Smoking vegetables is a great way to not only cook them but also introduce great smoky flavors to your food. Some people think that by smoking some fruits and vegetables, you will ruin their structural integrity, making them tasteless and mushy.
This can be true if you are not smoking them correctly or are looking for a particular outcome. There are two different ways to smoke vegetables, and not all veggies can be done both ways. So, to find out how to correctly smoke vegetables, we wrote this article just for you.
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Smoking Vegetables in a Hot Smoker
Just about any vegetable can be smoked in a hot smoker, as long as it is done correctly. The key is the temperature, and the time the veggies are in the smoker. It is best to try and not go over 250 degrees when smoking them, especially if the vegetable is soft or holds more liquid within its flesh.
If you go too high, the vegetable will turn into much and create a mess in your smoker. It is also wise to place them on a sheet tray, just if that does happen, and to catch any of the liquid that may seep out during the smoking process.
Just like grilling vegetables, make sure to cover them with a little bit of vegetable oil and season them with salt and pepper before placing them in the smoker. Keep a close eye on the veggies as they smoke to check when they need to be removed from the smoker.
The key is not just to add smoke flavor but also to cook them. So, when they are to your liking, remove from the smoker, and enjoy.
Smoking Vegetables in a Cold Smoker
Smoking vegetables in a cold smoker is a little different, and the process is much shorter. The objective of this technique is not to cook the veggies but only add smoke flavor to them. This will help them to retain their crunch and keep the nutrients intact.
This technique works very well with softer and juicier vegetables as they won’t turn to mush, and you can still add them to salads and soups. Try to keep the smoker below 100 degrees to allow the wood chips to smolder.
You will only need to keep them in the smoker for about 30-40 minutes to obtain a robust smoky flavor. Any longer and they will run the risk of becoming overly smoky and tasting very bad.
How to choose your vegetables to smoke
Whatever the vegetables you choose to place in the smoker, whether it is hot or cold smoked, you want to make sure they are quality vegetables. Be sure to check that the vegetables are fully ripe and full in color.
Vegetables that are in season will always taste better than in other parts of the year. Also, make sure to wash your veggies with warm water to wash away any wax or pesticides that may be on them. Cold smoking your veggies will help them keep their crunch and keep their color.
Vegetables like asparagus, snap peas, broccoli, and onions will work great in the cold smoker. Other veggies you want to cook at the same time work perfectly for hot smoking. You can smoke just about any of them, and it is recommended for the denser and harder veggies to be hot smoked to make them easier to eat like cabbage, Brussel sprouts, carrots, and squash.
Tips and Tricks
- If you are cold smoking vegetables, it is wise to cut them up instead of leaving them whole to obtain as much smoke flavor as possible. Vegetables like tomatoes, onions, squash, and peppers will almost always need to be cut first.
- When smoking vegetables whole in a hot smoker, poke some holes in them with a fork or knife before placing them in the smoker. This will help to release pressure and moisture within the vegetable and speed up the cooking process.
- When cold smoking vegetables and using a grill without a smoker box, form aluminum foil into a container and place the wood chips in it to act as a smoker box. Any smoker will work better with a smoke generator like an A-MAZE-N smoke tray, pellet tube, or Smoke Chief Cold Smoke Generator.
We hope our how-to guide for smoking vegetables has helped inspire you to throw some veggies on your smoker. Our final tip is sometimes with vegetables; it is better to go with a lesser amount of smoke then if you think they need more, hit them harder on the next cook.
What is the best type of wood to use when smoking vegetables?
Fruit woods like cherry or apple will work well to add subtle and delicate smoky flavors to your vegetables. Pecan is also a favorite. Other woods like hickory or mesquite can be very strong and bold, which may overpower the natural flavors of the vegetables.
What type of smoker is best for smoking vegetables?
Any smoker will work well as long as you can maintain the temperature during the smoking process.
Do peppers get hotter when you smoke them?
Yes. For the most part, peppers will gradually gain more heat the more you cook them in any fashion.
Can you smoke potatoes?
Yes, but it is wise to smoke them using the hot smoked method to cook and make them easier to eat.