Smoked Shotgun Shells

Amid a smoky atmosphere, 7 meat and cheese filled manicotti wrapped in bacon, aka shotgun shells, are crispy and delicious looking while sitting on a wire rack inside the Roughneck smoker by Kent Rollins

Thank y’all for stopping by the website! This recipe is for all of you who are trying out one of those new smokers that Santa brought you for Christmas this year! Smoked shot gun shells are made with manicotti stuffed with a delicious blend of ingredients and wrapped in bacon and smoked for around 45 minutes. They’re a fun and filling appetizer that your friends and family will always ask you to bring anywhere you’re invited for the rest of your life. I’m not even kidding.

Ad for Kent Rollins' Signature Grill Series collaboration with Hasty-Bake. The Bertha Stove on the left with Kent Rollins posing next to it wearing a black cowboy hat, an orange western style button up shirt, and blue jeans. To the right are two photographs of a galvanized rust resistant steel smoker built for cooking outside with cowboys and all of their friends and family.

If Santa skipped your house this year and you need to buy your own smoker, checkout the Roughneck smoker collaboration between yours truly and Hasty Bake – always handmade in the USA.

What are Smoked Shotgun Shells?

Smoked shotgun shells are manicotti stuffed with meat and cheese, wrapped in bacon and smoked. A lot of people make them with Italian sausage, mozzarella, and parmesan and, while those are delicious, y’all know I had to put a cowboy spin on the recipe. Instead of Italian sausage, I’m using a mixture of 80/20 Certified Angus ground beef and a 9 oz package of pork chorizo.

Tip: Use gloves when you mix the filling with your hands. You don’t want to get jalapeno on your hand and then scratch your eye! 

Once the meat is well-mixed, add some Rib Rub and Original Seasoning and mix well. Add in the onion, jalapeno, garlic, and cheeses and mix well. The filling should feel like meatloaf.

How to Assemble the Shotgun Shell Appetizer

Grab a wire rack that you can use in the smoker. We will assemble these, chill them, and smoke them all on the same wire rack.

Tip: Smoking the shotgun shells on a wire rack will allow for air circulation and more even cooking.

Stuff the meat mixture into each manicotti until it is full. Pack the mixture in as much as you can to avoid air pockets. Next, wrap one slice of thick-cut bacon all the way around the shell. Season over the top with some more Rib Rub, and move the wire rack with the stuffed shells on it into the ice box for at least 5 hours. This time in the ice box will help the moisture from the bacon and meat mixture soften the manicotti enough to cook up well on the smoker.

How Long to Smoke the Shot Gun Shells 

Fire up your smoker using hardwood lump charcoal and two pieces of Alderwood. Smoke at 275 and smoke for an hour. When the hour is up, you’ll want to open the vents or open the lid of the smoker and allow the fire to get hotter – at least 350.

Baste the shot gun shells with Red River Mud BBQ or your favorite BBQ Sauce, and cook at 350 for ten minutes. This will crisp up the bacon and caramelize the BBQ Sauce. This finishing touch will be absolutely delicious.

Allow the smoked shot gun shells to cool for about 10 minutes. I guarantee this will be a favorite appetizer for years to come.

Smoked Shot Gun Shell appetizers are haphazardly placed atop one another on a white porcelain plate placed on a wooden surface.

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Amid a smoky atmosphere, 7 meat and cheese filled manicotti wrapped in bacon, aka shotgun shells, are crispy and delicious looking while sitting on a wire rack inside the Roughneck smoker by Kent Rollins

Smoked Shotgun Shells - Cowboy Kent Rollins

Prep Time 4 hours 15 minutes
Total Time 5 hours 35 minutes
Servings 14 to 16 shells


  • 1 lb. ground beef 80/20
  • 4.5 ounces pork chorizo
  • 3 tablespoons Kent Rollins’ Rib Rub or your favorite BBQ seasoning
  • 1 tablespoon Kent Rollins’ Original Seasoning or your favorite all-purpose blend seasoning
  • 1 small yellow onion diced
  • 3 to 4 jalapenos seeded and diced
  • 4 garlic cloves minced
  • 1 cup cheddar cheese shredded
  • 1 ½ cups Mozzarella cheese shredded
  • 1 8 ounce box Manicotti shells, or 14 - 16 shells
  • 14- 16 slices thick-cut bacon
  • Kent Rollins' Red River Mud BBQ Sauce or your favorite BBQ Sauce, for glazing


  • In a large bowl, add the ground beef, chorizo, Rib Rub, Original Seasoning, onion, jalapenos, garlic, cheddar cheese, and Mozzarella cheese. Mix well with your hands.
  • Stuff the Manicotti shells with the mixture and place on a wire rack. Wrap each shell with 1 slice of the bacon and place back on the wire rack. Sprinkle with additional Rib Rub, or seasoning of your choice.
  • Place the wire rack on a cookie sheet and set in the refrigerator for 4 to 6 hours.
  • Preheat the smoker to 275 degrees F. Add a few chunks of cherry or apple wood to the smoker. Remove the wire rack from the cookie sheet and place on the smoker and smoke for 1 hour.
  • Increase the temperature to 350 degrees F, and smoke for 10 minutes. Brush the shells with BBQ sauce and cook for an additional 10 minutes. Remove from the smoker and let cool slightly before serving.
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