Our complete guide to indoor smoker bags will give you all the information you need to consider this alternative to other indoor smokers when an outside barbecue grill is not an option. We will also provide our top choices for best smoker bag at the bottom of our review.
Smoke for Cooking
Smoke is the “flavor of smell” that you get from the charred embers of applewood, hickory, mesquite and alder woods.
With smoked meats, vegetables and fruits the smell dominates because food smoking creates a chemical reaction.
The heat on a dry surface such as meats, breaks down sugars and amino acids.
As an example, the sear of steaks or the “bark” or crunchy brown exterior of a slow smoked brisket produces taste components of sweetness and bitterness.
These, when combined with the smoke smell, provide a strong delectable stimulus to the brain and gets our mouths watering!
You can bring the delicious aroma and flavor of smoke to your food, effortlessly indoors, with smoker bag so keeping reading to find out how.
What is an Indoor Smoker Bag?
An indoor smoker bag is a triple-layered foil pouch, for indoor (or outdoor) oven use, that has a built-in layer of wood chips. When the wood chips are superheated, they will release smoke within the bag causing the bag to expand and surround your food with the wood scent flavor you have chosen.
The wood layer within the bag is the bottom layer and is separate from your food. The wood chips in this layer are held in place by all natural tree syrup sugars. These sugars have no impact on your food or its taste.
The middle layer, on which your food sits, has small holes or perforations that allow the smoke to permeate the food in the bag.
The top layer is what covers the food and expands as the heat and smoke surround the food, keeping the flavor inside for the cooking duration.
How to Use a Smoker Bag Indoors
Smoker bags for meat, poultry, vegetables and fruit are easy to use. The bag will have a printed statement that says “THIS SIDE DOWN” and this will be the wood chip layer.
Depending on the bag brand, they are anywhere from 11 to 15 inches wide and about 19 inches long so you have sufficient length to fold over the end, keeping smoke inside the bag.
Your indoor oven is preheated from 475°F to 500°F and the smoker bag, containing your food, is placed in the oven and baked at this temperature for about 10 to 15 minutes.
This starts the wood chips smoking.
The oven temperature is then reduced to approximately 375°F, depending on the recipe, to finish the cooking process.
After smoking is complete, the food should sit inside the bag to rest for about 10 minutes before opening.
Each bag is single use only and should be thrown away after smoking.
Smoker Bags on the Gas or Charcoal Grill
For outdoor use, the same principle will apply as indoors. Both gas and charcoal grills are preheated — charcoal to the white ash stage and gas preheated 10 to 20 minutes. The grill rack should be set at its lowest possible setting to the heat source.
On a charcoal grill, the bag may be placed directly on the coals or directly on the grill grate.
For a gas grill, the bag may be placed on the grate or in a pan (i.e., 9×13 baking pan) that the bag will fit in.
Cook on high heat for 10 to 15 minutes and then raise the grill grate to a middle level to complete the smoking process.
Available Woods in Smoker Bags
Depending on the brand, indoor smoker bags are generally available in mesquite, hickory and alder woods. Some woods are paired better with certain foods than others as noted below:
- Smoker bags using Alder wood have the mildest smoke flavor and are best used for delicate fish, pork, fruits or vegetables where you do not want to completely overwhelm the original taste of the food.
- Hickory wood smoker bags have a medium intensity, almost bacon-like smoke flavor and are best used for firmer fish, chicken, ribs, pork and game meats.
- Indoor smoker bags using Mesquite wood result in the strongest flavor, an rich earthy taste, and are best used for red meats such as steak, brisket, burgers, etc. Too much mesquite wood smoke, however, can have a bitter taste which is why this is not well suited to fish and vegetables.
What Else Should You Know?
A smoker bag is an easy way to smoke foods and may be used both indoors, in your oven and outdoors on your grill. Here are a few tips to keep in mind…
- This is a single use item that is tossed in the trash after cooking — minimal easy cleanup.
- Oils and butters should not be added to meats or foods in the bag as these will keep the smoke from permeating the food.
- If you love the mouth watering aroma of pot roast or roasted chicken in your house you will also need to appreciate the smell of smoke as your food cooks.
- Because these bags are foil, they should NOT be placed in the microwave oven. They are also not suitable for stovetop use.
- As food begins to cook, the heat, smoke and steam will cause the bags to rise in height by about 6 to 8 inches — this is normal.
- Food in the bags should always be allowed to rest for about 10 minutes after removing from the oven or grill — this lets juices redistribute throughout the food and will minimize the risk of steam burns when cutting open the bag.
- Lastly, this is a great option for indoor or outdoor use but the resulting smoke flavor will not recreate the low and slow, hours long, deep rich smoked flavors you enjoy at your favorite BBQ joint or the smoke rich flavor of juicy meats and veggies grilled over an open wood fire.
TOP CHOICES BEST SMOKER BAG
These are in no particular order. Most meat smoker bags are made outside the US and are imported from Finland. Both brands below are made by the same manufacturer.