Cold smoking vs hot smoking

Cold Smoking vs Hot Smoking- Similarities and Differences

Smoking your favorite food with your family and friends at the weekend is indeed one joyful activity. Whether you are a hot smoking freak or a cold smoking lover, both smoking techniques are used to add delicious smoked flavor to a variety of foods. However, knowing the difference between cold and hot smoking can help get the most out of smoking. Which one is better for you? Let’s find out in this cold smoking vs. hot smoking comparison.

Cold Smoking vs Hot Smoking- An Ultimate Comparison

What is hot smoking?

Hot smoking is used for cooking meat or any food for immediate consumption. The typical smoking temperature of hot smoking ranges from 140 to 300 degrees Fahrenheit depending on the food type. That’s where electric smokers play a vital role in preparing food without any hassle.

The estimated time frame of hot smoking is between 12 to 24 hours.

Hot smoking process

Most people love hot smoking as it is faster and effortless than cold smoking. It may take more time than regular barbecuing and grilling on gas grills, but the rich smoky flavors are something you can wait for. Here are some easy and quick ways for hot smoking.

Make sure to take the temperature of your smoker to 175 degrees Fahrenheit.

Place the meat or any food next to the smoker in the chamber. Never place the food directly on the heat source, or it will lead to uneven cooking.

Baste the meat with any basting and then close the smoker.

Set the timer and temperature using the control panel of your smoker.

Things needed for hot smoking

Things are food, smoker, and wood are must-haves for hot smoking, but beginners can be confused with the choice. Just collect your favorite sausages, food, wood chips, and an electric smoker.

A smoker with a digital control panel allows smoking food ideally. It offers auto on/off, temperature, and time settings to avoid any inconvenience. It helps to keep track of the desired temperature to ensure the meat doesn’t get ruined. The thermostat control helps for even and consistent smoking and ensures great smoky flavor all around.

A stand electric smoker allows smoking

  • 2 turkeys
  • 4 racks of ribs
  • 6 chickens

There are smokers with a wood chip loading system on the side or front for adding wood chips without opening the main door. If you don’t open the door, it will help to keep the smoke and heat inside the cooking chamber and ensure great smoked meat.

What are the best foods for hot smoking?

You can hot smoke almost any food. Meat doesn’t need to be cured and requires a light seasoning rub. The most famous hot smoke foods are

  • Vegetables
  • Seafood
  • Meat including beef, poultry, etc
  • Nuts and cheese

Things to avoid during hot smoking

One prime thing to avoid during hot smoking is to refrain from utilizing treated or resinous wood varieties. Such types of wood, including pine, release toxins when heated up, which can be dangerous for your health.

Don’t open or lift the smoker lid frequently to check the food. It results in smoke and heat loss which can also extend the smoking time.

What is Cold Smoking?

This smoking technique is used for food preservation. Hot smoking is a fast way to cook meat, whereas cold smoking is known for imparting maximum flavor. However, it is essential to maintain the temperature during the procedure.

Cold smoking mainly relies on smoke created by low heat for penetrating the food. Using cold smoking gives the meat an ideal smoky flavor, and when stored properly, it can last for months.

Cold Smoking process

The cold smoking process is straightforward. Here is a cold-smoking process.

You need a box or chamber through which smoke is pumped from 12 to 24 hours.

Make sure to keep the chamber at a constant temperature between 20 to 25 degrees Fahrenheit. Don’t forget to keep the smoke at a decent distance away from the food. A tube or pipe is used to channel the smoke towards the meat.

It is essential to cure the food before starting cold smoking. Curing helps to eliminate the extra moisture from the food so that your favorite smoked flavor can conveniently penetrate through the food particles. Also, it helps to keep cold smoked food fresher for an extended time without needing refrigeration.

Things need for cold smoking

Cold smokers are different from hot smokers in many ways. As you are going to place the food away from the smoke, you will need more than your typical smoker.

Cold smoker with two separate chambers

Make sure to choose a cold smoker with two separate chambers, including one as a heat source and another to store the food. You may need to modify the current smoker or utilize a separate smoke sauce.

When you are modifying a smoker, don’t forget to add a tube between the two chambers so that the smoker can properly reach the food.

Smoke generator

A smoke generator is a device used to attach it to the existing grill or smoker. The main purpose of the smoke generator is to pump out enough smoke to give the food that delicious smoked flavor.

Fuel source that burns slowly

The best choice for slow-burning is wood. It is vital to select a wood that offers enough smoke.

If you don’t want to modify the existing smoker for cold smoking, it is wise to buy a cold smoke generator.

What are the best foods for cold smoking?

A cold smoker is unique and tastes awesome when prepared properly. Take a look at some of the best foods you can smoke.

  • Country hams
  • Bacon
  • Quality cuts of beef
  • Salmon
  • Sausages
  • Cheese

Things to avoid during cold smoking

The most important thing to avoid during cold smoking is letting the temperature level drop. A dropped temperature results in bacterial growth and may lead to severe health issues. If you are new to cold smoking, make sure your equipment is working properly and can reach the necessary temperature.

Best wood for smoking

Woods are different from each other when it comes to smoking. Let’s get an idea of the best woods for smoking foods.


Maple is a decent choice to add some sweetness to the smoky flavor.


It offers a mild smoky taste which is great for smoking meat. You can use oak to smoke sausages, brisket, beef, and lamb.


This wood is the best choice for adding sweet, non-overpowering flavor. Alder can be used to smoke fish, salmon, and other kinds of seafood.


Hickory can be tricky to use as excessive use leads to bitter taste, whereas improper use results in strange flavors. It imparts a bacon taste and is ideal for poultry and different types of red meats. You can also use hickory to smoke cheese.

Final words

A unique, juicy smoked flavor differentiates smoking from other cooking techniques. From cheese to a flavorful meat cut, it is easy to smoke anything. No matter what smoking method you prefer, cold smoking and hot smoking are ideal ways to enjoy tasty, smoky flavored food. Both cold and hot smoking has distinctive qualities and is great for a wide variety of foods. It depends on your preference to select the right smoking method for foods.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

  • Does cold smoking take longer?

Yes, cold smoking takes longer as the process is about drying out the meat slowly and eliminating the excessive moisture from the food.

  • Hold long will smoked meat last?

Smoked meat can last for four days when refrigerated within two hours of being removed from the cold smoker. However, when properly frozen and wrapped, cold smoked meat can last up to three months.

  • What are the best hot smoking temperatures?

The ideal hot smoking temperature ranges from 126 to 176 degrees Fahrenheit. Within such a temperature range, all foods are fully cooked, moist and flavorful. Don’t allow the temperature to get hotter than 185 degrees Fahrenheit as the food may shrink excessively or even split.

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