The Different Types of Food Smoking

Food smoking is a technique that dates back thousands of years, to perhaps when fire was first invented. In those days it was used for mainly preserving food. Today the process is used to flavour, cook and preserve food using wood chips, wood dust or charcoal briquettes. A number of variations on the technique now exist which include hot smoking, cold smoking, wet smoking and dry smoking. A range of food can be smoked such as meats, poultry, fish and vegetables and there a number of smokers on the market catering for a range of budgets and requirements.

Below is an overview of each of the cooking methods:

Remember when smoking to try and keep the oven shut and covered, as tempting as it is to keep on checking the idea is to get that smokey flavour to penetrate into the food.

Hot Smoking

Hot Smoking is usually done at a temperature of approximately 160 degrees C. The process of hot smoking actual cooks the food and it will be ready to eat straight away. During hot smoking the heat produced from the smouldering wood chips will cook the food and the smoke produced will flavour the food. One concern with hot smoking is that it can dry the food out; if this is the case then you could wet smoke your food. This involves wetting the wood chips or adding a tray of water into the smoker. As the water evaporates the steam produced helps to keep you food nice and moist.

Cold Smoking

Cold smoking is usually done at a lower temperature, around 30 degrees C. This is because the food is not actual cooking during cold smoking but is being flavoured and preserved. The lower temperatures allow the smoke to penetrate deep into the food. The process can take anywhere between several hours and days dependent on the flavour trying to be achieved.

It’s also worth noting that food should be cured before cold smoking. This involves rubbing the food with salt (dry curing) or placing the food in salty water (wet curing).

Flavoured Smoking

Flavoured wood chips or wood dust add a new dimension to your smoking. There is a range of flavours available such as apple, cherry, beech, oak and whiskey oak. The best advice is to pick some up and experiment.


There is a range of smokers available on the market and in various price ranges and sizes. Some multi purpose ovens allow the food to be smoked, barbecued and roasted.