Thursday, June 5, 2008

What the heck is Liquid Smoke anyway?

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


Shaye said...

I love liquid smoke and have been on a quest for different flavors. So far I have the obligatory hickory and mesquite, and my husband found apple at the store the other day but didn't get any.
I'm excited to try out several of your sauce recipes, and I just got a brand new crockpot to try some of your bbq! Thanks!

Jared said...


I haven't been able to find anything in stores other than the standard kinds you mentioned. I think I may go the online route in order to get some more exotic varieties. You will be amazed at the great BBQ food you will be able to make in your crockpot.

Thanks for reading

I Cook4Fun said...

Jared, thanks for your comment at my blog. I love cooking with my crockpot too but I never try cooking BBQ in it. Any suggestion what I can do with my brisket that I have in my freezer :)

Jared said...


Brisket is great for crockpot cooking. I would recommend this recipe:

I made 6lbs but the recipe is easily halved.

Thanks for reading

Marc @ NoRecipes said...

Great to know, I had no idea. I'd always assumed it was some kind of questionable chemical additive. I've been using a lot of cherry wood smoked salt to give my roasts and boiler-qed meats that smokey flavour.

Jared said...


I'm as surprised as you on that one. This cherry wood smoked salt you speak of sound really interesting. I will have to look out for it and try it next time I'm making BBQ.

Crockpot Lady said...

I am so glad to see you write about this. I haven't used liquid smoke yet.

A. said...

Wow - I'm so glad to have stumbled upon your blog for this post. I too thought it must have been chemicals, but then your post cleared that up. My next thought was, "Well, no matter what state we're capturing the smoke in, wouldn't it still be carcinogenic?" Again, thanks for the clarification. :) Can't wait to get a bottle today!

Anonymous said...

I never knew that about LS... but I have put it in chilli and in taco meat... sorta makes it taste like you put bbq in the burrito... w/o the bbq sauce. (^_^)

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Anonymous said...

I've used and loved Liquid Smoke for many years. It's hard to find at some stores but I have the best luck buying it at Amish run stores. I buy a couple of bottles at a time so I don't run out. I like the flavor it gives the food.

Junebug said...

I use LIQUID SMOKE on EVERYTHING - use it so much I buy the LARGE bottle!!! LOVE IT!!! Any grocery store carries it.