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Smoked Shotgun Shells

The Ultimate BBQ Appetizer

This is a fun and simple recipe that takes manicotti tubes & elevates them with a little creativity. It is as simple as stuffing the manicotti tubes with ground beef, cheese, wrapping them in bacon, and brushing with BBQ sauce, to create a unique BBQ appetizer.

The Smoked Bros team is always on the hunt for flavorful barbecue snacks that anyone can throw on their smoker/grill for gatherings.

Feel free to experiment with different fillings. Here are a few flavor profiles the team has created:

Add diced jalapeño to the meat mixture

Use sausage or chorizo instead of ground beef

Use pepper jack or string cheese

How to Make Smoked Shotgun Shells

This recipe is honestly one of the easiest to recreate. The hardest part of the entire recipe is stuffing the ground beef into the manicotti pasta without breaking them.

But, we have a trick for that, especially since you are going to want to make loads of these little guys.

1. The Filling

In a large mixing bowl, combine ground beef, Monterey Jack cheese, and Smoked Bros Knuckle Dragger, Sweet and Zesty Rub.

Feel free to experiment with different flavor profiles to create your own unique style.

2. Stuff and Wrap

The easiest way to stuff manicotti shells is to put the mixed filling into a plastic bag.

You can use either a frosting piping bag or a gallon zip bag.

Snip the corner, gather the top and squeeze the filling into the corner.

Once they are all stuffed, you’re just going to wrap each tube with 2 slices of bacon.

We recommend using thick-cut bacon, it gives a little more texture when finished.

When they’re all wrapped, lightly coat the top with Smoked Bros Knuckle Dragger Rub.

3. Fire Up the Smoker

Fire up your smoker to 225°F to 250°F. We prefer to use pecan wood with this recipe. Persimmon Tree carries these awesome Barkless Pecan Wood chunks!

Smoke the Shotgun Shells for about 90 minutes, then turn up the temperature to 350°F to crisp up that bacon.

Let them cook at 350°F for another 10 minutes.

After 10 minutes, coat all the shotgun shells with BBQ Sauce and smoke for another 10 minutes to let the sauce set.

Once your bacon is at the level of crispiness you like, remove & enjoy.

Can you make these without a smoker?

Yes! Follow the outline for time and temperature.

You can make this recipe in the oven or in the air fryer.

*Technical Note

We have done our homework on this and noticed on other recipes there are a lot of complaints about the pasta still being hard at the end of the smoke.

The technique to get perfectly cooked pasta is to leave the stuffed shells to sit in the fridge for about 6 hours before smoking them or If you are short on time, cook the pasta halfway before stuffing them.


1 lb ground beef

1 cup Monterey Jack cheese shredded

10 Manicotti shells uncooked

20 slices bacon

½ cup BBQ sauce


In a medium-sized mixing bowl, combine the ground beef, cheese, and 1½ tablespoons of the Smoked Bros Knuckle Dragger.

Mix with your hands until well-blended.

Lay out your uncooked (or half cooked) manicotti shells and stuff each one full of the ground beef mixture.

Once they are stuffed, wrap each manicotti shell in 2 slices of bacon and sprinkle the tops with Smoked Bros Knuckle Dragger.

Store in the fridge for 4 to 6 hours if you didn't cook pasta halfway.

Preheat your smoker to 225 - 250°F.

Place them in the smoker.

Let them smoke for 1½ hours, then increase the temperature on the smoker to 350°F.

Let them cook for another 10 minutes, then brush each one with barbecue sauce, and let them cook for another 10 minutes.

Serve warm and enjoy!

More About Smoked Bros:

Smoked Bros is an owned and operated Indiana Business!

Offering Veteran Spices and BBQ Rubs, Smoked Bros is a SOF veteran-owned spices & seasoning company serving craft flavors to people who love the All-American pastime of BBQ.

They develop kinetic flavor profiles with the same surgical precision as their military missions, defending the greatest country on the planet.

At Smoked Bros, they use the highest quality ingredients that are ethically sourced from around the globe. The quality of their craft seasonings at their price point is unmatched.

Smoked Bros are committed to delivering the highest quality ingredients that are ethically sourced from around the globe.

With every purchase, they give back to America’s warfighters, first responders, and underserved communities.

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