3 Best Cold Smoke Generators Reviewed in Detail (2020) – Do Not Buy Before Reading!
You've likely seen it while looking for some meat to grill. Smoked cheese. Don't get us wrong, smoked cheese is great, but have you ever wondered how that smokey flavor gets in the cheese? Is it slathered on? Injected? Or is it some sort of artificial process?
If you have ever been curious about smoked cheese, or smoked sausage, or really any food that involves smoking but without a flame then you may be interested in a best cold smoke generator!
Smokers come in two varieties. Regular hot smokers are just another way to cook food, keeping the source of heat close to the food. Cold smoking, meanwhile, is keeping the heat away from the food buy still allowing the smoke to come into contact with it. This way, the food is better preserved and more importantly flavored.
This is how you can have the likes of smoked cheese or smoked butter. Through the wonders of cold smoking! If this sounds like something you'd want to do, then don't you worry as we've assembled a list of the top 3 best cold smoke generators on the market!
Now, before we begin, let's explain that these aren't full-sized smokers. Instead, these are accessories and add ones to attach to your smoker or grill that'll let it act as a cold smoker.
At a Glance: Our Top 3 Picks for Cold Smoke Generator
Top 3 Best Cold Smoke Generators Review
Smoke Daddy is a relatively new company on the market who's main field of interest is with smokers. A family-owned business, Smoke Daddy does their best to ensure that all their products are 100% quality products.
So, what does this mean with the actual smoker unit? Firstly, it's a very nice and solid cold smoke generator that stands sixteen inches high and is made of high-grade aluminum.
You also get other components with the Big Kahuna which include the top and bottom caps, a threaded outlet barrel, a three-foot-long silicon hose, spring baffle, cleaning brush, and then the adjustable air pump which we must admit looks suspiciously like an air pump from a fish tank. All these parts feel good, and we would guess that replacing anything that breaks wouldn't be a problem.
Now, the Big Kahuna doesn't come fully assembled. Instead, you have to attach it to your grill or smoker which means drilling holes and inserting metal brackets to keep everything in place. Assemble wasn't a problem, and the main body holds a generous amount of fuel. The Big Kahuna can also function as a hot smoker due to using any fuel available.
With plenty of smoke being produced and the adjustable air pump providing just as much smoke as we need, the Big Kahuna is a fantastic investment for anyone looking to start cold, or hot, smoking. It's easy to use, easy to assemble, and above all else works.
The next smoker on our list is the Cold Chief Smoke Generator, which distinguishes itself from other smokers by being electric! All you need to do is plug the unit in, flip the switch, and you've got smoke!
The unit itself has some nice heft to it, and we don't feel that this will break after repeated use either. Although it might not be good for those wishing to dabble in smoking, as opposed to investing in smoking, due to costs.
Inside the box, you'll find the unit along with a hanger mount, a cleaner, the instruction manual, a power adapter, and rather generously a small cup of wood pellets which acts as a measuring cup! The Cold Chief prides itself on being efficient, with one cupful of wood pellets producing enough smoke for three hours!
Another feature that sets the Cold Chief aside from other smokers is the use of wood pellets. Not chips or pieces, but just wood pellets. Wood pellets are easy to come by and quite affordable, so no need to worry about running out of fuel. The Cold Chief, thanks to the adapter, can be plugged into a standard power outlet or an outlet like you would find in your car if you want to smoke foods when out camping or tailgating.
The Cold Chief is a portable unit, and the hose can fit most 3/8-inch holes. So no drilling required, unless you wish to install the hanger mount. We found that this smoker works. We can take it with us, and it produces enough smoke with just one cup of pellets that it's perfect on-the-go jobs just as much as it is for jobs based at home. It's portable and efficient!
The Smokemiester BBQ Smoker puts itself ahead of the crowd by requiring no air pump what so ever. Instead, it creates its own draft by the simple solution of opening and closing the lid.
In turn, this creates an airflow that brings in the fresh air and pushes out smoke through the metal outlet pipe. We should mention now that the Smokemiester looks like a sideways hammer.
Inside the box, you have the unit itself, instructions, and some nuts to help you install it. Yes, this is a smoker you need to manually install into your grill or smoker, and in turn, you'll need to drill a hole for the outlet pipe.
A 1 1/8" hole is needed. This said, installing wasn't hard at all and taking a look inside the unit itself you see plenty of features like the burn screen in front of the outlet pipe to protect it from clogging.
The Smokemiester uses wood pellets and needs four full cups to be fully filled. It'll run for eight hours without hassle or mess. If you're inclined to, the Smokemiester can also use wood chips or chunks, so you have options with this model! The unit is crafted in stainless steel and is painted on the outside with chip-resistant paint. It looks and feels nice, and we like how the ashtray can swim out from under neither when it's time to clean.
One of the best features are the wooden handles on the lids and ashtray which means no worrying about accidentally burning yourself. Although, it's still better to be safe than sorry, so we wore gloves when operating the Smokemiester. Overall, the Smokemiester is a fantastic and lovely smoker that looks right at home nestled up to your grill or smoker.
As seen above, cold smoking isn't something that's really portable. When you invest in a cold smoker, you're going to likely have to modify your existing grill or smoker. Alternatively, some more enterprising cookers out there make their own smokers using the units listed above. However, you want to use your cold smoker. Don't buy it and leave it sitting there or attached to your grill but never used either.
Smoking is an art, and like all great art, it takes time and practice. Don't feel too bad if your first attempt at smoking cheese ends up with the cheese on fire, although you'll feel bad having to clean burnt cheese from your grill. Practice makes perfect, after all, and after a few tries, you'll learn the art of cold smoking in no time!
If you're hesitant about drilling into your grill, pick up the Cold Chief or another portable unit, and use that for some time as you get adjusted to cold smoking and seeing if it's right for you. Better than having to drill a hole in your grill and realize that you couldn't care less about cold smoking! Alternatively, you can try making your own, smaller-scale smoker and using that before attaching a cold smoker to your grill.
The choice is up to you, and these three cold smokers are going to be the best bang for your buck!
What To Look For When Choosing The Best Cold Smoke Generator
Cold smoking is a great way to imprint that rick, smokey flavor you love on foods that wouldn't do so good with an open flame. Cheese, butter, sausages, vegetables, nuts, shellfish, and much more! Some people even use cold smoking with fruit! Whatever the reason as to why you want a cold smoker, there are of course important factors you should consider when planning on buying one.
We've listed them below and as always we'll explore these points in much more detail!
Like any accessory or cooking instrument you'll acquire, the first thing you want to take note of is the price. Cold smokers are generally not cheap, most models costing at minimum one hundred dollars. More large and complex models can sell for well over two hundred dollars or more. The price adds up if you're considering building your own cold smoker unit.
If you're new to cold smoking and just want to try out a unit, we recommend getting one of the mid-range models like the Smoke Chief Cold Smoke. This will give you a good introduction to the world of cold smokers, and you don't have to worry about buying an expensive unit you'll never use or will have to mount!
Mounting and Portability :
Most cold smokers available on the market are ones that you mount to your grill or smoker. This means that often you'll have to make modifications to said grill or smoker so that your cold smoker will work. Now some models do come with smaller hoses that can fit into the existing holes on grills and smokers, but often time you'll need to make the modifications yourself.
Modifying your grill or smoker isn't too hard. You drill in an appropriate hole, latch the smoker on, and deadbolt it so it'll stay attached. All the parts needed for mounting the cold smoker are included, but if they aren't finding the right parts isn't going to be a hassle. The biggest hassle is having to make the modifications, so if you don't trust yourself with power tools ask a friend if they'd be willing to help out.
As it should be obvious, mounting your cold smoker means you're not going to be taking it with you anywhere unless you have a trailer to load your grill or smoker on. This being said, cold smoking takes hours at a minimum so you're not going to be dragging one to a tailgate anytime soon. Portable models, like the Smoke Chief Cold Smoke, are on the market if you need to take your smoker with you.
Now, most cold smokers you'll see on the market are made of aluminum or stainless steel which are sturdy materials that you often see in your tools and equipment. If you're looking at brand quality, the two best brands on the market are Smokehouse Smoke and Smoke Daddy; each company delivers quality products that last and are simple to use.
Always check to see if a warranty comes with your cold smoker. Normally a one-year limited warranty is included, but you'll have to contact the company directly to receive your replacement parts or smoker.
Size and Smoke Output:
When you're looking at cold smokers, the second most important consideration is the size and the amount of smoke produced. Larger cold smokers can hold much more fuel and this can produce smoke for hours. Very useful if you're planning on smoking any food overnight at the same time, if your cold smoking activity is limited, a larger cold smoker isn't going to be much of an investment if you're not using its full potential.
Now, just because the cold smoker can hold more fuel, this doesn't exactly mean it'll produce more smoke. Some models are designed for the smoke to funnel out slowly. Other models attempt to pump out as much smoke as possible. We'll discuss this more in a moment but in the meantime consider the dimensions of your grill, smoker, or custom smoker with the model you want.
You don't want to buy a cold smoker that's too big for what you have, and likewise buying a cold smoker intended for a smaller unit is going to waste fuel.
Air Pumps and Air Flow:
Cold smokers work by funneling smoke through a tube or hose, and in order for this to work, they need an airflow. Some models will just catch the smoke and gently push it through the outlet pipe, while others force the smoke through the fuel and out the pipe. The cold smokers will usually tell you on the box if it's designed for producing smoke slower or if you can adjust how much smoke is produced.
To that end, many cold smokers on the market will come with air pumps that siphon the surrounding air to push the smoke out. With an air pump, you can easily control the amount of air being brought into your cold smoker and in turn how much smoke is produced. When purchasing a model with an air pump consider where that air pump will sit while the cold smoker is in use. You don't want it hanging off to the side!
As for models that don't use an air pump, read the instruction manual that comes with the smoker, or online, to get an idea of how that system will work. Normally you don't need to interfere and a current will be generated by itself, but sometimes you'll need to put in some work to ensure a stable air current is feeding the fire and forcing the smoke out.
Area of Smoking:
To get the best use out of your cold smoker, consider the dimensions of your grill, smoker, or possible custom smoker. The tighter space, the easier it'll be for the smoke to reach all your food. The larger the area, the more smoke you'll need. The size will also limit which types of food you can smoke all at once, so if you want to smoke a lot of food at the same time you'll need a large cold smoker and a large area to smoke in.
Electric or Manual:
The two types of cold smokers on the market are electric smokers and manual smokers. For electric smokers, you just flip a switch and it'll set the fuel on fire for you. Easy as that. With a manual smoker, you'll need to light a match or have a lighter handy to get your fire started. Manual smokers can also be somewhat tricky to operate, but they're easy enough to master. Manual cold smokers tend to be cheaper and more hardy than electrical ones.
Regardless of electric or manual, cold smokers use wood as their primary fuel source. Be it chips, nuggets, pellets, and even saw dust for some models. Because of the specifics, pick a cold smoker whose fuel will be easy for you to acquire, or at the very least cost-effective. Never use fuel that isn't recommended as this may damage your cold smoker.
Now, cold smokers are safe so long as you don't touch the flame or the unit itself while the flame is lit. The only concern you might have is with cleaning. Clogged pipes can release the excess smoke back in your face or possibly ruin the potential of the smoker. It's required that you clean out your smoker every so often to make sure you don't have a build-up of grime.
Also, never use fuel sources you find. So no sticks, branches, or logs from your backyard. They could have pesticides, insects, and other nasty things lurking inside. Not only will this ruin the flavor of your food, but it could potentially make you sick! So just use fuel from the hardware store or that you buy online.
Cold Smoke Generators FAQs
What Is Cold Smoking? How Is It Different From Regular Smoking?
Cold smoking is simply smoking but without the fire. The fire is removed from the foods, and instead, the smoke is allowed to settle in. Softer foods, like fruits and dairy, can be smoked with cold smoking whereas they would catch fire with regular smoking. But because smoke is being used, and not fire, the food isn't going to cook and moisture won't be removed either.
Does Cold Smoking Take Longer Than Regular Smoking?
No. As we mentioned above, cold smoking is to imprint flavor and not cook the food. Since smoke is still at play, cold smoking will normally take as long as regular smoking. A few hours at the minimum, to overnight smoking for better flavor or with bigger foods.
Will I Need A New Smoker Or Grill For Cold Smoking?
No. Most cold smokers are designed to be mounted to your pre-existing smoker or grill. While you can buy cold smokers that have their own spaces, or make your own, it's going to be easier and cheaper to buy one and mount it to your grill or smoker.
Can I Use Charcoal Or Coal With My Cold Smoker?
No. Cold smokers are designed for using wood only. Nothing else.
Can I Cold Smoke Food I Already Cooked?
Yes! Cold smoking is great for not only preserving cooked foods, but also great for providing new and exciting flavor profiles!