If you’re looking to try something a little different than smoking cuts of meat on your backyard smoker, these smoked shotgun shells are a great option for either a smoked appetiser or a main meal.
Cannelloni tubes stuffed with ground beef or pork mix, then wrapped in streaky bacon with a BBQ sauce finish. This is a quick and relatively simple smoker recipe that is absolutely beginner-friendly.
Smoked Shotgun Shells Recipe
You likely don’t need to think too hard to wonder whbbere this recipe got its name. But name aside, they are really tasty and great if you’re looking for something different to try on your smoker.
I wanted to give them a go myself initially since they kept popping up in the low and slow communities.
There are quite a few different variations of this recipe, such as using manicotti pasta tubes instead of cannelloni tubes or creamed cheese instead of grated hard cheese for example.
You can also make this same recipe in your oven if you don’t have a smoker, but where’s the fun in that?
Besides, the best part is that smoky BBQ flavour that you only get when you cook them on your smoker.
How To Make Smoked Shotgun Shells
Before we get right into the ingredients and recipe for making shotgun shells on the smoker, note that these ingredients are for an extra large portion – perfect for feeding a crowd or if you want a heap of leftovers.
If you want a smaller serving, halve the ingredients but follow the same cooking instructions for smoking your shells.
What You Will Need
- Pork dry rub ingredients – You can read the full dry rub recipe here. Or use another dry rub of your choice.
- 1.5kg premium beef or pork mince
- 2 x 250g instant cannellini pasta tubes
- ½ large onion finely chopped
- 1.1kg of sliced streaky bacon
- Barbeque sauce
- Approx 60g of grated cheese such as mozzarella cheese, cheddar cheese or tasty cheese. You can also use cream cheese if you prefer.
Prepare Your Filling
STEP 1 – Add ground meat (mince), chopped onion, approx ¼ of the dry rub mixture and grated cheese to a large bowl and mix well.
You can use a combination of ground meats or a different type of dry rub mix. Experiment with flavours and see what you like best.
STEP 2 – Stuff the individual cannelloni shells with the mince mixture. Take care not to break the shells, while also making sure not to leave any air pockets.
Using your fingers is the easiest way to stuff the shotgun shells rather than using a utensil that might crack the shells.
Alternatively, you can slide your tube into your minced meat mix to fill half the shell then repeat from the other side. Do what works for you, so long as you get those tubes stuffed good.
STEP 3 – Wrap each shell in a slice of streaky bacon.
Depending on how long the streaky bacon is you make need to use 2 slices to cover the entire shell or use a thin bacon that you can stretch further.
STEP 4 – Dust each individual shotgun shell with some leftover dry rub.
STEP 5 – Once your shells are well stuffed and wrapped in bacon, place them back into the fridge for approximately 4 hours.
This allows the meat to soften the shells before adding them to the smoker.
Smoker Prep & Cooking
STEP 1 – To prep your smoker, heat your briquettes until they are completely ashed over and add them to your charcoal basket. Aim for a smoker temperature between 100-120 degrees Celcius (approximately 220-240F).
STEP 2 – Add your favourite smoking wood. For this recipe, I suggest cherry wood.
Wait until you get a nice thin blue smoke before placing the shotgun shells on the grill.
STEP 3 – Place the shotgun shells evenly on the grill grate, cover and smoke for approx 1-1 ½ hours.
STEP 4 – Increase your smoker to 180 Celcius (approximately 350F). Baste the shotgun shells with a BBQ marinate and cook for another 15-20 minutes, allowing the BBQ sauce to become nice and sticky.
COOKING TIP – If you’re having trouble with getting your smoker up to temp, just put your shotgun shells on a wire rack in the oven to finish off, saving you some time, trouble and the possibility of overcooking the shells.
Using Manicotti Vs Cannelloni Tubes
Depending on where you live, you might be wondering what’s the difference between these two types of pasta tubes.
Manicotti and cannelloni tubes are both large pasta shells that are typically stuffed with a filling, such as cheese or meat.
They both have a similar shape and size, making them interchangeable in most recipes. In some cases, they are essentially the same thing, but with manicotti being the more American-Italian version.
However, traditionally manicotti was more like a crepe than pasta. Meanwhile, cannelloni is basically rolled-up sheets of fresh lasagne.
Pretty much either dried pasta tube will do the job for this recipe!
Avoiding Hard Pasta Shells
Nobody likes hard pasta shells.
To avoid this, make sure you leave your stuffed shells in the refrigerator for at least 4 hours before smoking. This gives them time to moisten and soften before you put them on the grill grates.
Also, be sure to cover them completely in bacon and baste them well in BBQ sauce to keep them moist while they smoke.
Ground beef mince can dry out a little more. Ground pork mince tends to be moister and can also help with avoiding dry pasta tubes.
How To Store And Reheat Smoked Shotgun Shells
You can store your bacon-wrapped shotgun shells in the refrigerator in an airtight container for 3 or 4 days. They can also be frozen – just make sure you defrost completely before reheating.
To reheat the smoked shotgun shell leftovers, preheat your oven to 180 degrees Celcius (350F) and bake them in a baking dish covered in aluminium foil for around 15 minutes.
If you do have leftover additional barbeque sauce, it’s not a bad idea to baste the oven-ready shells again just before reheating.
Shotgun Shell Recipe Variations
As mentioned, there are many variations of this recipe. Here are just a few ideas to get you started:
- Use cream cheese instead of grated hard cheese for a creamier filling
- Mix up the meat – use ground turkey or chicken in addition to beef or pork
- Add some heat with chopped jalapenos, chilli flakes or hot sauce to the filling mixture
- Swap out the bacon for prosciutto or pancetta for a different flavour profile
- Experiment with different types of smoking wood, such as hickory, mesquite or applewood
So go ahead, get creative and make this recipe your own.
Just don’t forget to share your results with us in the comments below or on our social channels! We love hearing what you’re doing.
What To Serve With Smoked Shotgun Shells
These smoked shotgun shells are a complete meal on their own, but here are some side dishes that would pair well with them:
- Creamy coleslaw or potato salad for a refreshing contrast to the smoky flavours
- Grilled vegetables like corn on the cob, asparagus or zucchini
- Loaded baked potatoes for a hearty and filling side dish
- Mac and cheese
- A light garden salad
Conclusion: Recipe For Smoked Shotgun Shells
These smoked shotgun shells are a simple smoker recipe that you can make ahead of time for a tasty and easy meal. Plus what isn’t made better with bacon, right? Enjoy!
Smoked Shotgun Shells
- 1.5 kg premium beef or pork mince
- 2 x 250g instant cannellini pasta tubes
- ½ large onion finely chopped
- 1.1 kg of sliced streaky bacon
- 60 g of grated cheese Mozzarella or tasty are good
- 1 cup BBQ sauce
- Your preferred dry rub mix
- Add mince, chopped onion, approx ¼ dry rub (from above) and grated cheese to a large bowl and mix well.
- Stuff individual cannelloni shells with meat mixture. Make sure to not leave any air pockets.
- Wrap each shell in a slice of streaky bacon. Depending on how long the streaky bacon is you make need to use 2 slices to cover the entire shell.
- Dust each individual shotgun shell with leftover dry rub.
- Place wrapped shells into the fridge for 4-6 hours to soften.
- Prep your smoker by heating your briquettes until they are completely ashed over and add them to your charcoal basket. Aim for a smoker temperature between 100c – 120C (220-250F)
- Add your favorite smoking wood and wait until you get a thin blue smoke.
- Place the shotgun shells evenly on the grill grate, cover and smoke for approx 1-1 ½ hours
- Increase your smoker to 180c and baste shotgun shells with a BBQ marinate.
- Cook for another 15-20mins allowing the BBQ sauce to become sticky. Serve and enjoy!