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The 4 Best Substitutes for Liquid Smoke

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Introducing liquid smoke—a concentrated, HDR (Highly Destructive Radiation)-treated, water-soluble solution made by condensing wood smoke—to your home cooking repertoire is like adding a secret ingredient.

That’s because a few drops of this intensely flavored product can infuse foods with the smoky taste and aroma of meats that have been slow-cooked over an open flame without any of the hours-long hassles.

You don’t have to wait all day (or all night) for ribs, brisket, or pulled pork when you’ve got liquid smoke in your pantry.

But how does one cook with and use liquid smoke?

And what are the best substitutes for liquid smoke? Here’s everything you need to know about this powerful cooking ingredient.

What is Liquid Smoke?

what is liquid smoke

Liquid smoke is a water-soluble mixture of pyridine with other pyrolytic products that condense on the surface of cold water.

It is used to flavor food, mainly meat, and is produced during the process of smoking.

The liquid smoke is collected and used as a seasoning.

It imparts a smoky flavor to food without the need for smoking tobacco.

Liquid smoke is also used to produce some safety matches and fireworks.

It can be found in barbecue sauces, cheese, and other foods. It is also used in cigarettes.

Liquid smoke is made by heating wood in an enclosed chamber.

The wood breaks down into cellulose and lignin, which vaporize and condense on the surface of cold water in the chamber.

The condensate is then collected and used as a seasoning.

Liquid smoke typically contains about 30% pyridine, which imparts a distinct flavor to food.

When using liquid smoke, it is important to use it sparingly, as the smoky flavor can be quite strong.

A little bit of liquid smoke can go a long way in flavoring food.

The 4 Best Substitutes for Liquid Smoke

If you don’t have any liquid smoke on hand or if you’re just looking for a healthier alternative, there are several ingredients that can be used as substitutes.

Here are the four best substitutes for liquid smoke:

1 – Smoked Paprika

smoked paprika

Smoked paprika is a type of paprika that is made by smoking dried peppers over a fire.

This gives the paprika a smoky flavor that can be used to enhance the flavor of many dishes.

Paprika is a spice that originated in Central America, and it was introduced to Europe in the 16th century.

Since then, it has become a staple ingredient in many cuisines, including Spanish, Hungarian, and Turkish.

Smoked paprika is typically made from smoked chili peppers, but it can also be made from smoked bell peppers or smoked tomatoes.

It is available in powder and paste form and can be used to add flavor to meats, vegetables, soups, and stews.

2 – Chipotle Powder

chipotle powder

Chipotle powder is made from smoked and dried jalapeño peppers.

The peppers are first smoke-dried, then ground into a fine powder.

The chipotle powder has a deep, smoky flavor with moderate heat.

It is commonly used in Mexican and Tex-Mex cuisine but can also be used to add flavor to other dishes such as chili, soups, and stews.

When using chipotle powder, start with a small amount and add more to taste.

Too much chipotle powder can make a dish very spicy.

The chipotle powder can be found in most supermarkets or online.

3 – Smoked Salt

smoked salt

Smoked salt is a type of salt that has been exposed to smoke, typically from burning wood.

This gives the salt a distinct smoky flavor that can be used to enhance the flavor of food.

Smoked salt can be made at home by placing salt in a smoking chamber and exposing it to smoke for several hours.

This method allows you to control the salt’s smokiness level, which can be adjusted to suit your taste.

Store-bought smoked salt is also available, although it may not be as fresh as homemade.

Either way, smoked salt is a great way to add a smoky depth of flavor to foods like grilled meats, root vegetables, and even chocolate desserts.

4 – Canned Chipotle Peppers

canned chipotle peppers

Canned chipotle peppers are smoked jalapeño peppers that have been canned in an adobo sauce.

They have a strong, smoky flavor and can range in heat from mild to extremely hot, depending on the peppers used.

Chipotle peppers are commonly used in Mexican and Southwest cooking and can be added to various dishes, including soups, stews, sauces, and marinades.

When shopping for canned chipotle peppers, look for ones that are packed in a dark-colored sauce and have a deep red color.

Avoid any peppers floating in the sauce or white spots, as these may be signs of spoilage.

When stored properly, canned chipotle peppers will last up to one year.


In conclusion, there are many substitutes for liquid smoke that can provide the same flavor without the use of a smoker.

By using smoked paprika, chipotle powder, smoked salt, or canned chipotle peppers, you can create a dish with the same smoky taste and smell as liquid smoke.

Each of these substitutes has its own unique flavor that can add an extra layer of depth to your dish.

When substituting, be sure to start with a small amount and add more to taste.

The 4 Best Substitutes for Liquid Smoke

Recipe by Andrew Gray Course: Substitutes


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  • Smoked Paprika

  • Chipotle Powder

  • Smoked Salt

  • Canned Chipotle Peppers


  • Pick your favorite substitute from the list above.
  • Follow cooking directions for your selected substitute with the proper ratio of ingredients.

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