Using Liquid Smoke With Sous Vide

If you’re a fellow BBQ lover, you know that the weather and our work routine don’t always let us enjoy our favorite meats smoked on a grill. But there is a solution. You can experiment by cooking sous vide with liquid smoke.

If you’re wondering how to do that, I’m here to turn you into a sous vide liquid smoke pro.

Using liquid smoke with sous vide is just as easy as with any other cooking method. It can be poured into the vacuum bag or applied directly to the food. However, certain tips can help you to achieve the best flavor. Read on to find them out.

sous vide liquid smoke

What Is Liquid Smoke?

Liquid smoke is often shunned in the BBQ community as it’s a simplified, cheap, and artificial way to give a dish a smoky flavor. Indeed, liquid smoke eliminates the need to make a real fire.

But liquid smoke is, in fact, a completely natural product made by condensing burning wood smoke. A few drops of this liquid instantly give food a smoky flavor.

Furthermore, you can choose exactly which type of wood smoke you want to enjoy in your meal.

Liquid smoke was invented back in the late 1800s by Ernest Wright. He noticed black liquid running from his chimney and realized it appeared when smoke came in contact with cold air.

This smoke then forms condensate, which is the liquid smoke we use today. In other words, liquid smoke is a natural phenomenon.

bottle of stubb's hickory liquid smoke

Does Liquid Smoke Work With Sous Vide?

Liquid smoke is a real savior for those who only own a pan but are keen on BBQ ribs or pulled pork.

And naturally, it’s just as great for sous vide as it is for a saucepan or oven dish. You can add it as a finishing touch to ready meat or use it during preparation.

How Do You Use Liquid Smoke With Sous Vide?

Using liquid smoke is simple no matter which cooking method you opt for. But as always, with sous vide, certain rules apply.

I’ll look at two ways of using liquid smoke for sous vide (either before or after cooking the meat) with the example of a smoky pulled pork recipe.

Method 1: Add the Liquid Smoke Directly into the Cooking Bag

First, season the meat with the spices of your choice and place it in a vacuum-sealed bag. You can use either specialized sous vide bags or a regular zip lock, but make sure there are no gaps.

For a whole pork shoulder, add about half a teaspoon of liquid smoke. Don’t go overboard – it’s easier to add more once the pork is cooked than to remove excess smoke.

There’s no need to distribute the liquid evenly as it will mix with natural meat juices during preparation.

Set the sous vide machine to the necessary temperature once the meat is in the bag and place the bag into a water bath. Fold the top of the bag over the bath edge to prevent juices and liquid smoke from damaging the seal.

Set a timer. Once the timer goes off, take the meat out and pat it dry. You can use the juice mixed with liquid smoke to make a BBQ sauce.

Method 2: Add the Liquid Smoke After the Meat is Cooked

In this case, the flavor won’t be as prominent and natural. However, it still does the job if you want to achieve a subtle smoky flavor.

For this method, cook your food as usual. Before taking it out of the sous vide bag, add some liquid smoke to the bag. Don’t drain the natural juices from the food out of the bag; let them mix with the liquid smoke.

Then, take your food out of the bag and enjoy.

Don’t apply liquid smoke directly to your food. This won’t do any real harm but may make the taste overpowering.

Instead, if you’ve already drained the natural food juices from the bag, apply liquid smoke with a brush distributing it evenly and thinly.

Tips on Using Liquid Smoke With Sous Vide

Now that you know how to sous vide with liquid smoke, you may find the tips I’ll share in this section helpful. Read on to find out how to make meat that tastes as if it came straight from the grill without leaving your kitchen.

Don’t Go Overboard

A common complaint of BBQ lovers about liquid smoke is that it tastes fake. However, this issue is nearly always associated with too much liquid smoke added.

It’s a natural product that can’t taste fake by definition. Yet this product is highly concentrated. A few drops go a long way, so ensure you don’t pour too much into your sous vide bag.

Aim for under half a teaspoon for any recipe.

Choose High-Quality Liquid Smoke

First things first: You must find high-quality liquid smoke.

Next, check the ingredient list for artificial preservatives and flavors. High-quality liquid smoke should contain only natural ingredients, such as water, natural smoke flavor, vinegar, and natural coloring.

Mix Liquid Smoke With Sauces and Marinades

Liquid smoke is excellent on its own, but who doesn’t like their BBQ ribs or pulled pork with a spicy sauce or marinade?

Add liquid smoke directly into the brine or sauce before marinating rather than into the bag once the marinating is complete. This will ensure better smoke penetration and distribution, resulting in more natural flavor.

You can also experiment with liquid smoke flavors to achieve different flavor undertones.

Use Smoky Salt for Subtle Flavor

Instead of using liquid smoke when cooking your food, you can make smoky salt.

Simply pour some liquid smoke on iodized or table salt and let it stay in a closed container for a while. Then, rub your meat with this salt before cooking sous vide to give it a subtle smoky flavor.

In Summary

Hopefully, this guide will help you enjoy your favorite meals regardless of the weather, your workload, or other circumstances.

Liquid smoke erases the taste distinction between food smoked on a real grill and cooked sous vide.

Furthermore, sous vide is an even healthier method of cooking than the grill, preserving all the food’s nutritional components.