How To Smoke On a Gas Grill

Smoking is a process of adding flavors to our favorite foods such as poultry, fish, and meat. In addition to that, it also acts to preserve the food and make it last longer. Several foods such as oysters, salmon, bacon, hams, beef, and herring can be smoked and eaten for the irresistible taste. Of course, smoking is best when done on a dedicated smoker, but smoking on a gas grill will also lead to delicious food recipes.

Technically, given the configuration of a gas grill, it is not designed to act as a smoking-food tool. This is because heat and smoke escape out of the minuscule gaps circumventing the lids. Yet, it is worth noting that the food will taste awesome, albeit not the same as the one smoked on a dedicated smoker.

So for the people who do not possess a smoker and need to prepare that delicious barbeque with the help of a gas grill, they need to learn the basics. Once they learn how to smoke on the gas grill, delectable dishes that impress friends and family will be ready in no time!

Learning the Essentials of Working on a Gas Grill

  • While working on a gas grill, it is important to observe that the key to a good smoked chicken or barbeque controls the temperature.  One should be able to control the temperature of the grill for a considerable time. It should be taken care that the temperature of the grill at any time during preparation should not exceed 300 F. Meat should also not be exposed directly to the flame.
  • A typical gas grill will have two, three, or four burners. The idea is to create a combination of burners, with some being on and others being off. This configuration intends to scrutinize the heat controls and simultaneously measure the temperature on the area where the food will be placed. Any configuration that is competent and holds within a temperature of 250 F will work.
  • The basic of maintaining a temperature is also dependent on other factors such as outside weather conditions- windy or rainy; seasons such as summer and winter.
  • While maintaining a steady temperature is an essential part of smoking food items, it is also inevitable to have a device that will measure the temperature. Digital thermometers are best suited for this purpose. The thermometer consists of two probes- one of it measures the temperature of the cooked food while the other assesses the grill temperature.

Basic Components and Processes Involved In a Gas Grill

Let us look at the various important components involved in the working of a gas grill while smoking.

Smoke tube

A smoke tube is a small container that contains perforations on its walls. It is made up of metal and contains pellets. These pellets are burnt at the end of the smoke tube, which is open. After the pellets start burning, smoke is generated. Once we blow this smoke, there will be smoldering produced at the end of the pellet, burnt. A very tasty smoke is generated due to this. The smoke will keep generating for about two to four hours based on the magnitude of the smoke tube.

The smoke is generated due to the burning of the pellets. In this situation, one might wonder about the exact significance of the smoke tubes. The smoking process might falter because of two major reasons: the fuel will lose heat very quickly and die down, and the other is that fuel will heat up too soon and produce a lot of flames.

The smoke tube is the one-stop solution for preventing these kinds of mishaps by bringing together these pellets and controlling the airflow so that the burn is nominal and exactly the right amount.

The two most important things to notice while buying a smoke tube are size and shape. A smoke tube must be big enough to hold a large number of pellets that can produce smoke for longer hours. The smoke time is also dependent on the arrangement of pellets and the local environmental conditions.

The rate of combustion can be optimized by using a smoke tube of a circular cross-sectional area. This minimizes the surface area. The issue with circular cross-sections is that they keep rolling; hence positioning them is hard. The best shape which is easiest to handle is the square cross-section because it remains still. However, there are other shapes, such as ovals and hexagons.

How to use a smoke tube

Lighting a smoke tube is easy. A smoke tube is not an entirely automatic device, so it requires some effort to light it. The main component needed is a propane torch – these come in different variants. Some variants light up when they are struck, other light up when they are struck with a separate tool. The process of using a smoke tube can be elaborated as below:

  • The first step is to fill up the smoke tube with pellets. The tube must be given a slight shake to settle the pellets, and if need be, more pellets can be added to fill the container.
  • The tube must be set on a fire-proof surface, such as the grill grate. This must be kept on the end, and the open side should be up. Next, the top of the tube should be lit with the help of the torch. The torch must be kept in action until the flame is burning and slowly moved away.
  • The fire should be kept burning for around five minutes, after which it should be blown. This is an indication that we are ready to start the smoking process.

Smoker box

Smoker box is an important component that comes in handy when one is smoking using a gas grill.  They turn our ordinary gas grills into full-fledged barbeques. The smoker boxes contain wood –chips, and these are situated above the gas grill burners. Smoker boxes have perforations or holes on their top surfaces. This acts as an outlet for the smoke, which is used to impart flavor to the food. The following steps are involved while using a smoker box:

  • All the burners on the gas grill should be put on high flame to preheat it. This should continue for around fifteen minutes. After preheating the grill, it is set up for ancillary cooking.
  • The smoker box is now stuffed with wood chips.
  • Now the smoker box is placed on top of the burner as a medium for indirect cooking.
  • Wait for some time till the box starts smoking. Once it does, the grill for indirect smoking needs to be set up after turning off the gas grill burners.
  • The other burners which are still lit should be adjusted to have an internal temperature between 225 F and 250 F.
  • Now the last part of the process is the addition of meat or chicken to the grill. Now smoke the meat or chicken till the internal temperature reaches the desired level.
  • It is very important to note that additional wooden chips need to be added from time to time until the temperature of the meat reaches about 160F.

How to use a smoker box 

There are key points to be remembered while setting up a smoker box, but there are also some additional nuances that must be catered to while using a smoker box.

  • Preheating the grill is a dominant part of setting the smoker box. When all the four burners heat up simultaneously, and the smoker box is kept on the top of the gas grill, the wooden chips ignite instantaneously.
  • Smoker boxes can be purchased from shops or online, and they can also be made at home. The commercial boxes, though, are made of superior quality materials and can be reused. If one is interested in making a DIY box, it can be done using an aluminum pan or aluminum foil. Aluminum foil can be used to create a small box with wooden chips inside it. This foil can be poked from outside, creating several tiny holes for the outlet of smoke.
  • Choosing wooden chips also forms an important part of the process.  This is dependent on the choice of food and taste of the person. Several kinds of woods are perfect for different kinds of meat and stuff. For example, hickory is suitable for red meat. It has a pervasive smell and adds a real smoky flavor to the meat. The mesquite wood is good for fish. It has a potent smell and flavor hence should be added in moderation. Similarly, there are other types of woods like apple, cherry, and alder. They are decent for fish, poultry, and seafood.
  •  People have often been misguided because it is good to soak the wood chips in water before starting the smoking process. But this is not true. The theory behind the soaking of wooden chips in water is that chips will smoke for a longer time. But the woods absorb water, and when they are burnt, the first thing they do is let out the steam; once all the steam has been ridden off, only the wood starts burning. Hence all the theories of extra smoking time are nothing but a false perception.

Can you use wood pellets instead of wood chips

Smoking our meats is more than just adding a layer of succulent taste to them. The more we understand the science behind smoking, the more we realize that it is not simply the act of lighting the wood. A better alternative to wooden chips, most talked about these days, is wooden pellets.

Wooden pallets are mainly made of wood that has been compressed by turning it into sawdust and then remold into small pieces in cylindrical shapes. These wooden pellets can be purchased from the market. The commercial pellets contain additives that are responsible for altering the taste of the food.  These pellets burn for a longer time and hence are more economical in usage. They do not generate a lot of ash. The smoke generated by them consistent which is favorable for cold smoking too.

Wooden chips, on the other hand, are simple pieces of wood with no constant size and shape.  The wood chips are enclosed in a foil, and holes are dug in for escape of smoke. As a result, wooden chips do not generate consistent smoke. This kind of contradiction causes the smoke flavor intensity to vary, which is undesirable.

Wooden pellets should be used when foods are to be cold smoked or smoked using a gas grill.  A smoker is an essential tool for using pellets since these pellets are housed in a smoker. Both wooden chips, as well as pellets, create irresistible flavors. It is upon the user to make a choice that suits his cooking needs.

Homemade smoker box for the gas grill

Smoker box can be easily made at home. The basic requirements are aluminum foil sheets which must be long-lasting and tough. But, first, let us look into the do-it-yourself process of creating a smoker box for a gas grill.

  • The first step is to take the aluminum sheet and lay it down flat on any surface. Then it must be folded in half in a way that there are three open sides. Then the foil must be turned on one side, and the first side should be closed by making a fold above the edge. The next closed side should be folded and finally the last side. This would result in making a sort of packet having three sides closed and one open.
  • After this pouch has been made, a small number of wooden chips or pellets must be filled inside it. The open side of the pouch must be closed now.
  • A knife should be used to create some perforations in the form of holes. This is done to make sure the smoke escapes the smoker box.
  • The pouches or smoker boxes as they are known should be kept in the gas grill initially before putting the food. This is done to create nice smoke from the pouches.
  • The pouches must be used for quick-cooking recipes as they do not last for longer periods. The grill top must be closed now for about twenty to thirty minutes, and it results in perfectly cooked, hassle-free food.
  • After the smoker boxes have been used for their intended purpose, they can be thrown out.

The first-time chefs need to know that over smoking the foods ruins them completely. Therefore, it is not advisable to use a lot of wood in the hopes of creating too much smoke. The quality of wood is important and not the quantity. Now the food can be cooked as it is done. Usually; another important thing to note here is the management of temperature. Throughout the cooking process, the temperature must be maintained while ensuring that the grill is covered at all times.

Smoking foods and delivering tasty delicacies is not that a big deal, only if we know the steps and science behind the process.

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