Why You Should Always Have Liquid Smoke In Your Pantry

Vanilla or citrus extracts might be the only flavorings in your kitchen cupboard, but you might want to make some room for something a bit more savory. Although barbecue purists might not always approve, liquid smoke is one concentrate that you should always have in your pantry.

Inspired by the memory of liquid trickling down a stovepipe, Eater explains that pharmacist Ernest H. Wright created the ingredient in 1895 as a means of meat preservation, rather than its current use as a flavoring agent. Actually made from smoke, the particles from burning wood chips are collected in condensers, distilled, and then filtered, resulting in an amber-colored liquid that's rich with smoky aroma and flavor (via Serious Eats).

Worried that bottle of liquid smoke could be dangerous? While any source of smoke can contain cancer-causing chemicals, Iowa State University explains that the concentration of carcinogenic compounds is relatively low in comparison to food that's physically been charred or smoked. If the safety of the concentrate has piqued your interest, keep reading.

It adds smoky flavor in a flash

The creation of liquid smoke has meant that those deliciously smoky flavors that normally take hours to achieve using a grill or smoker, are instead right at your fingertips. Aside from convenience, there's also the advantage of variety. You have options when it comes to what type of liquid smoke to use from mesquite to hickory to pecan and everything in between, notes Taste of Home. Just pay attention to the ingredients — the fewer listed, the less artificial it'll taste.

All you need are a few drops to amp up flavor and depth in your favorite recipes. Epicurious recommends adding it to marinades, seasoning roasted nuts, or crafting smoke-infused cocktails. But, you can also brush a bit on burgers, toss into a pot of game day chili, and use it in salad dressings. Even vegan recipes like coconut bacon can reap the benefits of barbecue-in-a-bottle.

Despite the fact that it might be a new ingredient to add to your culinary arsenal, Allrecipes reports that many supermarket products like hot dogs or bacon that are labeled "smoked" are actually already flavored with liquid smoke. Why not infuse some of that tastiness at home?