Got a gas grill but don’t know how to use a smoker box on it? Learn how to use a smoker box on a gas grill through this article.
Getting that great barbecued meat all juicy and flavorful is not just done with the magic of a good grill and some hot charcoal. In fact, it has been a long ongoing tradition for barbecue enthusiasts to get some help from additional equipment or materials such as wood chips, smokers and of course an array of different sauces and recipes.
One of the best ways that cooks manage to use in order to add a little more depth in their roasting or grilling meat offerings is to use a smoker box. This is usually a removable square or rectangular shaped container made out of metal where in you place chunks or chips of wood to smoke. This box are usually made of solid material with the top part of the box decorated with a uniform pattern of punctured holes.
Anybody who knows how to barbecue will definitely encourage you to try out using a smoker box whether you are a novice griller or a newbie with the whole barbecuing thing. It is a useful addition to a gas or outdoor grill so you can enhance the flavor of anything you are cooking on it.
Why Use a Smoker Box?
- Add a delicious smokey flavor.
- Reduces the heat level of the grill to avoid overcooking your meat.
Of course, for beginners, it would seem a bit daunting to start utilizing a smoker box especially when you have little to no idea on what it totally does and how to exactly use it.
This is totally normal and should not be something that will hinder you from experiencing a whole new plethora of flavors that only smoking can coax from your grilled protein. Anyone can easily learn how to use the smoker box properly and soon enough, you will be grilling at a next level, impressing your guests and family with a deeper, more delicious piece of meat you have ever grilled.
So, in order to fully understand how your smoker box will enhance and elevate your grilling, you have to know what goes inside of it. After all, you will not be smoking coals or just any wood in particular in it but rather flavored woodchips.
Woodchips to Use in a Smoke Box
Woodchips, if you are unfamiliar with them, are small to medium sized pieces of wood that were formed by cutting or chipping larger pieces such as trees, branches, stumps etc… Usually these come from delicious trees, especially nut trees and these certain woods have particular association with smoked foods.
Here is a short list of some popular woodchips that you can use for your smoker box.
- Hickory – This is great for all types of red meat, especially pork.
- Apple – Mild, subtly sweet perfect for blending with other woods for added complexity.
- Cherry – Gives rich, mahogany color to meat and a good all-purpose wood for any meat.
- Mesquite – Strong and intense flavor so use in moderation and avoid using on fish.
- Alder – Perfect for fish and poultry.
These woodchips come in various types and flavors with different nuances that can give your meat a more dimensional flavor so feel free to research or try any of those in your next barbecue. They can usually be bought from supermarkets and specialty stores.
Now that you have an idea of what you can actually use to flavor your meat with in the smoker box, it is time to go through the step by step process of actually using it. Do not worry because these steps are fairly easy and in truth, preparing and learning how to use your smoker box properly entails limited amount of preparation and work.
How to Use a Smoker Box on a Gas Grill
Step 1: PREHEATING THE GRILL
Experts will recommend that you preheat your grill for about 10 to 20 minutes. Feel free to set your grill’s burners up to high during this duration to keep your grill nice an hot. This will help the woodchips ignite faster when you eventually put your smoker box in. Preheating the grill also allows the smoker box to smoke faster.
It is normal to be worried about getting the grill too hot so, if it makes you feel less daunted, you may set the burners to medium or low. This will take a little longer for your chips to ignite but since the primary goal of preheating is to even out the heat in the grill, it’s an okay option.
Step 2: PREPARE THE SMOKER BOX
It is time to add your selected woodchips or chunks into the smoker box. Make sure you spread them evenly. You can aim to fill your box about 2/3 or ¾ full but never fill it to full capacity. You can use dry woodchips or chunks.
There is a small debate on whether you need to soak your woodchips for 30 minutes so they will not catch fire however, unless your smoker box has holes in the bottom, then it is not necessary to soak your chips. Soaking them will also lengthen the time for the wood to start smoking which can be tedious if you do not have the patience.
Step 3: PLACING THE SMOKER BOX INSIDE THE GRILL
Once you have completed putting the wood chunks in your box, open your gas grill and position the box over the heat source. Depending on the model of your gas grill, there could be a shelf just below the grill which is designed to host your smoker box. If you cannot detect one, you can simply place the box directly over the heat source. Do not worry because smoker boxes are usually made from materials that can handle high temperature and heat efficiently like cast iron so it will not burst into flames or explode.
It is recommended that for electric grill users, you should cover your smoker box with a foil and then poke a few holes in it. Again, if your gas grill is not turned to its highest settings, the chances of your smoker box getting hot enough to get the chips smoking will be lower. This will mean that your cook time will be extended. So, turning up the heat is the easiest and fastest way.
Step 4: TURNING OFF THE BURNERS
As soon as you see that your woodchips are smoking (smoke will start billowing from the holes of your smoker box), it is now time to turn down your gas grill’s burners to a low or typical cooking temperature like 225 to 250 degrees Fahrenheit. This will set up your grill for indirect cooking.
You have the option to keep the burner under your smoker box lit while your turn down the other burners just so the smoking from the wood chunks or chips continues throughout the barbecuing process.
If you feel or see that the smoke coming out of your box is insufficient or seem weak, you can add more wood chips or chunks inside the box and raise the temperature of your gas grill burner to get the heat going some more.
Step 5: START GRILLING
As soon as there is sufficient smoking, you may already place the meat or food that you want on the grill and let it cook. Make sure to leave a space on one side, opposite where you placed your smoker on the cooking grate so that you can cook your meat near it and let it soak that smoky, aromatic flavor. Do not forget to close the lid of your grill.
If your meat is not yet done or cooked but the chips or chunks in the smoker box have burnt through, do not worry. Simply open your grill, extract the smoker box and refill. Of course, handle the hot box with care and use your heat resistant tongs to grab it. Never use your hands!
A Quick Guide to Refilling Your Smoker Box
One of the purpose why you do not fill the smoker box at full capacity in the beginning is so that you can add wood chips in it without trouble in case you may need to add more.
- Lift open the top lid of the smoker box using heat resistant tongs.
- Add additional chunks or chips into the smoker box creating a new top layer into the pile.
- Close the lid and return the box onto the grill grate.
Do wait a few minutes for additional smoking to commence. If you still feel that there is not enough smoking, just repeat the process. Again, do not let the smoker box touch any part of your skin because that metal contraption is hot, hot, hot!
Finally, check your meat and see if it is done to your preferred temperature or cook. Use a thermometer to check the internal temperature of your protein. Some experts say that meat has been able to absorb smoke from the smoker box at around 160 degrees Fahrenheit so that can be your basis in checking your barbecue.
Never miss out on the chance to have a smokier, more delicious meal hot off the grill now that you know how to use a smoker box on a gas grill. Happy smoking!
Hi, I’m Adam and I’m a HUGE fan of Food and Cooking.
Do you enjoy grilling sessions with your family while staring at the beautiful fire pit flames?
Flame Gorilla is the site to learn how to have that perfect backyard experience.