Cold Smoking Vs Hot Smoking: Which Do You Prefer In 2021?

Do you enjoy smoking food? If you want to smoke food, it is essential to know the differences between cold smoking vs hot smoking. Both methods of cooking food involve a smoker that uses heat in some way.

Smoking is a process that uses heat to cook food. Cold smokers smoke from smoldering wood chips or sawdust to flavor the food, while hot smokers use direct heat from charcoal or gas grills.

Which type of smoker do you prefer? The type you choose depends on how much time you have before your food is ready to eat and what kind of food you’re cooking.

We‘ll go over the differences between these two types of smoking in this article so that you can make an informed decision about which one is best for your needs!

Hot Smoking Vs Cold Smoking – What’s The Main Difference?

In general, after hours of researching, we finally collected some primary differences between these two smoking methods. We will go into details about these methods below; therefore, don’t worry too much!

Temperature Range

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The difference between hot smoking and cold smoking is simply the temperature at which they are done.

In general, hot smoking takes place at temperatures above 100°C (212°F). Cold smoking usually takes place at temperatures below 30°C (86°F).

The ideal temperature range for cold smoking is between 20 and 32°C (68 to 90.5°F).

However, individual taste also plays a vital role in the process because some people may prefer smoked food at lower or higher temperatures.

The ideal temperature range for hot smoking is from 26 to 60°C (78 to 140°F), with most people preferring food that was smoked at temperatures between 40 and 50°C (104 to 122°F).

Hours Spent

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Hot smoking cooks the meat inside, taking anywhere between 30 minutes to 4 hours depending on what type of food is made and how high the heat is.

Cold smoking takes minimal effort but can take up to 16 hours, making them best suited for overnight cooking.

Purposes

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Cold smoking is often used to prepare cheese, where it can be used to dry out curdled milk or give a distinctive flavor.

Cold smoked cheeses are usually eaten young and fresh. It can also be used in preparing other foods, such as bacon. For this purpose, cold smoking uses smoke at temperatures below 55 °C (131 °F).

Hot smoking is typically done at higher temperatures to cook the food being smoked thoroughly. The time that the food spent in the smokehouse will vary depending on its type and size.

Large items like whole turkeys will spend more time than small items like sausages or fish fillets.

Generally, hot smoking is for cooking the food, while cold smoking will help to preserve the food.

Curing

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Cold smoking is a way of curing meat without cooking it. In this process, the cured food hangs from racks or hooks in a cold room or outside in cold weather for several hours or days. The temperature never exceeds 38° F (3° C) during this time.

Cold smoking provides flavor and texture to meats that are not possible with hot smoking because the lower temperatures preserve more fat and moisture than high-temperature methods, which can dry out the product.

It also prevents bacterial growth during storage because bacteria cannot survive at low temperatures or higher ones.

A disadvantage of cold-smoked products is they require longer processing times due to their lower internal temperature, so production costs are higher than those associated with hot smoked.

Generally, hot smoking requires curing, whereas cold smoking is curing itself.

Now, since you’ve already known the primary difference between hot smoking and cold smoking, we will go into detail about the two methods. Firstly, we come to the cold smoking.

Cold Smoking Method: What You Need To Know

The Purpose of Cold Smoking

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Cold smoking is used for two purposes: to help preserve fish and other seafood by adding smoke flavor and creating the distinctive flavors of certain types of cheese.

The process involves placing cold or room-temperature meat on racks in a smokehouse (or sometimes just over smoldering logs), where the heat from the coals below slowly cooks it.

This cooking style also works well with vegetables, especially onions, corn ears, pumpkin slices, squash halves, and mushrooms.

Cold smoking does not cook food but rather infuses it with flavor so that when eaten later at room temperature or heated up briefly in a skillet, these foods will have an intense smoky taste.

The Cooking Process of Cold Smoking Food

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Cold smoking is a process that involves adding wood chips to a grill and then cooking at low temperatures for long periods.

This cooking method allows the food to be moister than if it were hot smoked and imparts a distinct flavor that sets cold-smoked foods apart from their traditionally cooked counterparts.

If you are considering trying out cold-smoking your next meal, there are some tips you should know before starting so that you can get the best possible results with minimal effort on your part.

First of all, you can cold smoke food on any grill that is at least somewhat weatherproof.

Wood chips are added to the grill, and once it gets hot enough, they begin to smoke and release their woody flavor into the surrounding meat, fish, or vegetables.

The process will take a long time by comparison to cooking with a traditional oven. On the other hand, it will not require as much tedious supervision as a conventional oven would.

To ensure you get a flavor that suits your taste preferences, try experimenting with different wood chips and even adding some herbs for an extra kick.

Which Food Is Suitable For Cold Smoking?

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Here are some things that work well with cold smoking: cheese, nuts, fruit, vegetables like carrots or cucumbers, and meats such as ham or turkey breast, especially with foods that are low in moisture and high in fat, like cheese or bacon.

The result is often a more robust flavor than what would be achieved from hot-smoking the same food.

Fresh fish are among the foods that benefit most from cold smoking because the food absorbs the flavor of the natural wood chips during this process.

But there are some precautions you should take before eating these smoked products:

Always use clean and sterilized cutting boards, utensils – like tongs and pans – and containers for cutting, storing, serving, and transporting cold-smoked foods.

When preparing cold smoked food products, separate them from fresh foods as much as possible to prevent cross-contamination.

If you marinate cold-smoked foods – like fish or meat – discard the marinade.

Pregnant women or older people should limit their consumption of cold-smoked food. Specifically, they should not eat smoked salmon.

Advantages of Cold Smoking

  • Simple

Cold smoking is a more straightforward process since cold smoked meats do not require refrigeration while smoking, nor do cold smokers maintain a constant temperature throughout the curing period.

  • Requires less energy
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The cold-smoking process requires less fuel because there is no need for constant heat to keep the food warm throughout its curing time.

Therefore, that’s why it is also perfect for cold winter days for hunters and anglers to process their catch before they return home.

  • Almost no shrinkage

Because no heat is applied, there is also less shrinkage, resulting in more substantial cuts of meat.

  • Retain nutritious elements
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Cold smoked foods are not cooked, so they retain their original flavors and nutritional values better than hot smoked products.

  • Long-lasting

Cold smoked foods can last for years. You do not need any special equipment to keep it fresh; you just have to store it in a freezer.

Disadvantages of Cold Smoking

While cold smoking allows for better control over how much smoke penetrates your food, it can be challenging to achieve the same degree of penetration as with hot smoking.

  • Needs more preparation

Because foods are not cooked during the smoking process, there is a risk of food-borne illnesses like listeria or salmonella.

Therefore, you must cure meats before cold smoking them, so they are safe to eat when finished. This process takes time and effort but ensures that your meat is free of harmful bacteria and other nasties that can make you sick.

  • Hard to find an external fresh food source
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Cold smoked foods are not fully cooked and should be eaten immediately after preparation or thoroughly frozen.

This means that if you’re not hunting or fishing yourself, you may have trouble finding fresh food sources to cold-smoke.

  • Challenging to attain the same flavors as with hot smoking

With cold smoking, it isn’t easy to produce food that tastes similar to traditionally smoked foods.

It’s mainly because relatively low temperatures cannot produce the high-temperature environment needed for chemical reactions and browning of meats and fish.

Next, we will have hot smoking and some crucial information about it.

Hot Smoking Method: What You Need To Know

The Purpose of Hot Smoking

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One of the most common techniques in smoking is hot smoking. The purpose of this technique is to cook the meat, not just add a smoky flavor.

It is a process where an outside source of heat cooks the food being smoked. This can be done in a smoker or grill, for example.

It’s used for beef, pork, and poultry products smoked from 10 minutes to 2 hours or more at temperatures between 100°F and 225°F with wood chips, sawdust, or hardwood logs.

The purpose of hot smoking is to cook the meat and impart additional flavor into it through wood chips or chunks soaked in water, beer, wine, cider vinegar, apple juice with spices added, etc.

The Cooking Process of Hot Smoking Food

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Cooking food with hot smoke is a dual-stage process. In the first step, you prepare the meat to be smoked, usually by seasoning it and rubbing it with a dry rub. And then Iit a smoker and a fire is started using wood chips at the bottom of the smoker.

Now, you get a heated grill going and place your meat on it. Smoke from hardwood chips or sawdust will rise over the meat and allow the meat to cook slowly.

Once your food has been placed in the smoker, you wait for it to be smoked to completion.

For thicker cuts that need a little more time to cook, a large area can be used for this purpose.

Which Food Is Suitable For Hot Smoking?

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Hot smoking is most often used on meats, such as beef, pork, and poultry.

Hot smoking uses higher temperatures which cooks the meat more quickly, making it possible for people who don’t have much time to prepare their meals fast enough to spoil.

As far as flavor goes, the differences are relatively negligible between hot smoking and cold smoking in most foods, except cheese, seafood, and certain vegetables that benefit more from the lower-temperature methods.

Advantages of Hot Smoking

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There are several benefits to using hot smoking when it comes to cooking your food.

First, the method of hot smoking is easier to learn than cold smoking. Just simply place your food on your BBQ grill, and you will know what you should do next.

Second, hot smoked foods are cooked more thoroughly and have a longer shelf life than cold smoked products. You can also explore a wider variety of flavor profiles that are not possible through cold smoking.

Moreover, there is less chance for bacterial growth due to high heat. Also, no need for preparation time means that there will be less time spent looking for the necessary ingredients and utensils required for cooking.

Finally, this type of smoking is healthier than other methods since it uses less fat, allowing you to enjoy the taste at its full potential without worrying about excess fats possibly clogging up your arteries.

Disadvantages of Hot Smoking

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First, hot smoked foods do not keep as long as cold-smoked products because they are cooked more extensively. You should eat it within two weeks. You also need some form of refrigeration or another way to keep it fresh while using it.

Secondly, hot smoked food facilities that do not use modern enclosures may also produce smoke that is hazardous to breathe.

Moreover, using a hot smoker requires a lot of fuel to maintain high cooking temperatures, which can be costly and wasteful.

Also, hot smoking causes more shrinkage than cold smoking in meat cuts because higher temperatures seal off the moisture in the outside layer.

Finally, hot smokers are prone to developing fire problems due to low oxygen levels inside the smoker with higher temperatures.

Cold Smoking Vs Hot Smoking: Which One Is More Suitable?

Cooking Scope

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Hot smokers are often used in restaurants because they cook meat at a higher temperature and control the process.

They also tend to be larger than cold smokers. On the other hand, cold smokers are smaller and cheaper than their hot counterparts.

Therefore, this makes them perfect for small-scale operations like catering companies that need something portable that doesn’t take up too much space on site.

Plus, cold smokers are great for use overnight or at events where smoking needs to be done without too much oversight.

Required Attention Level

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Hot smoking is like oven cooking because the heat source heats internal elements heated by convection.

These smokers are easier to use but require frequent attention while cooking because you cannot leave them unattended for more than 30 minutes if you want to maintain consistent results.

The cold smoker is generally used with raw food that cooks outside of the smoker itself. As the name suggests, these smokers don’t cook inside as hot ones do; instead, they introduce smoke into the food using cold air through convection.

If you are looking for smoked food that needs little attention, cold smokers are recommended because they take longer to heat up and can be left unattended while smoking.

Food Type

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Cold smoking works best with foods that take longer to cook, such as fish, cheese, and vegetables.

These types of food are often smoked overnight; however, infusing them with flavor beforehand is still recommended because cold smoking usually only introduces flavor to food.

In contrast, hot smoke is best for food that cooks quickly, such as chicken or beef, but you can also use it on foods that take longer to cook, such as ribs and brisket.

Type of Fuel

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The cooking process of hot smoking food is very similar to that of cold smoking. The only difference between the two processes is the type of fuel used to cook the food.

Cold smoking uses hardwood smoke, while hot smoking uses charcoal briquettes. The charcoal briquettes are lit on fire and placed below or beside the smoker’s grate.

Time

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And now you’re wondering how long it takes to smoke a piece of meat? Well, that depends on which type of smoker you use.

Cold smokers are typically used outdoors in the winter when the temperature is below 60 degrees Fahrenheit. In contrast, hot smokers can be used both indoors and outdoors at any time because they do not need low temperatures for smoking food.

It usually takes 2-4 hours to prepare an entire ham using this hot smoking, so plan accordingly! In contrast, the average amount of time needed for the cold smoking method is about 10 hours.

Meat Taste

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While many people enjoy the flavor of hot-smoked meats, some are turned off by the smoky taste that lingers in their mouths after eating them.

If this is your case, then you may want to opt for cold-smoked meats because there will not be as much residual smoky flavor left behind on your tongue after eating it!

Health Benefits

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Cold smoked meats are also often considered more health-conscious because they are not cooked at high temperatures.

This “cold smoking” process does not cook the meat, so it must be consumed shortly after being smoked before they spoil.

On the other hand, hot smoked meats have been cooked at high temperatures, changing their texture and losing crucial nutrition.

Therefore, it’s up to you to choose the smoking method that suits your health concerns. If you eat regularly, it’s best to choose cold smoking.

And not only us, but chefs will also be more interested in the cold smoking method, and here’s why.

Why Chefs Choose Cold Smoke Rather Than Hot Smoke?

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The first reason is that it’s not always practical to heat large quantities of food in this way without using equipment or adapting your home.

Hot smoking requires specialized equipment and takes up space, whereas cold smoking can be done with a compact and straightforward smoker who doesn’t require electricity.

Cold smoking also preserves more nutritious value, influencing your health in the long term. Although it is relatively tricky at first, it’s worth it after the end. You both obtain new cooking skills and healthy meals. 

Cold smoked food typically has a delicate, subtle flavor that goes well with lighter dishes and salads.

Hot smoking imparts a bolder taste and works better with heavier meals such as beef or pork barbecue. If you opt for cold smoking, remember to use it sparingly – a little bit goes a long way.

Cold smoking is also an ideal preparation method for dishes that combine meat with other ingredients because the smoky flavor won’t overwhelm everything else on your plate.

By comparison, hot smoking would probably make your dish too intense, and it might be better to consider something milder such as poaching or steaming.

If you still don’t know which one you should choose, this video could be a great help to you:

Conclusion

Cold smoking and hot smoking are two different processes that involve using a smokehouse or other controlled environment.

Hot smoking is done at temperatures over 100 degrees, while cold smoking usually occurs between 20-32 degrees Celsius (68-90.5 Fahrenheit). Some may be cooked enough to eat right away, while others might need further cooking after smoking.

In conclusion, the best of both worlds is a smoker with a combination of hot and cold smoking capabilities.

You can produce food with several different flavors by using each technique separately or in tandem. You can switch from one type of smoking to another as easily as if you were flipping a switch.

Sadly, we’ve come to the end of the article. Thank you for staying with us through the entire article. Goodbye and see you in the following article!

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