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Cheater BBQ
Liquid Smoke & Ultimate Cheater Pulled Pork!
By RB Quinn & Mindy Merrell, co-authors of Cheater BBQ

What is Liquid Smoke Anyway? Liquid smoke is a Cheater BBQ essential—a critical ingredient for making great barbecue without a fire. Liquid smoke is exactly that—smoke from smoldering hardwoods or fruitwoods condensed in water with impurities and carcinogens removed. It is not chemical or synthetic. It is safe, consistent, timesaving, economical, and environmentally friendly smoke in a bottle.

We call it bottled smoke. It tastes and smells like real smoke because it is real smoke. It has been accepted by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration since the early 1960s. Just like traditional wood smoke, not only does bottled smoke deliver great flavor it also still performs the age-old job of inhibiting spoilage and reducing pathogens in meats. Bottled smoke filters out the eye burning and coughing carcinogens generated during traditional wood burning.

Consistency is the biggest challenge in outdoor barbecue. The weather, the wind, the wood, the temperature, the equipment, the time, the rub, the mop, the meat, the mood, everything is a determining factor in the outcome of barbecue. And that’s a big part of the fun. Bottled smoke paired with the controlled environment of the indoor kitchen eliminates more than half of these iffy variables. That’s fun, too.

Bottled Smoke in the Store - Whether you know it or not, you love liquid smoke. It’s in everything. Food manufacturers, the food service industry, and home cooks use millions of gallons and pounds of natural smoke flavoring. Take a walk down any grocery aisle and you’ll see dozens of products listing “natural smoke flavor” including all kinds of cured meats, seasoning mixes, sauces, and even in things that don’t claim to be smoky, like “hearth” pizza crust.

Retail bottled smoke is usually parked near the barbecue sauces, ketchup, and marinades in supermarkets. You’ll likely find brands like Colgin, Reese, Figaro, Hadden House, Wright’s, and Lazy Kettle. Some soften the flavor with vinegar and molasses and even sugar. Others are simply smoke concentrate in water. Check for yourself on the label.

How Much Smoke is Just Right? Now there’s the barbecue question of all time with no real answer whether you are smoking over a wood fire or indoors in the oven. It’s up to you. The better question is how much is too much. With smoke, you know it when you taste it. Like lots of flavors and seasonings, smoke should be added to suit your taste. The only way to find that out is to get in the kitchen. No matter how much you like to use, bottled smoke manufacturers say the flavor does not diminish during cooking and can be added at any point during cooking. Start with the general rule of thumb of one tablespoon per pound of meat. In other applications, try a teaspoon per serving.

One small bottle of smoke is generally enough for one good size pork butt, brisket, or a three pack of ribs. Bottled smoke can also be dashed into dishes a little at a time like hot pepper sauce.

Smell Smoke - The mere smell of smoke sets the inviting party mood of a barbecue. If half the enjoyment of eating is aroma, then bottled smoke will have your guests at “hello.”

Cheater Pulled Pork Recipe Liquid Smoth

Cheater Chefs RB Quinn and Mindy MerrellRB Quinn & Mindy Merrell 'Cheater Chefs'are the co-authors of 'Cheater BBQ: Barbecue Anytime, Anywhere, in Any Weather' which features over 125 Recipes for Smoky Succulent Ribs, Pulled Pork, Brisket, Birds, even Burgers Cooked in your Oven or Slow Cooker, or on your Stove Top - with plenty of Crowd-Pleasing Appetizers, Sides & Desserts! Check out for Nashville Crossroads Cheater BBQ Sauce, Cheater rub recipes, and more useful Cheater BBQ tips and tricks!

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Ultimate Cheater Pulled Pork

Okay, here we go. We’ll either have you at “Ultimate Cheater Pulled Pork” or our book is headed straight for the library’s used book sale. We know that. You know that. So, let’s drop the chit chat and make some cheater barbecue.

In short, you drop a pork butt into the slow cooker, add dry rub and bottled smoke, close the cover, go away for a while, pull or chop the meat and pile it on a bun, add sauce, get out the pickles, open a beer. BOOM! That’s barbecue, baby. Can you feel it? That’s Ultimate Cheater Pulled Pork. Makes 12 to 14 servings.


One (5 to 6 pound) boneless Boston Butt pork roast or boneless country style ribs

1/4 cup Cheater Basic Dry Rub (or your own favorite, ours is just a blend of salt, pepper, paprika and a little garlic powder)

1/2 cup bottled smoke (you can use less, if this scares you)

1. Cut up the pork shoulder into medium (2 to 3-inch) chunks, if you like, but you don’t have to (the country style ribs don’t need to be cut up).

2. Put the pieces in a large (at least 5 quarts) slow cooker. Sprinkle the meat with the rub, turning the pieces to coat evenly. Add the bottled smoke.

3. Cover and cook on high 5 to 6 hours or on low for 10 to 12 hours, until the meat is pull-apart tender and reaches an internal temperature of 190° F.

4. Remove the meat from the cooker to a rimmed platter or baking sheet with tongs and a slotted spoon. Allow the meat to cool enough to handle.

5. Pull the meat into strands. It should shred very easily.

6. Serve the barbecue piled on buns with barbecue sauce and slaw.

7. To serve the barbecue later, refrigerate the meat when it has cooled. Pour the meat juice into a separate container and refrigerate. Before reheating the juice, skim and discard the congealed fat layer on the top.

8. To re-warm the barbecue, place it in a saucepan moistened with some of the reserved juice. Gently heat the meat on medium low, stirring occasionally. Or, place it in a covered casserole with some of the reserved juice and heat in a 350° F oven for 20 to 30 minutes.

9. While the meat warms, combine the barbecue sauce and some of the additional reserved meat juice in a saucepan. Heat through and serve with the barbecue.