The Salty Ingredient Alton Brown Uses To Add Smokiness To Grill-Less Barbecue

If you live in an apartment or other housing situation where grilling isn't allowed, you might feel you're missing out on some of the best parts of summer, like the smoky char of a grilled steak or a succulent, mesquite-scented rack of ribs. However, all the amazing smoke-enhanced food that comes with the season is achievable in your kitchen. Take Alton Brown's word for it.

If you're grilling without a grill and miss the smokiness, you can buy a bottle of liquid smoke to add a hit of barbecued goodness to anything from burgers to ribs to chicken. A word of caution, though, liquid smoke is good but is easy to overdo. You can't subtract liquid smoke, so use it sparingly. Brown recommends brushing on the liquid smoke and sprinkling on all sides of the meat, letting it dry three or four times before putting it on a hot, cast iron grill pan.

You can also use a wide variety of smoked salts to either season meat or as a smoky hit post-cooking. Brown uses Danish smoked salts, one of the 12 types of salt available to home cooks. The salt is from the Dead Sea but processed in Denmark through cold smoking and is very smoky. It can be overpowering, so use it as a finishing salt or place it on the table for guests to use. It's useful for adding a smoked flavor to vegetables and more robust meats that can stand up to strong flavors.

You can get creative with sources of smoky flavor for your next grill-less barbecue

If you're looking for other ways to add smokiness to your non-barbecue barbecue, there are tons of options. If you're looking for other sources of smoke for your spice rubs, try smoked paprika and chipotle powder. Both spices are pretty standard additions to any barbecue spice rub. With smoked paprika, you have the options of sweet or spicy, and a little goes a long way. Chipotle peppers (dried and smoked jalapeños) and adobo seasoning are staples of Mexican cuisine and can add a sweet smokiness to rubs or salsas. 

Even tea can be used for a hint of smoke. Lapsang souchong will give your next barbecue spice rub a hint of smoky umami flavor. It's even a great substitute for liquid smoke. Just grind about a teaspoon in your spice grinder. It'll keep for about three months. Also, skip the hickory smoked bacon fat and opt for smoked olive oil instead for brushing on finished meats or in side dressings and sauces. There are so many ways to be creative with your no-grill barbecue that you can have that smoky, summery flavor all year round. Get creative and experiment!