Cold smoking is the process of infusing food with that distinctively smoky flavor we love while keeping the grill between 68 to 86 degrees Fahrenheit. Winter is the ideal time to learn the art of cold smoking with the Pit Boss pellet grill and I’ll share my first experience with it in this post.
Can You Cold Smoke On A Pit Boss?
Yes, anyone can use their Pit Boss smoker as a cold smoker, even if your grill doesn’t have Lockhart’s upper smoke cabinet. To cold smoke in the Pit Boss, you need outside temperatures below 90°F, a reliable cold smoking device, and whatever food you’re wanting to cold smoke.
This article was written on the assumption that you don’t own the Lockhart Platinum smoker/pellet grill combo. In fact, this process can be used on any pellet grill (not just Pit Boss), gas, or charcoal grill.
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So let’s get started.
What Is Cold Smoking?
Cold smoking is the process of infusing food with that distinctively smoky flavor while using minimal heat. It’s often used for curating and preserving meats. But can be used for other foods such as; cheese, salmon, fruits, vegetables, country hams, etc.
What’s The Difference Between Hot and Cold Smoking?
Hot smoking is the most common method of using a pellet grill. It involves using the pellet grill like a convection oven. You power on the grill, set the temperature to the desired cook time, anywhere between 180°-500°F to cook the food.
When the grill has reached the desired cook time, the meat or food is placed on the grates. Because the meat is cooked at temperatures above the danger zone of 140°F, it doesn’t have to be cured. The higher temperatures are hot enough to kill off any bacteria or pathogens that cause food poisoning.
Of course, you can still marinate or cure hot smoked foods to infuse with more flavor.
As mentioned above, cold smoking involves using a smoke tube (this is what I use) or a smoking device of some time to infuse the food with smoke. The pellet grill is not powered on, in fact, the chamber is a holding area for both the food and the smoking device.
Cold smoking is the process used to enhance the flavors and the food is smoked at temperatures between 77-115°F (25-46°C) depending on the type of food. The process doesn’t cook the food, instead, it infuses it with smoke giving it a smoky flavor without losing a lot of moisture.
You don’t even have to plug the Pit Boss in to use it as a cold smoker!
Is Cold Smoking Safe?
If done correctly, cold smoking is safe. In fact, the art of smoking food comes from ancient times. The only difference is that technology makes it easier for anyone to smoke foods from the comfort of their own home.
That said if done incorrectly it can cause botulism. The risk of botulism is low, but other pathogens such as listeria are much higher and just as dangerous.
Meat that is cold smoked is not cooked or cooking and is sitting in the danger zone for too long, making it prone to bacteria and other pathogens.
People have died from eating meat that was not cold-smoked properly. According to Amazing Ribs, factory methods of meat production result in pathogenic bacteria on meats.
Meat should always be brined properly before cold smoking. The salt will prevent bacteria doesn’t grow during the cold smoking process. Not all meats need to be brined or cured before cold smoking. In fact, some meats such as chicken breasts, pork chops, etc can be cold smoked before being grilled, or baked to help enhance the flavor.
Now that you’re aware of the risks of cold smoking, let me walk you through how to do it on the Pit Boss.
How to Cold Smoke On A Pit Boss Pellet Grill?
Wait for The Right Temperature
In order to cold smoke, you need the right temperature. As mentioned above, cold smoking works best when it’s less than 90°F/32°C. This ensures the grill chamber stays cool and doesn’t cook the food.
Foods Safe to Cold Smoke
Most foods can be cold smoked, but some of the easiest and safest foods to cold smoke are:
- Hard-Boiled Eggs
- Cooked bacon
Any of the above foods are the easiest to start with. This way you can practice cold smoking on the Pit Boss, without worrying about the potential risks mentioned above.
Once you feel confident with the cold smoking process, you can venture into cold smoking meat.
Depending on the smoking device’s shape and size, you can fill it with wood chips, hardwood pellets. Refer to the instruction manual, to see what they recommend. More subtle woods such as cherry, apple, and maple are best when it comes to cold smoking.
If you crave more smoke flavor, then use a ratio of 80:20 subtle wood with a stronger wood such as mesquite or pecan. Like anything else, it comes down to experimenting and finding the right ratio and types of wood for your taste.
Fill the Tube
I purchased the A-MAZE-N AMNTS12-HKY Oval Pellet Tube Smoker... at a local hardware store, but it can also be purchased online. They are available in several sizes, I got the 12″ tube.
The chart below is an approximation of how long the tube will smoke depending on how many pellets you add.
|A-Maze-N Device||Pellets Usage in Ounces||Smoke Time|
|6″ tube||6 ounces||2 hours|
|12″ expanded to 15″||14 ounces||5 hours|
|12″ expanded to 18″||16 ounces||6 hours|
|12″ tube||12 ounces||4 hours|
I added too many pellets to the tube when I cold smoked cheese.
Use the chart above, so you don’t end up wasting too many pellets.
Light the Pellets
Use a handheld lighter or butane fire lighter torch to light the pellets through the opening. Once you see a flame, let it burn for 10 minutes to ensure it doesn’t go out. Then gently blow the flame out and you’re ready to put the food in the chamber.
According to the A-Maze-N Smoker manual, cherry pellets are harder to burn. You may have to add a layer of maple, hickory, or oak to get them to burn properly.
The manual recommends using Gel Alcohol Fire Starter to make it easier to get the pellets to burn. However, I lit mine without using any type of burner.
It does take some time for the pellets to catch fire, so keep that in mind when you try lighting them.
How Long Does it Take to Cold Smoke on a Pit Boss?
Smoking times will vary, depending on the food, humidity, and smoking device. Here’s what I’ve learned when researching how to cold smoke on a pellet grill.
- Light smoke flavor: 1-2 hours
- Medium smoke flavor: 6-12 hours
- Heavy smoke flavor: 12-24 hours
If the food comes out too bitter, try using less smoke next time. It takes time to perfect your cold smoking technique. So it’s best to start with something small before venturing into something that requires more expertise.
The most important part of using your Pit Boss as a cold smoker is the outside temperature. The late fall and early winter are the best times to cold smoke, depending on where you live.
I’ve found it best to cold smoke in the early morning or late evening hours when the temperature is between 28°-35°F.
The next time the temperature drops in your area, pull out the Pit Boss and give cold smoking a try.