How to smoke food at home

Smoking fish and meat at home may seem like a long drawn-out and potentially messy business but it's not. Smoking takes no longer than other forms of cooking. As for the smoke fumes, all you need do in the winter is open the kitchen windows and switch on any ventilator. When the weather improves, you can smoke your food outside on a barbecue. Smoking also offers a chance to experiment. Different types of sawdust and wood shavings produce a range of flavours.

Shake a layer of salt onto a large plate. You can use any type of plain salt. Put your meat or fish onto the salt. Shake more salt on top. Leave the meat or fish for at least five minutes and no more than 50 minutes. The time depends on the thickness of the meat or fish. The thicker it is, the longer you should leave it. Salting reduces the amount of water in the meat or fish and improves the ultimate flavour.

Wash the salt from the meat or fish. Dry the meat or fish with a piece of kitchen towel.

Put a large saucepan on the hob. Place a thick layer of sawdust or wood shavings on the bottom of the saucepan. As a guide, use maple for white meat; oak for red meat; alder for fish. Be willing to experiment.

Place the cooling rack in the saucepan. The rack may not necessarily fit. If it doesn't, cut it to size with a hacksaw. The rack should be 10 cm from the bottom of the pan.

Turn on the hob. Use a high heat setting. When the sawdust or wood shavings begin to give off smoke, turn the heat to a low setting. Place the meat or fish on the rack. Put a lid on the saucepan.

Leave fish to smoke for around 15 minutes. Pieces of poultry and red meat may take 30 minutes or more. Check the progress of the smoking regularly. The idea is to allow the smoke to cook the food all the way through.


Buy a smoking pan if you don't wish to use a saucepan and cooling rack for cooking. Ensure the pan is large enough for the pieces of fish or joints of meat you wish to smoke.

Oak is good for fish as well as red meat. Cherry works well with poultry and game. HIckory is a good choice for mackerel. Apple is successful with white meat. Avoid soft wood, woods with resin and sycamore.

Things You'll Need

  • Salt
  • Large saucepan
  • Cooling rack
  • Sawdust or wood shavings
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About the Author

Kevin Watson has been a full-time writer and copy editor since 2006. He specializes in UK business and technology, and his articles include an award-winning piece for "Communicator" magazine. Watson is a qualified technical writer. He also has a master's degree in strategic management from Middlesex University.