What is Liquid Smoke – Is it Safe to Eat?

Before the concept of smoke, smokers, or grill even existed, people knew the only way of cooking food was on fire. However, grills, smokers, and even liquid smoke added to the top-notch worldly inventions with time. In this article, we’re going to expand on the topic “What Is Liquid Smoke? since it is pretty rare as well as a special one.

What is Liquid Smoke?

Read on below to find everything you need to know about liquid smoke in this write-up!

What Is Liquid Smoke & Who Invented It?

In most simple words, liquid smoke is smoke from the burning wood, which is later condensed (liquefy) into liquid form, similar to distilling alcohol

It was discovered by a teenager Ernest H. Wright in the late 1800s when he observed a black liquid flowing down the sides of his chimney. Wright later perceived a strange thing, that is, when the smoke and cold air strike with each other, water droplets form (condensation) that you can store in bottles, hence liquid smoke. 

These captured water droplets initially have a smokey taste. However, modern liquid smoke comes in original as well as in a variety of flavors, including vinegar, molasses, salt, and caramel color. 

Buying Guide for Liquid Smoke

Although several manufacturers go with the traditional making of liquid smoke, some brands use chemicals, flavorings, and dyes to produce artificial liquid smoke., which you must avoid

While buying a bottle of liquid smoke, make sure its ingredients say “Smoke flavor” or “Smoke” and “Water.” 

However, if the list says something like molasses, preservatives, caramel color, or anything that refers to chemicals, better steer clear of it.

Is Liquid Smoke Safe to Use?

Although it’s a proven fact that smoke contains cancerous chemicals (carcinogens), liquid smoke is safer to use because it goes through filtration

Liquid Smoke  Safe to Use

However, the safe use of liquid smoke also lies in how much you consume it in a day.   

How to Use Liquid Smoke? 

For a fabulous addictive smoking taste, a few droplets to your favorite smoke-craving dish won’t hurt.

The recommended daily amount is about 1/4 teaspoon, so better use it under such recommendation or less. You can actually add a bit more if the recommended amount doesn’t match your preferences.

What Is the Taste of Liquid Smoke?

Liquid smoke tastes like just how it is named. It gives a smoke-like flavor but in liquid form. Similarly, there are now several different flavors of liquid smoke available in the market, for example, mesquite, hickory, pecan, and more. These distinct flavors are captured from the unique types of woods.

Taste of Liquid Smoke?

Some liquid smoke tastes artificial since they contain preservatives or chemicals.  

How to Make Liquid Smoke?

According to Alton Brown’s way of making liquid smoke;

Make Liquid Smoke
  • First, set up a grill, fire pit, or charcoal smoker with a heating duct to enlarge the chimney stack. It will permit the smoke to chill down and condense smoothly. 
  • Place a bundt pan over the chimney stack and then cover this pan with a bottom-up bowl. 
  • Place a bag of ice on the bowl to force the water droplets to produce inside it and drip down into the bundt pan. 
  • Ignite a bit of charcoal and put it in the fire pit along with wood chips or chunks for flavor. 

How to Cook Food with Liquid Smoke?

There is definitely no need for a smoker or grill if you have liquid smoke on hand. To cook food with liquid smoke or want a smoky taste in your meat or fish platters, add a few drops of it in the marinade or brush it over the meat chunks. 

Remember that we only need a smokey flavor and not an overpowering sick touch. So add relatively small amounts or about ¼ teaspoon of liquid smoke to whatever palate you’re preparing. 

Mix the liquid smoke with some vinegar or water for a more fine taste.

Liquid Smoke Recipes!

Here are 7 fantastic ways to use liquid smoke!

Liquid Smoke Recipes

BBQ Beef Short Ribs

Beef short ribs are undoubtedly flavourful, but how about we ignite a BBQ touch in it? Don’t worry! There is no specific need to use the grill. All you have to do is brush any protein (meat) with a considerable amount of liquid smoke and then project it to cook in the oven.

Slow-Cooked Kalua Pork

A smokey touch in your kalua pork can turn its simple flavors into a mouth-watering appetite. For this recipe, pierce the pork meat and rub it up with coarse Hawaiian salt and liquid smoke. Then slowly cook it till it shreds or cook it in the oven. 

BBQ Veggies

Ever heard of BBQ veggies? Well, they taste as good as any BBQ meat you love. Before grilling, brush your capsicum or eggplant with a faint amount of liquid smoke since we only need a smokey flavor keeping our health in check. The exact process goes for the veggies you want to roast

Couple It Up with Dressings/Sauces

That is not new! Big companies use liquid smoke in their packaged products such as dressing or sauces. So, it’s OK to sprinkle a few drops of liquid smoke into your sauces, dressings, or marinades for a smokey kick.

Smokey Cocktail

Cocktails with a hint of smoke? Sounds just superb, we know!

Try adding a few driblets of liquid smoke to your favorite cocktails or drinks that feature bourbon, whiskey, or rum

Feature It to Your Desserts

Although liquid smoke is a tangy product, its fading amount can arouse significant flavors. Mix it up with caramel and dark chocolate for a delicious ingredient in your dessert. Or add a minor amount of liquid smoke to your chocolate chip cookies for a lick-worthy palate.

Smokey Vegetarian Baked Beans

For a smokey shade in your vegetarian baked beans, mix them up with a healthy amount of liquid smoke. Add bacon in the mix if you like, but that won’t be vegetarian then.

Smokey Vegetarian Baked Beans

Other recipes to which you can add liquid smoke includes;

  • Mac and cheese
  • Ice cream
  • Chilli
  • Homemade BBQ sauce
  • Meatloaf
  • Smoked fish
  • Hamburgers

How to Store Liquid Smoke?

You can store your liquid smoke bottles in the pantry. Tightly sealed or packaged liquid smoke has a shelf life of about two years or more. 

Liquid Smoke Substitutes

Run out of liquid smoke? No worries! Buy a Smoking Gun instead. It provides a solid smoke odor and flavor. More options include smoked salt, smoked paprika, smoked tea, chipotle powder, smoked meat, and charcoal


Does Liquid Smoke Contain Carcinogens?

Along with a robust smokey flavor, liquid smoke does carry polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons or PAHs that may be toxic or carcinogenic.

Is Liquid Smoke Vegan?

Yes, it is vegan as the liquid is produced from condensing authentic smoke from blazing wood. Adding animal by-products is extremely rare. 

Does Wright’s Liquid Smoke Need Refrigeration?

No, there is no need to refrigerate liquid smoke. You can store it in the pantry where it can be used best for about two years. 

Final thoughts

Hence proved; No matter you have a smoker or grill at home, you can still add smokey or BBQ flavors to your favorite cuisines. On top of that, it doesn’t matter what food you’re making. If you want a smokey flavor, sprinkle a bit of this smokey fluid since now you know what liquid smoke is, how and where to use it, and its substitute!