Cold Smoke vs Hot Smoke – What Is The Difference?

Cold Smoke vs Hot Smoke – What Is The Difference?

There is a lot of discussion about cold and hot smoking.  Both cold and hot smoking process food, but there are some different results that come from each one. Cold smoke is not heat, just smoke.

Cold Smoke vs Hot Smoke

The cold smoking process is about cold smoke flavor along with preserving the food, and cold smoking lasts for a very brief period of time. Hot smoke is heat and smoke – hot smoking can take hours to finish and it cooks as well as flavors the food.

This article will explore cold vs hot smoking methods, and leave you with some tips on cold versus hot smoking bacon and salmon.

The Definition:

What is cold smoke?

Cold smoke uses wood chips that are placed into a cold smoker box or container, like an electric smoker (by using electricity or by using propane), or a style of smoker known as pellet smokers (pellets of sawdust, compressed wood, or other biomass are used as the fuel).

The cold smoker heats the chips to produce smoke and keep them smoldering, without reaching a high temperature. This smoke is then drawn into the food chamber by a fan and smoked for a few hours.

There are a few different types of cold smoking. The first is cold smoking before cooking, where the food is cold smoked and then cooked.

The second type is cold smoking after cooking, where the food has been cooked and then cold smoked. The third type is cold smoking at room temperature, which can be done with or without a smoker.

It’s important to note that cold smokes don’t cook foods, they only provide flavor through cold smoke. Cooked cold smoked foods will have a similar consistency to cold smoked foods, just with a smoky flavor added in from the cold smoking process.

What is hot smoke?

Hot smoking is accomplished by using a pan of hot coals on one side with the food placed on the other side. You can also use a gas burner or an electric burner. The heat will cook the food and impart smoke flavors at the same time.

Hot smoking is either wet or dry. Wet hot smoking uses a water pan in the smoker to add moisture and keep the meat from drying out as it smokes. This method takes a little longer but results in juicy, tender meat. Dry hot smoking doesn’t use a water pan, and the meat will be a little drier but also more flavorful.

The Difference – Cold vs Hot Smoking

So cold smoke is just cold – no heat – just cold smoke to flavor meats, fish, and cheese. The main difference between cold and hot smoking methods is the temperature. Cold smoked foods are not cooked, whereas hot smoked foods are cooked.

As far as a cold smoker it is a confined volume that has cold smoke continually produced by a small smoldering fire of sawdust or hardwood pellets from an external source. It usually works more slowly than hot smoking, taking many hours to flavor the food with cold smoke.

The food will still need further cooking before consumption. In comparison, there are more hot smokers available for home use which can cook as well as cold smoke food but generally at higher temperatures than cold smokers.

The cold smoking process is all about cold smoke flavor along with preserving the food, and cold smoking lasts for a very brief period of time. Hot smoking is heat and smoke – hot smoking can take hours to finish and it cooks as well as flavors the food.

Another difference between cold and hot smoking is the time it takes to complete the smoking process. Cold smoked foods only require a few hours, whereas hot smoked foods can take up to 12 hours or more.

Cold Smoke vs Hot Smoke – The Comparison:

Cold smoking vs Hot smoking – cold smokers

So cold smokers are just simple metal or wood boxes that use cold smoke from an external source and usually work more slowly than hot smoking, taking many hours to flavour the food with cold smoke.

Most cold smokers can’t heat up to cook meat; they only provide cold smoke flavor without cooking the meat further. The food will still need further cooking before consumption (e.g., bacon needs to be cooked before eating).

For commercial products, there is normally a large cold smoker which creates cold smoke for days or weeks at a time and cold smokes a large amount of cold smoked products which are then sold as ready to eat or with further cooking required.

For cold smoking at home cold smokers are generally smaller and cold smoke for a much shorter time so need to be reloaded more often.

For both commercial cold smokers and cold smoking at home the cold smoke is injected with an electric fan so it follows a consistent direction from one end of the cold smoker/cold smoke generator to the other, giving even cold smoking.

Without this feature, cold smoking can produce different results depending on where in the box food is placed leading to uneven flavor among foods processed in a batch.

Cold smokers available for home use can’t heat up to cook meat – they only provide cold smoke flavor without cooking the meat further.

Cold Smoke vs Hot Smoke – The Pros and Cons

So cold smoking is a great way to add smoky flavor to food without cooking it all the way through. It’s also a very slow process, so it’s best for things that you want to smoke for a long time (several hours).

Another downside is that cold smokers can be difficult to use, as they often don’t have a heat source and can be tough to regulate.

Hot smoking is a faster process than cold smoking, and it cooks the food as well as adding smoky flavor. However, it can be tricky to get the temperature just right, and if it’s too hot you can end up with dried-out or burnt food.

The Food

So cold smoked foods will have a similar consistency to cold smoked foods, just with a smoky flavor added in from the cold smoking process. Hot smoked food is fully cooked and usually more moist than cold smoked products because it’s heated through. But if you want to use your smoker as a grill and smoke things like sausages and steaks, you’ll need to cold smoke them first before they go on the heat source so they get an extra smoky flavor without drying out.

Cold smokers available for home use are generally much smaller than hot smokers therefore cold smoking capacity tends to be much lower meaning that cold smoking times are much longer taking many hours compared with hot smokers often taking minutes. cold smoking vs hot smoking

The Equipment

So cold smokers are just simple metal or wood boxes that use cold smoke from an external source and usually work more slowly than hot smoking, taking many hours to flavour the food with cold smoke. Most cold smokers can’t heat up to cook meat; they only provide cold smoke flavor without cooking the meat further. The food will still need further cooking before consumption (e.g., bacon needs to be cooked before eating). cold smoking vs hot smoking

It is normal for cold smokers to have vents that can be opened or closed to control cold smoke strength and cold smoke longevity. Cold smokers are not fitted with a heat source so reliance is placed on the ambient temperature combined with adjusting cold smoke generator output levels to maintain required cold smoking temperatures, cold smoke time may vary depending on ambient conditions.

There are many types of hot smoker available for home use from simple water smokers which are very low cost up to large high output pellet burners which automate wood/pellets feeding systems to produce long term consistent smoky flavored meats at higher temperatures. Hot smokers can also incorporate offset indirect cooking chambers with multiple heat sources to cook indirect and hot smoke at the same time using, this technique gives many advantages including cooking cold meats directly without cold smoking first. cold smoking vs hot smoking

Cold Smoking Bacon vs Hot Smoking Bacon:

cold vs hot bacon smoking

When cold smoking bacon, you will need to make sure that bacon is covered in a curing agent like Prague Powder No. 1, which will help to preserve it and give it a pink color.

Cold smoking bacon at a temperature of 80-100 degrees for 2-3 hours will result in a product that is safe to eat but may not be as crispy as you like. The bacon will have a smoky flavor, and because the process is slow, the fat will render out and make the bacon moister.

When hot smoking bacon, you do not need to use a curing agent, and the bacon can be smoked at a higher temperature (175-200 degrees). The bacon will be crisper than cold smoked bacon, and it will also have a smoky flavor.

Cold Smoke Bacon – How to cold smoke bacon

If you have an electric smoker, cold smoke your bacon for about an hour. If cold smoking, you can cold smoke it for up to 3 hours. Keep the cold smoker at a consistent temperature around 85 degrees F (29 degrees C) and use only hardwoods like hickory to cold smoke your bacon.

If cold smoking with a pellet smoker, cold smoke your bacon for 1-3 hours using applewood pellets or other mild-flavored wood pellets.

The cold smoking process is all about cold flavor along with preserving the food. Cold smoked foods are not cooked; they are only flavored by the smoldering chips in the box or pan of sawdust or pellets used to make cold smoke.

Hot Smoking Bacon – How to hot smoke bacon

To hot smoke your bacon, heat the smoker to 165 degrees F (74 degrees C). Add applewood pellets or other mild flavored wood pellets and cold smoke your bacon for 1-2 hours. If cold smoking, you can cold smoke it for up to 4 hours.

The hot smoking process is all about cooking as well as flavoring the food at the same time, using a combination of heat and cold smoke. Hot smoked foods are cooked and flavored by cold smoke at the same time.

Cold Smoking Salmon vs Hot Smoking Salmon:

When cold smoking salmon, cold smoke the fish at 80-90 degrees for about 30 minutes. It is cold smoked because it does not require any heat treatment by the cold smoker. The cold smoking process will last anywhere from 2-4 hours or until your fish has reached an internal temperature of 165 degrees Fahrenheit .

Hot smoking salmon , you can use a thermometer to monitor the fish’s internal temperature while it cooks in the smoker. You want to look for an internal temperature of 145 degrees Fahrenheit before removing it from the heat source. Some people remove their salmon when they reach 120 degrees Fahrenheit because they feel that this gives them a more tender result, but if you are looking for well cooked, hot smoked salmon then you should let it go to 145 degrees.

Cold vs hot smoking salmon: cold smokers give a more mellow smoke flavor, cold smoking for several hours will create a smoky flavored fish that is safe to eat but not as well cooked as you’d like it. Hot smokers result in a firmer smoked salmon with a higher peak temperature reached during cooking. Hot smoking takes place at higher temperatures and the food is fully cooked rather than just preserved by cold smoking.

How to cold smoke salmon

To cold smoke your salmon, set up your pellet smoker as directed above and cold smoke for 30 minutes. Once you have cold smoked salmon, you can cold smoke it for an additional 3 hours if desired. The cold smoking process is all about cold flavor along with preserving the food. Keep the cold smoker at a consistent temperature around 80 degrees F (26 degrees C) and use only hardwoods like hickory to cold smoke your salmon.

The cold smoking process is all about cold flavor along with preserving the food. Cold smoked foods are not cooked; they are only flavored by the smoldering chips in the box or pan of sawdust or pellets used to make cold smoke.

How to hot smoke salmon

To hot smoke your salmon, heat your pellet smoker as directed above and cold smoke for 1-2 hours using apple wood pellets or other mild flavored wood pellets. Once you have cold smoked salmon, you can cold smoke it for an additional 1 hour if desired.

The hot smoking process is all about cooking as well as flavoring the food at the same time, using a combination of heat and cold smoke. Hot smoked foods are cooked and flavored by cold smoke at the same time.

The Cold vs Hot Smoked Pickled Beets :

When cold smoking pickled beets , cold smoke them for 2-3 hours so they have a milder smoke flavor. Cold smoked pickled beets should have an internal temperature of 100-110 degrees Fahrenheit before removed from the smoker (and will usually take 6-8 hours to cold smoke).

When hot smoking pickled beets, you will need to preheat your smoker to 225 degrees Fahrenheit. Place the beets in the smoker and smoke them for 2 hours. The beets will have a smoky flavor and will be warmer than cold smoked beets.

What are the Health Benefits of Cold Smoking vs Hot Smoking?

smoked salmon

Cold smoked food tends to have less calories because it’s only flavored by the cold smoke rather than being cooked with the added fat from hot cooking methods. However, cold smoking doesn’t decrease toxins that are released when grilling meats at high heats. If making cold smoked salmon, it should be cured after cold smoking for 2-3 days before eating or refrigerating. This will kill any harmful bacteria that may be present.

Hot smoked food is more resistant to spoilage and has a longer shelf life than cold smoked food because the heat kills any harmful bacteria. However, hot smoking can also create carcinogens like heterocyclic amines (HCAs) and polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs) when cooking meat at high temperatures. These carcinogens have been linked with an increased risk of cancer.

When cold smoking pickled beets, you will need to preheat your smoker to 100-110 degrees Fahrenheit before adding the beets. Cold smoked pickled beets should have an internal temperature of 100-110 degrees Fahrenheit before removed from the smoker (and will continue to cook in the jar after removal).

Cold smoking is a process of flavoring food using cold smoke from an external source. You’ll also need something to generate cold smoke, like an electric cold smoker generator or a smokehouse kit. And finally, you’ll need a way to add moisture if your cold smoker doesn’t have a water pan.

FAQ on Cold Smoke vs Hot Smoke

What do I Need to Hot Smoke at Home?

In order to hot smoke at home you will need a smoker that can reach temperatures of at least 225 degrees Fahrenheit. If your smoker doesn’t have a built-in thermometer, you’ll need to purchase a separate one in order to monitor the temperature. You’ll also need wood chips or pellets to create smoke, and a way to add moisture if your smoker doesn’t have a water pan.

What do I Need to Cold Smoke at Home?

In order to cold smoke at home you will need a cold smoker, which is a simple metal or wood box that uses cold smoke from an external source. You’ll also need something to generate cold smoke, like an electric cold smoker generator or a smokehouse kit. And finally, you’ll need a way to add moisture if your cold smoker doesn’t have a water pan.

Can I Hot Smoke Fish in my Oven?

Yes, you can hot smoke fish in your oven by placing the fish on a wire rack above a baking sheet and smoking it at 225 degrees Fahrenheit for 2-3 hours. You can also use an outdoor smoker to hot smoke fish in your oven by placing the oven racks inside the smoker and smoking at 225 degrees Fahrenheit for 2-3 hours.

Can I Cold Smoke Cheese in my Oven?

No, cold smoking cheese is not possible in an oven. The low temperature and humidity required for cold smoking cannot be achieved in an ordinary kitchen oven. However, you can purchase a cold smoker that can be used in your oven.

Can I Cold Smoke Meat in my Oven?

Yes, you can cold smoke meat in your oven by placing the meat on a wire rack above a baking sheet and smoking it at 80-90 degrees Fahrenheit for 6-8 hours. You can also use an outdoor smoker to cold smoke meat in your oven by placing the oven racks inside the smoker and smoking at 80-90 degrees Fahrenheit for 6-8 hours.

What is the Difference Between Hot Smoking and Barbecuing?

Hot smoking is a process of cooking and flavoring food using heat and cold smoke at the same time. Barbecuing is a process of cooking food over direct heat from charcoal or wood.

Can I Cold Smoke in my Oven?

No, you cannot cold smoke in your oven. You can cold smoke using cold smoke generators or cold smoking boxes, but there is no way to cold smoke directly in an oven. Cold smoking refers to processing meat with cold smoke instead of the heat found in hot smoked foods.

Can I hot smoke in my oven?

Yes, you can hot smoke fish in your oven by placing the fish on a wire rack above a baking sheet and smoking it at 225 degrees Fahrenheit for 2-3 hours. You can also use an outdoor smoker to hot smoke fish in your oven by placing the oven racks inside the smoker and smoking at 225 degrees Fahrenheit for 2-3 hours.

Can I cold smoke in my oven?

No, cold smoking is not possible in an oven. The low temperature and humidity required for cold smoking cannot be achieved in an ordinary kitchen oven. However, you can purchase a cold smoker that can be used in your oven.

Final Thoughts on Cold Smoke vs Hot Smoke

In conclusion, cold smoking bacon, salmon, and pickled beets gives a milder smoke flavor than hot smoking. Cold smoking is a process that uses cold smoke without any heat, while hot smoking uses heat to cook the food as well as impart smoke flavors.

With cold smoking, you will need to use a curing agent like Prague Powder No. 1, and the bacon or salmon will have a pink color. With cold smoking, the process is slow and the fat will render out and make the bacon or salmon more moist. Hot smoking does not require a curing agent, and it can be done at a higher temperature with crispier results.

In cold smoking pickled beets, you cold smoke for 2-3 hours so they have a milder smoke flavor. You cold smoke if for 6-8 hours or until the beets reach 100-110 degrees Fahrenheit internally. In hot smoking pickled beets, you preheat your smoker to 225 degrees Fahrenheit and place the beets in the smoker to cook for 2 hours. The beets will have a smoky flavor and will be warmer than cold smoked beets.

The cold smoking process does not raise the temperature of the meat above 80 degrees Fahrenheit (26 C). There may be differences in cold smoking based on location, but cold smokers will generally only use wood for fuel to create copious amounts of smoke to infuse flavor into meats.

Hot smoking is usually between 120 F (49 C) and 180 F (82 C), often done with indirect heating by way of smoke or steam. The goal is usually to cook the meat as well as infusing it with flavor by cooking it over low heat with smoke.

To sum up, cold smoking and hot smoking are two different methods of smoking food. Cold smokers are used to cold smoke food without cooking it further, while hot smokers cook the food as well as adding smoky flavor. Cold Smoke vs Hot Smoke have their pros and cons, so it’s important to decide which one is best for the type of food you’re wanting to smoke.

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