Smoked cheese or meats can make a great addition to any barbeque. Not only is smoked bacon or steak delicious, but it can also be much healthier for you than frying or grilling. This method of cooking greatly lowers fat content offering a healthier and tastier way to enjoy your favorite meats.
Cold smoking is a means of preserving and flavoring certain food items, so they can be stored for longer and will have that distinctive smokey flavor when cooked. Unlike hot smoking, cold smoking devices will not cook your food.
As such, to get the best results you need to cure your meat before smoking to remove any dangerous bacteria. With the exception of some foods that can be eaten raw anyway, like fish and jerkies, you should always cure or cook your cold smoked meats before consuming them.
But how do you cold smoke at home? Several different methods can be used to preserve food and give it a sumptuous smokey taste.
Some cold smokers are easier to use than others but all of them will involve a chamber that you fill with wood, or pellets, which are slowly burnt to generate the smoke. Here are five cold smoking devices for people who are new to this way of flavoring their food and experienced grill masters alike.
OUR TOP PICK
- Material: Stainless steel
- Fuel Type: Pellets
- Smoking time: 5 hours
- Item Dimensions (In): 2(h) x 2(w) x 12(l)
- Weight: 9.6 ounces
- Model: Pellet Smoker Tube Hexagonal
- Warranty: N/A
If your looking for a cheap, efficient, and portable smoker without any electrical components then look no further than this stainless steel, smoker tube made by Lanney.
This helpful kit has everything you need to get that delicious smokey taster during your next barbeque. If you are new to the idea of smoking your food, this simple yet effective little tube is the perfect way to give it a try without breaking the bank.
In the box, you will receive a 12”, hexagonal, stainless steel tube that can be filled with wood chips or pellets. There is also a silicone brush for basting, two hooks so you can hang the smoker over your grill, and a wire brush for cleaning it out after each use.
Lanney has designed this perforated, steel tube to make smoking incredibly easy. Simply load the cylinder with your preferred fuel source and light one end before placing it on your barbeque grill.
Once it is on the grill next to your food of choice, simply close the lid, and voila, you have an instant cold smoker.
This device will burn for up to 5 hours, meaning you may need to refill it for longer cooks. Unlike other tube smokers you can buy, the hexagonal shape will prevent it from rolling around on your grill.
- Very affordable- Perfect for those new to cold smoking and looking to experiment without breaking the bank
- Hexagonal Stainless Steel Tube- Not only will it not roll around on your grill, but the shape also provides very even smoke distribution
- Works for hot and cold smoking- Instantly turn any barbeque into a smoker
- Can burn both woodchips and pellets- This tube smoker is easy to fill and very versatile.
- Only burns for 5 hours- You will need to refill it for meats and foods that require a longer cold smoking time
- Can only be lit safely with a blowtorch - Using any other method will put you at risk of burning your fingers.
- Material: Stainless steel
- Fuel Type: Pellets or wood chips
- Smoking Time: 8 hours
- Item Dimensions (In): 2.5(h) x 6(w) x 6(l)
- Weight: 12.8 ounces
- Model: SG_B078Z2QWTN_US
- Warranty: N/A
If you’re looking for something that burns longer but is still easy to use and portable, then this maze smoker from A-MAZE-N is worth considering.
This 6”x6” stainless steel tray has four walls arranged in a way that really does look like a small, very simple maze. Just like the tube smokers, this design is made to transform your grill into a hot or cold smoker at a moment’s notice.
Once you’ve filled it with sawdust, you can place this smoker directly under, or on top of your grill and light one of the ends. The sawdust will burn slowly as it works its way down each section, ensuring a longer-lasting burn that is perfect for smoking meats.
The stainless steel construction is very robust and will smoke for up to 8 hours once lit. Despite the name, pellets will work just as well as sawdust.
While this tray has a bigger capacity than the other Maze smokers provided by A-MAZE-N, it does have thinner walls between each section so avoid overfilling the compartments to prevent your whole tray from catching fire at once.
- Small and portable- You can take this 6”x6” tray with you to any barbeque for quick smoky delicacies.
- Easy to use - Just pop it in your grill and start hot, or cold smoking your food instantly.
- Up to 8 hours of smoke- Perfect for fish and meats that require a longer cold smoking time.
- Can be lit from both ends- To provide extra smoke if needed.
- Thin Dividing Walls - If overfilled the sawdust may not burn along the path, leading to a lower smoking time.
- Will only burn dry sawdust- If your sawdust is wet it may stop burning altogether.
- Material: Stainless steel and molded plastic.
- Fuel Type: Wood chips
- Smoking Time: <1 hour
- Package Dimensions (In): 6.18(h) x 11.3(w) x 12.76(l)
- Weight: 2.66 pounds
- Model: N/A
- Warranty: N/A
There are a wide variety of items that can be enjoyed smoked, from meats and cheese to nuts vegetables, and even drinks.
This handy, portable, battery-powered smoker designed by Meva is capable of doing all of them. While it may not look like much, this smoke gun uses a surprisingly ingenious design to cold smoke your food.
The main component is a small hopper that has a chamber for burning fine wood chips. You may not believe that this device can properly cold smoke your food, but its innovative design means that it can generate a lot of smoke from a very small amount of fuel.
The smoke is then channeled through a rubber hose which can be connected to a plastic dome, placed over your food. This design is very fast working and you can be enjoying your smoked cheese or bacon in as little as 30 seconds.
Due to its design, it is best to only use the Meva smoke gun for meats that have been precooked or properly cured.
The unique feature of this set is the cup cover that comes in the box for making smoked cocktails. This allows you to feed the hose into your drink and enjoy a fancy beverage whenever you want. You will also receive a bag of woodchips to get you started.
- Can be used inside- The way this smoker works makes it suitable for indoor use without setting off your smoke alarm.
- Makes smoked cocktails- If you’re interested in more than just food, this smoke gun can create smoked drinks as well.
- Very fast- It takes as little as 30 seconds for you to be enjoying cold smoked dishes.
- Easy to use- Create large quantities of smoke with a sprinkling of wood chips and the press of a button.
The provided dome is small- So don’t expect to be smoking entire buffets all at once.
- You only get a few woodchips- so you may need to find somewhere you can buy more to keep using it.
- Material: Stainless Steel + Other
- Fuel Type: Pellets
- Smoking Time: 3 hours
- Item dimensions (In): 12.13(h) x 4(w) x 9.5(l)
- Weight: 7 pounds
- Model: 9500-000-0000
- Warranty: Manufacturer’s Warranty
This is another smoker that’s intended to work with any chamber, including your barbeque grill. Smokehouse is a brand dedicated to providing high-quality smoking equipment as well as a wide variety of accessories, from flavored pellets to sausage-making kits.
The smoke chief is a small, but highly effective electric smoker that will provide up to 3 hours of smoke from one cup of pellets.
Since it is an electric smoker you will need to plug it in for it to work. You may think this disqualifies it as a camping device, but Smokehouse provides two power leads, one standard 110v cable for plugging into walls, and a 10v adapter that can be plugged into your car for instant smoked barbeques on the go.
The valve on the side of the Smoke Chief will fit into the rotisserie hole on most grills and can even be attached to other containers with a drill and a little elbow grease. Its versatility and small size make it perfect for any grill master who wants to regularly enjoy smoked food.
- No need for matches or lighters - Don’t risk burning yourself to light your smoker
- Suitable for most grills - This smoker can be attached to nearly any barbeque through the rotisserie hole.
- Two power cables - the Smoke Chief can be plugged into a standard wall socket or the outlet on your car.
- Works fast - Once you add the pellets it doesn’t take long for you to start making tasty smoked foods
- Has to be plugged in - Can make it less useful for camping trips unless you intend to bring your car.
- May need a drill for some containers- If you want to use it on anything other than your grill you will need to find a hole for the valve or make one yourself.
- Material: Stainless Steel
- Fuel Type: Pellets
- Smoking Time: 22 hours
- Item dimensions (In): 42.5(h) x 56.5(w) x 23.5(d)
- Weight: 330 Pounds
- Model: PG500
- Warranty: 2-year warranty
If you’re really serious about your smoked delicacies, or what to make large quantities of food in a single session, then the Cookshack PG500 is worth considering.
This 330lb stainless steel smoking chamber offers 784 square inches of space for vegetables, meats, nuts, and cheese across its multiple racks. The PG500 can do both hot and cold smoking and it can even be used as a grill.
This pellet smoker gets up to 600 degrees Fahrenheit if you want to use it for cooking and hot smoking.
To turn it into a cold smoker, simply turn the temperature dial to its lowest setting and place ice in the warming draw. Your food of choice can then be put on one of the trays in the main compartment.
What this smoker lacks in portability, it more than makes up for with its durable stainless steel components and sturdy construction.
You may find it quite difficult to assemble, so bear in mind that this device is not for those on a budget or with a low tolerance for DIY. Cookshack also provides a 2-year warranty to protect your investment.
- Electronically controlled thermostat - to avoid large changes in temperature that can cause meats to become dry and shrunken.
- Four different cooking areas - For grilling, hot and cold smoking, and keeping your food warm.
- Stainless steel components - Given its durability, this is a smoker you will buy for life.
- 22lbs pellet capacity - so you can smoke for hours at a time without topping up on pellets.
- Large and heavy - this is not a portable smoker.
- Difficult to assemble - With all the different parts, this smoker can be difficult to put together.
Best Cold Smoker Buying Guide
A cold smoker doesn’t have to be complicated, as we have already seen it can simply be a stainless steel tube filled with burning material.
The more frequently you want to enjoy smoked food, the more you’ll probably want to invest in a high-quality smoke generator to meet your needs. With so many different types of smoker on the market, here is a quick breakdown of the things you need to consider when buying one.
Electric vs Manual
Whether you want an electric or manual smoker will depend on how much smoke you want to generate, how long your food of choice needs to be smoked, and how comfortable you are with open flames.
Manual smokers often need to be lit with a match, or sometimes a small blowtorch, making them a little bit trickier to use. Electric smokers on the other hand work at the touch of a button but are generable less portable (especially if they need to be plugged in).
If you just want something to stick under the lid of your grill that will generate smoke, then a passive, manual smoker may be the choice for you. However, if you want to prepare larger quantities of food, and have better control over the temperature and volume of smoke, then it is worth considering an electric model.
Pellets vs Sawdust
Most smokers are designed to work with either specialized wood pellets or sawdust and other small wood chips. Which one you will prefer depends on how seriously you want to take your food preparation and what you have at hand.
Both options can be bought online, but sawdust and wood chips tend to be considerably cheaper. Pellets on the other hand will often produce a longer, more steady burn and can be purchased in different flavors allowing you to get even more creative with your cooking.
Some smokers can take both types of fuel, while others will only be able to accept one or the other.
What are you planning on smoking?
Different smokers will work best for different jobs. If you want a smoked cocktail, for instance, you will want a design that allows you to channel the smoke into your cup or beverage mixer.
Vegetables, nuts, and most cheeses won’t need to be smoked for very long, so you can afford to go with a cheaper smoker that burns for up to 3 or 4 hours. Meats and fish on the other hand can require a much longer cold smoking period, especially if they haven’t been cooked beforehand.
If you’re only preparing food for yourself and your family, a small smoker that fits in your barbeque grill will be more than enough, while a more professional design may be needed if you plan on hosting parties or other large events.
Frequently Asked Questions
What is the difference between a hot and cold smoker?
Hot smokers will cook your food and give it that smoky flavor at the same time. Cold smoking on the other hand does not raise the temperature above 30 degrees Celcius.
The important distinction here is that one provides a cooked meal ready to eat, while the other is intended to simply provide flavor and preserve meats or fish for up to 30 days. To get the anti-bacterial and anti-microbial effects from smoking your food, you will need to smoke it for much longer.
Alternatively, you can expose your meat to smoke for a shorter period of time just for flavor, provided you cook it immediately afterward. It is also possible to cold smoke food that has already been cooked just to give it the desired taste.
Can I eat cold-smoked meat raw?
No, as stated above, cold smoking is not an alternative to cooking. Eating any meat raw can put you at risk of food poisoning and as such for cold smoking to work the meat needs to be cured with salt before being smoked.
There are some meats and fish you can eat raw, such as sushi and jerky, but it is not recommended to do this if you or anyone who is eating with you has a compromised immune system. To stay safe, always cold-smoke meats that have already been cooked, or that have been cured properly.
What can I cold smoke?
As well as meats and fish, it is possible to cold smoke a wide variety of foods. Cheese, vegetables, nuts, and even cocktails can be infused with cold smoke to give that delicious flavor we all know and love.
How do I cure my meat?
Once you have purchased your cut of meat from a reputable butcher weigh it and make note of its starting weight. Then place it in a container full of salt, and cover it with more salt until completely submerged.
Once the meat is noticeably dehydrated you can shake most of the salt away, it doesn’t matter if you don’t get it all off, and bath the meat in your preferred mixture of spices, before wrapping it in cheesecloth and hanging it in your fridge to dry. By the end of the process, your meat should have lost 30-45% of its weight.
If you notice any bad smells during this process it means that something has gone wrong and bacterial cultures are starting to form. Salvaging meat that has started to rot is pretty much impossible so if this happens you will need to throw your food away and start again.