Whether you’re preparing meat or fish dishes, vegetables, or desserts, you may have come across liquid smoke. This is a fantastic ingredient that helps bring out the smoky and meaty flavor in your dishes.
Plus, it’s a cheaper and easier alternative when you have no barbecue or smoker. But what if you have no liquid smoke right now? There are many liquid smoke substitutes to use, so don’t worry!
If you want smoky flavor without the commitment, try adding smoked paprika, smoked black pepper, or chipotle chili powder to your dishes for a delicious liquid smoke substitute.
Read on as we talk about liquid smoke and what alternatives you can try.
What ingredients make up liquid smoke?
Liquid smoke is typically made from condensing the smoke from a wood fire.
The wood is burned in a closed container, and the resulting smoke is condensed and collected. This condensed smoke is then combined with water and other Flavoring agents to create liquid smoke.
It has a long history of use in food production, dating back to ancient times.
- In Without Smoke or Mirror: The history of liquid smoke, author Robert McGowan notes that liquid smoke was used by the Cheyenne Indians as early as the 1800s to flavor their jerky.
Contemporary uses for liquid smoke include BBQ sauces, meat rubs, marinades, and even baking recipes.
The 7 Best Liquid Smoke Substitutes
If there’s no liquid smoke in your grocery stores, or you just ran out of it at home and needed more, we got you!
Here are all liquid smoke substitutes you can try:
1. Chipotle Powder
We love replacing it with Chipotle powder for its availability and similar flavors.
You either have it at home or find it in the supermarket, making this a quick and effective alternative.
Brown Chipotle powder also has a smoky flavor, as it’s made of dried and crushed chili peppers that were smoked over a wood fire.
This ingredient is predominantly from South American and Mexican cuisine. Now, it’s more popular worldwide, adding a ton of flavors and a bit of heat to dishes.
We use chipotle powder to whatever recipe calls like meat, eggs, or vegetables. It can replicate the smoke flavor, but Chipotle powder is spicier. So, we recommend you to use only half the amount required when using Chipotle powder.
2. Canned Chipotle Pepper Liquid
You can use canned chipotle pepper liquid, but only when you can’t find the other liquid smoke substitutes mentioned here.
Because Chipotle powder is an excellent substitute, you can use the liquid coming from canned Chipotle peppers. The liquids are oil-flavored with smoked Chipotle peppers.
Thanks to the Chipotle peppers, the liquid has a smoky essence, and you can add this to the dish. It will emulate smokey flavors and won’t be as spicy as the powdered version.
3. Smoked Meat
Rather than looking for liquid smoke, it’s better to purchase meats that have already been smoked!
You can find smoked meats sold in supermarkets to cook, so you can achieve a smoky flavor without adding other things.
When you marinate your smoked meats with other ingredients, they add to the smoky aroma and flavor. However, this isn’t applicable for vegans and vegetarians, though there may be smoked vegan protein.
4. Spanish Paprika
Smoked paprika is also a good substitute for liquid smoke, as you can find it in many pantries and supermarkets. This is also known as pimento, having a rich and hot, smoky flavor and red color.
Spanish smoked paprika is made of dried and crushed peppers, smoked over oak wood for long periods. This adds to the nice, smokey flavor that liquid smoke provides.
Smoked paprika would have a bit of kick to it, but not as much as Chipotle powder. If you don’t like too much spice on your meats, you can opt for smoked paprika.
Like Chipotle powder, we suggest to start with half the amount the recipe requires, adding more until you get your desired taste.
Learn more: Top Paprika Substitutes (#7 YOU MIGHT HAVE NOW)
5. Smoke Tea (VEGAN’S CHOICE)
Smoked tea is an exciting substitution, and it works for meat or vegetarian recipes! It’s not just brewed tea you can drink, but one you can use for meat rub or smoked meats.
Smoke tea is a kind of Chinese black tea made from leaves dried over a pinewood fire. This will result in a smoky and herbal flavor, which offers more aroma to your recipes!
We like smoke tea as it adds a bit more herbal flavor notes to meat, and it will work amazingly with Asian recipes like Peking duck. However, you can use it with other types of recipes, too.
Make sure that your crush the smoked tea leaves until they are a fine powder or pulverize them using your blender. Use it as a seasoning or rub as well!
6. Smoke Machine or Smoke Gun
If you can’t find or have no liquid smoke alternatives at all, then the best substitute to use is a smoke machine. That way, you have a smoky flavor without needing any.
You can smoke anything using a smoke machine, such as meat, vegetables, tofu, or even desserts!
To use a smoke machine or smoking gun:
- Adding wood chips to a bad for the machine to burn
- Using smoke to flavor your food.
Many chefs use this in restaurant kitchens, though you can also purchase one for yours!
That said, smoke machines are quite pricey and may not be best if you’re on a budget or have a small kitchen.
If you can’t get a smoke machine, you can also use charcoal. It’s another easy way to have your food taste rich and smoky. (*)
You can easily find charcoal in your area.
- Simply burn charcoal.
- Put it in your bowl after it becomes smoky.
- Then place your bowl over a container that’s holding your food.
You can use this for any recipes such as meat, vegetables, and tofu, achieving a smoky flavor without much effort.
Besides charcoal, you can also use wood chips for a strong, smoky aroma.
Bonus: How To Make Your Own Liquid Smoke Substitute
Yes, it’s possible to make your own! While this will make a powder rather than a liquid, it will still work well. Follow these steps:
- Place a few slices of bread in your oven or grill for 5 minutes on high heat.
- Turn over your slices of bread frequently until they are completely burnt. This gives it the smoky flavor, so allow it to burn!
- Let your bread sit overnight until it’s cooled and dried thoroughly.
- Break your bread into pieces, grinding it until it is powder.
Granted, this won’t give you the exact delicious smoky taste, but it works, and you still get a good, savory flavor! It’s effortless, and you can use old bread to reduce food wastage.
There are also other ways to make homemade one, though many of the recipes are tedious and require more ingredients, so it may just be better to use the alternatives
Frequently Asked Questions
Here are the frequently asked questions many of our readers wonder about:
Wrapping It Up
We hope that our list of liquid smoke substitutes did the trick! The best option is all up to your personal preference, and as long as it achieves the flavor you desire, it will work.
Have fun cooking meats and enjoy your next meal. You can learn more about cooking with us and explore what more we have to offer from our blog posts!