Getting a cold smoker is the best way to replicate traditional cold smoking on your regular charcoal or pellet grill.
Today we show you 5 of the very best cold smoke generators, and show you everything you need to know about getting the very best out of them.
Your search for your next grill and smoker accessory tool starts here.
At a Glance: Our Top Picks
With the amount that I carry on and on about grilling around these parts, you’d be forgiven for thinking that outdoor cooking can only be done with the help of fire.
And in most instances, that usually is the case. From grilling to smoking, most forms of our favorite past time involve exposing meat to high temperatures to give us the smoky, charred taste that we all know and love so well.
But it’s far from the only way to prepare food.
Cold smoking has a rich history in outdoor cooking, and is a great way to lock in flavors and textures that many other methods can’t replicate. That’s why there’s nothing quite like cold smoked salmon, or smoked cheese.
If you’re looking for a new way to try outdoor cooking then you’ve come to the right place. Cold smoking could be your new favorite form of meat prep.
Let’s get into it!
Smokehouse Smoke Chief
On first impressions alone, Shomehouse’s Smoke Chief immediately stands out.
It comes in the form of a modern-looking attachment that looks like a firebox in its own right. This is a big upgrade on the simple pellet tubes or smoke boxes of old.
And guess what. This has the performance to boot.
BBQ smoking is now firmly in the age of convenience, and this cold smoke generator offers exactly that.
It’s electronically powered, and can be run from a plug socket or even batteries. This makes it great to use at home, or on the go.
It’s clearly designed to be as flexible as possible, and can be used in almost any smoker cor grill chamber, including pellet grills.
It runs off wood pellets, and can run for about 3 hours off one cup. This is incredibly efficient, even when compared to simple smoker boxes or regular charcoal grills.
It has a heating element inside it that sets the pellets to smolder, and maintains a slow and even supply of smoke throughout its run time.
It’s a very easy piece of equipment to use, doing away with any need for a lighter or starters. It can get on the go quickly, and is reliable enough to leave running for several hours.
Quite simply the best cold smoke generator out there today.
Smoke Daddy Big Kahuna
Big in name, and big in output, this generator from Smoke Daddy is able to put out impressive amounts of smoke with little effort.
It can be used for cold and hot smoking alike, which is what makes it such a powerful little fire box.
It has adjustable airflow settings, so it’s important you know what you want from your smoke, but if you’re a seasoned pro then you’ll love the learning curve there is with this box.
It doesn’t have the same ease of portability as other smoke generators, and you will need to fix it to your smoker.
Amaze-N Pellet Tube Smoker
This is a much simpler model in comparison to some of the others on this list. It’s not electronic, so doesn’t need to be plugged in anywhere, and doesn’t feature any fans or hi-tech flow systems.
Instead, you just need to fill its small chamber with wood pellets and light it. Your smoke will then pass through its air holes and slow add smoke to your food.
Some people might worry about just how stripped back this might be in comparison to other models, however this does make it really easy to use, portable, and doesn’t require you to start drilling holes in your existing smokers chambers.
Its small size does mean that it can probably only really cold smoke relatively small amount of food, and it may burn quicker before it needs refilling (about 4 hours). However I do believe that in most instances it’ll be enough for users.
Amaze-N Sawdust Maze
This is another much simpler model, although its maze-like appearance is definitely intriguing to say the least!
However this is more than just a gimmick. Its more elaborate design actually means that it’ll burn for longer, and will create an even flow of smoke.
It has enough capacity to fit a lot of wood dust, and has an average smoke time of about 8 hours. This is seriously impressive given its analog design in comparison to its digital counterparts.
Nak Cold Smoke Generator
Rounding off my list is this brilliant budget pick from Nak.
Presented with another maze-like design, you light it at one end and allow the chips to slowly burn through to the center.
Despite its more modest price, it can burn for up to an impressive 7 hours, and is compatible with almost any design of smoker.
It doesn’t have its own built-in fan, so you will have to ensure that air flow in your smoker is good. You will also need to make sure that the wood chips are perfectly dry, as it doesn’t have its own electric system to ensure the wood is burning at all times.
What is cold smoking?
Cold smoking is a traditional means of preserving food to help preserve it. Widely used before the invention of the freezer or refrigerator, it helped prevent certain types of meat from spoiling too quickly.
And in an era where we needed to stockpile food in order to survive, learning the technique was quite literally the difference between life and death.
It’s also evolved to become a way of infusing added flavor to non-meat varieties of food. See my guide on how to smoke cheese to learn more.
The process involves low heat smoldering in close proximity to meat to help provide smoke. This smoke is what helps dry the food out, but the aim isn’t to transfer heat itself.
The meat is usually hung, often from hooks, so as to expose all surfaces of the meat to the smoke. The smoke then has several hours, or sometimes days, worth of time to permeate and penetrate the meat.
One of the reasons it works so well is because exposing it to cold smoke help dry meat out, which reduces the impact of bacteria in the flesh.
Not only this, but it also tastes fantastic. If you’ve ever smoked salmon or ham, then you’ll know exactly what I’m talking about.
Its long exposure to smoke allows the smokey flavors to get into almost all levels of the meat’s flesh, and lock in.
As time has gone on, people have evolved the skill by using different types of chambers and woods to help enhance the flavors even further.
What is a cold smoke generator?
Cold smokers are attachments that use wood to generate cold smoke instead of the firebox that comes with your standard charcoal or pellet grill.
These can come in two forms. Some are attachments that feed cold smoke into your grill chamber. Others are simple small boxes that generate smoke while sat on your grill’s grates.
What are the differences between cold smoking and hot smoking?
I think there’s sometimes a lot of confusion here because the two approaches sound like they should in essence be almost the same, with just temperature being the key factor dividing the two.
This isn’t necessarily true though.
Hot smoking is a method of cooking, while cold smoking is a method of preserving.
In hot smoking, we see the coals and wood chips located much closer to the food, allowing the food to cook at about 225°F for a few hours.
In contrast, cold smoking is not just far lower in average temperature (often around 80-90°F), it also locates the source of the smoke much further away from the meat.
What are the best woods for cold smoking?
While all wood can create smoke, not all wood is suitable for meat smoking.
If you get your wood choice wrong you can overpower the flavor of your meat, and even make it inedible.
Hardwoods are the perfect choice for meat smoking, and are available in a variety of types and flavors. For example, applewood, cherry, and mesquite.
All of these can be used for cold smoking, but what should help you decide is what meat you’re cooking. Different types of wood match differently with different meats, so first decide what you’re cold smoking before deciding on your wood.
For example, pork matches much better with fruity sweet woods like apple, while beef goes better with more intense, earthy woods like mesquite and hickory.
Another key consideration is to use wood that is better running as embers or a smolder. This usually means that we want wood pellets rather than big logs or chips, which tend to burn much hotter and shorter.