Smoking food isn’t new.
It goes back as far as ancient Rome where they used to smoke meats like pork belly in order to preserve them.
Today, we still enjoy this tradition with many different kinds of meat, but one that has become popular over the years is bologna.
This deliciously fatty cured sausage is typically served sliced on sandwiches or eaten cold as part of an Italian meal.
If you want to learn how to make your own smoked bologna recipe, keep reading below!
What Is Smoked Bologna?
Bologna is an American invention that dates all the way back to 1853 when it was created by butcher John Morrisey (also known as “Uncle Jack”) in New York City.
The name comes from Bologna, Italy, which is where he got his inspiration to create the dish.
It wasn’t long before Uncle Jack’s creation caught on throughout America, eventually becoming so popular that it became one of the first processed foods sold on grocery store shelves.
Today, bologna can be found everywhere in supermarkets across the country, including in convenience stores.
There are two main types of bologna – hot and sweet.
Hot bologna contains more seasoning while sweet bologna focuses on adding sugar to help reduce its fat content.
In addition to these two varieties, there is also a vegetarian version called veggie bologna.
Hot vs. Sweet Bologna
The most common type of bologna available today is the hot variety, which usually contains around 20% salt.
If you prefer your bologna to have less flavor, some brands will contain just 10-12% salt instead of 20%.
Some even go as low as 5%, making it a healthier option than regular hot bologna.
In contrast, sweet bologna is much easier to find.
Instead of containing any added salt, it uses sugar to cut down on the amount of fat.
Most recipes call for roughly 75% sugar and 25% water, resulting in a very sweet product with no sodium whatsoever.
While both types of bologna are excellent options, if you’re looking for something a little bit sweeter, try experimenting with other savory treats such as bratwurst sausages, pepperoni sticks and bacon bits.
How Is Smoked Bologna Made?
Bolognese is essentially just ground beef seasoned with garlic and herbs.
The same can be said about smoked bologna.
In fact, if you look closely at a traditional Bolognese sauce, it will have similar flavors to smoked bologna.
What sets these two apart from each other though is the curing process.
When making smoked bologna, the sausages are brined first before being slowly cooked in a smoker.
Once done cooking, they go into a dry-cure which gives them their distinctive flavor and texture.
The brining step helps to tenderize the meat while also drawing out moisture so that when smoked, the finished product doesn’t come off too chewy.
Brining also adds salt and sugar to help preserve the meat during smoking.
Dry-curing further enhances the smoky flavor by adding nitrites (nitrate salts) and creating a tangy taste and aroma.
Lastly, some recipes may include spices like pepper and paprika to add more complexity.
Once all those steps are complete, you get a tasty treat that everyone loves.
If you’re looking for a homemade version of smoked bologna, here’s what you need to know.
What Ingredients Are Needed To Make Smoked Bologna?
There are three main ingredients needed to make smoked bologna — salt, sugar, and nitrates (or sodium nitrite).
These compounds serve two purposes in making this dish: preserving the meat while also giving off flavors when cooked.
Salt draws out moisture from the meat, which helps prevent bacteria growth.
Sugar adds flavor and sweetness to the finished product.
Nitrate/nitrite prevents bacteria growth, thus helping to extend shelf life.
Since these chemicals can be harmful if ingested, it makes sense to use only small amounts.
If you’re using fresh spices instead, such as garlic powder or onion powder, you may need more than usual because their strong flavors will overpower the cured meat.
- 1 teaspoon per pound of meat
- Use coarse sea salt, not iodized table salt
- Melt down any existing crystals first
- Add 1 tablespoon of melted salt per pound of meat
- Mix thoroughly
- Place into curing container
- Refrigerate for 24 hours
- Remove from fridge and let sit overnight
- Repeat steps 5-8 above
- 1 cup per pound of meat
- You can add up to ½ cup more depending on taste preference
- Combine all ingredients together until well combined
- Pour mixture onto your curing tray
- Let cure in refrigerator for 3 days
- After 3 days, remove from fridge and rinse well with water
- Allow to dry completely before slicing or serving
- ½ teaspoon per pound of meat
- This amount should cover entire surface area of meat
- Sprinkle mixture evenly over meat
- Cover tightly
- Do not refrigerate
- Leave out at room temperature for 2 weeks
- When ready to slice, place in freezer for 30 minutes
- Slice thinly across the grain
How Long Does It Take To Smoke Bologna?
The amount of time required to smoke bologna depends entirely on what kind of smoker you have.
If you don’t know much about smokers, then it might be hard to find out which model will work best for you.
However, if you do understand the basics of using a smoker, you can easily figure out how long it takes to smoke bologna by simply following these steps:
- Fill the water pan half full of water.
- Place the lid on top of the pan and set the temperature control knob at 150 degrees Fahrenheit (65 degrees Celsius).
- Set up the smoker according to manufacturer instructions.
- Place the food inside of the chamber and close the door.
- Wait until the internal temperature reaches 145 degrees Fahrenheit (63 degrees Celsius) before removing from the chamber.
The total cooking time should vary depending on the size of the package of bologna you buy, but most packages should last between four hours and six hours, including prep time.
However, since the internal temperature must reach 145 degrees Fahrenheit (63 degrees Celsius), you may need to add additional time because some brands hold their heat longer than others.
How to use a pellet grill
For those who prefer to cook their foods outside in the summertime, there are several options available.
One such option is a pellet grill.
These grills allow users to cook food quickly while keeping temperatures low enough not to damage delicate cuts of meat.
With all types of smokers, it is important to remember to ventilate properly so that the charcoal doesn’t get too hot and cause flare-ups.
What Type Of Smoker Is Best For Smoking Bologna?
There are several types of smokers out there today.
You can use a traditional chimney-style smoker, which requires no electricity, or you can go all-in with a pellet grill if you have access to one.
The great thing about smoking food using these methods is that they allow you to control the heat source.
The temperature inside the cooking chamber is regulated by either adding more fuel or opening up vents.
You also have the option of controlling the amount of time spent smoking each piece of meat.
For example, you might set the timer to cook the meat for 20 minutes, then remove it from the smoker to cool off before slicing.
While these options sound good, most people don’t have access to a full-fledged smoker.
If you do not have a dedicated smoker, however, you should consider investing in a tabletop electric smoker.
These units often include a built-in heating element, a digital readout, and a removable rack so that you can easily add multiple racks of meat at once.
They come in various sizes, including small models perfect for smaller families who only need to smoke a few items at a time.
In addition to providing convenience, these units offer precise temperature control because the heater doesn’t rely on air flow to get hot.
Instead, you simply adjust the controls until the desired temp is reached.
For our smoked bologna recipe, we recommend going with a tabletop electric smoker.
These devices tend to be affordable and feature simple setup processes, making them ideal for beginners.
What Wood Chips Are Best For Smoking Bologna?
When it comes to cooking any kind of meat, there are some things you need to consider before beginning.
For example, if you decide to use charcoal briquettes instead of hardwood logs, the temperature will drop significantly.
With that said, what are the best woods to use for smoking bologna?
Well, first off, you should always choose wood that’s been dried out beforehand in order to prevent moisture from getting into the chip.
Dried-out wood also helps reduce any potential bugs, so you won’t have to worry about mold growing inside the smoker.
Next, you can either choose to buy pre-made wood chips (which come in packs) or create your own.
If you go with pre-made chips, you can find these in most grocery stores near the barbecue section.
However, if you prefer making your own, here are the three types of wood chips you should try out.
The main thing to remember when choosing which wood chips to use is to ensure you get high quality ones.
You don’t want to spend money on inferior wood just because it’s cheaper than others.
How Do You Know When Smoked Bologna Is Done?
There are two ways you can smoke your bologna.
The first method uses liquid propane gas (LPG) while the second method utilizes hardwood charcoal.
As long as the process involves heating up some kind of fuel source such as LPG or charcoal, it will result in smoky flavors.
But what happens if you use either type of fuel without actually burning anything?
In both cases, there’ll be a lot of smoke produced, which means there won’t be much flavor development.
So, even though you might not be able to taste any actual smokiness, you can smell it quite easily.
This is why I recommend using charcoal to smoke your bologna.
You don’t have to worry about having enough heat to burn off all the oxygen from inside the chamber, so you get a richer smoky flavor that way.
The only problem is that smoking foods with charcoal requires some attention since it tends to produce lots of ash.
If you aren’t careful, then you could end up wasting most of your precious coals.
To avoid this issue, you should always use briquettes.
They come pre-soaked in water, making them easier to light and extinguish than dry ones would be.
Plus, you can stack multiple layers together to save more heat energy during the cooking process.
So, once again, you’re getting a rich smoky flavor without all the mess associated with traditional methods.
When you’ve got everything ready, you just need to follow these simple steps:
- Put the bologna into a bowl and add 1/4 cup of salt per pound of the product.
- Add 2 teaspoons of granulated sugar per pound of the product.
- Mix well by hand until the mixture resembles wet sand.
- Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and place it in the fridge overnight.
- After the bologna has been in the fridge for 24 hours, remove it from its container and pat it down firmly before wrapping it tightly in aluminum foil.
- Place the wrapped bologna onto a rack placed inside a smoker box and close the lid.
- Fill the bottom section of the smoker box with fresh air holes covered with screen mesh to allow excess moisture to escape.
- Light the firebox containing the briquettes and wait until it starts producing smoke.
- Once the firebox produces visible flames, open the vent hole located directly above the top layer of briquettes.
- Use tongs to move the briquettes around to ensure equal distribution of heat throughout the entire pile.
- Continue lighting additional piles of briquettes every 20 minutes until the coals start glowing orange.
- Close the vent hole after each addition of briquettes.
- Check the temperature of the smoker box every hour or so and adjust the vents accordingly.
- Cook the bologna for 6 hours.
- Open the smoker box and let it sit for 30 minutes before removing the bologna.
- Slice the bologna into sections and serve right away.
Now that you know how to make your own smoked bologna recipe, try adding it to your next sandwich creation.
Or maybe you prefer it straight out of the package.
Either way, it’s sure to impress everyone who tries it.
Just remember to follow our tips and tricks outlined above carefully, especially regarding ventilation.
Can Smoked Bologna Be Frozen?
Yes, smoked bologna can be frozen just like any other kind of meat.
You should store it wrapped tightly in plastic wrap or foil so that air doesn’t get into it.
If you use wax paper, wrap the entire package up first before freezing it.
Otherwise, you might end up getting freezer burn from the fat content.
You could also freeze smoked bologna in a loaf pan if you don’t have enough room in your fridge.
Just line it with aluminum foil, then add some ice packs between slices of bologna and leave them there until the next day.
Then, transfer everything to a large tupperware container or ziploc bag.
This will help prevent condensation from forming inside the packaging while keeping the contents safe during storage.
How Long Does Smoked Bologna Last?
Smoked bologna can last up to a year if it’s kept properly stored.
However, when cooked, most recipes call for eating within 3 days.
If you plan to freeze or refrigerate your bologna, remember to use only non-perishable ingredients (like salt).
As mentioned earlier, smoking foods is the best way to extend its shelf life.
Even though it may seem counterintuitive, smoking also makes the product more susceptible to bacteria growth.
This means that it must always be handled carefully once it’s made.
Once cut into slices and placed in a container, it should be consumed quickly.
The same rule applies to all types of smoked meat products, including ham, bacon, and even jerky.
For example, if you have leftover bologna from a party and don’t know what to do with it, consider making homemade jerky out of it.
The leftovers will last much longer than just slicing and consuming straight away.
In addition to keeping it fresh for extended periods of time, smoking gives the bologna a unique flavor profile that won’t necessarily match what you get when buying pre-made versions of it.
For example, you’ll notice that our smoked bologna contains no preservatives whatsoever.
What Are Some Serving Suggestions For Smoked Bologna?
Depending on who you ask, there are several ways to serve smoked bologna.
You can slice it up and put it onto a sandwich, or you can cut it into small pieces and use those pieces to fill out your pizza.
The best way to eat smoked bologna really depends on what type of sandwich or pizza you’re making.
One thing I would recommend when eating smoked bologna is having a loaf of bread nearby so you have something to munch on while you’re enjoying your lunchtime snack.
- 1 Grill
- 1 piece bologna
- 1/4 cup yellow mustard
- 2 tablespoons barbecue rub
- 5 potato rolls
- Mustard barbecue sauce
- With a paring knife, score the entire piece of bologna, making 1/2-inch deep slices roughly every inch horizontally and vertically.
- Bologna should be covered in mustard and then rubbed with barbecue rub.
- When a smoker or grill reaches 225 degrees Fahrenheit (105 degrees Celsius), add chunks of smoking wood. Place the bologna in the smoker or grill once the wood is burning and producing smoke, and let it smoke for two to three hours, or until the outside has grown dark. After removing from the smoker, slice and serve after cooling for 5 to 10 minutes.
- To prepare sandwiches with crispy, smoked bologna: Charcoal from one chimney should be lit. Pour out and scatter the coals evenly over the whole surface of the coal grate once all of the charcoal has been lit and covered with gray ash. Place the cooking grate on the grill, close it, and let it heat up for five minutes. Grill grate should be washed and oiled. Bologna slices should be placed on the grill and cooked for two to three minutes per side, until browned and crisp. Add a roll and mustard barbeque sauce on top.