Liquid Smoke

By Carolyn Shearlock © 2013 • all rights reserved


I had never heard of “Liquid Smoke” before we went cruising.  Then, in our second summer in the Sea of Cortez, my friend Tonya on Amazing Grace made this incredible smoked fish dip for happy hour one day.  When she told me that was how she used up “less desirable” fish that they caught, I was totally puzzled.  Obviously, even though they had a catamaran with far more space than we did, they did not have a smoker on board!

And so she told me about Liquid Smoke. While I never did find it in Mexico or El Salvador, bottles were small enough to bring back from trips to the US.

It seems that I’m not the only one who isn’t familiar with Liquid Smoke.  A number of Jan’s and my recipes in The Boat Galley Cookbook use it — particularly in appetizers and make-your-own BBQ sauces.  But a couple of readers have asked where to find it, as their local store doesn’t have it in the spice aisle.

Instead of the spice aisle, I usually find it near the Worcestershire sauce and barbecue sauces as shown in the photo above.  There are several brands, although I’ve never seen more than one in any given store.  And yes, it’s fairly cheap!

NOTE:  I just learned that some people can be highly allergic to Liquid Smoke (see the note in the comments), so be sure to let people know if you’ve used it!

american-spice-logoAnother good option is Hickory Smoke Powder, available from The Great American Spice Co.  While more expensive, it’s even more compact for tucking into luggage and there’s no potential leakage!

In addition to our recipes using Liquid Smoke — there’s one for BBQ Sauce here on TBG — you can add it to lots of other things for a little different taste.  Try a few drops in:

  • Baked beans
  • Jambalaya or gumbo
  • Tuna Salad
  • Almost any cream cheese or sour cream based dip
  • Fish marinades

Got any other good uses for Liquid Smoke (or “powdered Liquid Smoke”)?  Leave a note!

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  1. my mom used it back in the late 60s

  2. Sami Bolton on Facebook says:

    a staple in our pantry for as long as I can remember. We use it on lots of things but most recently to make smoked fish dip…….my husband has a killer recipe with capers, creme fresch a bit of onion and lemon or lime. Part salmon and whatever other kind of white flakey fish is onsale.

  3. My grandma told me about it when I got married! I still use it sometimes!

  4. I got this in an email — I had no idea that someone might be allergic to Liquid Smoke, but it’s something to be aware of:

    Thanks for all of your wonderful ideas and suggestions. As a live aboard cruiser I always enjoy seeing a new idea. I wanted to make a comment on your suggested use of liquid smoke. We were having dinner with friends and “just met” cruisers a number of years ago. Liquid smoke had been used in the baked beans. Everyone soon found out that one of the dinner guests was terribly allergic to liquid smoke. She was aware of this allergy, as were her close friends, but no one had thought to ask if our newly met friends had used it as a flavoring agent. Nor, had anyone thought to warn the chefs. After a very quick tip to a local ER (thank goodness there was one close) she was fine. Needless to say we now ask what has been added to flavor “smokey” dishes. Can’t remember the brand that was used. Just wanted to give you a “heads-up”.

    Kathy Cunningham
    M/V Green Door

  5. As a follow up, I just got an email from a reader that some people can be allergic to Liquid Smoke, so be sure to let people know if it’s in a dish for a pot luck!

  6. Dan Thomas says:

    We use it all the time. It is great in any kind of marinade or grilling sauce. Especially if it is a fast cooking meat, like fish, that doesn’t spend long on the grill. If a gas grill is used, as most boats use now days, there isna’t any smoke to flavor the meat unless wood chips are used. Great product, hard to find out of the USA tho.

  7. We love our liquid smoke and use it in all sorts of things (most recently broccoli and beef). Just be careful not to use too much, it can quickly and easily ruin an entire meal. We also like some of the “smoke flavored” dry seasoning packets (though they can be quite pricey).

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