What Is Cold Smoking?

What is cold smoking

Still remember the historical smokehouse in western farms, dating back to the Palaeolithic age? The smokehouse technology has evolved into various smoking types for food preservation. Cold smoking is just one of the ways you can flavor, brown or preserve your food.

Before we get started, you need to know that cold smoking is all about precision and care. With the right knowledge and setup, you will enjoy a new level of barbecuing.

So, what are you going to learn here? What’s cold smoking? What are the differences between cold and hot smoking, what foods are most suitable for cold smoking? Is it good for you? What essential safety tips should be aware?

Cold Smoking Overview

Naturally, smoking helps you to flavor, brown, cook and preserve your food, without burning it, through exposure to smoke from mild heat. Cold smoking is essential for enhancing the flavor of your food items such as nuts, cheese, chicken breasts, salmon, steak, beef, etc. It adds smoky flavor to your meat, especially when properly cured.

The first part of cold smoking is curing which helps to extract moisture and prevent bacterial growth. Once you have cured the meat, you can then expose it to heat which will impart a characteristic smoky flavor. Cold smoking can span from hours to days, depending on the item you are smoking.

Does Cold Smoking Require Fire?

Michaels (2018) answered in the affirmative. Cold smoking requires fire, but mastery is key. Smokers use heat control drafts designed for controlling oxygen flow and a stream of smoke. Reducing oxygen reduces fire and heat. You must control airflow in such a way that it doesn’t dampen the fire and extinguish it. This requires frequent monitoring with temperature gauge.

Do You Still Need to Cook Cold-Smoked Meats?

Cold smoking cannot increase the internal temperature of smoked food. It only adds flavor sufficient to make the food fit for consumption. You need to know that bacteria in food cannot be destroyed by cold smoking. Thus, you need to cook your smoked meat in the right temperature condition.

What Are The Differences Between Cold And Hot Smoking?

Cold smoking is simply a smoking strategy for preserving and extending shelf-life of meats while hot smoking means merely the use of heat and smoke to prepare ready-to-eat meats and food.

The cold smoking has a temperature often below 90°F. The temperature of the two smoking types is not the same, and the process takes from a few minutes to days. Also, the temperature of hot smoking often ranges between 190°F to 300°F. The cooking period of hot smoking takes from a few hours to days.

Meats prepared using cold smoking is often treated with sodium nitrate, unlike the hot smoking. This is to ensure a long period of preservation without refrigeration. Thus, the meat in the cold smoking is kept in the unheated chamber while the meat in the hot smoking is kept in the same chamber as the heat.

The danger in cold smoking is that it has the potential to cause botulism since the dearth of oxygen makes it ideal zone for bacteria survival. In the case of hot smoking, meats do not require curing, though could be injected with marinade for a couple of hours.

What Are The Best Foods For Cold Cooking And Cold Smoking Process?

A couple of food is ideal for cooking. Some of these food items include bacon, salmon, roe, sausages, beef, cheese, etc. Let’s take a look at how to cold-smoke these foods below.

1. Cheese

Cold Smoking Cheese

Cheese provides the needed richness for pizza, burgers, appetizer, etc. You can cold-smoke cheese following these steps:

The best time to cold-smoke cheese is when it’s cold outside. This helps you to maintain both in spring and winter temperature below 32°C. Smoke early in the morning or at night when the temperature is very low. Place the foil pans of ice above and below the cheese inside the smoker can to minimize temperature around the cheese during smoking.

Only use the tools that allow smoke rather than heat. Bring the cheese to room temperature. Cut into small pieces for exposure to smoke. Keep the temperature low and monitor regularly.

Turn the cheese regularly every 30 minutes and smoke between 2 to 4 hours. Maintain light and a steady flow of smoke until the period elapses. You need to wrap it and refrigerate before use for at least 24 hours – this enhances flavor.

2. Beef

Cold Smoke Beef

You can start by making jerky out of your lean beef cut. If you got your beef from the butcher, they might have already been made thin. Cut your beef into 1/2″ strips to make it easy to dry. Before you start smoking, prepare a jerky marinade using 2 lbs flank steak, I tbsp of honey, 3/4 cup of soy sauce, a generous quantity of salt and pepper suited to your taste plus 3/4 cup of Worcestershire sauce and 1 garlic powder.

The best you can do is to add all your ingredients with the cut beef and seal. Make sure to coat beef with your mix. Refrigerate overnight, and by morning your beef would have marinated.

Fix enough wood in your smoker with a minute quantity of water in the water reservoir. Raise the temperature of smoker to 120°F and lay the strips across the frill leaving space between each piece for enough airflow. Avoid opening the chamber to inspect. This will reduce the temperature and will undermine the essence of smoking. Once done, enjoy it, and you can store in airtight container for a month.

3. Bacon

Cold Smoke Bacon

Your bacon cutting may come from boned and rolled collar joint from the pig’s shoulder behind the head. You can dry cure or cure with brine. Remove the bacon from the cure and rinse well. Pat dry with paper towel and hang it to dry for an hour. Coat with dry salt/sugar.

Light your smoker and allow a steady stream of smoke. Place it on a rack from a special hanger or meat hook. Monitor the temperature to ensure its stability. Cold smoke bacon for 8 hours or until you’re okay with color.

Remove from smoker and wrap with parchment paper or foil and refrigerate for 24 hours or weeks while still wrapped.

4. Salmon

Cold Smoke Salmon

Begin your salmon cold-smoking with 500g of coarse sea salt, 300g of Muscovado sugar, 10g whole Juniper berries, 20g whole peppercorns, and 2 cooked beet roots.

Remove the pin bones from salmon and place in a plastic container and skin down. Mix salt and sugar and crush the juniper and whole peppercorns in a mortar and pestle and mix with salt/sugar. Then, grate your beetroot and add it the cure you combined.

Use 3/4 of the cure mix and massage gently into the flesh of the salmon. Cover with a layer of cling film and leave for 30 minutes. You will notice a reddish liquid gathering in the bowl. Refrigerate overnight.

In the morning, pour away the drained liquid and add the remaining cure mix to the salmon. Massage gently and cover with a layer of the film before you refrigerate. Any liquid that drains should be thrown away.

Dry with paper towel and allow to dry at room temperature for one hour. Prepare your smoker and let the fire to get established for about 5 minutes. Preheat for 5 minutes while the lid is closed. Place your salmon on baking pan. Fill another pan with ice and place baking pan with salmon over ice and place on the smoker’s grill. Once it’s ready, remove from smoker and serve.

Is Cold Smoking Good For Your Health?

Cold smoking has an inherent danger to your health. Smoked meat and food items can increase your risk of cancer and cardiovascular disease. Beyond carcinogenic properties of smoked food items, cold smoking creates a suitable room for bacteria growth.

Curing meat with salt may inhibit bacteria growth just as the low PH of smoke could inhibit bacterial growth, but it doesn’t kill it. Cold smoking predisposes one to pathogenic infection from botulism and listeria.

Thus, care should be taken in using the preservation method. The remedy may be properly cooking your food after you must have secured great flavor from smoking.

Safely Cold Smoking Tips

If you want to cold smoke at home, you need to watch out for these tips:

  • To utilize cold smoking safely, you need to master precision and patience. This involves an investment in time and money.
  • Remember that cold smoking should be a gradual process. So, make the process is slow, with indirect heat.
  • Be wary of fluctuations in smoking temperature and ensure that you regulate the heat with a water plan.
  • Avoid adding too much wood and chunks to avoid a bitter taste of food.
  • Avoid black smoke as much as possible but use white smoke and make the air a constant stream.
  • Never you leave a lit fire unattended to – monitor your fire as much as possible but also monitor both the water and food.
  • Allow the back of the food to glisten with a dark crust to ensure the taste is fantastic.

Tips For Cold Smoking With A Weber

  • When using Weber smoker never keep your smoker indoors to avoid poisonous carbon monoxide. Avoid using a light fluid such as petrol, spirits, etc.
  • Make sure you have a pair of grill mitts and grill gear when using your smoker.
  • Do not allow children to stay where you’re cold smoking food. Ensure you store your briquettes in dry places.
  • Do not allow food particles on your grill – keep it clean

Tips For Cold Smoking With A Masterbuilt Smoker

  • Make sure that you use your Masterbuilt smokers only outside.
  • Keep it about 10 feet away from structures.
  • You must operate it on a flat surface, never on a wooden deck without a heat resistant mat underneath.
  • There should be no overhead construction and never use glass, ceramic or plastic cookware in the smoker.
  • Ensure you cover your smoker while not in use.


Benefits of cold smoking food range preventing fats from developing rancid tastes, improving taste and flavor, preventing the formation of a mold to extending the shelf life of food items. However, these benefits are not without health implications.

Cold smoking has health risks linked to cancer and cardiovascular disease. It’s better to add flour but cook your meal correctly.


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