Do you love smoked foods? Smoking adds an incredibly deep and mouth-watering taste to your favorite grilled food and there are a variety of methods for smoking food, including outdoors smoking with a traditional wood smoker or using a pellet smoker. But is there any alternative to add that signature smoky flavor to your grilled food without a smoker? Of course, yes!
Wood chips can be used to smoke food on a gas grill. For this, you can either use a ‘smoker box’ or make an ‘aluminum foil pouch’ to set the wood chips of choice. Some gas grills also have a built-in smoker box. To set up smoke, preheat the gas grill, light a fire in the smoker box or use a high flame and wait until the wood produces smoke.
If you do not want to invest in a new smoker, you can smoke in the existing set-up or a gas grill using the right technique. The quality and type of wood chip and the smoker box can also alter the flavor of the food. Continue reading to find out how to use wood chips on a gas grill.
How To Use Wood Chips On A Gas Grill
To replicate the unique flavor of a traditional charcoal grill, you would need to use wood chips on a gas grill. Wood chips come in different varieties and are easily available in the local supermarket, BBQ stores, and online. Here’s a step-by-step guide on how to set up a gas grill with wood chips:
Step 1: “Soaking” – It is advantageous to soak the wood chips for at least ½ an hour before smoking otherwise, the wood may produce more flame than smoke. Since wood gets ignited at around 356 degrees Fahrenheit (or 180℃) and water boils at 212 degrees Fahrenheit (or 100℃), soaking wood chips helps in delaying the process of smoking.
Step 2: “Preheating” – Preheat your gas grill for 10-15 minutes on high flame.
If your gas grill has multiple grates, then remove one of the grates so that you can make some space to install the smoke set-up.
Step 3: “Setting the Wood Chips”: Pitmasters recommend two methods for grilling with wood chips on a gas grill:
- “Setting the Smoker Box” – Use a pair of tongs and add the wood chips of choice to the smoker box. Spread them and make sure to drain off excess water. If your gas grill does not have a built-in smoker box, you can buy one like this. Some smoker boxes may sit above the grill grate of your gas grill, others may sit below it. Continue to add wood chips as needed.
- “Making a Foil Pouch” – You can also DIY and use a foil pan to smoke the food. Place a piece of aluminum foil on the pan and put it directly on the grill grate right above an unlit burner. Make holes in the foil to let the smoke escape into the food.
- If your gas grill has only one grate, then place the smoker box or the foil pouch on the heat diffuser. For fast cooking, place wood chips directly below the meat, and for slow cooking, place the wood chips on indirect heat. The metal will conduct the heat from the smoker box/ foil to the wood chips.
- Use on your grill to add smoky flavor
If your gas grill has a built-in smoker box then setting up your gas grill for smoking becomes super easy.
Step 4: Light the fire and place the smoker box on one of the burners of your gas grill (on high flame for about 15-20 minutes). Wait until the wood chips begin to produce smoke. Turn off the heat.
Step 5: Place the meat/ veggies on the other burner and close with cover. Keep the heat low and steady.
Step 6: Cook the meat either on direct or indirect heat according to your personal preferences or until the recommended internal temperature is reached.
Some Tips To Smoke Food On A Gas Grill
- Keep the lid closed as much as possible to ensure maximum smoke is held inside the gas grill.
- If you are using good quality wood chips, for example, from brands like Weber and Western BBQ, then 2 or 3 handfuls of wood chips should be enough to give smoke for about half an hour.
- Be careful with unfamiliar backyard wood as they can be poisonous and make the food inedible.
- Spread out the wood chips evenly to cover the bottom of the box so that most of it can be directly exposed to the heat of the burner below.
- If your gas grill has multiple grill grates, then you may remove one of the grill grates and replace the section with a smoker box or aluminum pouch to place the wood chips.
- Once the smoke starts, you must turn down the heat to avoid wood flare-ups.
- You can also try using a cedar plank on your gas grill for great results.
- If the smoker chips have burnt out midway, you can always add more, if you like.
- Since most of the smoke will accumulate around the box, try keeping the food closer to the smoker box for better absorption of flavors.
- Ventilation or smoke flow is important to create optimum results.
What Are The Best Wood Chips For Gas Grill?
In wood smoking, the better the meat and the wood, the better the flavor. You can use Mesquite, Hickory, Pecan, Maple, or Fruit Woods (like Apple, Cherry, and Pear) for smoking on a gas grill. Specialty woods such as wood from whiskey and wine barrels can also be used.
The only types of wood that you should never use on a gas grill are woods from the conifer family, such as pine, fir, cedar, or spruce. They are softwoods and produce a sticky resin, which produces bitter-tasting and toxic compounds when burned.
How To Use Mesquite Chips For Gas Grill?
Mesquite wood chips have a very high-intensity or ‘strong’ flavor and are best used for smoking game meat, pork or beef. Use them in the same way as described above.
How To Use Hickory Wood Chips On A Gas Grill?
Hickory wood chips have a ‘medium’ smoke strength and leave a true-smoky flavor. It has lighter notes than Mesquite and is best used for smoking pork, beef, or lamb.
Mesquite and Hickory wood chips have a very robust flavor and are the classic choice for smoking beef and pork. However, if you want to smoke fish, vegetables, or chicken, you may use Applewood or Cherrywood as it will provide a subtle sweet flavor to the dish.
Gas Grill With Wood Drawer
If you are just getting into smoking food, it is worth not investing in a smoker, just yet. Instead, invest in a gas grill with a wood drawer for that ultimate ‘smoky’ flavor for your grilled food. Here are some of the good options:
Char Griller Flavor Pro
The 4-burner Char Griller Flavor Pro gas grill comes equipped with a convenient multi-fuel flavor drawer. You can add wood chips, chunks, logs or pellets, or charcoal to the flavor drawer. It has porcelain-coated cast iron cooking grates with 40,000 BTUs, which makes it super-easy to add some serious flavor to the food.
The Kalamazoo K500HT Hybrid Fire Grill is capable of grilling with gas, charcoal, or wood. The single hybrid fire grilling drawer can store enough wood or charcoal to meet all your grill demands. It has high-end burners for indirect and low-temperature cooking and a rotisserie system with an infrared burner.
However, if you are a pro-pitmaster, it would be worth investing in a traditional outdoor or pellet smoker for the best results.
Scot has loved smoking food in his free time for the last few years. Each major holiday or off-weekend, Scot spends days testing and prepping new recipes for perfection.