The Liquid Smoke Alton Brown Buys Constantly

Looking for the next big flavor to help transform your savory recipes? Well, Alton Brown is on deck to extoll some ingredient wisdom. After offering up brilliant renditions of sugar-coated crunchy bacon and French onion soup, Brown is back with a new tip for cooks looking to supercharge their pantry. 

This time, he's calling out liquid smoke, a flavoring agent that brings instant barbecue elan to whatever dish you are preparing. Brown likes to use it for his shrimp cocktail, adding half a teaspoon to punctuate his tomato-rich cocktail sauce. It's a great lesson for home chefs — a little bit of liquid smoke can transform your sauces, marinade, and more.

Of course, not all liquid smoke brands are created equal. For Brown, he searched for a quality option that listed only condensed smoke as the ingredient, with no iffy additives lurking in the ingredient list. As shared on his YouTube channel, he landed on Lazy Kettle Liquid Smoke, a classic bottle that boasts a particularly pure ingredient label.

A quality liquid smoke for your pantry

Manufactured under the Golden West Specialty Foods label, Lazy Kettle Liquid Smoke is available in one distinct wood variety: hickory. This type of wood is beloved for its strong, earthy flavor and the caramel-like color it imparts to meat during the smoking process. It's predominantly associated with bacon and the smoky flavor that it takes on. Here, the hickory gives this brand of liquid smoke its signature taste and brown hue. The grand selling point of this brand is its pared-down ingredient list, which reads "natural liquid smoke." Lacking sodium, artificial flavors, colors, and preservatives, cooks can better control the seasoning of their dishes with Lazy Kettle.

If you can't get your hands on Lazy Kettle, there are a few other options that mirror its quality. To make sure you're picking a good option, use Brown's advice and check the label. If it only lists smoke as its one ingredient, chances are you're selecting a solid choice.  

Great uses for liquid smoke

As mentioned before, Brown likes to use a bit of liquid smoke to add nuance to his shrimp cocktail recipe, but there are many other ways that liquid smoke can transform your cooking for the better. First, consider using a dash of it in some of your favorite creamy salads. Tuna salad and chicken salad welcome a touch of savory smoke flavor, especially when paired with a sweet bun, like a pineapple juice-packed Hawaiian roll. Next, imagine what this ingredient could bring to your dips, from velvety bean dip to rich queso. Cocktails too, particularly ones that make use of bourbon or whiskey, could benefit from a drop of liquid smoke to add an earthy undertone. Keep in mind that this condiment works a lot like an extract, so a little goes a long way.

Alternatively, you can use your liquid smoke as it was intended — as a way to bring barbecue flavor without having to light the grill. If your oven-roasted lamb chops, pan-fried hamburgers, or braised ribs need a touch of that aromatic smoke, be sure to marinate or brush a bit of this mixture directly onto the meat. Yes, you can also make a faux cold-smoked salmon if you so desire. Even if you get rained out of a big backyard barbecue session, liquid smoke should allow you to achieve some flavorful adventure.