Cooking meat is fun on a gas grill but smoking meat can be a task because gas grills are known to have a lot of space between the lid and the grill which lets out the smoke.
This isnt ideal for smoking meat as the meat has to cook slow with the smoke to get that smoky taste and flavour that you get from the smoked meat.
So, in this post, I would help you understand how to perfectly smoke meat on the gas grill and how you can maintain a consistent temperature on the grill to smoke the meat.
Hot smoking vs. Cold smoking
In cold smoking, the food is kept in a chamber where smoke is circulated through the chamber to give the food that smoky flavour.
Usually before cold smoking the food is cured so that there is no moisture in the food enabling it to absorb more smoke rendering it that smoky flavour.
The temperature of the chamber is around 20-25 degree Celsius and usually cold smoking is done on already cooked food, or ready to eat food like cheese.
Hot Smoking is a different game where you smoke the food and along with smoking you are also cooking the food at the same time.
In hot smoking, you are creating an indirect heat zone also known as cold zone and the food is smoked at a higher temperature which means you are cooking it low and slow and smoking it at thee same time.
In hot smoking the temperature of the chamber is kept between 80-150°C and since the temperature is low, the cook time is usually long with this method.
If you want to know more on the difference between cold smoking vs hot smoking then you can read this post, but if you are getting ready to smoke meat on the gas grill then read ahead.
Temperature at which one should smoke meat
As mentioned above the temperature range for hot smoking is around 80-150 degree celsius. But let’s narrow it down to meat.
The ideal tmeperature of the grill to smoke meat should be around 225°F to 250°F.
Now, this is a very tight range with not a lot a wiggle room but as long as you make sure that the meat is cooked and not under direct heat then you are good.
The internal temperature of meat should be around 145°F and that of poultry should be around 165°F.
Now, that you have an idea of what temperature to smoke meat and the ideal interanl temperature of the meat, let’s understand how to create smoke on a gas grill.
Creating smoke on the gas grill is a task because unlike pellet grill, you need to generate smoke in the grill to smoke food.
Different ways to create smoke on a propane grill
There are a few pieces of equipment that you can use to produce smoke in the gas grill and we will briefly talk about them here.
What you are looking for is a device that can hold up wood chips so that they can produce smoke on the gas grill. Here are the ones you can use.
1. SMOKER BOX
This is one of the common types of wood chip holders. It is a slightly large metal pan that can hold either wood chips or bigger fuel such as wood chunks or even wooden slabs.
It is the type of metal that can block flames from burning the wood. It gives the right amount of temperature that can let the woods start smoking but is low enough to prevent them from burning.
These are cheap and durable tools to hold the wood chips or slabs in. if taken good care of, they can last for a lifetime and so I recommend using these for smoking on the gas grill.
2. PELLET TUBE
This is one of the tools that I guess can also be considered a smoker box. It is a long tube that functions just the same as the smoker box, meaning it holds the woods.
The advantage of this tool is that it can be loaded with a lot of wood. That means that you can smoke with it for hours without the need of refilling it frequently.
If you do not have either of the two smoker boxes that we just talked about, or if you do not want to spend another money out of your budget, then you can use daily household materials.
One thing you can do is form some sort of a smoker box by putting the wood chips on a foil wrap. The foil will protect the woods from burning out during the process.
But how will the smoke come out, you might ask. Easy, after wrapping the wood chips with the foil, use a fork or one of the skewers that you have and pierce a few holes on the foil.
This will let the wood chips heat up and allow the smoke to go out. It will also limit the amount of smoke that you get, you can make it smoke more by piercing more holes.
Wood Chips/Wood Pellets – The Better Option?
If you ask most pitmasters, they would say that wood pellets are better for smoking meat.
Wood pellets are compacted wood shavings that can produce thicker clouds of smoke than wood chips.
Wood pellets also burn drier and slower so they are really efficient.
They do, however, need to be burnt at a much higher temperature which can be too much for the food you are smoking.
If you use wood chips, you will still be able to create smoke that is enough to put that smoky flavor in your food but the taste will not be as strong as the one you get from wood pellets.
That can be an advantage, however, especially if you do not want too much of the smoke flavor to get into the food. That is when wood chips are better than wood pellets for creating smoke.
Personally, I still prefer wood pellets because they give you more temperature control and better efficiency. Wood chips do not need to be processed that much so they can be cheaper.
If you choose to use wood chips or you do not have the wood pellet option, then you can use wood chips all you want.
You can either use normal wood chips or soak them before you use them on the grill.
Soaking wood chips in a mixture of water and apple cider vinegar will enhance the smoke they produce.
What soaking does is it slows down the burning process so the wood chips will last longer. So do you use pre-soaked wood chips or norma wood chips?
I say, go with soaked wood chips so that they do not burn easily and still produce thick clouds of smoke that you need for the meat to be smoked properly.
DO you need PRE SOAKED WOOD CHIPS OR NORMAL ONES?
Pre soaked wood chips are not the best when you want to smoke on a gas grill. There is so much debate around if you should soak the wood chips or not when smoking on a grill.
If you want to soak the wood chips then make sure to soak them for at least 24 hours before smoking to get the best results.
This way the wood chips absorb all water and when you throw them on the hot grill grates, they do not catch fire but produce smoke.
However, in a gas grill you are either using a smoker box or the above methods which avoid any direct contact between the wood and the fire, you do not need to soak the wood chips.
Just make sure that the wood chips do not catch fire while you are cooking as that can give an off putting taste to the meat.
So always keep an eye, the wood has to smoulder/smoke and not BURN.
How To Smoke On A Gas Grill With Chips
Smoking on the gas grill with chips can be done by using the pellet tube or smoker box as suggested above.
You can clearly see that wood chips are a better option when it comes to smoking meat on a gas grill and hence using chips is important.
Smoker Box For Smoking Meat On A Gas Grill
As I have briefly talked about, smoker boxes are essential for smoking meat on a gas grill. These are perhaps the best options you have as they are cheap, durable, and effective.
What it does is it allows you to produce smoke inside a gas grill with wood chips. Smoker boxes are also designed so that the wood chips or wood pellets you use do not catch fire.
You need a smoker box in order to produce the right amount of smoke inside the gas grill so that you can add flavors to the food that you are cooking, but how do you use a smoker box?
How To Use A Smoker Box
First, your smoker box should not have holes on the bottom. This will prevent the wood chips from catching fire so if your smoker box has holes at the bottom, make sure to soak the wood chips first.
Put the wood chips in the smoker box. If you use soaked wood chips and the smoker box you are using does not have holes at the bottom, it will take longer for the wood chips to start producing smoke.
Place the smoker box as close to the burners of the gas grill as possible. Turn up the heat of your gas grill until the wood chips start to produce smoke.
Once you see smoke coming out of the smoker box, turn down the burners and set the temperature to the right smoking temperature that you will be using.
So you see, it is not that hard to use a smoker box. Just make sure that the wood chips do not catch on fire.
How To Smoke On A Propane Grill
This is very easy to do but since we have used wood chips in the first guide, let us try making it simpler and use wood pellets this time.
- Place the wood pellets in a smoker box.
- Turn the propane grill on and set the temperature to about 400 degrees Fahrenheit.
- Place the smoker box inside the grill near the heat source.
- Once the wood pellets start to produce smoke, turn the heat down to 200 degrees Fahrenheit.
- Place the meat on the side of the grill opposite the wood pellets.
- Allow the meat to smoke for a few hours or until it has reached the desired internal temperature.
- Allow the meat to rest for about 10 minutes before cutting it and serving it!
Wood Chips Not Smoking On Gas Grill?
There are a few reasons why the wood chips are not smoking inside the gas grill and you can easily resolve them.
The wood chips that you have used might not be dry. If you know the basics of hardwood, you should never use wood chips that are not dried before soaking.
You want the wood to smoke and not evaporated water to lower the temperature inside your grill.
Even if you soak wood chips, the wood chips should be perfectly dry before smoking them.
Wood that still has its original liquids or moisture inside will only produce acrid smoke if it can produce smoke at all.
Do not get this confused, you still need a little bit of moisture in the wood chips for them to produce smoke but too much or too little moisture can be the cause of the lack of smoke.
Another reason why the wood chips are not smoking is the airflow. You need to understand that even if the wood chips do not catch fire, they still need a proper oxygen supply to produce smoke.
That goes with propane and natural gas grills as well. Your smoker box should also have enough holes for air to pass through and for the wood chips to produce smoke.
At the lowest heat possible, you still need to have proper airflow for the wood chips to produce smoke just like in cold smoking.
Smoking meat in a gas grill is sometimes easier than doing it in an actual wood pellet smoker. This is because gas grills give off a more consistent heat than wood fuels.
So the only important problem that you have to face is producing the smoke for the meat. Since you now know every trick that will allow you to do that, you can now smoke in your gas grill!
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