Do you often wonder how cooked meat, chicken, and fish have a smoke-like taste? Believe it or not, the smoky flavor comes from liquid smoke that can make even a vegetarian dish taste like meat.
When the smoke of wood condenses, it produces a liquid smoke. This smoke can be infused in sauces and dishes to make them taste like smoke.
Most people can't afford to have a smokehouse in their kitchen. In that case, liquid smoke is a great seasoning to produce similar results.
However, sometimes it might be hard to create the distinct properties of liquid smoke. If you face a similar issue, know that there many alternatives available in the market.
The best liquid smoke substitutes are chipotle powder, smoked paprika, smoked salt and smoked tea. You can also make homemade liquid smoke using overcooked bread.
Dig in to explore more options and their use.
Table of Contents
Best Substitutes For Liquid Smoke
Here are our ten options that work just as great as liquid smoke.
1. Chipotle Powder
Often readily available in your pantry, this powder is an excellent substitute for liquid smoke. Moreover, chipotle powder is readily found in all grocery stores, so that's a plus.
Made from smoking dried and crushed chili peppers on a wood fire, this powder tastes quite like liquid smoke. This is a primary ingredient in South American and Mexican cuisines. But very slowly, this amazing spice is taking over Asian dishes as well.
Since chipotle is way spicier than liquid smoke, you must be careful about its quantity. For example, if you plan to add a tablespoon of liquid smoke, only add half a tablespoon of chipotle powder to replace it.
2. Smoked Paprika
Also referred to as Spanish paprika, smoked paprika is an excellent substitute for liquid smoke. This spice has a smoky flavor with a rich red color.
It is often made by drying peppers and then smoking them for weeks using oak wood. You can use ½ tablespoon of smoked paprika to replace a tablespoon of liquid smoke.
This is an ideal replacement quantity and creates a light smoky undertone without ruining the overall flavor of a dish.
When choosing a store-bought smoked paprika, be mindful of the heat levels it may create. You can get mild paprika and also very spicy ones. So, get one according to your heat preference and taste.
3. Smoke Machine
If you find it hard to arrange liquid smoke for your food, the best and quick alternative is to use a smoke machine. The machine produces a similar smoke flavor and can conveniently flavor vegetables, meat, and desserts.
A smoke gun is innovative and burns wood chips added to its body. The burning procedure pipes out smoke that can help add a wonderful flavor to any dish.
While smoke machines are expensive, they are quickly becoming popular among professional chefs. You can use them for your smoke-infused dishes and can also be used to create delicious smoked cocktails.
The quantity of smoke produced depends on the quality and size of the smoke machine. To be on the safe side, replace one tablespoon of liquid smoke with one tablespoon of smoke from the machine.
4. Smoked Salt
Here is another liquid smoke substitute that may strike your fancy. When regular salt is smoked for 14 days straight, it converts into smoked salt. The smoking process uses aromatic woods such as mesquite, applewood, or oak, depending on the intensity of the smoky flavor required.
Smoked salt is an aroma-rich spice but can be used like regular salt. You simply have to sprinkle it on your favorite sweet and savory dishes to make them taste like smoke.
Smoked salt can also be added to sauces. However, ensure not to add regular salt with smoked salt, as the latter easily fulfills the purpose.
You can replace one tablespoon of liquid smoke with one tablespoon of smoked salt. Both have a similar intensity, but you can always adjust the ratio as per your recipe.
5. Smoked Tea
This is a Chinese tea and is also known as lapsang souchong. Smoked tea is made by drying and smoking Camellia Sinensis leaves on a pinewood fire. The leaves produce a herbal and smoky flavor and smell, ideal for meat and vegetable-based dishes.
Unlike other types of teas, smoked tea doesn't have a bitter taste. This is why stews and soups are often used to replace liquid smoke.
You shouldn't use smoked tea leaves directly in your food. Instead, crush them in a blender and mix them with your chosen spice blend to create perfect infusions.
Alternatively, boil the leaves and strain them before adding the smoky-flavored mix to soups and stews.
You can replace one tablespoon of liquid smoke with one tablespoon of smoked tea.
Most people think making smoky food is a tough job. However, that's not the case,
With a piece of charcoal, you can create a delicious smoky flavor without having liquid smoke.
Simply burn charcoal on a stove and transfer the piece to a bowl once it starts smoking. Use tongs to perform this job. Once that's done, place the bowl in the container with the food.
Cover the food with a lid and wait until all the ingredients absorb the aroma and flavor of smoke.
This method doesn't require any additional spices. Also, you can burn one charcoal piece as a substitute for a tablespoon of liquid smoke.
7. Canned Chipotle Peppers
Chipotle peppers are often jarred or canned in the form of a sauce. This sauce has a smoky aroma and taste.
However, you may need to check the labels to identify the intensity of smokiness. For instance, some products have a far rich smoky flavor than others.
You may need only this sauce in many dishes to create an appropriate heat and flavor as per your choice.
When using canned peppers instead of liquid smoke, replace one tablespoon of the latter with one tablespoon of the sauce.
8. Smoked Meats
Instead of spending time and energy creating liquid smoke, why don't you consider buying already smoked meat? Interestingly, many butchers sell smoked meat you need to cook to enjoy the smoky flavor.
If you plan to marinate your meat with other ingredients, you can do that and witness them absorbing the smoky flavor.
That said, this method isn't helpful for vegetarians. But there are rare vegan proteins and vegetables available with distinct smoky flavors.
You can also get smoked ham or smoked bacon for sandwiches and burgers.
Since smoked meat is a quick replacement for liquid smoke, it might be a little more expensive than the latter.
9. Wood Chips
Wood chips are readily available in stores and produce a good amount of smoke. You only have to burn the chips, put them in a bowl, and then in a food container. The process is pretty similar to that of using charcoal.
However, you can use wood chips in different flavors. For instance, most recipes use hickory wood chips, apple wood chips, or pecan wood chips. You can replace one tablespoon of liquid smoke with ½ to ¼ tablespoon of hickory wood chips.
10. Homemade Liquid Smoke With Overcooked Bread
Have you ever considered making liquid smoke from burnt or overcooked bread? If not, you are in for a surprise.
Two burnt bread slices can produce enough powder for your recipe. The process is pretty simple.
Place the bread slices on a tray and cook them for five minutes straight. This duration will help the toasts burn evenly throughout.
Ensure to place the bread on a bench and let it rest for the night. This step will help dry the bread slices.
Now cut the bread into small pieces. Then use the spice grinder to turn the bread into a powder.
Perform the grinding process in batches for excellent results.
This homemade liquid smoke powder is relatively safe to consume. Moreover, when replacing it with a tablespoon of liquid smoke, add a tablespoon of this powder to your food.
If you are a fan of smoke-infused food, liquid smoke is an excellent ingredient to help you create that in your kitchen. Smoky flavor in food adds warmth and great taste to your meals, making you crave more.
But, liquid smoke is not always readily available. Moreover, its major disadvantage is that it disperses through the entire product, diluting its effect on the food's surface.
In that case, some alternatives may help create the same magic.
Above, we have shared our favorite substitutes for liquid smoke. You have ten options to choose from wood chips to smoked salt. So, try them to see how each adds value to your recipes.
Alternatively, you can add smoked gouda for much-needed flavor in recipes requiring cheese.
Substitutes For Liquid Smoke
- Chipotle Powder
- Smoked Paprika
- Smoke Machine
- Smoked Salt
- Smoke Tea
- Canned Chipotle Peppers
- Smoked Meats
- Wood Chips
- Overcooked Bread