Smoke on the Water—Wood & Liquid Smoked Salts

Smoked SaltStart with an all-natural salt and slow smoke it using real Applewood chips. A delicate smolder with a subtle hint of fruit makes this smoked salt very versatile as a rub, marinade, or finishing salt. BUT what if you do not have a smoker? That is what my friend Anna asked me. So I came up with a solution. There are two methods here to get that wonderful flavor that smoked salt imparts. Included is a recipe to make an Applewood Smoky Rub.

If you’ve ever seen smoked salt on a shelf in a grocery store before, you probably noticed one thing in particular. It’s very expensive! Based on the price, you would think you were buying gold dust. The good news is it is not expensive or difficult to make on your own.

You can also try different flavors. The woods all have subtle differences in their flavors. Use chemical-free cherry, pecan, mesquite, and hickory wood chips. The same with method number two, where liquid smoke is used. There are many flavors out there you can try. Most liquid smokes are completely natural. They are merely the condensed liquid from the actual smoking process, the stuff running down the inside of your home bbq/smoker lid. Other than actually smoking your item, this is the only way you will impart that flavor.

I have replaced liquid smoke successfully with Tabasco’s Chipotle Pepper Sauce. The smoked chilis give you the nice smokey flavor and add a bit of fire as well. If you are preparing a food (like barbecue sauce) that has liquid smoke in it, consider smoked paprika instead of regular, and if you like the heat, smoked chilis as an alternative. You’ll likely need to adjust the original recipe.

The question was raised as to whether you could substitute wood-smoked salt for liquid smoke. I would have to say no. Liquid smoke is very strong, stronger than smoked salt. You’d have to use a lot of smoked salt to get the same intensity of flavor as liquid smoke. So much so that it would be way too salty.

There are many ways to use your new gourmet salt.

  • As a dry rub for meats, use it alone or combine it with a variety of spices.
  • As a substitute for bacon crumble for vegetarian options, sprinkle it on deviled eggs, a salad, or in a homemade vinaigrette dressing.
  • Grind it over hot buttered popcorn or homemade toffee fudge.
  • Add a delectable toasted crunch to salted caramel ice cream.
  • Complement the sweet and crank up the smoky by adding it to roasted peaches with bourbon syrup.
  • Add it to a meaty, ripe sliced tomato or sprinkle it over a bowl of sweet, juicy melon.
  • Nibble on smoked salt-roasted pumpkin seeds or a smoked salt-garnished caramel apple.
  • Shake it over soft butter for corn on the cob and finish homemade BBQ sauce with a pinch or two.
  • Mash it into baked sweet potatoes or a favorite potato salad recipe.
  • Use it as a finish for a rich, creamy pasta or macaroni-and-cheese.
  • Enhance the hearty in your breakfast with a dash in your scramble or dusted over your eggs Benedict.
  • Smoked salt is great for a Bloody Mary and a-perfect complement to the Margarita.


Wood-Smoked Salt

Makes 2 cups

Smoked Salt5 (1)Ingredients
2 cups wood chips, soaked in cold water for 1 hour, then drained
2 cups coarse kosher salt


  1. You will need a Weber or charcoal grill. (If you have a smoker or gas grill, see notes.) Set up the grill for indirect grilling (putting all your hot coals to one side and leaving a cool side to work from). Toss the soaked wood chips on the coals.
  2. Spread the salt in a thin layer in an aluminum pan and place it on the grate away from the fire. Cover the grill and adjust the vent holes to medium heat (350°F/177°C).
  3. Smoke the salt for 1-1/2 hours. Be sure to give the pan a shake or two midway, so the smoke is evenly distributed.
  4. Add it to a salt shaker, salt grinder, or spice bottle and use as a finishing or table salt. Or store in an airtight container away from heat, moisture, and light. Adding a few grains of uncooked rice or a packet of silica gel will keep it free-flowing.


  • If you have a smoker, simply put the salt in the aluminum pan, and put the pan near the vent.
  • If you have a gas grill, take your soaked wood chips, wrap in aluminum foil, making a foot long package burrito-style and leave the top open. Put the foiled chips in the bottom of the gas grill, near the burners. Then follow the same steps.


Liquid Smoke Salt

Makes 1/2 cup

Recipe !Ingredients
1⁄2 cup fine grain kosher salt
1 tablespoon liquid smoke flavor of choice


  1. Mix salt and liquid smoke together in a small bowl. Add more salt or liquid smoke, if need be, to make a mixture resembling very moist brown sugar.
  2. Spread salt out on a cookie sheet.
  3. Allow to dry at room temperature or dehydrate at 135°F/57°C. Stir and rub salt between your fingers periodically.
  4. Room temp salt is ready in 1-2 days. Dehydrated salt should be ready in 18-24 hours or when crispy dry.
  5. If you have large clumps of salt, just pulse in a grinder. If you prefer coarser salt, use a mortar and pestle to get the weight you desire.
  6. Add it to a salt shaker, salt grinder, or spice bottle and use as a finishing or table salt. Or store in an airtight container away from heat, moisture, and light. Adding a few grains of uncooked rice or a packet of silica gel will keep it free-flowing.


Applewood Smoky Rub (like McCormick’s)

Makes 1/2 cup

Pork RubIngredients
3 tbsp. Applewood Smoked Salt
3 tbsp. brown sugar
1 tbsp. smoked paprika
1 tsp. dry mustard
1 tsp. cayenne powder (to taste)
1/2 tsp. garlic powder
1/4 tsp. onion powder


  1. Combine all ingredients and mix thoroughly.
  2. Store in a cool, dry, area away from light.


This amount will flavor 2-3 pounds of meat for grilling or roasting. If you are flavoring meats for dehydration, use a light hand and test your mix to see if your taste buds require more. Flavors will concentrate in the act of dehydration, so “less is more” in seasoning foods you are preparing for your dehydrator.

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