Smoked salmon, beef jerky, and smoked gouda: all three of these delicacies get their characteristic smokey flavor from a very specific and fragile – and sometimes dangerous – smoking process called cold smoking.
As the name implies, this process is differs from smoking brisket or chicken only by the temperature that is used in the process. For cold smoking, this is a relatively ice cold 200°F (relative to the normal 275°F for hot smoking, that is!). If this is something you’re interested in, the Masterbuilt Cold Smoking Kit may be for you.
While the principle of cold smoking seems simple enough, especially after you have gotten the hang of hot smoking, it is absolutely fundamental to understand that the difference in temperature between hot and cold smoking is rather significant: the lower temperature range for cold smoking does not cook your food, and so it can be an extremely dangerous process.
Let’s repeat that.
Cold smoking food at 200°F or lower is not hot enough to safely cook any food whatsoever. You should only think of cold smoking as a technique for adding a delicious, complex, smokey flavor to your food.
With that said, cold smoked foods are delicious, and when properly prepared, they pose little to no risk. If cold smoking interests you, make sure to thoroughly research the proper way to cure your meats before you smoke them.
Once you have that background knowledge in place, you can start to look for the vital piece of equipment, the cold smoking kit. One such kit is the Masterbuilt Cold Smoking Kit.
This kit is an electric unit that attaches to many Masterbuilt digital smokers. It is an appliance that feeds wood chips into a flame continuously for up to six hours so that you can have a consistent, uninterrupted source of smoke that will directly flavor your meat, fish, and cheese.
Masterbuilt Cold Smoking Kit Key Features
Cold smoking with this unit simply requires attaching it to your existing digital smoker. This connection is made in the side wood chip holder of most Masterbuilt digital smokers. The attachment process is essentially fool proof, and once it is in place, smoke will pass seamlessly from the smaller smoking kit to the larger smoker box. Even better, as a separate unit from the smoker, the heat that is generated inside the cold smoking unit does not drastically affect the internal temperature of the smoker, thereby allowing you to keep the internal temperature of the box below the 200°F threshold.
The kit is user friendly, even for beginners, as it relies on the “set it and forget it” philosophy of most smokers. To get started smoking, you simply push the power button. The unit will automatically regulate the temperature so that it is high enough to burn the wood chips. As these chips burn, the ash will fall into the easily accessible ash tray, whereas fresh chips will fall into place to be burned. This means that the smoke-generating process is essentially completely self-regulated. After the six hours, you can stop the heat by simply pushing the power button again and waiting for the unit to cool.
This unit is compatible with any kind of wood chips, and this means that you have a greater control of the precise flavor of your barbecue. While it might be frustrating that this unit must be used with only Masterbuilt digital smokers, there is no limit to the kinds of wood chips that you can use as fuel. As a result, you can play around with the complexity of the flavors. You may even find a new favorite combination with this kind of flexibility!
- This Masterbuilt Cold Smoking Kit can provide as many as six hours of smoke without being touched. This is great if you are looking for a “set it and forget it” kind of unit.
- This unit does not affect the temperature of your smoker with its heating element, as it is completely separate. This means that you can have the opportunity to augment the flavors in your favorite hot-smoke barbecues in addition to accomplishing cold smoking.
- The cold kit does not require much additional power to work in conjunction with your digital smoker, so you shouldn’t have to worry about tripping your electrical outlets even though you are running this unit and the smoker.
- This unit is only compatible with Masterbuilt digital smokers, which is a very specific subset of smokers that are currently on the market.
- You will likely need to use some external cleaner to remove the creosote from the smoker which can be a hassle, especially for beginners.
- This cold smoking kit requires its own source of electricity to function. This means that you have to be sure to have two plugs for barbecues that you do with the kit: one for the smoker itself and one for the cold smoking unit.
Masterbuilt Cold Smoking Kit Detailed Review
Design and Build Quality
As an accessory, the cold smoking kit has a very simplistic design with only the body, the chip tube and the ash tray as its major components. With very few parts the unit comes in at slightly more than ten pounds, paling in comparison to the size of the full size digital smoking unit. You’ll be able to link these appliances together by way of the mount tube on the cold smoking kit, which fits seamlessly inside the side wood chip holder of the smoker. The legs are even adjustable so that you can get make this connection easily, without needing to invest in any kind of external mount.
Overall, the quality of this cold smoking unit is good. It is made from stainless steel, which is well known to be more or less durable. If you can keep it covered in a dry environment whenever you are not using it, you should not have trouble keeping the unit from rusting too quickly. Keep in mind, however, that the unit will wear out over time. This is not a lifetime guaranteed product.
Ease of Assembly
Putting this cold smoking kit together is straightforward, and it should only take about fifteen minutes. The kit comes with a total of ten pieces as well as a clear instruction guide with picture diagrams.
In addition to the instructions for putting the unit together, you will also find a guide for how to pre-season this attachment before you start using it. You will not want to skip this step, as it will coat the interior of the unit and help to enhance the flavor for when you start cooking. Otherwise, you food can end up having a funny chemical aftertaste.
Ease of Use
Because this accessory is so large, it seems like it would be awkward to use. Luckily, this is not at all the case. The cold smoking kit’s mount tube is designed to fit easily into the side of the smoker,and you can adjust the height of the legs if you have your smoker set up on an uneven surface.
From there, starting the smoker is as simple as loading the chip tube and pushing the power button. As the wood chips closest to the heating unit are burned, the ash that is formed will automatically fall into the ash tray, and more wood chips will fall into place. The only things you will need to do is make sure that the temperature of the digital smoker stays in the proper range and add more wood chips as necessary.
Quality of the Cook
In general, the food with this smoker attachment comes out great. One benefit of cold smoking cured meats and fish over doing a hot smoke cook is that the cold smoked food, because it is never heated over 200°F, is always moist.
While the main purpose of this attachment is to help you generate smoke when doing a cold smoke at less than 200°F, you can also use it to boost the smokey flavor of a hot smoke. You can do this because the temperature of the smoker with your food is regulated separately from the cold smoking. This technique, however, can require a lot of practice to get exactly right, as it can just lead to a smoke that tastes like burnt food.
Ease of Cleanup
Cleaning this cold smoking unit is very easy, especially because you never put food inside this unit. As a result, you will never need to clean grease out from the interior of the cold smoker. On top of that, this unit includes an ash tray that you can easily pull out to remove ash as you cook rather than needing to sweep out the bottom of the appliance after each cook.
The Masterbuilt Cold Smoking kit is powerful, well-made and easy-to-use. Better yet, it comes in at a price range that is reasonable, and it is backed by the well-established reputation of Masterbuilt, so you shouldn’t have to worry about getting a product that will wear out too quickly. The only major downside of this piece of equipment is that it is only available for a small subset of digital smokers. Nevertheless, with this attachment and your Masterbuilt digital smoker, you can have the opportunity to expand your smoking repertoire to include more sensitive foods like sausage, jerky, cheese, and fish.
Just, please, keep in mind that cold smoking is dangerous if you do not properly cure your foods beforehand. Otherwise, happy smoking!
What’s it Compatible With?
Let’s take a look at some of the smokers the Masterbuilt Cold Smoking kit is compatible with:
Masterbuilt 30″ Vertical Propane Smoker
For those looking to cook for a large group of people and like the ease of cooking with propane, the Masterbuilt 30″ Vertical Propane Smoker may be right for you.
Check out our review here.
Masterbuilt 40″ Digital Electric Smoker
For those who want a show-stopper piece that can cook enough food for a huge party, the Masterbuilt 40 Digital Electric Smoker might be a good option for you.
Check out our review here.