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How to Make Salami in a Smoker

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Writer / Enthusiast / Meat Curer / Forager / Harvester | About Tom

For decades, immersed in studying, working, learning, and teaching in the craft of meat curing, now sharing his passion with you through eat cured meat online resource.

I’ve enjoyed smoking salami in various smokers for decades; here is a breakdown of the different methods.

Salami and smoked salami are probably the least known of all the cured meats I make, information in detail is often a little hidden online. Often when you say ‘smoker,’ it means cooking and smoking – otherwise known as Slow and Low Smoking, Hot Smoking, or indirect cooking/smoking. There are many types of salami you can make in a smoker.

This weekend I made 50lb of salami like Italian Soppressata, Spanish Chorizo, and Hungarian Cold Smoked. All of these were fermented and dried types.

I only used a smoker to cold smoke, the Hungarian paprika-rich style.

I want to discuss which smoker for which salami to demystify this topic.

Hot Smoking salami needs a cooked internal temperature; Cold Smoking is a form of flavor, preservation, and drying of salami to achieve preservation & flavor, not cooked during process.

(Well, actually, you can combine methods; I have to add more smoke flavor to something you are hot smoking. Firstly, cold smoking it.)

A fast version is a Hot Smoked cooked salami in a Hot Smoker. A beer stick salami is a type of cooked/smoked salami or a fermented and Cold Smoked salami that takes 1-6 months to dry out to completion.

I will explain both types because a ‘smoker’ can basically do smoking and cooking until an internal temperature is hit.

A Cold Smoker’s temperature is well below 30°C or 86°F. In effect, it is drying the salami with cold smoke around it.

See the pictures below:

  • Hot Smoked Salami in a smoker
  • Fermented and Dry Cured Salami with a Cold Smoker
Hot smoked and cold smoker salami large
Hot Smoker Salami Left / Fermented Dry Cured Cold Smoked Right

Here are three variations of the cold smoked salami as well:

  • Fermenting & Cold Smoking at the Same Time as Drying
  • Fermenting First, Then Cold Smoking, Then Drying
  • No Fermenting, Cold Smoking, Then Drying

Many dry-cured salamis are not smoked, depending on recipes such as Picante, Soppressata, Genoa, Felino, Chorizo Cantimpalos (dry-cured type), and many more.

How to Make Salami in a Smoker in Detail

Firstly, a summary:

Minced or ground meat is bonded with salt, spices, and flavors and then stuffed into natural or synthetic casings. Once stuffed, the salami is placed in an indirect heat Hot Smoker (here is costs I wrote about for hot smokers), and the salami is cooked and smoked at a low temperature until the meat’s internal temperature has been reached.

To Make Salami in a Cold Smoker:

Minced or ground meat is bonded with salt, spices, and flavors, then stuffed into casings, either natural or synthetic. Once stuffed, the salami can be fermented with a starter culture at a certain humidity/temperature; this may take 1-3 days. Then, the salami is hung in a drying chamber or conducive environment with relatively high humidity of 65-80% and a temperature of 50-60°F/10-15°C.

Cold smoking in gas grill bbq salami large
No Heat, Just a pellet tube smoker at the bottom of the gas grill with wooden skewers!

Please note, this is traditionally made dry cured salami, in the commercial world of smallgoods across various countries, I’ve seen salami that is not processed like this.

For a lot of ‘economical’ salami bought at supermarkets may be rapidly infused with pH-lowering additives.

This will acidify the salami quickly, making it shelf-stable. It will also be vacuum-packed to slow oxidation.

Hot Smokers to make Salami (indirect heat cooking essential)

  • Pellet Grill Smoker
  • Any Charcoal Smoker – Kettle, Drum, etc.
  • Electric or Gas Vertical Smoker (ie. Masterbuilt)
  • Gas Grill set on Indirect Heat with a Smoke Generator or Pellet Tube, or Maze Cold Smoker

Basically, anything that can do the low cooking temperature whilst smoking simultaneously.

Hot Smoked Salami in a Smoker

  1. Mince/Grind Meat
  2. Mix Salt, Spices, and any other ingredients
  3. Mix and bind together to release myosin and tackiness
  4. Stuff into Casing – Natural or Synthetic
  5. Prick to release air captured in between the casing and meat
  6. Low-temperature cooking, either with Indirect Hot Smoke, Oven, or Simmering Water
  7. Cool, once the internal temperature has been met, 65°C / 149°F for pork

Using an indirect Hot Smoker at a low temperature to cook a salami is, in a way, similar to making fresh sausages and then putting them on the gas grill or in the frying pan.

The main difference, I found, is that you are smoking and cooking the sausage salami at a low temperature to ideally not render the chunks of pork fat inside.

You can get some delicious flavored hot smoked sausages this way. If you smoke anything hot or cold, if placed in a container in the fridge overnight, the smoke flavor will become more pronounced.

And Smokier!

Fermenting & Cold Smoking at the Same Time, Then Drying

  1. Mince/Grind Meat
  2. Mix Salt, Spices, and any other ingredients
  3. Potentially add a Fermentation Starter Culture to Acidify Meat /lower pH
  4. Mix and bind together to release myosin and tackiness
  5. Stuff into Casing – Natural or Synthetic
  6. Prick to release air captured in between the casing and meat
  7. Brush Mold 600 for exterior white protection, potentially mold
  8. Ferment to preferred conditions of fermentation culture – 12-72 hours (combining cold smoking into this, is possible) – often 90% Humidity – 68-86°F /20-30°C
  9. Hang Salami in environmental conditions to suit drying – 75-80% humidity / 53-59°F /12-14°C with airflow exchange
  10. Of course, the meat has to be kept very chilled until the fermentation stage.

Fermenting First, Then Cold Smoking, Then Drying

  1. Mince/Grind Meat
  2. Mix Salt, Spices, and any other ingredients
  3. Potentially add a Fermentation Starter Culture to Acidify Meat /lower pH
  4. Mix and bind together to release myosin and tackiness
  5. Stuff into Casing – Natural or Synthetic
  6. Prick to release air captured in between casing and meat
  7. Brush Mold 600 for exterior white protection, potentially mold
  8. Ferment to preferred conditions of fermentation culture – 12-72 hours- often 90% Humidity – 68-86°F /20-30°C
  9. Cold smoke salami for 4 hours to 30 hours drying at the same time. Approx. 59°F / 15°C or and 75% humidity ideally.
  10. Hang Salami in environmental conditions to suit drying – 75-80% humidity / 53-59°F /12-14°C with airflow exchange

Important: Keep the meat very chilled until the fermentation stage.

Fermenting salami large
Fermenting Spanish and Italian Dry Cured Salami – Soppressata and Chorizo

Read this: if you want to get into making salami, but struggle to find how to make salami in a smoker.

There seems to be confusion between a dry fermented- or a hot smoked/cooked salami. This was evident when I analyzed the salami kits available in the United States.

To start with, it is best to check out cold smoking here.

My best advice would be, to first check out ‘whole muscle meat curing’ before stepping into fermented salami.


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