Smoking with less or no salt?

Discussion in 'General Discussion' started by furrynewyorker, Jun 8, 2016.

  1. Hey All,

    I've recently been diagnosed with an illness that requires me to significantly reduce my intake of sodium.  As a result, I frequently think of some other wonderful food that I can no longer enjoy and smoked meats just now crossed my mind.  Naturally, every smoker rub recipe that I have lists salt as one of the primary ingredients and, of course, if I'm going to smoke poultry, it has to be brined in saltwater.  Or is all of this necessarily so?

    Does anyone have any recommendations for smoker rubs that have less or no salt?  Also, is it possible to smoke a chicken, for example, without first brining it?  Maybe I don't have to give up one of my favorite foods after all!



    mitchetb likes this.
  2. Add some ground celery seed to replace the salt.

    And of course, you can smoke chicken without brining them first. Try using buttermilk as the basis of the brine. Adding fresh crushed garlic, spices, etc.
    mitchetb likes this.
  3. I don't think I've ever brined chicken for smoking, always turns out great. For that matter, I don't brine turkey either. I am not a fan of salt (meat naturally has a ton of it anyway), so I don't add extra. A good idea now would be to experiment with making your own rubs, and if they call for salt, use the celery seed as a replacement, or simply omit it. I find that SPOG (salt, pepper, onion, garlic) without the "S" is still really fantastic!
    mitchetb likes this.
  4. Thanks!  This is great news!
  5. Personally, if my doctor recommended I had to give up smoked meat, I'd get a second opinion. [​IMG]
  6. lancep

    lancep Master of the Pit

    I have never brined a chicken or turkey. I've also smoked quite a few chickens with nothing but olive oil and herbs as well as pork shoulders and ribs completely nekkid. Sauces may get a little tricky as they often have salt or high sodium ingredients but there are some that you could probably work around.
    mitchetb likes this.
  7. I too recently had to reduce sodium intake significantly. 

    I learned that a lot chicken in the grocery store is injected with salt solution.  Check the labels.  I found chicken at an organic grocery that has no salt added.  Your local butcher may also have chicken with no salt added.  I can quickly go over my sodium limit if I am not careful.  Buttermilk also is relatively high in sodium. 

    Any of the Mrs. Dash spices are salt free.  Also, there is "No Salt" sodium free substitute if extra potassium is OK for your diet.  Seems people either love it or hate it.  I found it to be pretty close with a slightly difference taste from the real thing.

    I am just beginning to work through smoking with much less salt.  Good luck.
  8. gearjammer

    gearjammer Master of the Pit

    I use a lot of the No Salt stuff.

    It takes a little getting used to, but now I can't

    tell I'm even using it.

    Mix it up in a rub, you won't even miss the salt.

    mitchetb likes this.
  9. smokinal

    smokinal Smoking Guru Staff Member Moderator OTBS Member ★ Lifetime Premier ★

    I don't have any health issues that require me to lower my salt intake, but I think a diet lower in salt is just better for your overall health.

    So we don't use much salt at all. After a while you just get used to the taste of things without salt & really don't miss it at all.

    When ever a recipe calls for salt we just omit it.

  10. tropics

    tropics Smoking Guru SMF Premier Member ★ Lifetime Premier ★

    Here is a link to a very good post by Dave Omak,it uses less salt and injects the brine.

  11. uncle eddie

    uncle eddie Smoking Fanatic SMF Premier Member

    Yes...try Mrs. Dash seasonings.  I am especially fond of the Mrs. Dash Southwest Chipotle Seasoning Blend - SALT-FREE | NO MSG

    I use SW Chipotle, garlic powder, and red pepper when I make a dry-rub jerky in my dehydrator (sorry guys - I don't smoke my jerky).  I don't even notice the salt being missing with this particular dry rub.

    Mrs. Dash has many other flavors to choose from - all salt/msg free.
    Last edited: Jun 9, 2016
    mitchetb likes this.
  12. If you can't use salt then simply don't.

    You had to get used to tasting salt to begin with so you can easily get used to not tasting salt again.  The longer I'm away from it the worse it tastes when I do run into it.

    Someone recommended buttermilk.  Watch out for sodium in the buttermilk, BTW.

    Make your own salt-free rubs too.
  13. bearcarver

    bearcarver Smoking Guru OTBS Member

    Exactly what Al said.

    I never had a problem with Salt, until a Dr screwed me up:

    Now I have Congested Heart Failure, and a low GFR on my Kidneys, and both of those call for Low Salt diet.

    So I cut out most of my salt, and I add ZERO table salt to anything.

    I've been doing that for 3 1/2 years, and I haven't missed it in a long time, and if I put a real small amount of salt on something, it tastes like a Ton of salt !!!

    As for Brining Chicken---I'm pretty sure there are good Brines without salt.

    Last edited: Jun 9, 2016
  14. ragilmore

    ragilmore Newbie SMF Premier Member

    I like to use Buttermilk only and after two - three hours I remove and place on a wire rack over large 9 x 13 inch for 4 hours in refrigerator to drain and at this time a put on pepper and any other spice or herb that you might want. Use this on all chicken and pork.

    Sweet and Spicy Chicken Wings with Sriracha, Honey, and Lime - Weber Grill - Excellent used Weber charcoal grill (best for chicken)

    1 tsp ground coriander
    ½ tsp freshly ground black pepper
    ½ tsp ground cayenne pepper
    12 large chicken wings, each about 6 ounces, wing tips removed
    3 Tbs fresh lime juice
    3 Tbs hot chili-garlic sauce, such as Sriracha
    2 Tbs soy sauce
    2 Tbs honey
    1 Tbs unsalted butter
    1. In a small bowl combine the rub ingredients. Pat the wings dry, and then place them in one layer on wire rack and  a sheet pan. Sprinkle with the rub, working it in on both sides with your fingers. Refrigerate the wings, uncovered, to air dry for about 4 hours.
    2. In a small saucepan over medium heat, combine the sauce ingredients. Stir until the butter melts, and then remove from the heat.
    3. Prepare  grill for direct and indirect cooking over medium heat (350° to 450°F).
    4. Grill the wings over direct medium heat, with the lid closed, until browned on both sides, 10 to 15 minutes, turning once or twice. Then move the wings over indirect medium heat and cook, with the lid closed, until the meat is no longer pink at the bone and the skin is crispy, 15 to 20 minutes more, turning once or twice and basting frequently with the sauce. Remove from the grill and brush with any remaining sauce. Serve warm or at room temperature.
    Can also use Kroger Hot Wing Sauce instead of Sriracha
  15. Do all mine in Buttermilk.

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