What is liquid smoke?

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Liquid smoke (aka natural smoke flavoring, natural smoke essence if it’s pure) is exactly what it sounds like: liquid smoke.  Wood chips are burned and the resulting smoke is condensed into a flavoring solution.  It’s used to add smoky flavor to food as a cheaper, faster and more convenient alternative to smoking the food over wood chips. 

Though there are many great uses for liquid smoke in the home (where actually smoking food over wood chips can be impractical) it is also used as a culinary shortcut by industrial food producers making products like low-cost bacon.  Instead of spending money and time to smoke the bacon over actual wood, they instead inject it with liquid smoke…which doesn’t taste the same.  Just one of many reasons why buying top quality bacon makes such a difference in flavor.

The quality and contents of liquid smoke can vary considerably from simple condensed smoke from specific wood chips (hickory, applewood, etc) to largely artificial products packed with additives, so you should take care to read the label before purchasing and using it.

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