Liquid smoke is a simple ingredient to use in order to give your food a certain hickory-smoked flavor. The safety of liquid smoke is often discussed, and with good reason. The harmful carcinogens found in most smoked food is a result of fat. Because these compounds are fat soluble, they tend to cling to fatty foods that we ingest. Liquid smoke, however, is water soluble and the process of making it gets rid of the harmful properties of smoke. And just to be clear, it is estimated you would need to ingest about 3 bottles of liquid smoke to create problems – and this is simply unrealistic since most uses call for less than 10 drops!
When purchasing liquid smoke, you will more than likely have a couple of options for flavor: mesquite or hickory. What’s important is to take a look at the ingredient list. It should be 100% aroma extracted without any fats or other chemical agents. It should simply be concentrated and distilled smoke.
There are a number of ways to use liquid smoke in your cooking. Use 1-3 grams (25-80 drops) per kilogram (2.2 lbs.) of whatever you want to smoke. I usually add about 10 drops to a big pot of chili or BBQ sauce, and that’s plenty. Another way to use the smoke to create an instant smoky aroma is to mix 1 tablespoon of liquid smoke with 250 ml. (1 cup) water and place the mixture in a spray bottle. Simply spray the smoke onto whatever you are creating (think roasted or grilled vegetables, tempeh or tofu).