This article is all about the best Substitutes for Liquid Smoke, so if you are interested in knowing about Liquid smoke substitutes then keep reading this article till the end.

Have you run out of liquid smoke to give that smoky and delicious flavor to your meat or fish dishes? Or perhaps you simply do not consider it a healthier choice for your kitchen?

The few good substitutes for liquid smoke are smoked paprika, chipotle powder, smoked salt, canned chipotle peppers, smoked tea, and charcoal. 

In this article, we will see how to use substitutes for liquid smoke to impart a smokey flavor to your meat or even vegetarian preparations. 

Now those of you who don’t know what exactly is liquid smoke, let me explain it to you real quick.

What is Liquid Smoke?

If you have ever been to the kitchen then you most probably know what are flavoring agents, right? there are different types of flavoring agents we use while making food, just like Liquid smoke is also a type of flavoring agent that we use in our food.

Now you must be thinking what is it used for? Well, as the name already suggests, Liquid Smoke is used to give your food a smoky flavor.

When you want to achieve the smoky taste in your food but without smoking the actual food, you can then use Liquid smoke.

You can use Liquid Smoke in any food items, I mostly use Liquid Smoke in meats, sauces, and dips. People also used it in bacon and jerky.

I once tried Liquid smoke in my tofu, and Oh Boy! It really tasted good, so if you are a vegan I highly suggest you add a smoky flavor to your plan-based proteins like Tofu or seitan using Liquid smoke.

However, there is a saying that there are some health risks associated with smoke-flavored products which I don’t really think so but if you are dicey about using it then I suggest you first the ingredients lists and you can also consult a nutritionist for the same.

Use of Liquid Smoke and Its Substitutes

Liquid smoke is a concentrated water-soluble solution made by condensing wood under HDR(Highly Destructive Radiation) treatment. 

Liquid smoke is very commonly used by everyone these days to flavor meat preparations with a smoky flavor like brisket, pork, and other meat preparations. 

On a very natural basis, the smoky flavor is imparted to the meat and vegetable preparations by using a barbeque or a smoker. But, it is not always possible to use these as it takes a lot of time to prepare your food using these devices.

On occasions when we are short of time, we use liquid smoke to impart that smoky flavor to the meat preparations. 

However, the smoky flavor can be replicated even without using liquid smoke using substitutes for liquid smoke. 

The 6 Best Substitutes for Liquid Smoke

If you cannot get your hands on some liquid smoke as well, you need not bother about not getting that delicious smoky flavor. You can easily use the following Substitutes for Liquid Smoke:

Smoked Paprika

Substitutes for Liquid Smoke

Smoked paprika is one of the top Substitutes for Liquid Smoke that I would recommend. Also known as Spanish paprika it is made by smoking pimento peppers slowly over oak wood. No wonder it has that woody, smoky, and spicy flavor. 

Smoked paprika has a nice red color and comes in three varieties: sweet, bittersweet, and hot. Which variety you should use depends totally on your personal preference. 

It is available in both power and 

You can use it easily to give that nice, round, smoky flavor to any of your dishes, be it mac and cheese, baked vegetables, steak, or pork.

How to Use:

Simply add ½ teaspoon or 2.84 grams of smoked paprika instead of 1 teaspoon of liquid smoke in any of your dishes. 

Chipotle Powder

Substitutes for Liquid Smoke

The next substitute on the list is Chipotle powder. Chipotle powder is made up of dried and smoked jalapeno peppers. It is made by a process of slowly smoking jalapeno peppers over a wood fire and will give you that nice smoky, and earthy flavor to your dishes.   

Chipotle powder has a lovely dark orange color and you can use it to give a smoky hint to your pasta, salsa, and chili dishes.

How to Use:

Just like smoked paprika, add ½ teaspoon or 2.84 grams of smoked paprika instead of 1 teaspoon of liquid smoke to your recipe. 

Smoked Salt

Substitutes for Liquid Smoke

Smoked salt is an aromatic salt made from regular salt. To make this, regular salt is smoked slowly over two weeks, over a bark-free wood fire. 

Smoked salt has a golden-brown color and a deep, smoky flavor. It comes in a variety of flavors depending on the type of bark-free wood used to smoke it. Some of the woods used are applewood, oak, hickory, alder, and mesquite. 

I would recommend you use smoked salt for your fish, steak, and vegetable dishes. It is one of my favorite Substitutes for Liquid Smoke

How to Use:

Instead of 2 teaspoons of liquid smoke use 1 teaspoon of smoked salt. Although, a word of caution, since smoked salt is made from regular salt, use it carefully and avoid adding regularly to the same dish else your dish might become too salty and therefore inedible.

Canned Chipotle Peppers 

Canned chipotle peppers are made by smoking jalapenos and later on, canned in adobo sauce. 

Canned chipotle peppers will have a reddish-brown color and will impart that pleasantly smoky flavor to all your dishes. I prefer the ones that have a deep-red color.

Most commonly used for preparations like soups, stews, sauces, and marinade for meat dishes like chicken and pork, canned chipotle peppers have a distinct smoky, spicy, and somewhat sweet flavor.  

How to Use:

I prefer using the liquid from canned chipotle peppers. For 1 teaspoon of liquid smoke, I suggest using 1 teaspoon of canned chipotle peppers liquid. 

Smoked Tea

Another substitute that I  will recommend is smoked tea. Also known as lapsang souchong, it is a type of Chinese black tea, which is made by drying the tea leaves using smoke from a pinewood fire. 

Smoked tea leaves have a blackish or dark gray color. It has hints of pine and burnt sugar and will give a distinct smoky, campfire-like aroma. 

Smoked tea leaves can also be used as a meat rub for your favorite meat dishes. It is best used for meat rubs, and stews because of its distinct herbal notes. 

How to Use:

To use it as a substitute, I add the tea leaves to boiling water and let it stay there for 3-5 minutes. Once the flavor is infused, I then add this liquid to the recipe. 

I even use these smoked tea leaves to make a seasoning blend combined with other seasoning ingredients to sprinkle it on the dish to give a nice smoky flavor. 


Lastly, the most unconventional yet closer to the actual way meat or vegetable preparations get the smoky flavor is to use a piece of charcoal. No, no! You do not add it to the dish. Instead, you use it to burn and give that smoky touch to your recipes.

In case, you are short of time and do not have liquid smoke or its other substitutes, 

The major advantage of using charcoal to add a smoky flavor is that you can add a hint of smoke to your desserts too. Imagine using a hot and spicy powder for your dessert!

How to Use:

Take a piece of charcoal and hold it using a pair of tongs over a stove. Let it burn till it reaches the stage of smoking. Place your dish in a large bowl, place the smoking piece of charcoal in the large bowl and cover it with a lid to let the food be infused with smoky tones. 

Also Read:


Fortunately, there are several substitutes available for Liquid Smoke, so even if you are out of Liquid smoke, don’t worry, you can just try the above-suggested natural substitutes for Liquid smoke.

In last, I would only like to say that don’t be afraid to get creative in the kitchen, go and try out the above-suggested best substitutes for liquid smoke.

If you also know some Liquid smoke substitutes that we didn’t mention in this article, do comment down below and we will try to include them in our list. Happy Cooking!

By Aditya Verma

David McGill who is the owner of the American City Diner blog is a big-time foodie, professionally he is a software developer who works at Amazon Web Services in Seattle, Washington. In his free time, he tries different food recipes in his home, and whenever he gets a chance he tries to visit and review restaurants across the state.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *