7 Best Cold Smokers – Complete Guide
Many people think of smokers as a tool for the perfect BBQ use. We smoke things like brisket, steaks, pork, ribs, and more. These types of smokers generally operate with a heat source.
However, there is an alternative option to those in a cold smoker. It’s a completely different concept and it does take some effort to get it just right.
Cold smoking is similar to a curing process. It helps to cure and preserve the items being smoked and it also adds that smoky flavor many of us love.
Cold smoking can be used for meat and many other things as well. Things like salami, salmon, and cheese are incredibly popular.
What is the best cold smoker? You want a cold smoker that will have plenty of space and that you will be able to control the temperature and settings. Factors to consider are if it’s manual or electric, its size, and the degree of ease to operate based on your preferences.
There are a lot of different options out there so it’s important to know what you’re looking for. In this guide, we will share with you the 7 best cold smokers.
We have some really great options but more than that, we are also going to share some helpful information for choosing and using a cold smoker as well.
You’re going to find a lot of valuable information for cold smokers here in this complete guide. Keep reading to learn about the best cold smokers and so much more.
A Complete Guide About Cold Smokers
You may or may not be familiar with a cold smoker. Maybe you’re just slightly intrigued and want to know more.
You’ve come to the right place. Before we share our top picks with you, we want to cover some basic details on what you can expect.
What Exactly is a Cold Smoker?
Cold smoking is used to preserve and cure meats and other items using a cold process and a smoking process simultaneously. The end result is your item is cured and prepared but also has that lovely smoky flavor we all know and love.
Cold smoking is somewhat of a multi-step process. First, the items being smoked go through a curing process in the smoker. This pulls out moisture and helps to prevent bacterial growth on the items.
Then, the meats or other items are smoked in order to develop the smoky flavor. This process can take anywhere from a few hours to several days, depending on what it is you are working with.
Cold smoking takes place at temperatures less than 90 degrees Fahrenheit. This is the opposite of hot smoking that uses extreme temperatures of 225 plus.
The primary difference between cold and hot smoking is that with cold smoking, the meat does have to be cured before it is smoked.
What Foods Do You Cold Smoke?
You can cold smoke just about any food that you hot smoke and then some, it’s just a different process entirely.
There are certain foods that cold smoking is preferred for or more common for but it doesn’t mean you can’t use either process.
Here are some of the most common foods for cold smoking.
- Hard boiled eggs
- Olive oil
- Various types of fish
You can cold smoke anything you like. These are just some of the most common.
What you really need to be aware of is the risk of botulism. It can be challenging. It will take some time and learning to perfect the skill.
Don’t be afraid of the process but be willing to learn and be very careful and mindful of safety for handling while you go through the processes to cold smoke whatever you want to.
Choosing a Cold Smoker
There are a few qualities to consider before you just go out and buy a cold smoker.
Ultimately, many of these things will come down to a matter of preference but we want to give you some food for thought as to things you will want to consider before you buy!
There are two main types of cold smokers. They come as manual or electric.
Generally speaking, electric is the preferred option because they simply have more functionality and are easier to manage. You don’t have to be as hands-on with them.
Manual smokers require a lot more effort overall but they can still be good options if that is your preference.
Most cold smokers will be similar in size but they can vary a little bit. You will also notice that internal size and external size can vary quite a bit.
You need to have a general idea of what you will be smoking and how much space you will need as well to accommodate your smoking practices.
Another thing to pay attention to is the functionality of the smoker you choose. You will want to know how it works and operates and what it can do for you.
What are the controls like and how easy will the smoker be to operate?
Functionality will also be a matter of your own preferences. Some of those cold smokers have a lot of different options and some are limited.
Just know what you want or be sure to at least make note of the functions as you check out your options.
Keep in mind that a lot of times, cold smoking is completed by adding a cold smoker device to your everyday smoker.
Safety Tips for Cold Smoking
There are some risks to using cold smoking. The biggest risk is that your meat and other items are worked with at what is known as the temperature danger zone.
This gives the chance that bacteria could grow on the food, and some are not comfortable with that. There are things you can do to mitigate the risks.
When you are ready to try cold smoking, try to follow these tips.
- Follow all safety protocol and recommendations
- Use tried and true expert recipes
- Use high-quality meats and try to use local butchers and shops to get the freshest meat possible
- Combine cold smoking with salting for curing
- Try using a cooking method after cold smoking to get meat cooked and reduce the likelihood of bacteria
Cold Smoking Vs. Hot Smoking
To clarify, we want to take a moment to talk about the differences in cold or hot smoking. The intention of both is that they are both smoking methods.
Hot smoking methods tend to be more popular because you use the heat to reduce and kill any bacteria.
However, cold smoking can be safe and work really well for some specific things like cheeses, salami, and salmon. You just need to know what you are doing and follow safety protocols.
Hot smoking ranges around 225 to 250 degrees Fahrenheit and sometimes much higher as well.
Most cold smoking is done under 100 degrees. They are wholly different processes. With cold smoking, curing will be part of your process.
With hot smoking, curing will happen before you ever smoke the food items.
Hot smoking is easier as a whole while cold smoking takes skill and time and has some crucial safety stipulations that you should be aware of.
You will need to follow specific procedures to ensure the safety of the foods that you smoke using a cold smoking method and it’s a little more involved and hands-on than hot smoking tends to be.
Is Cold Smoking Dangerous?
There are a lot of people out there who would say you should never cold smoke items.
There are certainly some risks involved, like these.
- The food is uncooked and kept at what is considered a danger zone for meat temperatures, allowing the possibility that bacteria can grow
- Cooking with hot temperatures helps to kill bacteria and there are no hot temperatures here unless you cook the items after cold smoking them
- If not done properly, you do risk botulism or listeria, particularly with things like fish
- Pregnant people, ill people, and those who are immunocompromised should avoid these items for safety
Cold smoking can be dangerous but there are many steps you can take to ensure safety.
The 7 Best Cold Smokers Reviewed
Now that we’ve given you some of the basics, it’s time to look at the cold smoker options. We searched the market and did a lot of research to try to find you the very best options.
We think you will be pleased with your choices here!
Below, you will find our top picks for the 7 best cold smokers available.
Let’s get started!
|1.||Smoke Daddy P.I.G. Cold Smoke Generator||Best overall cold smoker|
|2.||Masterbuilt Electric Smoker||Best full cold smoking unit|
|3.||Lizzq Premium Pellet Smoker||Best budget-friendly cold smoker|
|4.||Pit Boss Analog Smoker||Easiest access to wood pellets during cold smoking|
|5.||Landmann Smoky Mountain||Most space for cold smoking|
|6.||Bradley Digital 4-Rack Smoker||Best digital-use cold smoker|
|7.||Kaduf Pellet Smoker Tray||Easiest-to-use cold smoker|
1. Smoke Daddy P.I.G. Cold Smoke Generator
This first option is our top overall pick for cold smokers. This particular tool can actually be used for hot or cold smoking.
It attaches to existing units to produce smoke so you get the perfect smoky addition to your foods.
You can use it for grills, smokers, or any type of cooking machine that is compatible to these standards.
This cold smoke generator is built to last, with heavy-duty materials like heavy-gauge aluminum.
The smoke that comes out is high-quality smoke and your aluminum helps to get a good seal so that you can use the unit for a long time. It also comes with a stainless steel cleaning brush so you can keep it looking nice.
This is built for large use and produces a high volume of smoke for longer periods. You can also find other sizes from this same company so if it interests you, look for more options from the brand.
This is a family-owned company and they stand behind their commitment to quality.
- Built for high volume
- Built to last
- Family-owned business that focuses on quality
- Can be used for hot or cold smoking
- Attaches to an existing unit
- The device can get very hot to the touch when it is lit. Be prepared to use gloves for safe handling
2. Masterbuilt Electric Smoker
If you want a full smoking unit and not just an attachment, here is a great option for you.
The temperature control has a lot of variability, giving you the option to cold smoke at a low temperature if you need to.
You can also use a cold smoker attachment in combination with this if you want to but it’s not required since this is a smoker by nature.
This is a 30-inch smoker that has 3 racks.
You can also upgrade the packages and get an analog smoker, a smoker with racks and cover, or a smoker with racks and BBQ chips.
There are a lot of options here and this smoker is highly-rated across the board.
The temperature gauge is built-in to the unit and there is a simple wood tray with ash removal for simple cleanup.
It has a 1500-watt heating element and you can enjoy even and consistent smoking from start to finish. The smoking trays are chrome-coated and very nicely made.
- Comes with racks that are chrome-coated
- Operates on 1500 watts
- Highly adjustable temperature controls
- Full-sized smoker with racks and everything you need
- Includes a wood chip tray for easy cleanup
- The exterior quality is not the best but the smoker does do its job
3. Lizzq Premium Pellet Smoker
This next option is a great budget-friendly option.
It’s a smoker tube so you can use your regular smoker or grill and then use this tube to add the smoke.
This gives you the ability to use the tube with any cooking device as well as attach it to whatever you already use instead of purchasing a full new smoker.
This smoker tube can work with electric, gas, or charcoal types of smokers. It’s a pellet tube and you can use any type of pellets you prefer from pecan to apple to cherry to any other options you might like.
This smoker tube uses a closed cap on one end with an open cap at the other. This keeps the pellets in place but gives you an easy place to light the pellets.
It’s great for cold smoking or hot smoking and is made with lasting stainless steel materials.
- Simple pellet tube for cold smoking
- Smokes for up to 5 hours at a time
- Made with quality, durable materials
- Smoke diffuses efficiently and consistently
- Compatible with any type of grill or smoker
- Works best for long cooking times when using the full tube of pellets
4. Pit Boss Analog Smoker
Here is another full-sized smoker for you that can help you out with cold smoker needs.
This smoker can be used for hot or cold smoking as long as you know your processes.
It smokes using wood chips and has analog controls with low temperature capabilities.
The smoker has 3 racks that can be adjusted as needed. It’s on a nice stand so it is sturdy and stable and easy to access.
The base has a drawer for wood chips and a tray for removing ash as well. The intertie of the smoke sports 593 square inches of cooking space.
One of the nice things about this is you can access the wood pan without ever opening up the smoker, reducing the possibility of bacteria when you are cold smoking.
The smoker even comes with an analog meat probe so you can keep an eye on every little detail.
- Good for hot or cold smoking
- Stand-alone full sized smoker
- Includes 3 racks
- Wide range of temperature controls
- Exterior wood access
- The temperature control is not always accurate so you may need to manually monitor the temperatures with your own device
5. Landmann Smoky Mountain
This next one is another really great smoker, designed for low temperatures with some of the lowest functional temperatures available.
This large smoker has 3 racks for the items and then a final tray for chips and other items to get the smoking done.
It opens up much like a mini fridge might and makes the most of the internal space. It can hold a lot!
The cooking chamber is not insulated, giving you more ability to keep your temperatures low. The temperature gauge measures temperatures as low as 50 degrees.
The smoker has a viewing window with an exterior temperature control.
This also has a handle so you can move it as needed. It’s solid and sturdy with high-quality materials in every aspect.
It’s a highly-rated option and the price is pretty affordable considering the size and the quality of the smoker. You can use it for hot or cold smoking as well.
- Full-sized smoker with viewing window
- Larger internal space to hold everything
- Low temperature capabilities allow you to do hot or cold smoking
- Exterior temperature controls
- Non-insulated cooking chamber
- Cleanup can be a hassle because there is no drip tray or anything like that
- You do have to open the entire unit to access the wood tray
6. Bradley Digital 4-Rack Smoker
If you’re looking for a premium option that comes with all of the bells and whistles, this might be the option for you.
This smoker does it all and it can be used as a hot or cold smoker as well.
It’s electric and has a lot of capability. It has full control with a digital control piece so you can keep your temperature where you want it.
This is a large smoker with 4 internal racks. It can hold a lot of food at one time, even holding up to 2 large turkeys at the same time.
It offers a drip tray that makes cleaning up easy. All of the racks have slight lips on them so that your items are fully contained as well.
This does use specialized wood chips that you have to buy with the brand but they are applied from the outside of the smoker and you can track and monitor them and refill as needed.
A full load of chips should give you about 8 hours of smoking time.
- Fully-loaded smoker option with a lot of capability
- 4 racks included with tons of space
- Wood chips are added from the outside
- Full digital control for temps and times
- Drip tray to make cleaning up a breeze
- The wood circles do have to be purchased from the manufacturer to be compatible
- The LCD screen can be hard to read because of the placement
7. Kaduf Pellet Smoker Tray
Finally, we leave you with a cold smoke accessory that you can use on whatever grill or smoker you already have on hand.
This pellet tray holds a lot of pellets so that you can leave your items smoking for up to 12 hours without having to refill it.
It can be used for hot or cold smoking needs, making it a versatile option.
This pellet tray comes with a handy eBook that has recipes for both hot and cold smoking uses.
It’s nice because you can use it with what you already have and it’s open so the smoke distributes evenly. Plus, you get a lot more smoke time with one refill.
It’s really easy to use and easy to clean as well. You will find that you can do almost anything you want to try out. It’s great for low temperatures as well.
It’s a well-made product that is built to last and should hold up with quality stainless steel.
- Easy to use and clean
- Comes with an eBook
- Compatible with both hot and cold smoking needs
- Holds a lot of pellets and will smoke for up to 12 hours
- Works with any type of grill or pellets
- It can take some trouble shooting and getting used to in order to prevent the smoke going out or a fire from starting