Smoked Shotgun Shells (5 Serving Guides to Learn From)

Iva Carter
Published by Iva Carter
Last Updated On: December 4, 2023

As a seasoned pitmaster and food blogger, I have honed my skills in the art of smoking cuisine.

I loved smoked shotgun shells from my very first taste because they were a step outside the norm of grilling recipes for typically smoked slabs of meat.

Today, I am excited to share my go-to recipe for smoked shotgun shells which feature pasta filled with savory meat and cheese, wrapped in crispy bacon, and infused with smoky flavors for a truly unforgettable culinary experience.

Quick Summary

  • Smoked shotgun shells are pasta tubes filled with meat and cheese, wrapped in bacon, and smoked for a unique culinary experience.
  • The recipe includes ingredients like ground beef, Italian sausage, cheese, bacon, and barbecue sauce, with detailed cooking instructions.
  • Suggested side dishes include roasted vegetables, salads, coleslaw, cornbread, and potato salad.

Recipe Overview

Italian sausage
  • Prep Time: 25 minutes
  • Cook Time: 1 hour
  • Total Time: 1 hour 25 minutes
  • Servings: 8


  • 1 lb. ground beef
  • 1 lb. hot Italian sausage
  • 8 uncooked manicotti shells (cannelloni shells are an alternative)
  • 1 cup shredded cheese (pepper jack, Monterey jack cheese, smoked gouda, or cheddar cheese)
  • 1 cup mozzarella cheese
  • 8 slices thick-cut bacon
  • 1/2 cup barbecue sauce
  • 1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
  • Salt and pepper to taste


smoked shotgun shells spices
  1. Preheat your pellet smoker or grill to 250°F and add apple wood chips for extra smoke flavor.
  2. Mix the ground beef, hot Italian sausage, garlic powder, salt, pepper, and shredded cheese in a large bowl until well combined.
  3. Stuff the cheese and meat mixture into the uncooked manicotti shells, ensuring the pasta tubes are tightly packed, and the entire shell has no air pockets.
  4. Wrap each stuffed shell with a slice of bacon, securing it with toothpicks if necessary.
  5. Place the bacon-wrapped shells on a wire rack set over a sheet pan, and brush them generously with barbecue sauce.
  6. Smoke shotgun shells on the pellet smoker for about an hour or until the internal temperature reaches 160°F [1].
  7. Sprinkle the mozzarella cheese on top of each shell and smoke for an additional 10-15 minutes or until the cheese is melted and bubbly.
  8. Remove the shells from the pellet smoker and let them rest for a few minutes before serving.

Recipe Notes

type of wood chips
  • You can use any type of wood chips you prefer, but applewood adds a sweet and smoky flavor that complements the barbecue sauce nicely.
  • You can add 1/2 teaspoon liquid smoke to the beef and sausage mixture for a smokier taste.
  • If you don't have a pellet smoker, you can cook the shells on a regular grill using indirect heat or in an air fryer.
  • Make sure to tightly pack the ground beef mixture into the manicotti shells to prevent them from falling apart during cooking and losing them between the grill grates.
  • For a twist, you can also try stuffing the shells with different fillings like cream cheese, corned beef, or breakfast sausage. Or you can cover them with spaghetti sauce instead of BBQ.
  • To ensure the bacon is crispy, cook the stuffed shells on the pellet smoker for 30 minutes, then finish them off in the oven after coating them with additional barbecue sauce on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper for another 10-15 minutes.
  • You can freeze bacon-wrapped shotgun shells for 2-3 months [2]. Simply let the shells cool completely and store them in an airtight container or freezer bag. To reheat, thaw the food in the refrigerator overnight and then heat them in the oven or microwave.
  • You can also bake the shells in the oven at 275°F on a sheet pan lined with parchment paper for about an hour.

Nutritional Information

  • Calories: 470 per pasta tube
  • Total Carbs: 24g
  • Protein: 28g
  • Fat: 29g
  • Fiber: 1g
  • Net Carbs: 23g

What to Serve With Smoked Shotgun Shells?

an image of a vegetable salad with smoked shotgun shells

Smoked shotgun shells make for an amazing smoked appetizer cuisine.

Here are some ideas for sides that would pair well with them:

  • Roasted vegetables: Roasting vegetables like asparagus, zucchini, or sweet potatoes would complement the smoky flavor of the shells.
  • Salad: A fresh, crisp salad would be a great contrast to the rich, smoky flavors of the shells. Try a Caesar salad or a simple green salad with a vinaigrette.
  • Coleslaw: Coleslaw is a classic barbecue side dish that would complement the smoky, savory flavors of the shells.
  • Cornbread: Cornbread is a classic Southern side dish that would pair well with the smoky flavors of the shells.
  • Potato salad: A creamy, tangy potato salad would be a great contrast to the smoky flavors of the shells.

Related Articles:


Can You Reheat Smoked Shotgun Shells?

Yes, you can reheat smoked shotgun shells in the oven or microwave. Preheat the oven to 350°F and bake the shells wrapped in bacon for about 10-15 minutes or until heated through. If using the microwave, place the shells on a microwave-safe plate and heat them in 30-second intervals until heated through.

What Type of Wood Should Be Used for Smoking Shotgun Shells?

Applewood is a great option for smoking shotgun shells, as it adds a sweet and fruity flavor that pairs well with the BBQ sauce and meat filling. Depending on your preference, other types of wood, such as hickory, mesquite, or cherry, can also be used.

Do I Need to Cook Smoked Shotgun Shells Before Eating?

Yes, you need to fully cook the smoked shotgun shells before eating them. The internal temperature of the meat filling should reach a minimum of 160°F to ensure that the sausage, beef, and bacon are fully cooked and safe to eat.


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About the author

Iva Carter
Associate Editor
Iva Carter is a FBP certified foodie and influencer who loves to share delicious yet quick dinner recipes. When she's not in the kitchen concocting meaty delights, you'll find her playing with her dog, Sylvie.
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