Last Updated On: April 11, 2021

Because cold smoking can be dangerous when done improperly, you want to make sure you’re getting the best cold smoker from a reliable manufacturer. We’ve reviewed the top five smokers to help you find a reliable option for your needs.

Our Top 5 Cold Smokers for 2021

1

Smokehouse Products Smoke Chief Cold Smoke Generator

Smokehouse Products Chief Cold Smoke Generator is a complete cold smoke generation setup designed to provide massive amounts of smoke using wood pellets.

The smoker can provide up to 3-hours of smoke using just one cup of pellets.

You can try this for many types of food, from cheese to vegetables to infusing smoke flavor into various meat and fish. This is the most impressive cold smoke generator that we tested.

SPECIFICATIONS:

Product Dimensions: 9.5 x 4 x 12.13 inches
BTU Value: N/A
Cooking Area: N/A
Hopper Capacity: N/A
Fuel Type: Wood Pellets
Material: Stainless Steel

Pros
  • Easy-to-use electric smoker
  • Works with all types of wood pellets
  • Easy mount in grill or smoker
  • Smokes all meat types
Cons
  • Higher price than pellet tube
2

Masterbuilt Digital Electric Model Smoker

Masterbuilt has a solid reputation for creating some of the best gas grills and smokers, and their Digital Electric smoking model is no different.

What we like is the easy to use digital interface lets you set this without too much difficulty.

You will want to regularly monitor the temperatures to ensure they are within the range for hot or cold smoking.

We recommend using a cold smoker attachment to expand the versatility of your Masterbuilt smoker. A smoker kit will also give you better consistency while you cold smoke your favorite meat.  For a further smoky flavor, use a pellet tube.

SPECIFICATIONS:

Product Dimensions: 19.88 x 20.47 x 33.26 inches
BTU Value: N/A
Cooking Area: N/A
Hopper Capacity: N/A
Fuel Type: Electric
Material: Stainless Steel

Pros
  • Cold or hot smoking capabilities
  • Smokes all types of food
  • Stainless steel construction
  • Can use all types of wood chips
Cons
  • Less portable than a tube smoker
3

Cuisinart Electric Smoker

The Cuisinart Electric model smoker can cook large amounts of food with 548 square inches of total cooking space.

This grill model is made from stainless steel with three removable stainless steel trays.

This uses all types of wood for cold and hot smoking and is capable of providing hours of smoke, especially when combined with the best pellet smoker tube.

To get a better flavor for your smoked bacon, fish, or cheese, use your Cuisinart smoker as a food chamber and pump the cold smoke from another source like a cold smoking kit or a DIY smoker box.

The smoker comes with a reliable three-year warranty. For more great electric smoker models, visit the this link.

SPECIFICATIONS:

Product Dimensions: 22 x 19 x 37.5 inches
BTU Value: N/A
Cooking Area: 548 square inches
Hopper Capacity: N/A
Fuel Type: Electric
Material: Stainless Steel

Pros
  • Wood chips or pellet smoker tube
  • Easy monitor built-in thermometer
  • Capable of over 4 hours of smoking
  • Provides a rich smoky flavor
Cons
  • Can be bulky to move around
4

A-MAZE-N AMNPS Maze Pellet Smoker

The A-MAZE pellet smoker, hot or cold smoke generator 2 is a 5 x 8-inch wood tray similar to how a smoker tube works.

This model works with grills and smokers of all types and can be used to cook a wide variety of food.

It’s a tray that you can fill with wood pellets or wood chip pieces for up to 12 hours of use. This is a stainless steel build resistant to both corrosion and rust. If you want a larger choice of pellet smokers, read our best vertical pellet smoker reviews.

SPECIFICATIONS:

Product Dimensions: 5 x 8 x 1.5 inches
BTU Value: N/A
Cooking Area: N/A
Hopper Capacity: N/A
Fuel Type: Electric
Material: Stainless Steel

 

Pros
  • Use with grills and smokers
  • Smoke a wide variety of food
  • Alternative to a smoker tube
  • Best affordable cold smoke generator
Cons
  • Less temperature control
5

Smoke Daddy Magnum P.I.G. Cold Smoke Generator

The Smoke Daddy Cold Smoke Generator is a smoke generator capable of making cold and hot smoked food right in the comfort of your home.

You can use this for a variety of bigger food types by attaching it to either a grill or smoker.

We like how this unique product pumps out premium smoke for that extra smoke flavor you want. The Smoke Daddy smoke generator is built to last as it’s made from heavy-grade aluminum.

SPECIFICATIONS:

Product Dimensions: 16″ x 4-1/2″
BTU Value: N/A
Cooking Area: N/A
Hopper Capacity: N/A
Fuel Type: Wood Chips and Large Chunks
Material: Stainless Steel

Pros
  • Simple to use
  • Easily portable
  • Can be attached to grills and smokers
  • Cooks a variety of food types
Cons
  • Issues with over-smoking

What is cold smoking?

Cold smoking is a very old method of cooking where food is dried out using a curing process that removes moisture over time.

The best smoke sessions are done over a longer period, anywhere from 12 to 24 hours and even up to a week or more depending on the meat.

Because this process uses low temperatures, it doesn't cook food the same as grills or smokers normally would. For this reason, it can be unsafe if you cold smoke food improperly. (1)

You can learn more about cold smoking in this blog post.

Factors To Consider When Buying A Cold Smoker

different types of cold smoker

Type of Smoke Generator

There are a few different types that we highly recommend when you’re looking for the best cold smoke generator. The first is the traditional grill or smokers, which can maintain temperatures low enough for smoking. This is the best option if you can swing it. The second is to get a tube smoker or tray, which is the best cold smoker generator on a budget.

Related articles:

Wood Type

Depending on the type of wood that you put in the grill or smoker, you will get a different smoky flavor. First, you want to consider what food you are making and then let that guide you when choosing the best wood for cold smoking.

Portability

If you plan to use your cold smoke generator while traveling, such as cooking fish while camping, you want to opt for a tube smoker or electric cold smoke generator over complete smokers and grills as the former will be more portable. So, if you are looking for portability, be sure to check our review of the best portable smokers.

Fuel Runtime

A cold smoker's fuel runtime will be dictated by how much wood chips or wood pellets you can add to the cold smoke generator. With tubes, a 12-inch tube will get you around 5 hours of smoke time, whereas a try of wood chips in a grill can last for a few hours at a time.

Recommended article: How to Use Wood Chips in an Electric Smoker (3 Methods)

Ease of Use

The best cold smoke generator is the one that you can efficiently operate without much difficulty. Remember that it can be dangerous if not done properly. Cold smokers don’t cook the meat but instead cure them. So, you want a cold smoker that is easy for you to operate without trouble.

Durability

Durability is going to come down to the materials that cold smokers are made from and how well they are put together. Stainless steel tubes are likely to be more durable over the long term than complex grill models and matches. These are both simple and will be resistant to rust and corrosion (2).

What Can You Smoke in a Cold Smoker?

smoking fish meat and cheese

You can make a wide variety of meats and other food in a cold smoker. The most important thing to remember is that the best cold smoke generators don’t cook the meat.

For this reason, it’s good to avoid meats that need a high internal temperature unless you want to grill them first and then cold smoke them to provide a smoky flavor.

Some of the foods include:

  • Cheese
  • Fruits and vegetables
  • Nuts
  • Bacon
  • Sausage
  • Salmon

Best Woods for Cold Smoking

Not all woods are good, with some leaving too strong of a smoke flavor or other strange tastes.

Because the process will leave a strong aftertaste, you must choose a type of wood that will taste pleasant and works well with different types of meats and other food.

Some of the best woods that we’ve worked with during testing include:

  • Hickory
  • Mesquite
  • Applewood
  • Maple
  • Pecan

 

  • Alder
  • Oak
  • Cherry
  • Walnut
  • Peach

What are the Best Temperatures for Cold Smoking?

Because cold smoking is so dependent on maintaining the proper temperatures, you must keep temperatures below 110 degrees Fahrenheit (43.33 degrees Celsius). It is meant to cure meats and food, so the temperature should stay low for longer periods.

This also means that you should not be trying to rush the process. Make sure you are leaving the meats and food to smoke for a sufficient amount of time at the proper temperatures.

Is Cold Smoking Safe?

meat with thumbs down and up

Cold smoking is entirely safe if you take the time to do things correctly and understand what you are doing. In a full disclaimer, it is possible to get incredibly sick if you try and cold smoke meat and end up doing it improperly.

People have died from botulism and other foodborne illnesses that were not eliminated during the cooking process due to not leaving the meat for long enough or not curing it correctly (3).

With normal cooking, these bacteria and parasites are killed off by the high temperatures making the food safe to eat. However, because it works at low temperatures, the meat needs to cure long enough for these bacteria to be killed off.

Safety Tips

The number one safety tip that we can advise is that you should stick to less risky foods if this is your first time. Try out your first few times with vegetables or fish such as wild-caught salmon. If you want to find out which smoker for fish we strongly recommend be sure to visit this link.

These meats and other foods carry significantly less risk of issues with bacteria or parasites commonly associated with meat illnesses.

Also, don’t try and rush things. The process can take anywhere from hours to days and even over a week with some meat. Always follow any recipes exactly as they say and don’t skip anything.

“Cold-smoked products, however, are not “cooked” and if the incoming product or the facility is contaminated there is no inactivation or inhibition step.”

 

- USFDA, Processing Parameters Needed To Control Pathogens In Cold Smoked Fish (4)

FAQs

Do I have to drill a hole in my grill to install a cold smoker?

No. You do not need to drill holes in your grill to install a cold smoker. Electric cold smokers have a tube that can be inserted in your grill or smoker’s damper or rotisserie hole. With tube smokers, these can be placed on the cooking grates where they will receive airflow.

What is the main difference between hot and cold smoking?

The main difference between hot smoking and cold smoking meats is in the temperatures and the result. Hot smoking raises the temperature of the meat and cooks it through. Cold smoking, on the other hand, slowly dries out and cures the meat to preserve it.

Does cold smoking preserve food?

Yes. Cold smoking preserves meat by slowly drying it out so that bacteria cannot live in it. This process of drying out takes time and will be different for each type of meat.

Which Cold Smoker Did We Choose?

There are many great cold smokers on the market, but after extensive testing and pouring over thousands of reviews, we found the best cold smoker to be Smokehouse Products Smoke Chief Cold Smoker.

This smoker does a great job of providing continuous smoke to the meat or other foods and is both portable and simple to install into your unit. We also like that it’s electronic and can be switched off and on with ease.

What's next? Check out our article about the most common Masterbuilt smoker problems and how to solve them.

Smokehouse Products Smoke Chief Cold Smoke Generator

Our #1 Recommendation

  • Easy-to-use electric smoker
  • Works with all types of wood pellets
  • Easy mount in grill or smoker
  • Smokes all meat types

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