What is Liquid Smoke? Does it Work?

Written in 2024
by Adam

    Within the BBQ community's liquid smoke is often considered an inexpensive way to add a smoky flavour to a dish. Some folks may criticize it as they feel a smoker is the only real way to experience true smoky flavours. 

    The key reason for using liquid smoke is to impart a tasty flavour without having to smoke anything in the process. It is a convenient way to infuse a particular recipe with a smoky flavour without first having to fire up the smoker.

    What is Liquid Smoke and How Does it Work?

    Liquid smoke is a form of a vapour that is put together by means of a combination of steam and smoke. The liquid itself is distilled (heat and condensation) to form a yellowish-brown concentrate.  

    Fun Facts:

    • Liquid Smoke products like the one shown above have a shelf life of 2 years.
    • There are a number of tasty varieties of flavours available such as mesquite, pecan, applewood, and hickory.
    • Users everywhere can infuse their meals with a smoky flavour without using a smoker, especially important if you’re somewhere without an outdoor space. 

    Where Would You Use Liquid Smoke?

    Any dish made where you make use of a smoker would be a suitable match for liquid smoke products. Many food manufacturers would use these as flavour additives. 

    Mass-produced cheeses like gouda or cheddar carry a smoky flavour, which is derived from liquid flavouring. Various sausage brands are stuffed into liquid smoke casings.

    However, liquid smoke is primarily found in a variety of commercially produced marinades, sauces, and almost anything that contains the word - barbecue. Bacon products also have liquid smoke in them. 

    Cooking Methods Using Liquid Smoke Products

    It is very easy to cook with liquid smoke. As the flavour is relatively concentrated, you only require a small amount of it. All you have to worry about is to add a few drops, which you can either brush on or mix in with your preferred marinade or sauce. 

    If you find that two drops are too much, you may simply dilute it using a liquid of your choice that will blend in well with your particular recipe. 

    The beauty of using liquid smoke is that you can virtually add it to any recipe you want. Just be sure to use it in moderation. 

    Did you know that some people even use it to spruce up their cocktails?

    Liquid Smoke Recipe Ideas

    As mentioned already, liquid smoke has many uses and can be added to most meals. Let's take a closer look at some recipe ideas.

    Main Meal Ideas Using Liquid Smoke

    If you favour the taste of BBQ and you don’t have a smoker or BBQ, then you are in the right place right now as you can make your selection from four incredible liquid smoke flavours. Our favourite pick for using liquid smoke is a crockpot/slow cooker brisket making use of hickory liquid smoke. 

    Another idea is to add some liquid smoke to a pulled pork and sneakily call it smoky grilled pork when your guests ask you about it.. They never need to know! 

    Liquid Smoke is an excellent addition to any salmon recipe too as it enhances the flavour as nothing else can. 

    Side Dish Recipe Ideas 

    Who’s going to turn their nose up at a delicious smoky baked beans side dish that brims with smokey flavours of your choice? 

    How about some delectable and soft, smoky dinner rolls? These are perfect to complement any holiday meal without using a smoker, but adding some liquid smoke instead. Drizzle these with butter afterwards, and you're all set. 

    Desserts Anyone?

    No need to neglect your desserts in any way as these are sure to tantalize your taste buds with a bit of unexpected smoky flavours thanks to your new friend, liquid smoke. 

    We love a delicious smoked pumpkin pie that makes for an easy holiday dessert. Infused with the subtle flavours of your favourite liquid smoke, your guests will wonder how you managed to pull this one-off, especially if you live in an apartment with no garden.. . By the way, remember the whipped cream, it’s a must. 

    Where Do You Buy Liquid Smoke?

    There are various ways to get your hands on top quality Liquid Smoke bottles by brands such as Colgin or Wrights. 

    In some cases, you will find these near your favourite BBQ sauces on supermarket shelves. Just be sure you read the ingredients list carefully to ensure what you get is all-natural. You may notice that some of the most common ingredients include additives like salt, vinegar, colouring, and molasses. Alternatively, you can head over to sites like Amazon and have it delivered to you, rather than facing the inconvenience of visiting the store. 


    Written by Adam

    Adam is the creator of the SmokeGuys website, running it since 2016. Hater of coriander, lover of all things meat... Adam currently works in marketing with a dream of being able to make food his full-time 'job' in the longer term.

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