Substitute for Liquid Smoke (9 Delicious Alternatives)

Do you want to improve the flavor profile of baked beans?

Or have a Mexican cuisine-themed dinner party coming up?

Ran out of liquid smoke?

Never mind!

I will share with you some substitutions on how to get that delicious smoky flavor!


What Is Liquid Smoke?

Liquid smoke is a seasoning that adds a natural smoky taste to our recipes.

Concentrated to liquid form, intense heat is applied to wood which causes it to smolder.

During the smoldering, the smoke passes through condensers.

The condenser’s chill liquifies the smoke.

This is filtered and aged.

Cool right?

When buying liquid smoke, it is important to always go for a natural product.

Note: The smoking process can be carcinogenic so it is important to go to a reliable and regulated source.

Natural Liquid Smoke

Natural liquid smoke should only have a few ingredients.

Water, the natural smoke flavoring, and an acid stabilizer like apple cider vinegar.


Artificial Liquid Smoke

Do not buy the cheaper artificial smoke.

Added chemicals, food additives, or artificial flavorings are bad for your body.

Plus they don’t taste as good!

What Does the Natural Smoke Effect Do for My Meals?

Adding smoke or smoking your food had a variety of yummy effects.

  • Adds a depth of savory flavor and undertones from nutty to even meaty flavors
  • Creates a new product that complements other food and flavors
  • Be a way of cooking or preserving vegetables that might have a short shelf life

How Do I Use Liquid Smoke?

To use liquid smoke it is helpful to know the weight of what you want to flavor.

Always go with the packaging directions.

The concentrated smoke flavor in liquid form will go a long way.

See how to use liquid smoke here.

My Top Liquid Smoke Alternatives

So here we are.

Below I have devised a list of my liquid smoke alternatives.

I like to think that you will have most of these already hiding in your pantry.

Do not be disheartened in finding a liquid smoke replacement.

It is not hard.

Smoke Gun or Smoke Machine

Who would have thought a smoking gun is my first recommendation?

I know that the majority of you will not have one of these handy machines ready.

Nonetheless, a smoke machine or gun is an excellent substitute.

Do you like to BBQ or add liquid smoke regularly to your recipes?

Flavored wood chips are added to a small hopper and are heated.

The hot smoke vapor is then funneled down a pipe, to a place of your choice.

I trap the smoky aroma with an upside-down bowl that Is placed on top of my meat.

Monitor the machine carefully for safety reasons.

Let the smoke infuse for the desired time.


Adding Smoked Meats

Adding smoked meats is a simple and effective technique to infuse some flavor.

An example would be a smoked minestrone soup.

Buy smoked bacon and fry it before building the soup.

The natural smoke with the heat level will transfer over.

It saves you the hassle of actual smoking.

Adding a Stock Made From Smoked Meats

Adding a smoky stock to your recipe is the same premise as smoked meat.

The only difference is the time and level of infusion.

Frying smoked meat will help give a subtle smoke flavor.

But for a more condensed smoke flavor, it would be better to make a stock.

Gently boil smoked meats like a ham hock in water.

Add some additional flavors and an aromatic spice or 2.

Do this for up to a day on low heat to flavor the stock.

You can keep the smoked stock refrigerated or frozen until you need it.


Charcoal Smoking

Charcoal smoking has a distinct and strong flavor.

My mouth waters at the thought of roast lamb being gently grilled under hot coals.

Capturing the thick white charcoal smoke and infusing it into foods is easier than you think.

Get a piece of charcoal and burn it over the stove.

When smoldering and smoking, remove and transfer to a tray with foil.

Put whatever you want to smoke on the tray and then cover with a lid or more foil.

Smoked Paprika

Smoked Spanish paprika is my go-to for this!

I love the authentic aluminum can it comes in and the cover art.

Paprika is red bell peppers that have been smoked, dried, and then ground down.

A teaspoon of paprika goes a long way.

It carries a soft heat but most importantly the smoky essence we are craving.

Think about using paprika to top baked vegetables or add it to marinades to flavor the meat.


Smoked Salt

Regular salt is an ingredient used in most recipes.

So if you’re going to use it anyway, then why not make it smoky?

Smoked salt should be in everyone’s spice cabinet because it is so versatile.

I once prepared homemade potato chips with smoked sea salt and it was a big hit.

Want to smoke your own salt? This recipe will blow your taste buds away!


Smoked Chipotle Powder

Are you tired of paprika and want a higher spice level?

A bit of spicy heat from chipotle powder goes well with smoked meat recipes.

Typically used in Mexican dishes or a traditional southern texas chili!

Incorporate robust flavors in your meals with a hint of smoke.

Smoked Tea Marinade

My last but not least recommendation is tea!

Yes, I said it.


Smoked Lapsang Souchong to be precise.

Lapsang Souchong is a Chinese tea that is smoked over pinewood.

I have used this in a marinade for pork with garlic and chili powder.

The sweet and smoky pine flavor from this tea is one to remember!

Smoke On!


Hi, I’m Charlie, I have been meat-smoking and grilling for the past 15 years. I have an array of different smokers, thermometers, and have a love for finding the right wood and charcoal combo My favourite recipes are my EXTRA CRISPY smoked pork belly, juicy pulled pork, smoked brisket, duck poppers, and ANY SEAFOOD I grill).

I loves sharing his tips with beginners, helping them navigate the world of smoking. I find it’s not just about cooking; it’s a quest for that perfect smoky flavor.

You will usually find me playing with the kids, perfecting my brisket bark, or sipping beers with boys around the fire. Can’t wait to share all my delicious smoking and grilling recipes with you!

You can read more about me on our About Us page.

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