Get ready for a mouthwatering twist on classic pasta with these Smoked Shotgun Shells! Manicotti shells are generously stuffed with a flavorful blend of Italian sausage, cream cheese, and gooey mozzarella. But here’s the twist – each shell is wrapped in savory bacon and smoked to perfection.
The result? A tantalizing combination of smoky, meaty, and cheesy goodness that will leave you craving more. Top it off with a garlic Parmesan butter glaze for an irresistible finishing touch.
Smoked shotgun shells are a mouthwatering appetizer that are a great addition to any game-day party, cookout, or even a family dinner! I mean, who would turn down a giant pasta shell stuffed with goodness and wrapped in bacon? I know I wouldn’t!
The funny resemblance to real shotgun shells is where this bacon wrapped delight gets its name. But it gets it’s incredible flavor from bacon, butter, cheese, and many other delicious ingredients.
Our smoker is a star around here and we are always cooking up new recipes. We use the smoker for some of our favorite dinners! Smoked pork carnitas make the best tacos, and smoked meatloaf is a game changer. This smoked shotgun shell recipe is quickly climbing the ranks to one of our favorites too!
Why You’ll Love Smoked Shotgun Shells
- Serve this recipe as an appetizer, side dish, or main dish. Use it in so many different ways since it versatile and fun!
- Prep everything in just 30 minutes and then let the smoker do it’s magic!
- These are a really unique thing to serve at parties. Your guests will be quite impressed and you’ll be able to brag on yourself a bit!
Ingredients for this Smoked Shotgun Shells Recipe
- Italian sausage – You can use spicy Italian sausage if you want to add a little more kick to these.
- Manicotti shells – Manicotti shells are what gives this recipe the resemblance of a shotgun shell! They are long tubular pasta shells that you’ll stuff with delicious goodness.
- Bacon – I recommend thick cut bacon so that it holds up as you wrap it around each manicotti pasta shell.
- Cream cheese – This is the key to making the filling in these super creamy!
- Mozzarella cheese – Make the filling extra cheesy with a big ol’ helping of shredded mozzarella cheese.
- Melted salted butter – Salted butter tastes best, but you can use unsalted butter if that’s all you have on hand.
- Grated parmesan – Parmesan and butter are mixed together in this recipe to make a delightful garlic parmesan topping!
- Garlic powder – Make some garlicy goodness to top each smoked shotgun shell.
- BBQ rub – Make your own BBQ rub or purchase our Gimme Some Grillin’ BBQ Rub. Feel free to use any other store-bought rub that you like too!
- Italian seasoning – A little Italian seasoning adds a wonderful depth of flavor.
How to Make Smoked Shotgun Shells
Fill a large pot with salted water and bring it to a boil. Add manicotti shells to the boiling water and cook for 4-6 minutes, just until the shells are partially cooked.
While that’s going, preheat your smoker to 275 degrees Fahrenheit.
Then, in a medium bowl combine Italian sausage, cream cheese, BBQ rub, and mozzarella cheese.
Remove the partially cooked noodles from the water and set them on the cooling rack that is set on top of a baking sheet lined with foil. Then, stuff each shell with sausage mixture until it is all gone.
To easily stuff the shell, grab a few ounces of the sausage mixture and roll it into a cylinder shape. Slide it into the pasta shell by pressing it with your fingers to fill each shell.
Before smoking, wrap each stuffed manicotti shell with a slice of bacon. Tuck the ends of the bacon to prevent it from unraveling as it cooks, then set the shells back on the cooling rack.
Place the baking pan with cooling rack of shotgun shells into the smoker and close the lid. Smoke the shells for about one and a half hours, until the internal temperature reaches 170-175 degrees Fahrenheit. Then, remove from the smoker.
Just before the bacon wrapped shotgun shells are done smoking, mix together the melted butter, garlic powder, Italian seasoning and Parmesan cheese in a small bowl.
Baste the tops of each shell in the garlic butter, and then allow them to cool for 5 minutes before serving. Enjoy!
What to Serve with Smoked Shotgun Shells
How to store leftovers of this smoked shotgun shell recipe
FRIDGE: Place leftover manicotti shotgun shells into an airtight container. Store in the refrigerator for up to 4 days.
FREEZER: The cheese may change texture a bit when reheated from frozen, but it won’t be bad! So yes, you can freeze this recipe. Place leftovers into an airtight container or freezer safe bag and store in the freezer for up to 2 months.
How to Reheat
To reheat, place shells in a baking dish and heat in the oven until warmed all the way through.
Can you make shotgun shells without a smoker?
If you don’t have a smoker, you can easily bake this recipe in the oven! Set the oven to about 375 and bake for 20 minutes. Make sure to cook the bacon is thoroughly and get everything warm and bubbly.
What can I add to shotgun shell filling?
You don’t want to add too much since it’s easy to over-fill the manicotti shells. But there are a few tasty additions you can make! Finely dice some bell peppers, onions, or even jalapeños.
Or, switch things up and use a beef sausage for the filling or even something like carnitas or chorizo! Get adventurous and don’t be afraid to try something different.
- Make some homemade bbq sauce to these shotgun shells in!
- Feel free to sauté some minced garlic to use in the parmesan butter topping instead of garlic powder.
- Don’t forget to keep these shells on a cooling rack while they cook. It will keep them sitting in the bacon grease as they’re in the smoker.
Let us know how these turn out! We just know you’re going to love them!
More Bacon Recipes You’ll Love
- These Bacon Wrapped Asparagus are such a fabulous side dish to serve with a myriad of different main dish proteins!
- This Smoked Breakfast Fatty is one of favorite things to make for breakfast on the weekends. It’s great to serve when hosting guests too!
- How do you make lil’ smokies better? Add bacon of course! These BBQ Little Smokies with Bacon will now be the only way you ever serve them.
- Learn How to Make Bacon on the Blackstone. It’s super easy and you get the crispiest bacon every time!
Shop Our Spices
- 8 ounces manicotti shells
- 1 pound bacon
Shotgun Shell Filling
- 1 pound Italian sausage
- 4 ounces cream cheese
- ⅔ cup shredded mozzarella
- 1 Tablespoon BBQ Rub
Garlic Parmesan Butter Base
- 4 Tablespoons salted butter melted
- 2 teaspoons garlic powder
- 1 Tablespoon Italian seasoning
- ¼ cup grated Parmesan cheese
- Bring a large pot of salted water up to a boil. Add your manicotti shells to the boiling water and cook for about 4-6 minutes until they are partially cooked.
- Preheat your smoker to 275 degrees F.
- While the noodles cook, combine the Italian sausage, cream cheese, BBQ Rub, and mozzarella cheese in a medium bowl mix until combined.
- Remove the partially cooked noodles from the water to a cooling rack set on top of a baking sheet lined with foil. Stuff each shell with a portion of the sausage mixture. Grab a couple of ounces of the sausage and roll it into a cylinder shape before sliding it inside the pasta shell. Press with your fingers to load the shells with the sausage mixture.
- Wrap each stuffed shell with a slice of bacon, tucking the ends to prevent the bacon from unraveling while they cook. Set the wrapped shells back on the cooling rack.
- Place the pan of shotgun shells on the smoker and close the lid. Smoke for about 1 1/2 hours, or until the internal temperature of the sausage reads 170-175 degrees F and the bacon has rendered. Remove the pan of shotgun shells from the smoker.
- In a small bowl, combine butter, garlic powder, Italian seasoning, and Parmesan cheese. Baste liberally across the tops of your finished shotgun shells. Allow the finished product to cool for 5 minutes or so before transferring it to your serving platter.