Home » All Recipes » Appetizers » Smoked Bullets

Smoked Bullets

5 from 9 votes

The smaller version of Smoked Shotgun Shells, Smoked Bullets are bite-size bacon-wrapped meat and cheese stuffed rigatoni noodles that are smoked until delicious! Be the backyard hero and put a plateful of these out – then stand back ’cause they’ll disappear fast!

Smoked bullets on a stack of white plates.

This post may contain affiliate link(s). As an Amazon Associate, I earn from qualifying purchases. See Disclosure.

Everything cooked on a smoker is fabulous, but there’s a special spot in my heart for Smoked Bullets. Downsized Smoked Shotgun Shells and Smoked Bullets are just about the tastiest thing on the planet.

What are Smoked Bullets? Imagine tender rigatoni pasta stuffed with a porky-cheesy-herby mixture. Then, wrap them in bacon and slow-smoke them until tender. A bit of BBQ sauce glazed on top puts these smoked appetizers over the top!

People positively lose their minds over how good these are. And, because they’re bite-sized, they’re the perfect appetizer and finger food for parties, events, potlucks, or anytime you want an amazing snack.

What you’ll love about sMOKED bULLETS


  • They’re SO crazy good – everyone will want more!
  • Make them ahead of time and smoke them later.
  • They freeze perfectly, just in case there are any leftovers.

I won’t lie – these are a royal pain to make. You have to stuff each tiny rigatoni by hand, making sure that they’re well stuffed. Then, wrap each in bacon. BUT keep your eye on the prize because these flavor bombs are SO worth the trouble! I’ve also got a few tips and tricks for you, so be sure to scroll down to catch all that, and it’ll surely save you some time and headaches.

Smoked Shotgun Shells vs. Smoked Bullets

What’s the difference between Smoked Shotgun Shells and Smoked Bullets? Well, size is a big difference. Shotgun shells are made with cannelloni tubes – so they’re big. Certainly, at least 3-4 bites big. Smoked Bullets, on the other hand, are small – one-bite flavor-packed bacon-wrapped porky pasta tubes of goodness.

Can I Make Smoked Bullets On a Traeger Pellet Grill?

Heck yes. My trusty Traeger is exactly what I use. I love that I can smoke these low and slow until they’re tender and smoky, then crank up the heat to get a bit of a crisp on the bacon. You can also use a skillet or Blackstone to get the bacon crispy – but I’m jumping ahead a bit. You can make this Smoked Bullet recipe on any smoker that can sustain low heat.

Ingredients

  • Rigatoni pasta – Rigatoni are about 1-inch long tubes that are wider than penne.
  • Ground pork – Lean ground pork is fine.
  • Cheese – Bust out the sharp cheddar cheese for this smoked appetizer recipe.
  • Kosher salt – Use half as much if you’re using table salt.
  • Garlic powder
  • Onion powder
  • Oregano
  • Ground black pepper
  • Bacon – Regular-cut bacon is fine. I use inexpensive bacon, and it works fine.
  • BBQ sauce
Ingredients to make Smoked Bullets.

How To Make Smoked Bullets

For a full list of ingredients and instructions, please scroll down to the recipe card at the bottom of this page.

  1. Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil and par-cook the rigatoni for a few minutes until just starting to get soft. Then drain them and chill them with cold running water.
  2. Add the ground pork, cheese, salt, garlic powder, onion powder, oregano, and black pepper to a food processor and pulse until well combined and almost like a paste.
  3. Stuff about a teaspoon (maybe a bit more depending on the actual size of your noodles) of the pork filling into each noodle. See my tips below for hints on how to make this easier.
  4. Cut the bacon slices into about thirds, then wrap each stuffed rigatoni with 1/3 of a slice of bacon.
  5. Smoke the bacon-wrapped rigatoni pasta on a rack over a baking sheet on your smoker set to 250-F for about an hour.
  6. Turn the heat up to 400F (or as high as it’ll go) and cook them for about 20 minutes until crispy. Or, pop them onto a hot Blackstone griddle or even a skillet on the stovetop to crisp the bacon a bit.
  7. Brush the Smoked Bullet Shells and drop the heat to 250-F, and smoke for another 15 minutes or until the BBQ sauce is glossy and tacky.
  8. Serve and enjoy!

Recommended

Chef Jenn’s Tips

  • Boiling the rigatoni tubes is essential – they won’t soften up on the smoker otherwise. Boil them until they are quite al dente. About 6 minutes should do the trick.
  • Kosher salt is less salty than table salt. Use half the salt (1 teaspoon) if you use table salt.
  • Pulsing the meat and cheese in the food processor makes the mixture very smooth, which makes it easier to push into the rigatoni tubes.
  • You can try using a piping bag to squeeze the filling into the rigatoni, otherwise, just stuff them by hand.
  • The bacon will unwrap and fall off if it doesn’t go at least all the way around the noodle and overlap a bit. No toothpicks are required!
  • Smoking the bullet shells on a rack on a baking sheet just cuts down on the amount of bacon fat going through your smoker.
smoked bullets on a plate.

How To Serve Smoked Bullets

You don’t need anything more than a plate to put these Smoked Bullet Shells on! They’re fabulous as an appetizer or party pleaser or for tailgating if you’ve got a portable smoker. Serve them with extra BBQ sauce if you like. Take a tray of them to a potluck, and you’ll be everyone’s bestie, or just whip up a batch of these as a snack with friends. You can also make the bigger version of this, Smoked Shotgun Shells, or other smoker appetizers like Smoked Salsa, Smoked Shrimp, or Smoked Queso. Or, make a meal out of them and serve these tasty cream horns for dessert!

Storage

Got leftover bullet shells? Pop them into an airtight container and store them in the fridge for 4-5 days. You can also freeze them. I like to freeze them on a baking sheet first, then break them apart and pop them in a freezer-safe bag for up to a few months. This way, you can just take out as many as you need and heat them up!

Step By Step Images

Smoked bullets on a plate with flowers nearby.
Print Pin
5 from 9 votes

Smoked Bullets

Pork and cheese filled bacon-wrapped pasta tubes are all the rage when cooked on the smoker. Smoked Bullet Shells always get gobbled up – make sure you have enough!
Course Appetizers
Cuisine American
Keyword bacon wrapped smoked pork tenderloin, baked pasta, pellet smoker, rigatoni, smoked bullets
Prep Time 30 minutes
Cook Time 2 hours
Servings 6 servings
Calories 1174kcal
Author Chef Jenn

Equipment

Ingredients

  • 10 ounces rigatoni pasta
  • 1 pound lean ground pork
  • 1 cup shredded cheddar cheese
  • 2 teaspoons kosher salt
  • 1 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1 teaspoon onion powder
  • 1 teaspoon oregano
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper
  • 1 pound bacon
  • 1/2 cup barbecue sauce

Instructions

  • Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil and par-cook the rigatoni for few minutes until just starting to get soft, about 6 minutes. Then drain them and chill them with cold running water.
  • Add the ground pork, cheese, salt, garlic powder, onion powder, oregano, and black pepper to a food processor and pulse until well combined and almost like a paste.
  • Stuff about a teaspoon (maybe a bit more depending on the actual size of your noodles) with the pork filling. See my tips below for hints on how to make this easier.
  • Cut the bacon slices into about thirds, then wrap each stuffed rigatoni with 1/3 of a slice of bacon.
  • Smoke the bacon-wrapped rigatoni pasta on a rack over a baking sheet on your smoker set to 250-F for about an hour.
  • Turn the heat up to 400F (or as high as it'll go) and cook them for about 20 minutes until crispy. Or, pop them onto a hot Blackstone griddle or even a skillet on the stovetop to crisp the bacon a bit.
  • Brush the Smoked Bullet Shells and drop the heat to 250-F and smoke for another 15 minutes or until the BBQ sauce is glossy and tacky.
  • Serve and enjoy!

Nutrition

Serving: 8bullets | Calories: 1174kcal | Carbohydrates: 46g | Protein: 24g | Fat: 99g | Saturated Fat: 39g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 10g | Monounsaturated Fat: 43g | Cholesterol: 145mg | Sodium: 1303mg | Potassium: 408mg | Fiber: 2g | Sugar: 9g | Vitamin A: 254IU | Vitamin C: 1mg | Calcium: 170mg | Iron: 2mg

A Note on Nutritional Information

Nutritional information for this recipe is provided as a courtesy and is calculated based on available online ingredient information. It is only an approximate value. The accuracy of the nutritional information for any recipe on this site cannot be guaranteed.

Want More Delicious and Easy Recipes?

By Chef Jenn