"Why not just use the oven or a crock pot, then toss in some liquid smoke?"

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diversification

Smoke Blower
Original poster
Mar 19, 2021
77
24
"Why not just use the oven or a crock pot, and then toss in some liquid smoke instead of messing around with a smoker?"

This question is one that a friend asked me after hearing me talk about my experiences using my pellet smoker, and my sometimes-disappointing results (not enough smoke flavor.) I honestly did not know how to answer. On one hand, I have to believe there's no way we've all just been casually wasting our time - if there was an easier way, I can't imagine there'd be so many smoking enthusiasts around. Still, I never really considered what my friend asked until now, and it's bothering me a bit. I kinda gave him a eyeroll and dismissed it as a silly premise, but later I realized I was having trouble thinking through *why* it was a silly premise.

I know a lot of the members here have years and years into smoking, so I'm assuming you've encountered a skeptical friend posing this question before. How do you answer? I'm pretty sure that it *is* a silly question, but *why* is that the case? Have any of you taken it an extra step and done a side-by-side to prove the difference to yourself or others?

Sorry, I know this is probably silly, but it's bugging me.


EDIT: Ok, so people are saying there's a big difference, but that mostly seems to be based on liquid smoke tasting bad. Does anyone know why liquid smoke tastes bad, while regular smoking tastes good? Isn't liquid smoke basically just condensed smoke?
 
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These answers aren't making me feel a lot better about this guys. Are you telling me that the only difference is I get the joy of the process? That simply cannot be all there is to it... Please tell me that's not all there is to it...
 
I'm not a "supertaster" like my wife, but I cannot stand the flavor of liquid smoke. I'm a "nominal" taster, like the vast majority of us. Liquid smoke has a stale flavor I do not like.

I bought a bottle a while ago when I was experimenting with making BBQ sauces. It did more to ruin the sauce than help it. I still have that bottle of LS in the fridge. The "best by" date is 2020.
 
Ok, starting to feel a bit better - thank you noboundaries. I don't have much experience with liquid smoke, so if it's kinda crappy then that's a pretty good answer!
 
Anyone that says that has never had GOOD smoked food. The reason it is bugging you is that you obviously have never made anything that good yet. It takes time and dedication. I was there. This place helped fix that. I dialed in my technique running 8 butts for daughters grad party. I ran one each weekend, took notes, and slowly built it up. Eventually I got where I wanted but there comes a point where the quality of your work gets good enough that ANYONE can tell it was made in a smoker.
 
Liquid smoke is gross 🤮. No bark in a crock pot. Might have to clean the oven and the flavor isn’t the same either. And…. Smoking outside is funner! And more condusuive to beer drinking!
 
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Liquid smoke is like eating a tv dinner or instant coffee. There is just no comparison.
Smoking vs liquid smoke is like comparing a filet to peanut butter and jelly sandwich
 
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The reason it is bugging you is that you obviously have never made anything that good yet.

I've made plenty that's good, so perhaps not as *obviously* as you seem to seem to *assume.* As mentioned in my other comment, I don't have a lot of experience with liquid smoke, but am familiar with how it's made (basically condensed smoke.)

From what people are saying there's a dramatic flavor difference. No one seems to be able to point out *why* the dramatic difference exists, so I'm still hopeful that someone will share that, but I guess for the time being the comments indicating the flavor of liquid smoke is just bad will have to do.
 
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My supertaster wife can tell the difference between a meat smoked with a water pan and a meat dry smoked. I've blind-tested her just to make sure and she nailed it 100% of the time. She says meat smoked with a water pan tastes bitter and acrid, "like liquid smoke," her words, not mine.

A water pan makes more smoke adhere to the meat through condensation (cold meat, hotter chamber). If you've ever loaded meat too early during a wet smoke, while the smoke is white or gray, not blue, that's what liquid smoke reminds me of.

Beyond that, I got nothing to compare it to.
 
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I'm guessing there's some information missing... guessing your friend definitely doesn't smoke anything or possibly grill anything or cook even?
To begin with, yes I believe the biggest difference is flavor. I've never used liquid smoke, but there's some in the cabinet. Don't have a clue what my wife uses or used it for. Lack of flavor in a pellet smoker... sometimes , but can be augmented with smoke tube. It's the ease of use compared to babysitting a stick burner all day.
So the why is bothering you... is it bothering you enough you're contemplating selling your pellet smoker and buying some liquid smoke?
But I think the main reason is personal preference! And the love of the process. Some people don't understand that. Why go to a park for a picnic when you could walk right outside your house and eat on the porch or deck? Why go to the river or lake to go fishing... wouldn't it be easier to buy fish at the store? Why does someone own a Harley Davidson and spend hours riding in the heat, the wind, the rain... wouldn't it be easier to take the car and be out of the elements?
So maybe that is the " why". We all have different interests and things we enjoy.

Now I want a beer !

Ryan
 
I'm guessing there's some information missing... guessing your friend definitely doesn't smoke anything or possibly grill anything or cook even?
To begin with, yes I believe the biggest difference is flavor. I've never used liquid smoke, but there's some in the cabinet. Don't have a clue what my wife uses or used it for. Lack of flavor in a pellet smoker... sometimes , but can be augmented with smoke tube. It's the ease of use compared to babysitting a stick burner all day.
So the why is bothering you... is it bothering you enough you're contemplating selling your pellet smoker and buying some liquid smoke?
But I think the main reason is personal preference! And the love of the process. Some people don't understand that. Why go to a park for a picnic when you could walk right outside your house and eat on the porch or deck? Why go to the river or lake to go fishing... wouldn't it be easier to buy fish at the store? Why does someone own a Harley Davidson and spend hours riding in the heat, the wind, the rain... wouldn't it be easier to take the car and be out of the elements?
So maybe that is the " why". We all have different interests and things we enjoy.

Now I want a beer !

Ryan
Mmmmm beer
 
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I believe I'd answer his question with one of my own. Why is it that restaurants that specialize in BBQ invest 10s of thousands of dollars on commercial smokers if the same results could be had by using liquid smoke? I played around some with liquid smoke before I started actually smoking meat and there's really no comparison in the meats I produce on my smokers. I also enjoy the whole process as others have said.
 
Why drink wine when you can drink grape juice spiked with vodka? Answer- while one is quick and will get the job done giving you a buzz, the two are nowhere near the same in flavor. Same with liquid smoke and real smoked meat. Wine is complex...so is real smoke.
 
Liquid smoke is condensation, the type we try to avoid from happening inside our smokers, but that is essentially how they make liquid smoke and harvest it. In small measure this can add a “smokiness“ to some things like sauces or soup.

When smoking or bbqing meats with wood (pellets) or charcoal, we try very hard to hold a thin blue smoke. This TBS is clean and interacts with the meat on a chemical and molecular level. Chemicals in that clean smoke, like NO and CO react with meat to create a smoke ring, that pink ring on the surface of good bbq. Other chemicals react to create flavor and the slight drying process to the meat from bbqing creates bark, or a flavor/texture that cannot be duplicated with other methods. Bbq or smoking is a complex process, and getting that process right is sometimes a bit difficult, but when it all comes together it’s magical. Liquid smoke, which is condensate of smoke, or smoke, water and creosote is no replacement for the natural process of cooking with wood exhaust that is clean and TBS. This method has been used for thousands of years. Liquid smoke is a crutch for things like sauce but has no place on my meats.

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Try making any of these meats with liquid smoke. It’s not happening my friend. The flavor of these meats is deep, rich and exceptional.
 
I'll offer a counter point. I had a friend that lived in a boat. Boat didn't have an oven and certainly no grill, lol. He made pulled pork in a crock pot with a mustard binder and added liquid smoke at the end. Was it barbeque? Arguably not. Was it tasty as hell and made a great pulled pork sandwich? You betcha. The smoke didn't make it smokey though, just enough to add some complexity.

You and your friend should do a blind taste test. Have him make some liquid "smoked" thing and you cook the same cut. Have some people over and do a taste test. Then post up the results. 😁
 
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I would make the argument that the flavor of smoke simply can’t be properly stored. It is so much better if smoke is generated and exposed to food fresh. It would be similar to eating a taco with dried cilantro or having your cereal with powdered milk. Smoke is best served fresh.
 
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