Ten Things You Should know about Smoke Flavors

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Dry and liquid smoke intend to replicate the flavor produced by traditional smoking. The scientific application of these items may be complex. Therefore, JRW has prepared a few things you should know to better understand this ingredient category.

Here are 10 things you need to know about smoke flavors: 

1. There are several different subcategories

Liquid smoke, dry smoke, natural sugar smoke, browning agents, and natural smoke are all categories of smoke flavors. The flavors can be utilized in water soluble, oil soluble, brine soluble, or dry forms.

2. It can be used in a variety of products

Smoke flavors are featured in food manufacturing in a variety of formulations. Processors of deli meats, seasoning blends, beef jerky, pet food, smoked sausage, smoked ham, and hot dogs are common users of the ingredient.

Uses in pest control, microbial control, and seed germination are reported, but claims are devoid of scientific studies.

3. It can be applied using different methods

Smoke flavors can be applied by direct addition, atomization, drenching, injection, brine addition, and in seasoning blends. The range of methods gives processors the ability to utilize these flavors without making significant production modifications.

4. It is safe to eat

The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has evaluated information on the products and concluded that the there is no evidence demonstrating that the products are harmful to the public.

The products are considered Generally Recognized as Safe (GRAS) under section 161.190.

5. It can be used in combination with traditional smoking

Smoke flavors are not always used as a substitute to traditional smoking. They can be used in addition to traditional methods to help enhance flavor, quality, and color.

6. It comes from Real Smoke Condensate

Products are created from the destructive distillation of wood, and there are no standards of identity or prescribed production methods for smoke flavors. Chips or sawdust from hardwoods such as hickory or mesquite are burned at high temperatures and particles of the smoke are collected in condensers.

7. It is safe to handle

Smoke flavors are created through proprietary processes but are created to be shelf stable and non-hazardous. Storage, shipping, and production use within the specification of the product are safe.

8. You have probably seen it on a label

Some of the common ways it appears on a label are “Natural Flavor,” “Liquid Hickory Smoke,” and “Liquid Mesquite Smoke.”

9. It was invented by Earnest H. Wright

In the 19th century, Wright noticed black liquid smoke would form when smoke left his stove, hit cold air, and condensed in droplets on the stove pipe. From this observation, the idea for liquid smoke emerged. You can still buy Wright’s liquid smoke to this day.


10. All flavors are not the same

There are many different types of smoke flavors. Manufacturers use proprietary processes to mimic flavor and color that comes from traditional smoking.


Interested in learning more about dry or liquid smoke? Check out our previous blog on Browning Agents, Liquid Smoke, and More. The post educates readers in greater detail on different applications and usage methods.

Want to connect with us at JRW to get some more information? Head over to the Contact Us page, or fill out the form below to start a conversation of your own.

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