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Mastering Hot Smoking Techniques: A Guide to Smoking Foods

By Montvel 01.02.23

Hot smoking promises wonderful convivial gatherings filled with the aroma of smoked wood, heralding an excellent meal. But to enjoy this experience flawlessly, it’s essential to use the right equipment and follow the steps for successful smoking, regardless of the chosen foods.

Follow the guide!

The History of Hot Smoking

Would it be bold to say that the origin of hot smoking dates back to prehistoric times and the invention of fire? Yes, because, in any case, this practice was initially aimed at preserving food, a matter of survival. The evolution and development of taste buds, no doubt, have allowed extracting another feature: the pleasure of the smoked taste. Gourmets have always appreciated the unique flavors brought by smoking, especially by the variety of wood essences used, and Americans are not the only enthusiasts, far from it!

In Scandinavian territories, for example, hot smoking of wild salmon is a very ancient tradition. France also has its own history of fish smoking, not just by the sea but also in the country’s center with river fish. Today, the trend is returning, thanks to the popularity of outdoor cooking equipment (barbecue, plancha) that can incorporate a smoking system.

How Hot Smoking Works

A hot smoker or a barbecue smoker, like the MONTVEL, allows cooking and smoking simultaneously. It uses confined heat for this purpose. This heat is, of course, generated by a fuel source, wood. Nowadays, it is often aromatic wood that infuses its own flavors to give the food not only a smoked taste but also an original one.

The food is thus cooked in steam and smoke at low temperatures, generally between 70° and 130° C. This, of course, depends on the type of food (sardines are not smoked like salmon, nor chicken like beef).

What’s the Difference from Cold Smoking?

A cold smoker, on the other hand, uses a system of circulating cold air. The food is placed in a cold smoking area, usually below 35°C, and is exposed to gentle heat and wood fumes for many hours to give it a smoked taste. The food is generally raw or slightly cooked before being cold smoked.

In summary, hot smoking cooks the food at the same time as it smokes it, while cold smoking does not cook the food; it smokes it at a very low temperature.

Advantages of Hot Smoking

Hot smoking offers numerous benefits for lovers of smoked foods:

  • The meat is cooked thoroughly without any risk of being burned, and all its aromatic qualities are preserved. If your butcher supplies you with an exceptional cut, you will do it justice!
  • The meat is also tender, a true delight!
  • The smoke creates a delicious flavor that permeates the entire food, whether it be meat, fish, or vegetables.
  • Hot smoking preserves the nutrients in the food thanks to low-temperature cooking.
A wood pellet barbecue is ideal for hot smoking due to its precise fire management and ability to maintain a stable low temperature for several hours.

How to Hot Smoke and Succeed in Your Recipes?

It’s important to choose quality equipment and wood. It’s highly advisable to opt for a barbecue smoker specifically designed for hot smoking. Not only does it offer smoking in the finest tradition, but it also makes all your outdoor cooking easier. While your piece of meat or fish is smoking gently, you can cook your other dishes.

However, it’s not about buying a standard barbecue, even with a smoker. Instead, turn to a pellet barbecue that is ideal for hot smoking. The first reason for this is that it allows fire management for several hours without the need to constantly check. This is particularly interesting since some hot smoking processes can last more than 12 hours.

Next, choose not just any wood but pellets, with different essences to vary the flavors. Regular wood requires constant monitoring and permanent fire control, which can be very demanding.

It is also very important to make a wise choice of wood essences to flavor your food tastefully. Note that the longer the cooking and the lower the temperature, the more the food will absorb the smoked taste and aromas of the chosen wood.

Steps for Hot Smoking

  • Choose the Foods to Smoke: Select quality meats, fish, vegetables, and why not cheese!
  • Prepare the Foods: Cut the foods into evenly sized pieces for uniform smoking, or use a whole piece.
  • Add Smoking Wood: Use quality wood or wood pellets to achieve a pleasant taste and aroma. Beech, cherry, and cedar woods are well-suited for hot smoking.
  • Prepare the Smoker or Wood Pellet Barbecue: Light it up and adjust the temperature. With the Montvel pellet barbecue, you have the option to go down to 75° and use a specific “Blue Smoke” mode for intense, perfectly healthy smoking characteristic of successful hot smoking.
  • Place the Foods in the Smoker or Pellet Barbecue: Arrange the foods on the racks and close the lid. To precisely control your smoking, use a cooking probe; it’s essential.
  • Let the Smoking Process Go or Monitor It: Monitor your fire and the smoking process throughout if you have a traditional smoker, to prevent the foods from burning. But with Montvel, there’s no need to stay in front of the smoker, your barbecue takes care of everything! In addition to managing the maintenance and stability of the fire at the ideal temperature, the Montvel wood pellet barbecue is equipped with two probes, a timer, and an alarm, all connectable via a dedicated app on your smartphone! The ultimate hot smoking experience!
  • Remove the Foods from the Smoker: Once they have reached the desired internal temperature. Let them cool a bit before serving or storing for later.

Recipe and Marinade Ideas for Delicious Hot Smoking!

Hot smoking experts already have recipes in their notebooks, but how can one start without getting burned (literally and figuratively)? Here are some simple yet sophisticated recipes depending on your main ingredient.

Remember that the best way to ensure success in hot smoking is to follow the internal temperature of the foods with a cooking probe. The cooking times below are estimates and should be adjusted according to the size and weight of your foods.


  • Smoked pulled pork adapts well to the classic sweet and salty marinade, inviting soy sauce, honey, rice vinegar, and ginger. You can also vary by replacing ginger and vinegar with apple juice. The ideal cut for this recipe is the neck or the blade (from the shoulder). Temperature: 90 to 95 °C, for about twelve hours, depending on the size of your meat pieces.
  • Smoked pork ribs pair wonderfully with a marinade of olive oil, garlic, rosemary, and thyme for a classic yet delicious taste. Temperature: 110 to 130 °C for 7 hours.
  • Lamb leg is sublime at low temperature with a marinade of olive oil, again, but this time paired with Herbes de Provence, lemon juice, and garlic for a refined taste. Temperature: 110°C for about 4 hours.


  • Hot smoked salmon is a delight that can be recreated at home with gusto and finesse. For this, prefer beech wood essences when buying your pellets. Then, for marinade aficionados, play it classic with lemon juice, olive oil, dill, and pepper for a tangy taste. Another simple idea that has a big impact: fresh thyme and crushed pepper. Temperature: 80°C for 4 hours.


  • Hot smoked eggplants, for instance, taste great with a marinade of olive oil and garlic for a very fragrant taste. Once cooked, you can use them to make eggplant caviar. A delight for an appetizer or as a side to your meat and fish recipes!

Which Wood Essences to Choose?

Hot smoking is a popular way to impart a smoky flavor to meat, fish, and vegetables. For this, you can use different wood essences, each with its unique flavor and advantages.

  • Beech wood is considered the classic wood for hot smoking. It gives a soft and smoky flavor that adapts to all foods: meats, fish, vegetables, and even cheese.
  • Vine wood is also very interesting and original for hot smoking. It gives a strong and full-bodied flavor, with a hint of hazelnut, which is particularly well suited to red meats and game.
  • Cherry wood is another popular choice for hot smoking. It imparts a fruity and sweet flavor to foods, particularly well suited for white meats like pork and chicken. Cherry wood is also used for smoking seafood and vegetables.

In all cases, the freshness and quality of the wood essence used for hot smoking significantly impact the final flavor of the meat or vegetables. For the best result, use pellets from a low-temperature granulation process, which preserves the wood’s essences and aromatic qualities.

By using different wood essences, you can experiment with flavors and create unique smoked dishes. Moreover, the choice of combinations of different woods allows you to create even more original tastes! This is the case, for example, with Montvel’s Signature blend, which beautifully mixes the flavors of oak, wild cherry, and beech. Your hot smoking will find its best expression here!

Montvel, le Barbecue à Pellets Made in France. Granulés de Bois

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