This Is What You Can Substitute For Liquid Smoke

Liquid smoke is a kind of magic in a bottle — just a few drops of this powerful substance will add the tang of wood smoke to meats, veggies, pasta, and even cocktails. It's not the kind of ingredient that can be easily duplicated with a DIY homemade version, however, since its name isn't just a clever marketing gimmick but an actual description: Liquid smoke is made out of actual wood smoke that is condensed (everyone remember their high school chemistry lessons?), collected, and filtered, then bottled, labeled, and transported to the supermarket shelf (via Food52).

Should you wish to try out a recipe calling for this ingredient, but you can't find any liquid smoke readily available, there are a few ingredients you could use to try and add a little of that smoky flavor, although none of these will be an exact duplicate and may require making significant adjustments to the recipe.

Smoked spices as liquid smoke stand-ins

LeafTV suggests using a spice that has been smoked, such as smoked paprika or chipotle powder, as these will lend their smoky flavoring to any dish. Gourmet Sleuth recommends half 1/2 teaspoon of chipotle powder or 1 teaspoon of liquid from a can of chipotles in adobo. Hickory smoke flavoring in powdered form is available as a barbecue rub, and, as it contains liquid smoke flavoring, can also be used as a substitute. It's also possible to use tea leaves with a smoky flavor, such as those found in lapsang souchong or Russian Caravan tea. These leaves must first be steeped in boiling water, with the resulting tea itself (strained of leaves) being used as the liquid smoke substitute.

Use smoked meats in place of liquid smoke

As liquid smoke is often used in meat recipes as a quicker, easier substitute for smoking the actual meat, using a smoked meat instead of liquid smoke plus meat kind of seems like you're reverse-engineering the recipe. If the liquid smoke is being used to add a little flavor to a side dish such as baked beans, however, and you happen to have a smoked ham hock or some smoked chicken or turkey on hand, these are sure to make for a delicious liquid smoke substitute, as well as add extra heartiness and protein to your dish. They will, however, render it incapable of being enjoyed by any of your vegetarian friends. Liquid smoke itself, consisting of only wood smoke residue and water, contains no meat or meat by-products, so it is actually vegan, as well as fat-free and calorie-free (via Colgin).