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The Grill-Free Way to Add Deep Smoky Flavor to Your Fruits and Vegetables

Photo: Getty Images

Cold smoking is an easy technique that can be done indoors or out to give your fruit, vegetables, grains, and other foods a deep, smoky flavor without the heat of a smoker or grill. Smoking doesn't have to be daunting, and this simple trick won't add any extra calories, just loads and loads of amped up flavor. 

As summer is slowly coming to a close and the seasons change, our selection of produce begins to change as well. Tomatoes are no longer summer sweet, and peaches lose a little bit of their ripe plushness. For those reasons and more, finding creative ways to add flavor to your food is an excellent way to transition from season to season.

Cold smoking is one such creative culinary trick, and it is a great method to revive your produce without completely cooking them through. Cold smoking usually is in the range of 90-120 degrees Fahrenheit. Contrast that to hot smoking which is approximately 175 degrees Fahrenheit/ (Hot smoking can even reach up to 300 degrees.)

Hot smoking is ideal for meat that needs to be properly cooked while cold smoking lends itself better to dairy products, grains, and produce. Inspired by Chef Scott Crawford's smoked tomatoes, we wanted to share this technique with steps you can do at home. You're only adding flavor, so produce maintains its texture, color, and nutritional value. Follow these steps to try cold smoking at home. 


  1. Soak any flavor of wood chips in cold water for an hour.
  2. Line a large pot (such as a Dutch oven) with foil and place wood chips partly sealed in foil at the bottom of the pot.
  3. Place a steamer basket in the pot and add selected produce to the basket.  
  4. Turn on the stove to low. 
  5. Cover for 25 minutes.
  6. As the wood chips slowly smoke, the food will begin to take on the deep, smoky flavor. 

*Important Notes for Indoor Smoking:

  • Smoke will get out only when you lift the lid to the pot, but in order to be precautionary, open your windows and doors and turn on any fans you have near the stove. 
  • Designate one of your pots to be the cold smoking pot because it might wear down from the smoking. 


  1. Soak any flavor of wood chips in cold water for an hour.
  2. Poke holes in an aluminum pie tin or use a pan with holes in it to smoke the produce. Add selected produce to the pan or tin. 
  3. Place wood chips on the second layer of the grill and light the wood chips. Do not turn on the grill. 
  4. Cover for 25 minutes.
  5. As the wood chips slowly smoke, the produce will begin to take on the deep, smoky flavor. 

Try cold smoking mushrooms, tomatoes, pepper varieties, corn, and even dairy products like cheese to add a smoky flavor to your favorite ingredients. Remember, cold smoking does not mean you are fully cooking the food so make the food you're planning to smoke is properly cooked before rigging up your at-home cold smoker.