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Smoked Shotgun Shells

5 from 30 votes
Published on 06/22/2024 by Umamiology
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Smoked Shotgun Shells are delicious barbecue sides made by stuffing manicotti pasta shells with ground beef, pork and cheese and then wrapping them with bacon and smoking them. They are perfect for any outdoor bbq cookout!

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In the summers, we like to hold a lot of backyard cookouts – and they’re usually epic! We like to have a wide assortment of smoked and grilled offerings including, 12 Hour Hold Texas-Style Smoked Brisket, Fall-Off-The-Bone Smoked Beef Ribs, or Tender Smoked Baby Back Ribs. But none are more highly requested, than these Smoked Shotgun Shells.

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These shotgun shells are large manicotti pasta shells that are generously filled with a rich beef and pork cheese filling, then wrapped all around with bacon slices so that it provides a savory, buttery umami – that contrasts with the tender and meaty interior of the shells.

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And when you smoke them, the pasta shells become tender while absorbing the flavors of the stuffing – while the bacon renders its fat, becoming beautifully crispy and golden brown on the outside.

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It’s truly one of the best outdoor cookout foods you could ever have – perfect for your next backyard barbecue!

What Is The Best Dry Rub To Use For Smoked Shotgun Shells?

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This Traeger Garlic & Chili Pepper Rub works amazingly on our shotgun shells. It’s got a good balance of smokiness, spiciness and a slightly sweet after taste that perfectly compliments the meat in the shells. But honestly, any savory rub you have will work well with this recipe.

What Is The Best Barbecue Sauce To Serve With These Smoked Shotgun Shells?

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There are so many good barbecue sauces that will go well with these shotgun shells. You could try them with my amazingly rich and savory Dr Pepper BBQ sauce.

But for this recipe, I’m featuring this Gold BBQ Sauce from Kinder’s. This gold sauce from Kinder’s is a rich, mustard based sauce that’s just the right balance of sweet, tangy and smokey.

Key Elements Of This Recipe

  • Manicotti Shells: Large, perfectly shaped to carry the delicious meat filling.
  • Chorizo: Spicy sausage that blends well with the ground beef and spices.
  • Traeger Garlic & Chili Pepper Rub: The perfect seasoning for that smokey and slightly sweet taste.

The Ingredients for Smoked Shotgun Shells

The Equipment Needed

How To Make Smoked Shotgun Shells

This recipe is really easy to do – in fact, it only takes 12 minutes to prepare (excluding 6 hour chilling time).

First you make your meat filling by combining the ground beef, bbq sauce, chorizo and cheeses. Then you stuff your shells and let them rest in the fridge overnight (or at least 6 hours). The next day, you simply fire up your grill and smoke these shotgun shells until they are cooked to be tender and juicy!

That’s it! But follow along below, for a more detailed, step-by-step guide.

Craft Your Meat Filling

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In a large mixing bowl, combine your ground beef, chorizo, pepper jack cheese, cream cheese, Traeger rub and minced jalapenos. Give it all a good mix until everything is fully incorporated.

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Then, take your manicotti shells and begin stuffing them with the filling. The best way that I’ve found to do this, is to simply put on a pair of gloves and stuff them by hand.

Wrap Your Shotgun Shells

Once your shells are fully stuffed, wrap each one with a slice of bacon.

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Next, place your wrapped shells on a grilling rack and give it all a good dusting with the Traeger rub.

Pro Tip: When you are stuffing your shells, you’ll want to push in enough filling to cover the entire length of the pasta. However, make sure you take your time and work gently on this, otherwise you risk cracking your manicotti shells.

Afterwards, place the whole rack in the fridge overnight (or for at least 6 hours). This resting time is important for the seasoning to marinate into the meat and for the bacon to tighten up around the pasta, which leads to the manicotti shells softening from the moisture in the bacon fat & filling mixture.

Smoke Your Shotgun Shells

Preheat your smoker to smoker to 300°F.

When your smoker comes up to temperature, place your rack of chilled shotgun shells directly onto the grill grates of your smoker.

Let it smoke for about 45 minutes or until the internal temperature of the shells reach 145°F.

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At this point, apply a thin layer of your barbecue sauce onto the tops of the shells and then continue smoking until the internal temperature of the shotgun shells reach 165°F.

Pro Tip: For any meat dish that you smoke, doneness is always determined by internal meat temperature, not cook time. Cooking time will always vary based on the performance of your smoker (how evenly the heat is distributed, etc) and your location/environment (external temperature, etc). For this reason, having a meat thermometer is crucial for this kind of cook.

For these shotgun shells, since we started with raw sausage (chorizo), you’ll want the internal temperature to hit at least 165°F.

How To Serve Smoked Shotgun Shells

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Smoked shotgun shells are typically served hot, straight from the smoker, and can be garnished with a sprinkle of fresh herbs or a drizzle of barbecue sauce to enhance their presentation and flavor. The combination of the smoky, crispy bacon, the tender pasta shell, and the rich, flavorful filling makes each bite a deliciously satisfying experience.

Pro Tip: If your manicotti shells come out undercooked and/or hard, that means there wasn’t enough moisture surrounding the shells before you smoked them. This likely means that you either left some portion of the shells unwrapped from the bacon or your filling didn’t reach that portion of the pasta shell.

Make sure you fill the shells completely with your filling (touching every part of the pasta) and let it sit in the fridge for at least 6 hours so that the shells can absorb the moisture from the meat mixture. This will ensure that the pasta is moist enough to cook during the smoking process.

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Smoked Shotgun Shells

5 from 30 votes
Smoked Shotgun Shells are delicious barbecue sides made by stuffing manicotti pasta shells with ground beef, pork and cheese and then wrapping them with bacon and smoking them. They are perfect for any outdoor bbq cookout!
Author: Umamiology
Servings: 10
Prep Time: 12 minutes
Cook Time: 50 minutes
Total Time: 1 hour 2 minutes
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Ingredients 

Instructions 

How To Make Smoked Shotgun Shells

  • This recipe is really easy to do – in fact, it only takes 12 minutes to prepare (excluding 6 hour chilling time).

Craft Your Meat Filling

  • In a large mixing bowl, combine your ground beef, chorizo, pepper jack cheese, cream cheese, Traeger rub and minced jalapenos. Give it all a good mix until everything is fully incorporated.
  • Then, take your manicotti shells and begin stuffing them with the filling. The best way that I've found to do this, is to simply put on a pair of gloves and stuff them by hand.

Wrap Your Shotgun Shells

  • Once your shells are fully stuffed, wrap each one with a slice of bacon.
  • Next, place your wrapped shells on a grilling rack and give it all a good dusting with the Traeger rub.
  • Pro Tip: When you are stuffing your shells, you'll want to push in enough filling to cover the entire length of the pasta. However, make sure you take your time and work gently on this, otherwise you risk cracking your manicotti shells.
  • Afterwards, place the whole rack in the fridge overnight (or for at least 6 hours). This resting time is important for the seasoning to marinate into the meat and for the bacon to tighten up around the pasta, which leads to the manicotti shells softening from the moisture in the bacon fat & filling mixture.

Smoke Your Shotgun Shells

  • Preheat your smoker to smoker to 300°F.
  • When your smoker comes up to temperature, place your rack of chilled shotgun shells directly onto the grill grates of your smoker.
  • Let it smoke for about 45 minutes or until the internal temperature of the shells reach 145°F.
  • At this point, apply a thin layer of your barbecue sauce onto the tops of the shells and then continue smoking until the internal temperature of the shotgun shells reach 165°F.
  • Pro Tip: For any meat dish that you smoke, doneness is always determined by internal meat temperature, not cook time. Cooking time will always vary based on the performance of your smoker (how evenly the heat is distributed, etc) and your location/environment (external temperature, etc). For this reason, having a meat thermometer is crucial for this kind of cook.
  • For these shotgun shells, since we started with raw sausage (chorizo), you'll want the internal temperature to hit at least 165°F.

How To Serve Smoked Shotgun Shells

  • Smoked shotgun shells are typically served hot, straight from the smoker, and can be garnished with a sprinkle of fresh herbs or a drizzle of barbecue sauce to enhance their presentation and flavor. The combination of the smoky, crispy bacon, the tender pasta shell, and the rich, flavorful filling makes each bite a deliciously satisfying experience.

Notes

Pro Tip: If your manicotti shells come out undercooked and/or hard, that means there wasn’t enough moisture surrounding the shells before you smoked them. This likely means that you either left some portion of the shells unwrapped from the bacon or your filling didn’t reach that portion of the pasta shell.
Make sure you fill the shells completely with your filling (touching every part of the pasta) and let it sit in the fridge for at least 6 hours so that the shells can absorb the moisture from the meat mixture. This will ensure that the pasta is moist enough to cook during the smoking process.

Nutrition

Calories: 413kcalCarbohydrates: 17gProtein: 23gFat: 27gSaturated Fat: 12gPolyunsaturated Fat: 1gMonounsaturated Fat: 6gTrans Fat: 1gCholesterol: 81mgSodium: 495mgPotassium: 233mgFiber: 1gSugar: 4gVitamin A: 621IUVitamin C: 2mgCalcium: 198mgIron: 3mg

*Nutritional information is just an estimate derived by an online calculation tool.

FAQ

How do you make smoked shotgun shells?

First you make your meat filling by combining the ground beef, bbq sauce, chorizo and cheeses. Then you stuff your shells and let them rest in the fridge overnight. The next day, you simply fire up your grill and smoke these shotgun shells until they are cooked tender and juicy!

Why did my shotgun shells come out hard?

If your manicotti shells come out undercooked and hard, that means there wasn’t enough moisture surrounding the shells before you smoked them. This likely means that you either left some portion of the shells unwrapped from the bacon or your filling didn’t reach that portion of the pasta shell.

Make sure you fill the shells completely with your filling (touching every part of the pasta) and let it sit in the fridge for at least 6 hours so that the shells can absorb the moisture from the meat mixture. This will ensure that the pasta is moist enough to cook during the smoking process.

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