Have you tried smoked cheese?!? That stuff is legit good! As is smoked salmon, smoked nuts, jerky, and of course, bacon!
But, they’re pretty hard to do right on a regular smoker so that’s probably what’s landed you here on a quest to find out more. When it comes to cold smoking, there’s actually a few different choices with what you can use. We’ve checked them out, tried them out and reviewed the best cold smokers below.
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The Best Cold Smokers in 2020
Listed roughly from the lowest price to the highest
Lanney Smoker Tube
Keen on trying cold smoking but don’t want to spend a lot?
This awesome, inexpensive accessory lets you turn absolutely any barbecue into a cold smoker in minutes. Gas, electric, charcoal or pellet, you’re really only using your existing bbq to hold the meat while you add this small stainless steel tube to cold smoke for up to 5 hours without refiling.
And, while there’s a heap of brands that make similar products, we love the Lanney because it’s made from high-quality stainless steel, won’t roll around and comes with some neat accessories.
You can use it with any type of smoking pellets or wood chips so it’s also cheap to run.
Specs for the Lanney Smoker Tube
Barbecue type: Accessory
Barbecue material: Stainless steel
Cooking capacity: Allows for 5 hours of smoking
Heat range: Hot or cold smoking
Fuel type: Wood pellets or wood chips
Model: 12″ Stainless Steel Smoker Tube
Dimensions: 12.16 (W) x 2.4 (H) x 2.24 (D)
Weight: 9.6 oz
Warranty: None but money back guarantee
Pros of the Lanney Smoker Tube:
- Cheap, cheap cheap!
- Can be used to cold smoke on any type of barbecue or smoker
- High-quality stainless steel tube is rust-resistant and very durable
- Hexagonal shape gives good airflow and smoke distribution
- Won’t roll around your grill
- Easy to fill
- Works with either wood pellets or wood chips
- 12″ size gives you up to 5 hours of burn time
- Can also be used for hot smoking to convert a grill to a smoker
- Comes with cleaning brush, hooks and a handy basting brush
- Money back guarantee
Cons of the Lanney Smoker Tube:
- Have to refill for longer cooks
- Doesn’t put out as much smoke as some other dedicated cold smokers
- You’ll need a blow torch to light it
A-MAZE-N Maze Pellet Smoker Tray
If 5 hours of smoke time isn’t enough for you, say hello to the A-MAZE-N Maze Pellet Smoker.
As the name says, it’s set up in a snaked maze pattern to hold enough wood pellets to smoke for up to 12 hours.
Super easy to use – just fill it with pellets, light one side and place it on any barbecue grate with the bbq turned off for cold smoking or on for hot smoking.
Just keep in mind that as with the Lanney Smoker Tube, you will need enough airflow in your barbecue for the pellets to burn. If you’re planning to use it on something with a really tight seal, you might not be able to get enough air in which will stop the pellets from burning.
As for the product itself, A-MAZE-N Maze Pellet Smoker is stainless steel. It’ll last well without rusting and is still small, light and easy to store.
It’s been around for years and is a well-loved cold smoking accessory with amazing reviews.
Specs for the A-MAZE-N Maze Pellet Smoker
Barbecue type: Accessory
Barbecue material: Stainless steel
Cooking capacity: Allows for up to 12 hours of smoking
Heat Range: Hot or cold smoking
Fuel type: Wood pellet
Assembled size (in): 8(D) x 5(W) x 1.5(H)
Weight: 13.6 oz
Pros of the A-MAZE-N Maze Pellet Smoker:
- Gives a long unassisted smoke time
- Produces a good amount of smoke in both hot or cold situations
- Durable stainless steel build will last years without rusting out
- Can be used on any type of grill or smoker
- Easy to use
Cons of the A-MAZE-N Maze Pellet Smoker:
- Won’t put out as much smoke as a dedicated cold smoker
- Not ideal for using at high altitude as there’s not enough oxygen for a good burn
- You’ll also need a blow torch to light it
- No warranty
Masterbuilt Slow Smoker Accessory
If you’re really looking for a purpose built cold smoker, buying a basic digital Masterbuilt electric smoker plus the slow smoker attachment is an affordable option that lets you cold smoke continuously for up to 6 hours.
It’s, obviously, also a great way to convert your current Masterbuilt electric smoker into a cold smoker. It works with any digital MES model where you can remove the wood chip tray without opening the door. It’s easy to install and you don’t have to drill holes in your current smoker.
How does the Masterbuilt slow smoker work?
You attach the add-on box through the wood chip port using the included J hook. It’s a bit hard to get it in there. But, once it’s done you simply load it up with wood chips, place your food in the cooking chamber, and, it’ll feed the system to smoke away for up to 6 hours.
Works great for cold smoking things like salmon, bacon, cheeses and nuts.
But, the slow smoker attachment also works up to 275˚F. So, it’s actually a great add-on for hot smoking on any digital MES because you don’t need to worry about adding more wood chips. It’s just taken care of for 6 hours.
Specs for the Masterbuilt Slow Smoker Attachment
Barbecue type: Accessory
Barbecue material: Cast iron
Cooking capacity: Allows for up to 6 hours of continuous smoking
Temperature range: Cold or hot smoking up to 275˚F
Fuel type: Electric with wood chips
Dimensions (in): 18(H) x 10.4(W) x 10.4(D)
Weight: 9.5 lbs
Warranty: 1 year
Pros of the Masterbuilt Slow Smoker Accessory:
- Works with any digital Masterbuilt electric smoker to turn it into a dedicated cold smoker
- Can also be used to hot smoke without having to add more wood chips for 6 hours
- You don’t need to drill holes in your current smoker
- Easy to use
- Produces a good amount of smoke
- Removable ash tray makes cleaning easy
Cons of the Masterbuilt Slow Smoker Accessory:
- A bit hard to set up the first time
- Leaks a bit of smoke through the top door and join between the unit and smoker itself
- Some issues with height alignment on different models where the side box hangs in the air on some but might sit lower than the actual smoker on others
Smoke Daddy Big Kahuna Cold Smoke Generator
One pitfall of using a smoking tube or maze is that they won’t create quite the same smoke flow as a purpose built cold smoke generator. So, that’s where this baby steps in.
The Smoke Daddy Big Kahuna Cold Smoke Generator attaches to any grill or smoker that has a vertical wall. Yes, you’re talking a mod that involves drilling a hole in the side of your ‘cue. But, for it you’ll get a permanent high output hot or cold smoker that’ll give you 3-4 hours of smoke time.
Designed for standard sized grills or larger, the Big Kahuna will put plenty of smoke through your food for big flavor that does outdo the budget options. But, because the electric air flow pump is adjustable, you can also change the smoke output if you want a more modest taste.
It’s a great option for anyone wanting to cold smoke regularly. But, it’s also commonly used to boost the smoke levels inside regular hot pellet grills too.
Specs for the Smoke Daddy Big Kahuna Cold Smoke Generator
Barbecue material: Heavy-gauge aluminum
Cooking capacity: Suits smokers 6 cubic feet and larger
Hopper capacity: 3-4 hours of smoke time
Temperature Range: Cold and hot smoke
Pros of the Smoke Daddy Big Kahuna Cold Smoke Generator:
- Converts any grill or smoker into a cold smoker
- Creates great cold smoke flow from underneath your food, just like a regular hot smoker
- Can also be used to boost smoke levels in a regular smoker, or, to convert a grill into a smoker
- Designed for larger grills
- Adjustable air flow lets you control the smoke levels
- Works with readily available wood chips or wood chunks
- Can be refilled without having to open your barbecue
Cons of the Smoke Daddy Big Kahuna Cold Smoke Generator:
- You need to drill a hole in your barbecue for installation
- Requires thorough cleaning between each use
Fast Eddy’s by Cookshack PG500 Pellet Smoker
If you want to cold smoke properly without the fuss of cutting holes in your smoker or using a smoking tube, the Cookshack PG500 Fast Eddy’s gives you real-deal cold smoking plus a whole heap more.
This competition grade, semi-professional smoker not only hot smokes and cold smokes, it also grills too.
Made from stainless steel with charbroiler technology, it’s super durable and super effective. The cooking space isn’t huge which can be a plus (it uses less fuel). You’ve got a moderate 784 square inches spread over 4 zones. That gives most people more than enough room to smoke for a family. But, if you’re entertaining and want to grill, keep in mind you’re only going to get 4 or so steaks or burger patties over the direct flame at any one time.
To cold smoke on the PG500, you start by setting the smoker to it’s lowest heat setting. Then, put a tray of ice in the warming draw and place your food in a tray on top. The results are pretty impressive and the setup works well for cheeses, nuts, fish and bacon.
Clearly the Cookshack PG500 is going to be a more expensive cold smoking option than the rest on this list. But, considering that it’s a top performing pellet smoker, it’s not a bad price for a unit that can do it all and does a mighty fine job while it’s at it.
Specs for the Fast Eddy's PG500 Pellet Grill and Smoker
Barbecue material: 100% unpainted stainless steel
Grate material: Stainless steel rod grate in direct cooking areas, nickel plated grill in indirect
Cooking capacity: 180 sq. in. direct cooking, 324 sq. in. indirect cooking, 280 sq. in. top rack, 247 sq. in. warming draw
Pellet hopper capacity: 22lbs
Heat Range: Up to 600°F
Fuel type: Wood pellet
Assembled size (in): 52.5(H) x 56.5(W) x 23.5(D)
Warranty: 2 years
Pros of the Cookshack Fast Eddy’s PG500:
- Lets you cold smoke, hot smoke and grill all in the one unit
- Stainless steel construction won’t rust or flake paint
- Commercial grade temperature controller keeps heat within a few degrees of your target
- Large pellet hopper capacity for long unassisted smoke times
- Competition approved
Cons of the Cookshack Fast Eddy’s PG500:
- Because cold smoking is limited to the warming drawer, it doesn’t hold that much at a time
- You need to mess around with ice and trays
- It looks industrial which might put some people off. But, it does look like the real deal
FAQ's About Cold Smoking
What Is Cold Smoking?
Cold smoking is the process of flavoring and/or preserving food by exposing it to cool smoke. Some types of foods, like meat, need to be cured before smoking to reduce moisture levels and inhibit bacteria growth.
The difference between hot smoking and cold smoking is that hot smoking cooks food while cold smoking doesn’t. That means that cold smoked foods must either be safe to eat cold, cured correctly beforehand, or, cooked after cold smoking and before eating.
It’s a age-old practice that’s both delicious and practical.
What is the best temperature for cold smoking?
True cold smoking should be done at temperatures less than 90°F.
What foods can I cold smoke?
As long as you cure or cook some types of foods before or after cold smoking, you can really cold smoke anything.
But, some of the best, easiest and safest foods for cold smoking include:
- Tofu (it’s actually not bad!)
- Olive oil
- Bacon (only because you cook it after the fact)
Is cold smoking safe?
Yes and no.
Cold smoking involves leaving food in the ‘danger zone’ where the temperature is warm enough for bacteria to grow but not hot enough to kill it off. So, it can be risky. And, yes, people have died from eating cold smoked foods.
But, cold smoking meats are a lot more high risk than things like cheese and nuts. Bacon is also on the ‘safer’ list because you always cook it after cold smoking.
If you want to try cold smoking at home, we’d recommend sticking to nuts, cheese and tofu.
The exception to the rule is if you’re in a high risk group. Pregnant women, those who are immunocompromised, chronically ill or elderly are always advised to steer clear of cold smoked foods, even if they’re commercially produced.
But, if you do want to take on learning to cure and cold smoke meats at home, Michael Ruhlman’s book, Charcuterie: The Craft of Salting, Smoking and Curing will give you a good knowledge of the care and technique you need to use.
For more information on the safety of cold smoking, check out what Meathead Goldwyn says about the matter.