BBQ season is here and there is nothing quite like that smoky smell and taste of meat. No need to get a charcoal grill because you can get a smoker box for a gas grill to get the same effect.
You can use a smoker box for a gas grill to add that wonderful smoky taste to your favorite meats. A BBQ is not the same without the aroma of smoke in the air and it makes everything taste better too.
All you need to know is how to use a smoker box, which chips to use, and the smoking procedure and you will be good to go for every BBQ this season.
Our guide is designed to help you through the steps of using a smoker box for a gas grill. We want you to get the right flavors and the best meat, so we have the details you need right here.
Chips to use, wet or dry smoking, how to set up the smoker box, and more. So, all you need to do is invite your friends over to enjoy some of the best smoked food of the summer. Straight from your gas grill.
Table of Contents
Do Gas Grill Smoker Boxes Work
The wide venting at the back of these grills allows the smoke to escape before it can flavor the food. Using a smoker box is the best way to get this flavor into your food if you have a gas grill.
You can use a built-in smoker box, a freestanding box, wood chunks under the grill, under the grate smoker, or an aluminum foil smoker pouch.
Any of these will get the job done, but a smoker box is the option if you want ultimate smoky flavor.
How To Smoke On A Gas Grill With Chips: Step By Step
The first step is to pick your meat. You can smoke and grill anything from salmon to steak. Just remember the larger the piece of meat, the longer smoking and grilling times will be.
For fish and chicken, you can count on fairly quick grilling times. Even though they are cooked quickly, they will still absorb a great smoky flavor.
You can opt for buying a smoker box or you can make your own. Commercially made smoker boxes are made from more quality materials.
The more expensive the smoker box is, the better it will be. This is one item where you want to make the investment and it will last a long time and more than pay you back.
What About Wood
Just as choosing a wine to drink matters with your meal, so does the wood you use for smoking. You can choose from delicate flavors such as pecan, apple and alder woods, or more assertive flavors such as hickory.
You want to reserve strong flavors such as mesquite for larger cuts of meat such as beef steak and brisket.
The size of the wood also matters. You can get wood chunks or chips. Chunks take longer to burn but are ideal for a steady supply of smoke. Wood chips ignite quicker and burn more quickly.
This means you may need to add them more frequently as you grill. Choose the size of wood according to how long you plan to smoke the food.
Soaking The Chips
You need to soak the wood chips before you start grilling. Ideally, you need to do this a few hours beforehand. This is an essential step before using them on a gas grill.
If you don’t, they will burn up as soon as they are added. Once the chips have soaked, lay them on an aluminum tray or create a tray using layers of aluminum foil.
If you plan to smoke your meat for longer than an hour, you need to make this aluminum tray into a pouch. Poke a few holes through the top of the pouch to help release the smoke.
If you decide to use a tray for longer smoking, cover it with aluminum foil and add a few holes to the top.
You need to remove the grill grate from your gas grill. This is usually to the left side of the grill. Line the tray of the grill with aluminum foil or create the pouch described above.
Preheat your grill and leave the hinged lid closed. Do not be tempted to open the grill lid too frequently as this allows smoke to escape and will increase your overall grilling time.
You should get the burners as high as you can for about 15 minutes, so the grill gets really hot. This will help the wood chips ignite quicker when it’s time to add them.
You can use medium heat if you are uncomfortable with the higher heat setting, but the wood chips will take longer to ignite.
After 15 or 20 minutes, you can open the lid and turn off the burners. The only burner you want to leave on is the one that is smoking the wood chips.
Keep the meat away from your smoker box (or pouch), to the other side of the grill.
The Smoker Box
Some grills will come with a smoker box included. In which case you do not need a home-made pouch or smoker box. If not, you can use the aluminum pouch or buy a smoker box.
The best smoker box will be made from metal to better conduct heat. There are no holes in the bottom to protect the wood chips from burning.
Your smoker box will go over the one burner that is still lit. Before you add the food, let the grill reach a temperature between 225℉-250℉. You can do this by closing the lid for a small amount of time so inside the grill can stabilize.
Remember if you are cooking poultry, you need to reach a temperature between 250℉-300℉ before you start cooking.
Cooking time will be close to 1.5 hours per pound for red meat and about 20 minutes per pound for poultry.
Please note that these are estimates only so you need to check the internal temperatures of the meat before removing from the grill to eat. You will also need to add more wood chips if you are cooking for several hours.
Where Do You Put A Smoker Box In A Gas Grill
The smoker box will go to one side of the grill. After your grill is preheated, all burners are turned off except for one. The one burner you leave operating, will go under the smoker box.
This position applies to the use of smoker boxes that you buy or that you make from aluminum pouches.
Leaving the smoker box to one side allows you to cook the meat on the other side in an indirect fashion. Typically, you will not need to move the smoker box around during cooking, but you will need to add more wood chips as smoking is a time-consuming process.
Do You Soak Wood Chips For Gas Grill
There are debates as to whether you need to soak wood chips before smoking or not. The benefit to soaking the wood chips is that it allows them to burn slower.
Adding them directly to the smoker box can cause them to ignite quickly and you will be changing them more often.
Soaking in water also allows the chips to smolder so you get even more smoke and a more intense flavor. It is recommended to soak your wood chips for at least 30 minutes, but 2 hours before cooking is better.
Always soak in cold water. The amount of time for soaking applies to all the various flavors of wood chips you can use.
Do You Keep Adding Wood Chips When Smoking
There is not a set rule as to how often you need to change or add wood chips to your smoker box. A good rule to follow is to plan on doing this every 6 hours at most.
You can either change out the wood chips for new ones (also soaked), or you can just add 2 cups of wood chips to those that are already smoldering.
More important than how often you change the chips is the quality of smoke you are getting. Monitor the smoke produced, and if this is dwindling, then you need to add more chips.
How Long Does It Take For Wood Chips To Smoke On Gas Grill
Initially when you heat your grill up, you want to have burner settings on high. Leave it this way for about 20 minutes.
The amount of time that wood chips will smoke depends on the type of wood ships, their shape, and how much meat you are trying to smoke.
A general rule of thumb to follow is that smoking takes about 6 hours and a handful of wood chips can smoke for about an hour.
This means you want to be looking to add or replace more wood chips every hour at least, if not sooner. Any time you see smoke dwindling, add more wood chips to the smoker box.
Types Of Wood Chips To Use
There are many types of wood chips you can use for a smoker box. The most common ones include:
- Oak Wood Chips are a dense wood that burns long and slow, can be paired with other wood chips, and is great for red meat and fish.
- Hickory Wood Chips is one of the most popular smoking woods as it gives a very robust flavor and is great for all meats, especially ribs.
- Mesquite Wood Chips provide a strong earthy flavor, can be mixed with other wood chips and are best for red meats.
- Pecan Wood Chips are great for all types of meat and give a flavor similar to that of hickory chips but milder.
- Apple Wood Chips are good for beef, fish, and poultry and give a dense but sweet smoky flavor. These wood ships can be used along one mix with others.
- Cherry Wood Chips are best for pork and salmon with their mild fruity flavor that also mixes well with mesquite and hickory wood chips.
- Alder Wood Chips are best for fish and poultry and give a slightly sweet flavor. These are best combined with apple wood chips.
Weber Gas Grill Smoker Box
Weber is a name you know and trust when it comes to grilling and the Weber 7576 Universal Stainless Steel Smoker Box is the top seller on Amazon and a smoker box you can count on.
The stainless-steel box is durable and allows for intense flavor. Wood chips can be easily added during the smoking process. The smaller size makes it great for all size grills.
The lid opens quickly and easily so you can access it as needed without leaving your hands in a hot grill for too long. The stainless steel can be used for a long time and will not come apart, no matter how hot the grill gets.
What I like:
- Holes in the bottom to allow smoke to escape
- Durable stainless steel
- Easily opened lid for changing wood chips
- Holds in smoke for intense flavors
What I don’t like:
- Can warp with long-term use
Best Smoker Box For Gas Grill
In addition to Weber, the Char-Broil Cast Iron Smoker Box on Amazon is affordable and a great asset for smoking your food on a gas grill.
The cast iron box gives you optimal durability and it is the perfect size for all gas grills. The wood chips will not catch fire with this box giving you better temperature control.
You will get an intense flavor every time as the vents allow for even coating of food on the grill. The box is thicker than many others on the market allowing it to stand the test of time.
What I like:
- Highly durable cast iron box
- Vents allow for even smoke coverage
- Easy to clean
- Can hold a large amount of wood chips
What I don’t like:
- Can take longer to heat up compared to stainless steel boxes
Are Smoker Boxes Worth It
Smoker boxes come in different sizes and at different prices. You don’t always have to get the most expensive one to get a reliable smoker.
There are great smokers at all price ranges, you just need to know what features to look for to make the purchase worth it. Things to consider when buying a smoker box include:
- Materials and Durability: cheaper models are usually made from cheaper materials, but not always. Stainless steel and cast iron are the materials that will give you the most durable smoker box.
- Cleaning: Smoker boxes can get covered is grease and fat drippings, so you want a box that is easy to clean.
- Size: You want a smoker box that is small enough to go on all grills but also big enough to hold a good quantity of wood chips.
- Lid: Get a box with a tight-fitting lid that is also easy to open for refilling.
Any smoker box that meets these criteria will be worth it, so look for these features in a brand you trust and a budget you can afford.
Gas Grill Smoker Box Recipes
You likely already have your own ideas about the smoky flavors you want to create once you get your smoker box, but here are two recipes to help get you started.
1. Apple Wood Smoked Chicken
Start with a rub for the chicken made from dark brown sugar, salt, oregano, onion powder, smoked paprika, and garlic powder. Cover the chicken in the rub and press it in to really seal in the flavor. Ideally, you want to let this marinate in the rub overnight in the refrigerator.
Preheat your gas grill to 225 degrees and get your smoker box ready with apple wood chips (pre-soaked). Smoke the chicken at 225 degrees for 4 or 5 hours, making sure not to pull it from the grill until the internal meat temperature is 165 degrees.
2. Smoked Brisket
Season the brisket with a rub 20-24 hours before you want to start smoking. The rub is made from brown sugar, garlic powder, onion powder, smoked paprika, seasoning salt, black pepper, cumin, and dried oregano leaves.
When you are ready to smoke, fill the smoker box with pre-soaked wood chips. For this recipe use half apple wood chips and half hickory wood chips. Smoking will take about an hour per pound of brisket and you need the grill to be at a heat of 225 degrees.
Helpful Tips To Know How To Use A Smoker Box For Gas Grill
You have the steps to use a smoker box on your gas grill and a few recommendations for top smoker boxes on the market. We have also given you the important features to look for in your next smoker box.
Before you run out and get one, remember these helpful tips when it comes time to use your smoker box on a gas grill.
- Never use frozen meat. Always use meat that is room temperature when smoking
- Do not open the lid of the smoker box or grill during the initial warming up
- Always follow cooking temperatures for meats
- Get smoker boxes that are reliable such as those made from stainless steel or cast iron
Grilling season is here and the only thing that makes grilled food better is a strong, smoky flavor. Don’t worry if your gas grill doesn’t have a smoker box, because you can get one to add to it.
Using a smoker box is a great investment and will make every grilled meal delicious. Now that you know how to use a smoker box for a gas grill, time to start smoking and you will have neighbors drooling from down the block.