Best Cold Smoke Generator – A Great Way To Add Rich Flavor To Your Food

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When most people think about outdoor cooking, I’m going to go out on a limb and bet that cold smoking isn’t one of the first visuals that comes to mind.

While it’s definitely not the same as firing up a grill or a smoker and cooking up a delicious meal on the spot, cold smoking is one of the most tried and true methods of flavoring and preserving your food.

In fact, cold smoking is a super common way of adding flavor to foods like cheese, salmon, nuts, and more.

To make your life easier, it helps out to have good equipment and a proper set up for cold smoking.  Namely, the best cold smoke generator will make the process a lot easier and more straight forward.

In this article, we’ll go over our top picks for the best cold smoke generator on the market today.  From there, we’ll get into some frequently asked questions about cold smoking along with some tips for how to do it at home!

Best Cold Smoke Generator Reviews

Smoke Daddy Big Kahuna Cold Smoke Generator

 

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When it comes to all around quality and performance for the best cold smoke generator, it’s hard to top the Smoke Daddy Big Kahuna Cold Smoke Generator.

Essentially, it’s an additional firebox with an airhose that you install to your smoker.  It’s extremely well made to last a long time and is not a risk for leaks.  It’s also designed to attach to just about any style or brand of unit.

All you have to do is load the hopper with fuel (typically wood chips – but it accepts other fuel), light it, then the cold smoke generator does its thing and pumps smoke into your cooking chamber.

This generator will provide a solid 3 to 4 hours of smoke off of a full hopper fill.  If you typically use larger wood chunks, it also comes with a heavy duty adjustable air pump which provides enough air supply to handle those larger wood pieces.

Things We Like:

  • Great for cold or hot smoking
  • Generates a ton of smoke
  • Lasts for 3 to 4 hours on a single hopper
  • Adjustable air flow
  • Nice permanent investment and value add to your smoker

Things We Don’t:

  • The fact that it has to be mounted to your smoker permanently isn’t ideal for all people’s situations
  • Could require DIY installation – if you aren’t comfortable with power tools be sure to research beforehand
  • Not portable

Smokehouse Products Smoke Chief

 

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If you’re in the need of something portable, the Smokehouse Products Smoke Chief cold smoke generator is a handy choice.  It’s designed to be a universal cold smoke generator.

That means this unit allows you to easily add smoke to any grill or smoker, as long as you have access to a 110VAC or 12Vdc power source.  The Smoke Chief ideal for camping and tailgating if you find yourself in need of a cold smoke generator!

An electric heating element is what heats and burns your fuel, eventually leading to smoke which gets pumped into your cooking chamber.

Efficiency wise, you can achieve up to 3 hours of smoke off of only 1 cup of fuel.  That’s a pretty nice ratio – and it means you won’t be blowing through your fuel when cold smoking.

Things We Like:

  • Portable and great for use anywhere with access to a 110VAC or 12Vdc power source
  • You don’t have to worry about lighting your own fuel thanks to the electric heating element
  • 3 hours of smoke per cup of fuel

Things We Don’t:

  • Requires an electric outlet – if you don’t have access you’re out of luck
  • Not portable
  • You could need to create or expand a hole in your grill or smoker for smoke to pump in properly

Meva Smoker Gun Infuser Set

 

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If you want something more simple and easy to use than a smoke generator that needs to be installed, the Meva Smoker Gun Infuser Set is a great choice and is designed for indoor use.

In fact, it’s designed for a wide swathe of applications.  You can smoke fish, cheese, nuts, veggies, and meats with this infuser.  Additionally, it works as a cocktail smoker if you’re the type who enjoys rich cocktails.

This cold smoke generator uses a small hopper that’s heated by a battery powered electrical heating unit.  The generated smoke is then funneled through a tube and into a dome that you place over your food or cocktail.

It’s a pretty simple looking mechanism – but it’s pretty genius how they pull it off.  You use very fine wood chips and only have to burn them for about 20 seconds to generate enough smoke to flavor your food.

The drawback of the Meva Smoker gun is that you’re not able to cold smoke a ton of food all at once.  The area under the dome is enough to smoke a couple of blocks of cheese at a time – so smoking a ton of food at once could take a while.

Things We Like:

  • Suited for indoor/apartment use and portable
  • Versatile – can add smoky flavor to fish, cheese, nuts, veggies, meats, and cocktails
  • Easy and straightforward to use – generate smoke with the press of a button
  • Comes with a dome cover and a lid cover for infusing liquids
  • AA battery operated

Things We Don’t:

  • The unit doesn’t come with a lot of extra fine wood chips to begin with – so plan on acquiring extra ones
  • There isn’t a ton of space under the dome, so this unit isn’t ideal for large quantities of cold smoked foods

Lanney Pellet Smoker Tube

 

 

Pellet tube smokers are a very simple way to cold smoke and are one of our top picks for best cold smoke generator.  Our favorite pellet tube smoker is affordable, and super easy to use.

All you need to get going is your tube, some pellets, and a lighter (ideally a butane torch).

Basically, you fill the tube with wood pellets, ignite one end of the tube, and place the tube inside of your grill or smoker.  This method can easily convert any grill, smoker, or drum into a cold smoking vessel.

The perforated design and hexagon tube shape allow the pellets remain lit and consistently burn to provide constant smoke for your food.

One thing to keep in mind when using a pellet tube smoker is that you’re creating a flame and putting it in the same vessel as your food.  With most foods that’s fine, but for foods like cheese which have a low melting point – the small amount of heat coming off of the tube can be a problem.

Fortunately, this can easily be remedied by placing the pellet smoker tube as far away as possible from your food and putting a diffuser plate or tray of ice in between your smoke tube and cheese.

All around, a pellet smoke tube is one of the cheapest, most practical ways to have a great cold smoking experience.

Things We Like:

  • Wood pellets are widely available and affordable
  • You can convert any outdoor cooking vessel into a cold smoker with a pellet tube
  • Smoking tubes are as portable as it gets
  • Works for both hot and cold smoking

Things We Don’t:

  • You need a lighting torch to ignite your pellets
  • Won’t blow smoke so it has to be in the same container as your food
  • You need a diffuser or ice in your container if you plan to cold smoke cheese

A-MAZE-N Maze Pellet Smoker

 

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The maze design is one of the best cold smoke generator designs too.  It’s passive, simple to use, and can achieve great results for your smoked food.

The A-MAZE-N Maze Pellet Smoker is our favorite maze pellet smoker.  Similar to a pellet smoker tube, you load the maze with wood pellets and ignite one of the corners.

From there the flame slowly works its way around the maze, gradually smoldering and burning your supply of wood pellets.

Mazes are ideal if you need a long, consistent burn.  The Maze Pellet Smoker can provide a full bodied, delicious smoke for up to 12 hours!  This makes it the ideal choice for larger hunks of meat that need time to fully absorb smoky flavor.

Things We Like:

  • Can provide a consistent burn for up to 12 hours
  • Wood pellets as fuel are easy to get ahold of and affordable
  • Portable and great for use on the go
  • Works for both hot and cold smoking

Things We Don’t:

  • You need a lighting torch to ignite your pellets
  • The 12 hour capacity might be overkill for some

What Is Cold Smoking Exactly?

So we’ve talked a lot about our picks for the best cold smoke generator, but what is cold smoking exactly?

Cold smoking is a process that’s used primarily to either flavor or preserve food, or both.  Smoke dries out food and adds a few properties that help to prevent foods from spoiling for quite a long time.  It’s why foods like smoked jerky last for so long.

In addition to preserving your food, it turns out that people love smoky flavor – it enhances quite a few different meats and other foods.

As you’ve seen from our best cold smoke generator reviews, cold smoking can be done in many ways.  You can do it under a small dome enclosure in your kitchen, all the way to commercial operations where entire rooms are used to cold smoke.

No matter how big or small your operation is, the name of the game is all about burning a fire in an offset chamber, then funneling the smoke into a separate chamber where your food rests and flavors.  The idea is to maximize smoke flow and minimize the amount of heat that transfers with the smoke.

And that’s precisely the difference between hot and cold smoking.  With hot smoking, the main goal is to actually cook the food on your smoker in addition to adding smoky flavor.  You might smoke a brisket or a cut of beef at 225°F – whereas you’d cold smoke a cheese or a cured beef at 80°F or less.

Which Foods Can I Cold Smoke?

If you’re new to the world of cold smoking, the list of which foods are suited for this practice might surprise you.  It’s an extensive list!

Here are some of our favorite foods to cold smoke, but please note that this is by no means an exhaustive list.

  • Butter
  • Cheese(brie, cheddar, gouda, gruyere, Monterey jack, mozzarella, Swiss, and more)
  • Cocktails (whiskey based cocktails like an old fashioned are easiest but the possibilities are endless)
  • Fish (many kinds, salmon is a favorite)
  • Garlic
  • Lemons
  • Limes
  • Nuts (all kinds)
  • Peppers (all kinds)
  • Oils (olive and avocado)
  • Olives
  • Peaches

And the list goes on – if you have other ideas and think a certain food could be enhanced with some smoky flavor, go for it!

What Are the Best Woods for Cold Smoking?

Which type of wood you use for smoking will believe it or not impact the flavor of your food.

From a high level, you should only use hardwoods that are commonly known to be safe for smoking.  Evergreens, while they produce a lot of smoke when burned, will release toxins into your food that are not safe to eat – and will make your food taste pretty bad.

So with that in mind, here are some of our favorite types of wood for cold smoking:

  • Mesquite
  • Hickory
  • Pecan
  • Oak
  • Alder
  • Apple
  • Cherry

These are listed pretty much in order from strongest at the top to least in strength of smoky flavor.  If you’re new to smoking, we recommend starting out with one of the lighter fruitwoods like Apple or Cherry to get your feet wet.

A Few Safety Tips

It’s also important to clarify that when cold smoking meats, we are almost always talking about cold smoking meats that have already been cooked all the way or cured.  You don’t want to make a habit of letting food, especially uncooked meat or poultry, sit out at room temperature.  That’s a breeding ground for nasty bacteria that can do some serious harm.

In fact, the folks over at amazingribs.com don’t advise for you to ever cold smoke meats unless you are supremely confident in what you’re doing.  I have to say I tend to agree with that advice, and personally I stick to cold smoking cheese, nuts, butter, oils, fruits, and the occasional cocktail.

If you are going to venture into cold smoking meats, make sure you take necessary precautions, and do research on how to safely handle the foods you’re working with.  Use care when handling raw meats especially, cure your meat as soon as possible after purchase, and store your cured meats in airtight storage.

Best Cold Smoke Generator – Wrap Up

If you came into this article wondering what’s the best cold smoke generator – I hope we helped to point you in the right direction!  Maybe you learned some valuable information about how to cold smoke along the way too.

At the end of the day, it’s one incredibly fun way to enhance your food and unlock flavors that weren’t there before.  You really can’t go wrong with any of the generators we recommended on this list.

Which one did you end up with?  What was the first food you cold smoked with your generator?  We want to hear about it in the comments section below!