Low sodium smoker recipes

Low Sodium Smoker Recipes. Why You Should Try Them (plus Recipes)

Did you know that the average American consumes about 20 times the amount of sodium that their body requires? If you love cooking with your smoker, there are various low sodium recipes available. These will allow you to eat the food that you like without compromising your health. 

Why Stay Low Sodium?

One of the reasons why you may want to reduce your sodium intake is that it may increase the risks of heart disease, high blood pressure, and stroke. It is a wonder that most people still consume between 6 to 10 grams of salt every day. 

The predominant resistance from most people is based on the presumption that the food will not taste the same if salt is eliminated. There is a clear basis for it. Our taste buds are trained to enjoy a certain taste. A sudden change will be a shock to the system.

This article will help you retain the smoker taste that you love while preserving your health. A reasonable goal to have is to drop your intake to about 2 grams per day. It adds value to your health without drastically altering your diet. I will also cover some sodium alternatives for you to try. 

Let’s start by getting the basics right.

Choose the right meat

Low sodium smoker recipes

 

No matter how low sodium your recipe is, getting the wrong meat can throw it all down the drain. Sodium is often used as a preservative in meat. This means that you are starting with some sodium content in your food even before you add anything. 

If you are purchasing from a grocery, or within the frozen meat aisle, it is important to read the packaging. You are looking for salt content or the mention of sodium. The ideal state is where there isn’t any added.  

Make your own rub

Rubs are another way that sodium will sneak into your diet. Most of us do not spend time reading the ingredients of the rub when they buy it. If we have a recipe that says we need that rub, we just go with it. As a result, you unknowingly consume a lot of sodium.

The first thing that you can do is check the sodium content in your rubs. Mark the ones that have a high content, so you don’t use them. The main advantage of making your own rub is that it gives you a great degree of control. You choose the sodium content that goes into it.

Find Sodium Free Seasoning

In line with identifying the rubs that contain sodium, you want to find alternatives as well. One of the favorites is from a brand called Mrs Dash. They stock a wide range of seasoning and rubs that have zero sodium in them. Go through their product line and find alternatives for some of your favorite rubs. 

The Recipes

Now that the ingredients and tips are out of the way. Let us look at some low sodium smoker recipes for you to try out. I listed three recipes as they are among my favourites.

One for chicken, brisket, and salmon. They are all reasonably easy to follow. 

Salt-Free Smoked Chicken

Low sodium smoker recipes

 

What you will need:

  • Whole Chicken
  • Oregano
  • Brown Sugar
  • Garlic
  • Onions
  • Fresh Lemon
  • Dash Original Seasoning blend
  • Cutting board
  • Sharp Knife

Seeing as we are completely doing away with the salt on this one, you want to make sure that the original seasoning blend and the brown sugar are added. We are aiming for a smoky-sweet and sour taste.

The chicken you use should be from the butcher’s without preservatives added, or one that does not contain sodium. 

Preparation:

The most important aspect of this preparation is getting the wood right. Part of beating your tastebud’s desire for sodium will come down to incredible flavor. I would recommend that you use bigger blocks of wood as they create more smoke. This enhances the flavor.

Preparing the chicken involves cleaning it up. Check that there is nothing stuffed inside it. You will often find that the neck and other parts of the chicken may be stuffed in there. Remove them and rinse the chicken out. You can use the fresh lemon for part of the rinsing. 

To get the rub properly set on your chicken you want to have access. The closed nature of the chicken poses some restrictions. Place the chicken on the cutting board. Its legs and thighs must be pointing upward. Use your knife to make a clean cut across the middle from one end to the other. 

Once you have created enough room between the breasts with the knife, use your hands to separate it. The aim of this is to create two flat sides of the chicken. Both should be easier to marinate. 

Using the rub

Begin by squeezing some of the fresh lemon juice and rubbing it on the chicken. Crush the garlic and rub it onto the chicken as well. You must be generous with how much garlic you use. Do the same with the onions. Dice them into small pieces and gently rub them across the chicken. 

Mix the oregano with Mrs Dash’s original seasoning. Add some brown sugar to this mix. The mixing ratio should be about 5:1 between the seasoning and the brown sugar. Gently rub it onto the chicken. 

While the goal isn’t to create a thick coat of seasoning on the chicken. We want to give it good coverage, enough to seep into it when the smoker is cooking. Once you are satisfied, store the chicken away for up to 24 hours. This gives the flavor time to marinate. It is best done in a refrigerator. 

Smoking the chicken

Once the time has elapsed and you are ready to start smoking your chicken. Remove it from the refrigerator. You would want to pre-heat your smoker for between 30-45 minutes before your place the chicken. 

The pre-heating gets the smoke going before the chicken gets in there. I have always found that this bears the best results. You are looking to achieve a temperature of about 215 degrees. When you are satisfied, place the chicken onto the smoker’s tray.

Let it smoke for up to 5 hours. Temperature control is critical. It ensures that the chicken does not dry up. The temperature should never exceed 250 degrees. When you are happy with the way your chicken has cooked. Remove it from the smoker. 

It should have a golden-brown look about it. The inside should be perfectly cooked as well. I find the seasoning to be a perfect replacement for sodium. If it isn’t quite there yet for you, make use of the lemon juice. Squeeze a little more onto it. 

Low Sodium Smoked Brisket

We are not completely eliminating sodium from this recipe. Instead of using white sea salt, which has a sodium content of 2300 mg per teaspoon. We have opted for the Pink Himalayan Salt, which has 1700 mg of sodium per teaspoon. 

What you will need:

  • Smoked Paprika.
  • Black pepper
  • Onion powder
  • Cumin
  • Garlic Powder
  • Brown Sugar
  • Pink Himalayan Sea Salt
  • Oregano

Preparation:

You are expected to do the usual fat trimming on your brisket. The aim of this process is to leave no more than ¼ inch thickness in the layer of fat on the brisket. Not only does it allow the seasoning better penetration. It also cuts unnecessary fat that does not cook well anyway. 

Using the rub

Mix generous amounts of our ingredients in a bowl. Only the salt should be used in moderation. In which case you want to use no more than half a teaspoon. 

Lay the brisket on a flat surface for even seasoning. Take a handful of the mixed seasoning from the bowl and rub it on the brisket. Gently massage it in. Once you are happy with one side, turn it over, and do the same for the other side. 

Allow the brisket to marinate for at least 24 hours before smoking it. This gets you the best results. Place it in the refrigerator for that period.

Smoking the brisket

When the marinating process is completed you want to forge ahead with the smoking. I prefer using large chunks of wood for this as well. Get the smoker going and allow about half an hour for pre-heating before placing the brisket in. 

The ideal temperature to smoke your brisket is around 225 degrees Fahrenheit. There is a leeway of up to 250 degrees. Anything beyond that will start to dry out the meat. The brisket should smoke at this temperature for up to 10 hours. Some consideration should be placed on the weight. Keep an eye on the temperature throughout the smoking.

Once the time has elapsed, you will have yourself a tenderly smoked low sodium brisket packed with flavor. If you use an electric smoker, we you may want to check our detailed article on smoking a brisket on the electric smoker. 

Low Sodium Brown Sugar Smoked Salmon

Low sodium smoker recipes

 

If cooking time is one way to measure how difficult a recipe is, this is certainly the easiest one on our list. Salmon tends to require less smoking time than chicken and brisket do. It is also much easier to marinate.

What you will need:

  • Fresh salmon
  • Pink Himalayan Sea Salt
  • Brown Sugar
  • Black Pepper
  • Dill

Preparation

The ratio of the seasoning to salmon is a teaspoon of each seasoning for every two pounds of salmon. The only exception to this rule is the brown sugar, which has a 1:1 ratio. Lay the salmon on a flat surface for seasoning. 

The type of wood that you use for your salmon is critical. You do not want it to overpower the seasoning. I prefer using oak for salmon. It pairs well with the natural taste of salmon, therefore complementing the flavor. If you use an electric smoker, you can check out this article.

Using the rub

Start by rubbing the salt on both sides of the salmon. Mix the other ingredients into a bowl and rub the mixture on salmon as well. Once you are satisfied, the salmon is ready to smoke. If you are using dill seeds, reduce the amount that you use. Using the leaves means that you can adhere to the ratio above. 

In most cases, salmon does not need to be marinated for long periods. It can usually be smoked as soon as the rubbing is done. However, there is no harm in letting it sit for a little while. An hour or two would suffice. 

Smoking the Salmon

Preheat your smoker to achieve a temperature of 250 degrees Fahrenheit. Once the smoker is ready, place the salmon into it. Let it smoke for up to an hour. The goal is for the internal temperature of the smoking salmon to reach 145 degrees Fahrenheit. 

Ensure that your smoker is regulated to not exceed 275 degrees Fahrenheit. If this happens you will often find that the internal temperature of the salmon reaches our goal in much less time. This may lead to drying or burning.  

Salt Alternatives

This article would be incomplete if I did not give you some salt alternatives that you can choose from. These will for the most part allow you to keep the recipe that you love while reducing the amount of sodium that it contains. 

  • Black Pepper
  • Ginger
  • Tumeric
  • Garlic
  • Paprika 
  • Oregano
  • Thyme
  • Tarragon
  • Saffron
  • Cayenne Pepper
  • Nutritional Yeast
  • Basil
  • Sage
  • Dill
  • Lemon Juice
  • Apple Cider Vinegar
  • Rosemary
  • Dried Onion
  • Red Wine Vinegar
  • Coriander
  • Parsley
  • Cinnamon

The ones above will require that you know what dishes or meat to use them on. They are often best when used in combinations of herbs and spices. 

Another approach is to buy salts that are either low-sodium or no-sodium. There are various to choose from. A list that I found includes:

  • AlsoSalt
  • Morton Salt Substitute
  • NoSalt
  • Nu-Salt
  • Morton Lite Salt
  • Diamond Crystal Salt Sense

Conclusion

Cutting the amount of sodium in your diet is daunting. Most of us worry that it would mean abandoning some of our favorite food and recipes. It is a relief for most smoker enthusiasts to find out that they can keep doing what they love and getting great results, without compromising their wellbeing. 

The recipes above are just the tip of a growing iceberg but I hope they will give you the inspiration to try a healthier approach to barbecue.

Low Sodium Smoker Recipes. Why You Should Try Them (plus Recipes)
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