How to add smoke to a gas grill

How to add smoke to a gas grill

You don’t have to invest in a thousand-dollar smoker to cook tender, flavorful smoked foods at home. It’s easy to turn your charcoal or gas grill into a smoker. With a handful of woodchips and patience, you can smoke everything from vegetables to salmon to beef ribs from your own backyard. Learn how to make a smoker with these ten easy steps and get your smoke on.

How to Make a Smoker

1. Start with soaked hardwood chips. Skip the chunks, sawdust and soft woods. Soak your chips in water for a minimum of two hours (overnight soaking is best). Woodchips come in many varieties, from mesquite and cherry to hickory and alder. You’ll find them in the grilling aisle of your local home improvement or hardware store.

2. Find a drip pan made of metal. “Disposable” aluminum cooking pans work well, but you don’t necessarily have to dispose of it after you grill (just clean it and use it again). Fill your pan halfway with water, and place it under one side of the grill. Your meat will go on the other side.

3. The key to smoking is indirect heat, so keep the flame away from your food. Build a fire on the opposite side of your charcoal grill from the drip pan (if you’re using a gas grill, just light one side). If it’s a windy day, make sure the fire is on the windward side of the grill.

4. Gently place several handfuls of soaked wood chips directly on top of your hot coals. For gas grills, first place the wood chips in a foil pouch and poke holes in the top. Put this pouch under the bottom grate, directly on top of the burner.

Here are our go-to tips for smoking on your gas grill.

First, here are some tools that will make smoking on a gas grill easier:

Now that you have the right tools, let’s get your grill set-up for smoking.

Setting up a gas grill for smoking can be very easy, especially if the grill is equipped with a built-in smoker box; however, there is a way to create smoke even without a built-in smoker box.

1. First, start soaking wood chips in water (check the recipe for the amount you’ll need). They should soak in water for at least 30 minutes or else they are likely to light on fire and give you more flame than smoke.

2. Start the grill by preheating your grill for 10-15 minutes on high and then brushing the cooking grates clean using a stainless steel grill brush.

3. Add wood chips to your smoker box. Using long-handled tongs, open the lid of the smoker box. Grab some of the soaked wood chips with the tongs, let the excess water drain off, and drop the wood chips into the smoker box.

Spread out the wood chips so they cover the bottom of the box, directly exposing as many chips as possible to the burner below.

Continue to add as many wood chips as the recipe suggests. Close the lid of the smoker box.

Close the lid of the grill and wait a few minutes for smoke to pour out of the grill. Now it’s time to lower the heat of the dedicated burner under the smoker box to medium or low so that the wood will smolder slowly.

4. Start smoking your food. Arrange the food in the middle of the cooking grate, over the unlit burner(s). Close the lid as soon as possible and let the food cook.

Controlling the temperature of a gas grill is not a matter of opening and closing vents, it’s simply a matter of turning knobs. In most cases you will adjust one or two of the main burners during cooking, though if you want to smoke at very low temperatures (below 250°F), turn off all of the main burners and use just the dedicated burner under the smoker box for the heat.

Keep in mind that most of the smoke will accumulate around the smoker box. The closer your food is to the smoker box, the more smoke flavor it will absorb.

If your grill doesn’t have a built-in smoker box, you still have options.

1. Order one of ours. We offer a heavy-gauge stainless steel smoker box to sit right on top of your cooking grate.

The metal will conduct the heat of your grill to the soaked wood chips you pile inside the box. The holes in the lid will direct the fragrant smoke over your food. When the wood chips have burned out, you can simply open the lid and add more, if you like.

2. Make your own. Place drained wood chips in a foil pan, cover with aluminum foil, and poke holes in the foil to allow the smoke to escape. Place the pan directly on the bars over an unlit burner or two, preferably in a back corner.

Put the cooking grates in place. Turn on the grill, with all the burners on high, and close the lid. When smoke appears, begin cooking your food, adjusting the temperature of the grill as needed. You can’t add more chips to the pan, but at least it’s a start.

Cedar Planking

You can also use a cedar plank on your gas grill to get awesome results. Get my tips and bonus recipe here on how to use a cedar plank.

Which woods should I use?

Check out our wood pairings chart in our what goes with what post.

Now you have the tips to smoke on your gas grill. To get more inspiration check out our other blogs here. Happy smoking!

Tips adapted from Weber’s Smoke ©2012 Weber-Stephen Products LLC. Used with permission.

How to add smoke to a gas grill

The biggest difference between gas grills and charcoal grills? The ones powered by gas don’t impart any smoky flavor to the food that is cooked on them.

That smoky flavor is one of the many reasons food cooked on a charcoal grill is so appetizing and appealing.

So what can you do if you own a gas grill and don't want to get a wood one? Here are a few tips and guidelines for hacking your current set up.

Grilling With Smoke Vs. Smoking

First of all, smoking is a distinct cooking technique from grilling with smoke. Smoking involves cooking bigger cuts of meat for long times at low temperatures by using chunks of hardwood to generate hot smoke. With smoking, the heat of the smoke itself cooks the food.

The technique we're discussing here, on the other hand, is grilling, which calls for cooking food quickly at a much higher temperature using hot air generated by the coals.

How to Grill With Wood Chips

The primary way of getting smoky flavor on a gas grill is by using wood chips. These are available at the supermarket, hardware or barbecue stores, as well as online. Different woods produce different flavors of smoke, but the most common types (especially in chip form) that produce the most moderate smoke flavors are hickory, oak and maple. These are good all-purpose woods for everything from poultry, beef and pork, as well as game birds and other wild game.

To Soak or Not to Soak?

Some backyard grillers like to soak their wood chips before using them because they think it produces more smoke. And while it's true that burning unseasoned (aka "green") wood in your fireplace will produce more smoke, the same is not true for cooking with wood chips.

Whole logs are larger and denser, so moisture trapped deep inside will indeed cause the wood to burn at a lower temperature, thus producing more smoke.

But wood chips are small, and the amount of water they can absorb is quickly boiled off by the heat of the grill, so it's merely producing a small amount of steam prior to smoking. In other words, whether you soak your wood chips or not makes no difference whatsoever.

What Meats Work Best?

Grilling with wood chips works best with foods that have longer cooking times. With a grilled steak, your goal is to get the meat on and off as quickly as possible. And because it takes time for smoke to penetrate a piece of meat, trying to use smoke while cooking a steak is actually counterproductive.

This is also (though to a lesser extent) true for cooking burgers, which you should cook all the way through (as opposed to steaks which are best cooked medium-rare or at most medium), but which still have a fairly sort cooking time.

But chicken (especially whole chickens or bone-in chicken pieces), as well as larger cuts of beef and pork offer the best opportunity for cooking with smoke.

It is possible to add too much smoke, however, which can cause the flavor to overpower the flavor of the food itself, and this is not what you want. To avoid this, stick to this basic rule of thumb, which is to use smoke only for half of the cooking time. So if your item takes 30 minutes on the grill, use smoke for 15 minutes.

How to add smoke to a gas grill

Methods for Grilling With Wood Chips

The main methods for grilling with wood chips on a gas grill are to use a foil pouch or a smoker box. Some gas grills are already equipped with a smoker box, so if yours has one, use it.

Otherwise, the easiest method is to wrap your wood chips loosely in aluminum foil, creating a small pouch. Punch a few holes at the top of the pouch to let the smoke out and place the packet directly on the grill grate above a burner. It might take 15 minutes for it to start smoking, so you should get it started before you add the food. And then remember to remove it halfway through the cooking time.

A smoker box is basically a perforated box that you can use over and over. Some types sit on the grill grate and others go below. Other than that, they work the same way (although the below-grate kind are harder to remove during cooking).

And while it should go without saying, remember to keep the lid of your grill closed to hold the smoke in!

So there you have it. With these simple techniques, you'll find it easy to get delicious smoky flavor on your gas grill.

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Lesson 6: How to Add Smoke to a Gas Grill

Whether you’re already an accomplished griller or just a novice, grilling cookbook author Fred Thompson will turn you into a grill master in ten short episodes.

It’s a long-persistent myth that grilling on gas means you can’t develop smoky flavor in your food. But it’s actually very easy to add smoke to any gas grill, all you need are some wood chips. If your grill is equipped with a smoker box, you can add wood chips directly to it. If not, you can create your own homemade version with a few sheets of foil.

How to add smoke to a gas grill How to add smoke to a gas grill How to add smoke to a gas grill How to add smoke to a gas grill
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Creating Foil Packets
These days, you’ll find lots of different wood chip varieties, like oak, apple wood, and hickory, and they all impart different flavors to your food. To create smoky flavor, you need to soak your wood chips in water for at least 30 minutes to an hour. That way, they’ll smolder and smoke when they go on the fire, instead of just incinerating. For extra flavor, you can also soak the wood in beer, wine, or juice.

Stack two sheets of foil, each about 14 inches square. Place about 1 cup of soaked wood chips in the center, fold it up into a rectangular packet, and poke a few holes in the foil. Each one of these packets will produce smoke for about 20 minutes, so depending on how long you want to smoke your meat for, you’ll need to make a few of them.

Preparing your grill to smoke
Before you preheat the grill, put the foil packet under the cooking grate, on whatever’s the hottest spot of the grill. Allow plenty of time; it’ll take at least 30 minutes for the chips to start to smoke.

For long-cooking items (more than 30 minutes), set a pan of liquid on the cooking grate: smoking tends to dry food out, so this will keep things moist. Put this pan of liquid in the cooler area of the grill.

Smoking your food
Once the chips have begun to smoke and smolder, it’s time to add your food. How long to smoke? Depends on what you’re cooking. Too much smoke makes the food taste like an ashtray. Smaller pieces of protein like a whole trout only need to cook for 10 to 15 minutes, so one packet of chips will produce enough smoke for the whole cooking time.

Big cuts like a brisket or pork shoulder can smoke for 1-1/2 to 2 hours (still, bear in mind that’s only a fraction of their total cooking time). Every 20 minutes or so, as the smoke dies down, add a new packet of wood chips to the fire. But work quickly, because every time you lift the lid, you lose heat and smoke.

At this point, you have all the necessary grilling equipment including your best gas grill and the meat to smoke. All you are waiting for is the procedure to set everything in progress. If you are a beginner, this guide how to smoke on a gas grill to make you a pro in a short while.

First thing to remember, you want traditional smoky flavor, yet you’re using equipment that isn’t best suited for this function. Gas grill is the best designed for both direct and indirect grilling.

But we can’t miss a way to go if we just have to smoke on a gas grill. So let’s set off our BBQ journey. Navigating the following steps one by one eventually enables us to smoke on a grill.

In order to smoke on a smoker, you should add smoke to it. You can achieve this in two ways: smoker box method and using the tinfoil method.

Method 1: Use of Smoker Box Method

To smoke on a gas grill using the smoker box method, you need the smoker box and wood chips. Most gas grills come with smoker box. If yours doesn’t have and you need the best model with this box for convenient smoking, click here. In detail, follow these steps:

Setting up your grill to smoke:

Approximately, 30 minutes are enough for optimal soaking. However, because the smoker box lacks holes at the bottom, thus catching fire isn’t that easy. For this reason, dry wood chips are still convenient.

Smoking of your meat:

Note: The metal box works by conducting heat from the grill’s burner to the wood chips to produce smoke. Although its lower part has no holes, the upper part has holes for smoke passage. This in turn improves the flavor of your food. The design of smoker box allows for easy opening, implying that additional wood chips can be added in the course of smoking.

Method 2: The Tinfoil Method

Using tinfoil method is an alternative to the use of smoker box method. This is in case you aren’t in good position to acquire a smoker box. Basically, the tinfoil allows you to come up with a bag-like structure in which you can keep dry wood chips.

Setting it up:

Smoking:

Final words about smoking on a gas grill:

The two methods we have discussed above are both great for smoking on a gas grill. Particularly smoker box method is relatively long-term in nature if you try it out.

However, as already noted, tinfoil method is temporary and is only fit for your temporary or short-term needs. Considering that one single foil bag lasts for approximately 25-35 minutes, you’d rather go for the smoker box method.

With attention to the use of gas grill as a method of smoking, bear in mind a few facts. For one thing, it isn’t the best way to smoke your meat. Compared to directly smoking over wood or charcoal smoker, the flavor of food obtained is not the best we know of.

But it is a relief and an alternative in the absence of perfect smokers. Therefore, if you are in need of smoking and you have no otherwise, don’t be afraid to use it.

  • Updated September 1, 2021
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Theresa Lori

Hi, I’m Theresa. My passion for grilling delicacy gradually built during the time I was living with my parents. My family members especially my mother was a great fan of grilled dishes to and from the love of food. I started preparing smoked food with my mom. This bonding helped me to know more and more about to smoke, grill what always I share on SmokeGears.com. So, in two words you can call me a BBQ lover.

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Today we’re walking you through How to Smoke on a Gas Grill. Don’t have a smoker? No fear! I’ll walk you step by step through the process of turning your good ol’ gas grill into a smoking machine.

How to add smoke to a gas grill

Can You Smoke Meat on a Gas Grill?

You most definitely can smoke meat on a gas grill! In fact, you can smoke whatever food you want on a grill. If you only have a trusty gas grill on your patio, but you’re craving that delicious flavor of smoked meat, no fear! Whether you’re wanting to cold smoke or hot smoke something delicious, you can add some smoke to your gas grill to get the best of both worlds!

What is Cold Smoking?

Cold smoking is a great way to smoke a variety of foods when you don’t want to actually cook them. I use cold smoking for making smoked cheese, cold smoked salmon, smoked salt, and much more. For cold smoking, you’re looking at a target temperature of less than 80 degrees F in your grill with the smoke running constantly during the entire process. Because you’re aiming for such a low temperature, I like to cold smoke in the cooler months during autumn and winter.

One way to make cold smoking a reality on your grill is to use a pellet tube smoker. These are relatively inexpensive (usually under $15), and they are easy to use.

How to add smoke to a gas grill

How to Cold Smoke

Here’s the basics on how to cold smoke:

  1. Fill the pellet tube smoker. Fill up your tube smoker with wood cooking pellets. Make sure you purchase cooking pellets and not wood heating pellets. These are not made for cooking. Fill the tube until the pellets are an inch from the top.
  2. Light the end. Simply light one end of the tube with a match or a lighter and let it burn for 3-5 minutes.
  3. Blow out the flame. Blow out the flame, and now you’re ready to cold smoke!
  4. Get smoking! Place the pellet tube smoker in your grill, close the lid, and smoke!

With the use of a pellet tube, you can turn anything into a cold smoker. Whether it’s your gas grill, pellet smoker, regular smoker, charcoal or grill, you can now cold smoke. As long as your grill has enough space and a lid to hold in the smoke, you can turn it into a cold smoker.

Cold Smoking Recipes

Now that you know the basics on how to cold smoke, try out these tasty cold smoking recipes from Hey Grill Hey:

How to add smoke to a gas grill

Smoking on a Gas Grill

Next up, hot smoking! For hot smoking, we’re looking to keep our grill at temperatures between 180 degrees F and 275 degrees F. This means you’re cooking your food while adding smoke flavor. If you’re cooking on a gas grill, this works for any number of meats and veggies. Hot smoking works for any food you’re cooking that you want to add a smoke flavor to. The possibilities are endless!

There are two differing opinions about wood chips when smoking on a gas grill. Do you use soaked pellets or nice and dry ones? I prefer a soaked wood chip if I’m going to be adding it directly to the fire like in a charcoal or offset smoker because it generates steam and turns into smoke to give your wood chips more longevity. When making a smoking pouch (as detailed in the next section), I like to use dry chips because you’re placing them directly over the burners in your gas grill.

How to add smoke to a gas grill

How to Smoke on a Gas Grill with Chips

To add smoke to my gas grill, I make my own smoking pouch out of wood chips. Here’s how you do it:

  1. Grab some aluminum foil. Tear off two large pieces of heavy duty aluminum foil and layer them flat on your work surface.
  2. Make the pouch. Place two cups of dry wood chips on the center of your foil. Fold up each long side and crimp to secure. Then roll up the ends to make a sealed wood chip pouch.
  3. Poke holes in the pouch. Poke holes in the top of your pouch to allow the heat from the fire to singe the wood chips inside the pouch and make some gorgeous smoke that will be released through the holes and add a delicious smoke flavor to your food.
  4. Add the pouch to your grill. Take off one of your grates on your gas grill, and nestle your pouch right over one of your burners. Replace the grates, and you’re ready to go.
  5. Fire up the grill! Turn on your burner on your gas grill (I used my Weber Genesis II). If you’re aiming for a temperature of 180-275 degrees F, you’ll likely only need to turn on one burner. This will heat the pouch, circulate the smoke through the grill, and it should provide enough heat to get your grill to a perfect smoking temperature.
  6. Cook your food. Place your food on the opposite side of the grill from the smoking pouch, close the lid, and use the dome thermometer on your grill to monitor the temperature. Turn on additional burners as needed to maintain your desired smoking temperature (this is often around 225 degrees).
  7. Keep and eye on your grill and your smoke packet. It’s going to take about 45 minutes to burn through all of your wood pellets in the pouch, so have extras on hand when the first one burns through. Continue to cook and smoke your food until it reaches your desired internal temperature/doneness.

How to add smoke to a gas grill

Smoking Meat on a Gas Grill

Ready to add some smoky flavor to your grilled food? Try these recipes and follow the steps above to add some awesome smoked flavor to these tasty meats:

Watch the video below, and let’s make something delicious! I’m all about helping you make better BBQ, feed the people you love, and become a BBQ hero. Check out more Hey Grill Hey behind the scenes action on Instagram, Facebook, and YouTube!

We’ve previously reviewed Savu Smoker Bags, an excellent way to add smoke Smoking Salmon on a Gas Grill

Who says you need a gigantic smoker to get that great smoked flavor? Chef Bob of Tony Roma’s tells us how to use wood chips to smoke fish on a gas grill.

Any fish can be smoked, but those that are high in fat are best because they absorb smoke faster and have better texture (note that the fat is heart-healthy, with omega-3 fatty acids).

What wood should you select? It depends on the delicacy of the fish and your preference for light versus heavy smoke flavor. Here’s a chart of the flavors imparted by different types of wood.

In the recipe below, Chef Bob pairs salmon with hickory chips. Alder, apple, cherry and oak all work well for smoking fish.

Ingredients For 4 Servings

Preparation

1. PREHEAT the grill to 300°F (only preheat one side of the grill). Mix the seasonings in a medium bowl and season both sides of the salmon fillets.

2. ADD 4-5 cups of wood chips to the pan, fill the pan with water and let the chips soak for 30 minutes. Drain and cover the pan with aluminum foil.

3. CUT 6-9 holes in the top of the aluminum foil (while the foil covers the pan) to let the smoke escape. Place the pan on the preheated grill.

4. WAIT 30 minutes; then check to see if the pan is smoking. If not, check your heat setting and wait until smoke appears before adding the fish. Don’t worry if the smoke isn’t billowing: Too much smoke can produce bitterness.

5. PLACE the fish on the opposite side of the grill and close the lid. Cook the salmon until it is fully smoked and flaky, about 30-35 minutes. The smoke will envelop the fish and give it that delicious smoked flavor.

How to add smoke to a gas grill

Briskets have been a great part of my life. From childhood, I’ve been eating briskets ( I was unaware of the name though). I remember my mum would marinate the brisket and we would sit in the backyard watching our dad smoking it all day long.

Let me tell you when you smoke a brisket and it turns out great it feels like an accomplishment. it shows that hours of hard work turned out to be perfect. Here I will teach you how to smoke the perfect brisket on a gas grill. Follow along this guide to find amazing smoking techniques.

Firstly you must set up your Gas grill for it the first thing you need is a good Thermometer. You can insert the thermometer probe into the brisket to measure the desired temperature. A brisket’s ideal temperature is 225-300. This temperature is perfect for that slow and gradual cooking.

Gas Grill

Take 6-7 cups of wood chips and soak them in water overnight. This gives an amazing taste to the brisket.

Now light grill burner and keep it at medium. The drip tray must be empty for the collection of fat.

Add 1-1.5 cups of soaked to the box and close the grill.

Place the smoker box over the lit burner and let the smoke create. The chips will smolder and creat a steady smoke. You can add dried wooden chips to increase the smoke ( temperature remains constant ).

Brisket Preparation

Now you may want to get a good quality brisket from your local shops. You can also get the meat fat-free if you tell the butchers to. Keep the brisket on a flat surface and identify the fat. The fat is the whitish and gooey part that covers the brisket. According to personal preference, you can cut it. Use a good sharp Knife and start by trimming the fat.

Use this RUB for the brisket. This is just like a marination. The rub allows the brisket to absorb the flavors.

Cover the brisket in plastic and refrigerate overnight.

The next day, remove the brisket and let it defrost before cooking.

Take the brisket and add on the grill. Cook until the temperature reaches 225-300. Let it cook on slow smoke to allow moisture and juiciness in the brisket. You can let it smoke it slowly by adding dry wood chips and cooking on 225. It took me 5-6 hours to cook a 4-pound brisket completely.

Wrap it in aluminum foil and towels for at least 1.5-3 hours to let it take in all the smoke.

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