Grillaholics, if you’re like me, then you are well familiar with the love-hate relationship that comes with owning a gas grill.
The benefits of barbecuing with a gas grill are numerous. For starters, gas grills are easy enough for a caveman to use, often requiring just a turn of a knob and a click of a button to ignite. They also give a consistent and even distribution of heat throughout the entire cooking cycle, which can lead to more uniformly cooked food overall.
While the noble gas grill succeeds in making grilling a more attainable art for busier individuals, it unfortunately comes with a huge drawback in terms of the overall flavor of the food you prepare. I can still perfectly remember my disappointment from several years ago when I prepared burgers on my brand new gas grill for the first time ever. After growing up with and using a charcoal grill for my entire life, I had no idea how much smoky flavor was really added when using a charcoal grill until I bit down into my gas grilled burger.
While I loved the ease of cooking with a gas grill, I quickly realized that grilling is a labor of love, and as such, the easy way is not always the best way. In the years since my first disappointing burger, I have experimented with countless ways to infuse my grilled creations with the smoky flavor that came so naturally to my charcoal grilled food. After many experiments, I have found three foolproof methods that will allow you to easily add smoky flavor to whatever you grill without having to shell out hundreds of dollars for a fancy smoker.
Selecting Your Wood
Before we jump into the methods for smoking your food on a gas grill, it’s important (especially for those who maybe haven’t smoked their food before) to understand what types of wood pair with what kinds of food. It’s not just a simple as grabbing some sticks from the woods behind your house and throwing them onto the grill. Different wood types have distinctly different flavors, and so it’s important to understand how the type of wood that you are using and the food you are cooking will interact.
For a quick, general understanding, check out this handy infographic. For a more in depth understanding, you may consider purchasing a smoking guide so that the information is always directly at your fingertips.
Anyway, let’s get into the best methods for smoking food on a gas grill.
Method 1: Aluminum Roasting Pan
For the first method, you will need a metal container of some sort. Because smoking will leave stains on metal, it is advised to use disposable aluminum trays that you don’t care about damaging. You can buy a ton of them on Amazon for pretty cheap, and they can be used multiple times.
Because the top of the pan is completely exposed, the wood chips will burn and smolder much more quickly than the other methods, meaning that this first method in particular is best for infusing a lot of smoky flavor into food that cooks relatively quickly on the grill (like burgers or chicken).
In order to extend the duration of the wood chips for longer smoking jobs, it is important for the wood chips to be wet. This can be accomplished in one of two ways. The first option is to pre-soak the wood chips in water for about an hour. Then you simply place the pre-soaked chips into the aluminum tray, and smoke like normal. The second option is to fill the aluminum tray about halfway with hot water, and then place dry wood chips into the water. Either method will work.
Placement of the aluminum tray is also important. In order to get smoke as quickly as possible, it’s important to place the aluminum tray as close to the flame as possible. However, never place the tray directly on the burner!
You should place the aluminum tray on the grill while you are preheating your grill, and should begin seeing smoke within 20 minutes. Once you see smoke, you are good to begin grilling as normal.
Method 2: Smoker Box
The second method involves using a product specifically designed to make smoking food simple: a smoker box. A smoker box is essentially a latched metal container with small holes punched throughout to release smoke slowly throughout the cooking process.
Because this product is designed to making smoking food a breeze, its use is unbelievably simple. Just fill the box with you selected flavor of wood chips (soaked or not, either will work) and place it directly on the gas grill grates. If your gas grill has a flavorizer rack, place your food directly above the smoker box for best results.
The smoker box can even be placed directly on the coals of a charcoal grill to give your food even more smoky flavor. And the fact that a smoker box can be used over and over makes it a trustworthy and economical tool that I recommend any Grillaholic owns.
Method 3: Aluminum Foil Smoke Ball
The final method for smoking food on a gas grill is for those who prefer the DIY options over the store bought options. This method is essentially a way to make a makeshift smoker box using aluminum foil with holes poked in it.
For specific instructions on creating your own aluminum foil smoke ball, check out this tutorial!
While this option is potentially cheaper than a smoker box, it is a temporary solution rather than a permanent one. However, that makes it a great option for trying out smoking for the first time without committing to purchasing the necessary supplies.
And there you have it! All of this methods are Grillaholics approved and guaranteed to help you bring that delicious smoky flavor to whatever you grill! We hope we were able to help, and would love to hear from you on our Facebook page! And as always, cheers to being a Grillaholic.