If you have chosen convenience by buying a gas grill like me, you might think that smoking meat is going to be impossible.
You might think you can no longer add another cooking equipment to your outdoor kitchen because of the lack of extra space.
If you have these issues, then the smoker box is here to save you. It is a small and compact tool that can help gas and charcoal grills produce that delicious smoky flavor.
A smoker box can help you make smoked meat by placing the smoker box on your grill so it produces enough smoke to add that iconic flavor.
It holds the fuel to produce the smoke that will turn your grill to cook perfect recipes just like a smoker.
So in this post, we will be looking at how you should use it and what it can do to the food you cook!
What Is A Smoker Box?
A smoker box is typically a square or rectangular metal tray that has perforations all around it. The bottom is solid to hold the wood chips while the holes on top allow for proper airflow.
Smoker boxes use Wood chunks or wood chips and there should be a dedicated heat source beneath – usually a gas or charcoal grill.
Since the bottom of the smoker box does not have holes, the wood chips will not be able to catch on fire. Instead, they just produce smoke for smoking.
It is important to know where to place the smoker box to get as much heat as needed and prevent the chips from lighting up.
Where Do You Put A Smoker Box?
Once the smoker box is ready with the wood chips, place it as close to the heat source as possible.
This position is on top of burner for gas grills and on top of charcoals for charcoal grills, these positions are perfect so the wood chips will quickly produce smoke and start cooking.
One important thing to remember is never putting charcoal around the smoker box. All the charcoal should be beneath the smoker box so that the chips do not catch on fire.
It is pretty easy to use a smoker box and once you know where to place it, the rest of the process will be nothing unfamiliar to a practiced pitmaster!
How To Use A Smoker Box: Steps To Follow
1. Preheat The Grill And Clean The Grates
Preheat the grill with the smoker box in it, so the smoker box and the wood chips inside the smoker box can start producing smoke.
Intially, setting the grill at a higher temperature is best so you can get things started, and later, you can lower the temperature when you start smoking meat on the grill.
Cleaning the grills is also important so there is more efficient burning of the primary fuel and the smoker box heats up evenly.
Preheating the grill first allows the wood chips to smoke quicker.
2. Fill The Box With Smoking Chips
Fill up a little over half of the smoker box with wood chips that would pair well with the meat. Different wood chips can add beautiful flavors to the meat.
There are specific types of chips that would be better with chicken or poultry while others would fit better with tougher cuts of meat like beef.
Note: There is no need to soak the wood chips as the smoker box does not have holes at the bottom so the wood chips will not catch on fire.
3. Place The Smoker Box On The Grill
Place the smoker box on top of the burner for gas grills and right on top of the charcoals for charcoal grills.
Lower the smoker box to the heat source and then wait for the wood chips to start smoking. Watch this video to know exactly where you should position the smoker box.
This should be a few minutes if the grill’s burner is on high.
4. Cook The Meat On Grill With Closed Lid
Place the meat you want to cook on the indirect side of the grill. This is where the burners are not turned on so that the meat will not burn from too much heat before getting that smoke flavor.
Closing the grill lid will allow the smoke from the other side to roll on top and over the meat that you cook.
Depending on the cut of meat and its thickness, the cooking time will vary from 1.5 hours up to 4 hours for some cuts.
Here is another detailed step-by-step process with some tips on using a smoker box on the grill.
Types Of Wood Chips To Use And Which Meat To Use Them With
|Type Of Wood||Meat that pairs well with it|
|Cherry||Poultry and Pork|
|Apple||Chicken, Wild Bird Breeds, Pork|
|Alder||Excellent with Salmon or fish. (Pork, Chicken, and Veggies as well)|
|Oak||Beef, Brisket, Sausage, Lamb.|
|Pecan||Pork shoulder and ribs|
|Hickory||Pork shoulder and ribs (use sparingly)|
|Maple||Turkey and Chicken|
|Mesquite||Beef, Lamb, Pork|
|Grape Vine||Lamb, Pork, Poultry|
Advantages Of Using A Smoker Box
1. The Flavor It Imparts
You can incorporate several flavors into the smoked meat depending on the wood chips used.
Some woods give the meat a unique flavor that other cooking ways cannot replicate.
2. The Juicy Results
The combination of smoke and moisture from the wood chips used in the smoker box will give the food a juicy result perfect for steaks, chicken breasts, and pork chops.
This can also help larger cuts of meat like brisket and ribs maintain the moisture inside them which is important for the long cooking process.
3. The Even Finish
Smoker boxes make sure that they do not catch on fire and with the grill lid closed, the temperature is maintained properly.
This encourages even finishes on the food being smoker.
4. Good For Delicate Foods
Smoker boxes produce just enough heat to impart a smoky flavor to the meat, and they do not produce too much heat which is perfect for more delicate foods.
A good example of this is when cold-smoking cheese, there is no need for an extra heat source as the smoker box will do the job.
5. Finding The Right Flavor
Since there are many options in the types of wood chip that you can use on a smoker box, you will be able to find the right type of wood for a specific type of food with the help of the smoker box.
This introduces you to new flavors that your family will love!
How To Use A Smoker Box On A Charcoal Grill
Use the same process as the guide above for charcoal grills and smoker boxes, the only difference is the placement of the smoker box on the charcoals.
Since the smoked food needs protectection from direct heat, the smoker box will serve as a heat plate that blocks the direct heat from getting to the food.
As the wood chips in the smoker box heat up, they will improve the thickness of the smoke inside the grill without adding too much heat.
So once the charcoals are lit up, place the smoker box with wood chips on top of the embers and then cook with the lid closed.
Refill the wood chips if needed so that the food will continue to cook for hours until it is ready.
When Do You Fill The Smoker Box With More Wood Chips?
Once you see a slight difference in the quality of smoke coming from the smoker box, that is when it is time to fill the smoker box with fresh new wood chips.
Adding more wood chips during the cooking process usually takes palace 6 hours into cooking. The wood chips do not burn so they take time to be refilled.
The key is to look if the smoke is thin and too spread out compared to the better quality, almost blue and thick.
Just add a cup on top of the older wood chips and see if the smoke begins to get better in quality. Smoking with a smoker box is beneficial because it does last a long time.
How Long Do Wood Chips Take To Smoke?
A good wood chip will take about 20 minutes before it produces a significant amount and quality of smoke for cooking.
They do not produce too much heat so depending on the type and thickness of the meat, wood chips can take about 1.5 hours to 4 hours to smoke the meat.
Large cuts of meat like brisket can take about 10 hours at 225 degrees Fahrenheit. The food will eventually cook but the main key is to maintain the temperature without flames.
How To Keep Wood Chips From Catching Fire?
One of the most common ways to keep wood chips from catching fire is to soak wood chips in water for 30 minutes before heating them.
This allows the wood chips to burn or heat up slower and lower the chances of burning them while increasing the quantity of smoke produced.
But if you are using a smoker box there is no need to soak wood chips.
Choosing the right type of wood and limiting the airflow will help prevent the chips from catching fire.
Another way is to wrap the wood chips in aluminum foil to prevent them from catching fire.
Using the smoker box alone will prevent the wood chips from catching fire because of the solid and closed bottom.
Tips For Using Smoker Boxes
Tip 1: Keep The Grill Closed
Keeping the grill lid closed will ensure that the smoke will roll on top of the food at least once before it escapes.
This will help the meat develop a smokier flavor.
Tip 2: Moist Meat Is Better
When smoking with a smoker box, it is best to brine or keep the meat moist as it will improve the meat’s ability to absorb the smoke flavor from the wood chips.
As the meat is moist, it will also expand the smoke ring when cooked, making a beautiful finish on the food.
Tip 3: Limit The Airflow
Limiting the airflow will prevent the wood chips in the smoker box from catching fire and make the temperature more stable inside the grill.
That is why it is best to keep the lid of the grill closed and the vents only slightly open.
Tip 4: Do Not Put Too Much Wood
There is no need to fill up the smoker box with wood chips, and this can suffocate the chips and will not produce good-quality smoke.
Filling it up to just half of the smoker box will do, you can refill it later during the cooking process if needed.
How To Clean Smoker Boxes?
Get a bucket of water, dishwasher soap, and brush for cleaning the smoker box. This should be done before the first use and after every use to make sure the smoker box stays sturdy.
Using the soapy water, clean the interior of the smoker box with a plastic-bristled brush and then scrub all the surfaces as well.
Do not use a metal-bristled brush as it will only ruin the metal on the smoker box and get more dirt into seams or scratches from the metal brush.
Rinse the smoker box thoroughly with water and then let it air dry. You can either use it again after it has dried or season it a little by wiping a thin layer of vegetable oil.
The smoker box will last longer as the durable metal stays protected from rust and corrosion.