef, cream cheese and shredded cheese.1 pound Ground beef, 1 pound Italian Sausage, bulk sausage, 1 cup Shredded cheddar cheese, 4 ounces cream cheese
- Be sure the cream cheese and shredded cheddar cheese is thoroughly mixed throughout.
- Fill a disposable piping bag with the meat mixture and squeeze the seasoned meat mixture into each raw shell.1 package Manicotti shells
- Check to be sure that the meat is completely filling the pasta shell.
- The meat will shrink as it cooks so don't be afraid to over-stuff the shells.
- Wrap each stuffed manicotti shell with a piece of bacon. Allow the weight of the bacon to hang and pull as you wrap it around the shell.1 pound bacon
- Place the wrapped shells on a baking sheet, cover with plastic wrap and allow the shells to rest in the refrigerator for a minimum of 6 hours to allow the pasta shells to start to soften.
- Heat your smoker to 250 using your favorite wood pellets or smoking wood chips.
- Place the stuffed shells on the grate and close the lid to trap the smoke.
- Allow the shells to smoke, undisturbed for one hour.
- After 60 minutes, squirt a line of BBQ sauce on each smoked shell.1 cup BBQ sauce
- Raise the temperature of the smoker to 300. Brush the sauce from edge to edge, including the pasta shell to keep the shell from over cooking and getting crunchy.
- Cook for 10 minutes, allowing the bacon to crisp and the sauce to concentrate.
- Flip each shell, brushing on more barbecue sauce.
- Bake for an additional 10 minutes until the bacon is crisp.
- Be sure the internal temperature of each stuffed shell reaches 165F. Brush more sauce on each shell until your desired crispness and coating is achieved.
Nutritional facts are estimates and are provided as a courtesy to the reader. Please utilize your own brand nutritional values to double check against our estimates. Nutritional values are calculated via a third party. Changing ingredients, amounts or cooking technique will alter the estimated nutritional calculations.
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👩🏻🍳 Sarah Mock
Sarah Mock is a classically trained Chef and graduate of Johnson & Wales University. A culinary blogger for 13 years Sarah helps the home cook prepare her recipes with professional results.
Can these be made in the oven?
for sure! There are notes in the post and in the notes section of the recipe card with grill/oven instructions.
I don’t have a smoker! (I’ve seen smokers)!
Can these shotguns be made in an oven or on an outside bbq grill?
These look amazing and I will def be trying them. Btw, what is wrong with ammunition? O.o
Ralph!!! That is AMAZING!!! Congrats on the amazing auction item. I so appreciate you sharing this with me.
Followed the directions and the Shotgun Shells came out perfectly. I did add some of my special seasonings to the mixture of meat and cheese. I took a couple of dozen to a charity auction where they sold for $95 per dozen. They are a great munchie for our guys beer on the dock. A WINNER!
hmmm I wonder if your store has different size shells. Mine only has one size but different parts of the country might have different sizes. Let me know how they worked out in the end.
OOH! Love the tip on the 'jerky pistol'. I don't have one of those but I see how it would work out well.
Thanks for the tip Iain!
Tried this last night, used a "jerky pistol" with a long tip to fill the manicotti, almost split two open. The recipe is an excellent base from which to work in your own particular tastes. I used chorizo sausage instead of Italian and it worked out just fine.
Made these today as written. I have about 12 oz. Of meat mixture left over. Did I buy to small of a shell? Thought they were stuffed as much as possible. Any suggestions for using the left over meat? Will comment after I smoke tonight.
Tried these tonight and they were good but instead of bbq sauce I thing a spaghetti sauce would be better