I am wondering how deep smoke flavor can penetrate meat on a smoker. Does smoke penetrate 2mm, 2cm, 30cm, infinitely?

Some might argue that the smoke ring around meat indicates how deep smoke penetrate but my understanding is that this has been disproved.

Please answer within the context of meat smoking. For example, if smoke can penetrate very deeply but it takes approximately 2 weeks then this is perhaps not feasible since most smoking takes 1-12 hours.

The answer must have some sort of evidence (e.g., a chemical analysis and argument, blind taste testing of various layers).

A nice big thick boneless ham could be a good example to work with since it could arguably be spherical.

1 Answer 1


...not very deep. Smoke is almost entirely a surface treatment. In the linked article, Blonder demonstrates that "much like sugar in a brine, smoke does not penetrate much beyond the surface." The smoke flavor molecules are pretty complex and large, so would not penetrate the structure of the meat. It doesn't matter how long you smoke, the flavor doesn't get much beyond the surface.

  • This makes sense and is a pretty good answer since this guy tested it himself, though it wasn't blind (minor complaint).
    – Behacad
    Nov 27, 2022 at 14:33

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