If you are a crockpot cook you are well aware by now that giving your meats a smokey flavor without using some sort of flavoring is next to impossible. That said, you are given a number of options of how to compensate for this. Your primary weapon is your use of spices and sauces to give your meat flavor. Liquid smoke falls into this category and is the closest thing to actual smoke you can get when you are working with a crockpot. I have a bottle of liquid smoke and it has been effective in giving my meats a smokey flavor. However, as with everything I use, I want to make sure that I fully understand what is in liquid smoke.
Liquid smoke is made in a surprisingly straightforward way. I would have envisioned a complex blend of chemicals, but in fact liquid smoke is made by burning wood chips in a controlled setting and then using water vapor to absorb the smoke. The water vapor then condenses and presto, you've got liquid smoke. Another interesting aspect of liquid smoke is that during the preparation process significant amounts of tar and ash that are typically present in foods smoked over an open flame are removed during the process, greatly reducing the level of carcinogens food flavored with liquid smoke as opposed to foods smoked over burning wood.
There are many different types of liquid smoke, most of which focus on a particular type of wood such as hickory or mesquite. It really adds a great flavor to your meats and is a nice alternative for those who do not have the facilities to smoke their own meats. So give liquid smoke a shot next time you are making a marinade. You will not be disappointed