How to Get a Smoky Flavor Without a Smoker

How to Get a Smoky Flavor Without a Smoker

Have you ever wondered how companies get the flavor of smoke into foods without using a smoker? They use foods that have already been smoked or use synthetic ingredients to mimic the smoky flavor.

There are many different ingredients that you can use to add a nice smoky flavor to your recipes. You have to be careful with some of the ingredients because a little bit can go a long way.

This article will go over some of the more common ingredients you can use to introduce smoke into your foods. We will also give you a few tips and pointers to help you out along the way.

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Common Smoky Flavored Ingredients And Foods

There are many different ingredients that are either infused or are naturally smoky in flavor that you can add to recipes and foods to gain a smoky flavor without using a smoker. You can also use some foods that have already been smoked to add to your recipes. These foods will bring nice smoky flavors to your favorite dish. Here are a few.

Liquid Smoke

This is going to be the most common ingredient you can use to introduce smoke into your foods. Liquid smoke is one of the main ingredients in barbeque sauce. It is powerful, so you only need a little bit to gain a nice smoky flavor. A little bit goes a long way, so be careful when adding sauces and marinades.

Smoked Paprika

While there are plenty of paprika types available out there, smoked paprika will add the right amount of smoky kick to any dish. It comes from Spain and has a naturally smoky flavor. It is one of the main ingredients used in any traditional paella, a typical Spanish dish made with rice.

Smoked Oils

Smoked Oils

There are a lot of oils that you can buy that have been infused with many different flavors, including smoke. Infusing the oils will bring a nice smoky flavor to any dish. They are most commonly used to finish a dish when being plated.

Smoked Salt

Like smoked oils, smoked salts are also available to you for finishing dishes once they are plated or even adding to some recipes to bring a smoky flavor. The difference with salts is that they have been smoked in a smoker to gain the smoky flavor rather than infused like oils. They are still a great addition to any dish you want to have a subtle or strong smoky flavor.

Chipotle Peppers

Chipotle peppers are one of the few ingredients out there that are naturally smoky. Once they are dried, they are reconstituted with a liquid or placed in adobo sauce to bring out the natural smoky flavors. They are also very mild, so you don’t have to worry about bringing too much heat to the table.

Black Cardamom

Black Cardamom

As opposed to the more commonly used green cardamom pods are black cardamom pods. They are a little bigger and have a strong natural smoky flavor. Usually, they have been roasted over high temperatures to bring out the smoky flavor within them. Just a couple of pods will enhance the smoke flavors in any dish. Just be careful because they are powerful.

Smoked Cheese

With all the cheese out there and available to you in most stores, it’s no wonder why there would not be smoked cheese. There are multiple kinds of smoked cheese, from cheddar, swiss, and gouda to blue cheese, raclette, and Boursin cheeses. Any smoked cheese added to a dish will elevate the smoky flavors. Just be careful because some smoked cheeses will be substantially more potent than others, and cheese contains salt.

Smoked Bacon

Smoked Bacon

Smoked bacon is another one of those ingredients that have been smoked before it has been cured to gain a smoky flavor. A lot of the time, it is smoked in large batches in a smokehouse using applewood. The applewood brings a light smoky flavor to the bacon and a rich sweetness as well. Smoked bacon can be used in a multitude of dishes to bring smoke to the recipe. There are also smoked bacon seasonings and smoked bacon salt available out there that people like to use from time to time.

Smoked Fish

While there are plenty of smoked meats available to you, there are also a few smoked fishes that you can use to introduce smoky flavors. The most common types of fish are trout and salmon. They are usually smoked and then vacuum sealed for freshness and can last quite a while in the fridge or freezer. Some of the time, salmon is cold smoked, so it looks raw still, but it is safe to eat. Smoked salmon is sometimes called “Lox,” which is commonly eaten on bagels with cream cheese or in fine dining appetizers. Smoked trout and salmon can also be blended with other ingredients to create dishes like rillettes or spreadable Pate.

check out our article 6 Questions About Smoking Fish

Smoked Tea

Another ingredient that brings a nice subtle smoky flavor to foods is smoked tea leaves. More specifically, Lapsang Souchong is a variety of tea leaves that have been smoked lightly and can be used in various ways. You can boil it to make a tea from it, use it as you would like an herb to flavor sides like rice or potatoes, or you can grind it up and use it as a seasoning on meat and poultry.

Here are a few more smoked foods

  • Smoked Nuts
  • Smoked Ham
  • Smoked Sausage
  • Smoked Turkey

Check out our article How to Smoke Nuts

Grilled Smokehouse Burger

Here is a recipe in which you can utilize many different smoky ingredients without using a smoker. You can also cook the burgers on the stovetop if you don’t have access to the grill.


  • 1 pound ground beef
  • 6 strips applewood smoked bacon, cooked
  • 2 slices smoked gouda cheese
  • 1 large egg
  • 1 tsp. Smoked salt
  • ½ tsp. Black pepper
  • ½ tsp. Smoked paprika
  • ¼ tsp. Liquid smoke
  • 1 tsp. Worcestershire sauce
  • ½ tsp. Garlic powder
  • Lettuce
  • Tomato
  • Onion
  • Hamburger buns


  1. Cook your bacon to your preferred doneness in the same pan you plan to cook your burger patties.
  2. In a small bowl, add the ground beef, salt, pepper, egg, paprika, garlic powder, liquid smoke, and Worcestershire sauce. Mix everything well until fully incorporated. Form two or three hamburger patties from the meat mixture and place on the grill over medium-high heat.
  3. Cook the hamburger patties for 3-5 minutes on each side or until they are fully cooked, the internal temperature of 155 degrees before resting. Before pulling them from the grill or pan, add the smoked gouda cheese to each patty to allow the cheese to melt slightly over the burger.
  4. Remove the patties from the grill and place them on a hamburger bun. Top the burger with bacon, lettuce, onion, and tomato. Place any condiments on the burger you would like. Serve and enjoy!


When it comes down to it, you don’t need a smoker to enjoy smoky flavors in your foods. With so many different ingredients available to you, people will think you spent all day over a hot smoker preparing food for them.

Adding smoky ingredients are okay in moderation, and you can overdo it by adding too much. We hope this helped you learn how to add smoky flavors without a smoker.


Is Liquid Smoke Bad for you?

Liquid smoke is only harmful to you in large quantities. It’s okay to have liquid smoke in small doses and is about as harmless as coffee or tea is for you. It is recommended only to use a little bit when cooking. Plus, a little liquid smoke goes a long way in a recipe.

Can you put liquid smoke directly on meat?

You can put liquid smoke directly on meat if you would like. It won’t penetrate the meat too much when brushed on the meat before cooking it, so you should try using it in a marinade. You won’t need to use much, though. Anything over a teaspoon will be too much and will overpower all the other flavors in the marinade.

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