Manicotti piped with a ground beef filling, wrapped in bacon, and brushed with bbq sauce; smoked shotgun shells never tasted so good!
Looking for a smoked appetizer? These wrapped shells make for a delicious appetizer yet come from a simple but tasty recipe!
Made with pasta, ground beef, cheese, onion, jalapenos, and more, these shells make for an insane barbecue snack you won’t stop eating.
Shotgun Shells Recipe
It is my not-so-humble opinion that everything cooked in a smoker is delicious.
These shotgun shells, however manage to come out extra incredible.
I have to tell you. This is not your standard appetizer or game-day snack. They are easy to make, frickin delicious, and will impress anyone and everyone you serve them to.
The best part is … you can prep this recipe ahead of time and toss them in the smoker when you are ready to cut down on the time you spend in the kitchen while you are entertaining.
Ingredients for Bacon-wrapped Shotgun Shells
Pasta Shell: The “shotgun shell” for this recipe is made with 16 manicotti pasta shells. If you’ve never purchased manicotti before, you can easily find it at any large grocery store in the pasta aisle.
Bacon: The outer wrapping of the shells is 16 slices of bacon. Personally, for this, I like using thick-cut bacon!
BBQ Sauce: ½ cup of your favorite barbecue sauce.
Shotgun Shell Filling Ingredients
The filling for the pasta shells comes together with 1 lb of ground beef (cooked and drained). Now I know, that might not sound impressive, but it is!
We are going to load up that ground beef with bold flavors by adding chopped onion, diced tomatoes, corn, sliced scallions or green onions, diced jalapenos, cream cheese, shredded cheddar cheese, and your favorite BBQ rub!
How to Make Smoked Shotgun Shells
Make the filling. Combine all of the filling ingredients and place them into piping bags.
Prep the pasta shells. Pipe the filling into the uncooked manicotti shells, then wrap each manicotti with bacon and chill in the fridge overnight or for at least 3-4 hours. The bacon will soften the pasta.
Smoke. Place the shotgun shells on the smoker at 275 degrees f for about 1 hour. Brush with your favorite barbecue sauce and continue cooking for another 15 minutes.
Let cool and enjoy! Let the shotgun shells rest for 5 minutes before serving with a delicious side of southwest ranch dressing for dipping.
Recipe Tips, Tricks, and Variations
Pasta. If your store is out of or doesn’t carry manicotti shells, look for cannelloni shells. They are a great substitute and will work just the same.
Ground Beef. I like using a 70/30 blend, but whatever your preference is, you can use it. You could also substitute ground beef with ground sausage or ground Italian sausage.
Cheese: For this recipe, I used cream cheese and sharp cheddar cheese. However, you can mix things up and use Monterey jack cheese, mozzarella cheese, or another cheese mixture.
Can you make this recipe without a smoker?
These bad boys taste best right out of the smoker with a kiss of smoky flavor in each bite.
However, if you don’t have a smoker, you can still make this recipe in your oven or air fryer. Just cook at 300 degrees F. for about 25 minutes
Helpful Kitchen Equipment
Meat Thermometer: It is always important to check the internal temperature of anything you are cooking to ensure it is done and safe to eat. I recommend using the ThermoPro TP25. It also makes for a great holiday gift for the grill master or master in your life!
Piping Bags: These will make filling the shells so much easier. You can also use a freezer bag and just cut the corner off to pipe the mixture into the shells.
Large Bowl: A large mixing bowl makes preparing and combining the meat mixture super easy.
Plastic Wrap: While your shotgun shells are chilling, I recommend covering them in plastic wrap, or depending on the size of the plate or pan you are putting them in, you can cover them with a plastic bag as well.
Serving dish: I recommend using a pan because this recipe makes for a great pan of appetizers you can leave out for everyone to enjoy over time.
Airtight Container: Store your leftovers in an airtight container and toss them in the fridge for 3-4 days.
Reheating Leftover Shotgun Shells
I recommend reheating your leftover stuffed shells in the air fryer to bring back that same great taste and crispy bacon.
Toss them in the air fryer basket at 350 degrees Fahrenheit for 8 minutes, and before your know it, your shells are as good as new!
Other Favorite Appetizers You’re Going to Love
Pellet Grill Smoked Shotgun Shells
- 24 Manicotti Shells
- 1 lbs Bacon thin cut
- ¾ cup BBQ Sauce
- Brown off the ground beef in a skillet and drain any excess liquid. Transfer the ground beef to a large bowl and fold in softened cream cheese.
- Add remaining filling ingredients and mix until smooth. Transfer the filling into piping bags (freezer bags will work as well)
- Cut the tip off the piping bag and fill the raw manicotti shells with the ground beef mixture. Once you have all of the shells filled, wrap each shell with a slice of bacon. Make sure the bacon is wrapped tightly and covers the entire shell.
- Refrigerate overnight or for at least 8 hours. This step is key because the bacon will soften the manicotti shell so that the shotgun shells are tender when you smoke them.
- To prepare the shotgun shells, preheat the pellet grill to 275 degrees and place the shells on the grill at least 1 inch apart. Cook for about 1 hour until the bacon is fully cooked and the filling has reached an internal temperature of 170 degrees F.
- Brush on a coat of your favorite bbq sauce, then cook for another 10-15 minutes until the sauce has caramelized. Serve with a creamy dipping sauce like my Southwest Ranch, and enjoy!!!