What Is Liquid Smoke! How to Use and Make It?

The liquid smoke naturally comes by condensing the smoke of the burning wood. Ernest H. Wright invented it in his teens when he saw a black liquid dripping from the stove for the heating print shop. After some years, when he became a scientist, he said that it happens when smoke comes into contact with air.

What Is Liquid Smoke

If you talk about the BBQ community, it is described and shunned as a cheap way to introduce a smoke flavor to your food. There is an argument that ensures these criticisms are unfair, especially when you consider that not everyone has access to a smoker. Let us talk about what liquid smoke is and how it is used.

What Is Liquid Smoke?

Liquid smoke flavoring is exactly what it sounds like. Condensed liquid smoke flavoring that some barbecue lovers say is almost indistinguishable from the real thing.

The debate over liquid smoke started in the 17th century when people used wood vinegar as a preservative and flavoring agent for meat. Still, in 1895, the actual product was invented by Ernest H. Wright. 

During the 20th century, Wright also improved the process of using pyroligneous acid, a condensate of wood smoke. It can be used with many foods and can be shelf-stable for more than a few years. 

In the 1960s, United States FDA approved liquid smoke. As a result, liquid smoke can be found in most supermarkets across the country in many products such as cheese, barbeque sauce, and ketchup. 

How Is Liquid Smoke Made?

The smoke collected in the condenser from burning wood chips or sawdust is cooled into a liquid soluble in water. In other words, liquid smoke comes from the original smoke. 

There is no doubt that liquid smoke is a controversial flavoring, as any clever food flavoring is. Then it is condensed further by removing its impurities like ash and tar. Some manufacturers add caramel coloring, hickory flavor, vinegar, and molasses. 

You must follow recipes closely when using liquid smoke to ensure you maintain your meal with enough water-soluble liquid. The recipes that use liquid smoke do not involve meat. 

The best feature of this liquid smoke is that it gives a smoky flavor to veggies. Tabitha Brown’s vegan recipe for carrot bacon includes smoked paprika, garlic powder, maple syrup, onion powder, and liquid smoke baked in an oven or air fryer at 380°F.

How To Use Liquid Smoke?

You can see the liquid smoke adding to meat, but other beautiful ways exist. Its smoke products are all vegan-friendly and natural. Thus, it is an excellent addition to any kitchen. 

Brush It Over Meat Or Used In Meat Recipes

Indeed, all of you love liquid smoke as it adds a great smoky flavor to the meat. It can be used on homemade burgers, mince, steak, and even over roasts to give smoky grill flavor. 

Add Some Extra BBQ Flavor To Your Veggies

Throw some smoke flavor over your capsicums and eggplants to give them a new taste. Liquid smoke can also add great flavor to grilled or roasted veggies. You can also use the Carrot Hot Dog Recipe To make vegetarian hot dogs. 

Uses It In Dressings And Sauces

You can add liquid smoke to too many dressings and sauces to give an extra taste. You need only a few drops of liquid smoke to enhance your BBQ marinades or salad dressing. Many people like Homemade smoky BBQ Sauce Recipe that is simple and delicious. 

Mix It In A Cocktail

Liquid smoke will give cocktails a great flavor, primarily when used with whisky-based drinks, bourbon, or rum. Add a few drops to your favorite cocktail, or try Glampfire Cocktail Recipe. 

Make Smoked Salmon

The smoked salmon you get will taste like the restaurant at half price. There is no need for the smoker to make smoked salmon. Marinate salmon in brown sugar, soy sauce, and liquid smoke before cooking.

Add Depth To Your Mac And Cheese

Add some Southern and delicious flavor to everyone’s favorite food. If you make mac and Cheese often, you can add something different to it each time to reinvent it. There are many ways of using liquid smoke to enrich the taste of your favorite dressing, drinks, and meals. 

Recipes That Use Liquid Smoke

As I mentioned, you can use liquid smoke for many dishes. So, let’s discuss some of them. 

Main Dishes

You can use sous vide smokerless smoked brisket if you are excited to get BBQ smoked meat but do not have a smoker to do that. It requires little hard work but gives good results. Crockpot brisket recipes can be used as a substitute for sous vide. 

Even though liquid smoke can be used to flavor pulled pork, this recipe for smoky grilled pork chops makes them taste like they have come straight from the wood fire. Try the salmon recipe for fish.


Side Dishes

BBQ is not complete without the greens. Served without touching a grill grate, this southern greens recipe is sure to please. Remember Mac and Cheese as a side recipe. 

Use a hickory-flavored liquid smoke with it. Smoky baked beans are also on the list of conventional bbq side dishes. The version is smoky, sweet, and simple without fire.  


Desserts are worth noting. Smokiness gives these recipes an unexpected depth of flavor. Combined with sweet chocolate, the subtle smoky flavor creates a rich background. In every bite, this s’mores ice cream is reminiscent of a campfire, while these chocolate chip cookies taste just as good as they would after being smoked. 


It is subtle enough to blend into the background but dense enough to stand out. Add woody flavor to your cocktail by adding a few drops to syrups. It is best for those who like the sweet, smoky flavor. 

Liquid smoke is made for marinades and sauces. Several flavors in the Kansas City BBQ sauce complement the meat, while liquid smoke and beer are the secret ingredients in the Carolina mustard sauce. 

How To Make Your Own Liquid Smoke?

The advantages of homemade liquid smoke are fewer than the liquid smoke available in the market. If you are making it in the house, you should have reasonable control over the liquid smoke ingredients and flavor intensity. However, make sure that you do not add chemicals. 

You should have a grill or a smoker to make your liquid smoke so you can funnel it up through the chimney. Use a mixture of different woods or your favorite smoking wood to add nuance to your food. You can also use soaked wood chips or wood before starting the process.

  • You should place an upside-down mixing bowl on top of the bundt pan at the chimney’s opening. It is ideal to use a bundt pan because it lets heat escape from the middle hole. 
  • Now for condensing and cooling the mixing bowl by covering it with ice. Ice bowl or ice packs on the top should be a trick.
  • Your liquid smoke will form as the smoke rises, and the condensed air liquefies. Until you are ready to use it, put it into a bottle or a jar and keep it at room temperature. 

Substitutes For Liquid Smoke

If you do not want to use liquid smoke or you do not have liquid smoke, then some substitutes for liquid smoke can be used. 

  • Smoked Paprika: Dry the peppers over the burning oaks and create spice by grinding them into a fine powder. It comes in a spicy hot flavor and a sweeter, smokier flavor. Adding it to your food gives a smoker a peppery taste.
  • Chipotle Powder: Chipotle powder is formed by grinding jalapenos dried over natural wood like paprika. The long drying method makes it easy to convert them into fine powder. Keep an eye on the spiciness while adding it to your dish. 
  • Smoke Tea: The flavor and aroma of the black tea come from drying it over a natural pine wood fire. You can use brewed tea as an alternative to liquid smoke. 

Frequently Asked Questions

The process makes smoking flavors of burning wood known as pyrolysis. Many people use them as a substitute for smoking to give a smoky flavor to a wide range of foods. You can also add this to foods that cannot be smoked, like confectionery, sauces, and soups.

Liquid smoke is a liquid form of smoke that tastes well. Several factors, like pecan, mesquite, and hickory, have particular tastes. In addition to acquiring a more artificial smoke flavor, liquid smoke products with added ingredients will also be more difficult to smoke.

A few of its components, such as polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons, are known carcinogens. Our liquid smoke does not contain any of these dangerous carcinogens, so we can have virtually no worry about lung cancer when it comes to flavoring our liquid smoke. 

You can store them on shelves without worry, so refrigeration is unnecessary. Storage conditions must be dark, calm, and away from direct exposure to heat or sunlight to preserve the aroma.

Final Words

The real question is, how important is it to get the smoke from wood? Is there something that can replace it? Since the whole process of making liquid smoke takes place in such a complex way and this process is not for everyone. Still, it is a vital ingredient for those who prefer to smoke meat the old-fashioned way.

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