tips for smoking with a gas grill
Smoking on a gas grill is less than ideal, but it can be done. When it comes to smoking on a gas grill some grills are designed better than others to perform smoking duties.
Smoking on a gas grill is a little tricky and requires some hand holding, but don’t be discouraged it can be done. Some gas grills are designed with slow-cooking and smoking in mind, others not so much. To see how the design of gas grills affect their capability to smoke, see the results of our gas grill research and reviews.
Grilling meat is all about using direct hot heat for short periods of time. The key to smoking is to use indirect heat to cook meat at a low temperature over a long period of time. Basically, a smoker and a grill are polar opposites. As soon as you can I recommend purchasing a smoker. But until that time comes, here’s how you can smoke with a gas grill.
The Smoking Process
The first thing to know about smoking is it’s a process, so be in for the long haul. Next, less is more: don’t overdo it with the smoke. It’s kind of like makeup: it should look like you’re not wearing any at all. Likewise, if your grill is dispersing billows of smoke and the neighborhood looks like and industrial zone, you’re doing it wrong.
Since we will be cooking for while be sure you have enough gas for the entire ride. Additionally, we will be using wood chips. Depending on what you will be smoking you will want to select the chips that will best complement your food.
Setting up your gas grill
First, you need to know, smoking is a long process, make sure you have enough gas on hand for the whole cooking period.
To prepare your grill, you’ll need to create two zones inside your grill, a direct heat zone, and an indirect heat zone. The direct zone is where the fire will be burning the indirect zone is where the meat will be.
Smoking is all about a steady low temperature, you might need to experiment with your burner until you find the right mix. You really want to purchase a thermometer for this – you can pick up a grate surface thermometer for pretty cheap, but without at least some kind of device, your entire smoking adventure will just be one big guessing game.
If you have a four burner grill, turning on one burner on high should give you close to 225 degrees, two burners, hopefully, will bring you up to 250 degrees. Make sure you use the burners furthest away from the meat. Later when you start smoking, you will need to check the temperature and make adjustments as necessary. It's a good idea to check it once every hour or so.
Next set up a drip pan. If you're lucky you can fit it under the grate where you placed the meat, but most likely the burners will be in the way. It is not a good idea to set the pan on top of the burners. Your grill was not designed to hold weight on those parts. The way to fix this is to place the drip pan on top of the grate and then add another grate across the top of the drip pan. See we told you, it's kinda tricky, but hang it there, it's worth it. For extra moisture add some water, apple juice or other liquid to the drip pan. Continue to add water to this pan throughout the smoking process. Be sure the liquid is heated up to boiling before adding it to avoid disturbing the internal temperature of the grill.
Let the smoking begin
Now you need to make a smoking box, unless you're lucky enough to already have one. Assuming you're not that lucky, here’s how to do it. Use a big sheet of heavy duty aluminum foil, place your wood chips inside and poke a bunch of holes in it. Place it over the flames and then wait for it to start smoking. Once it begins smoking place it between the two lit burners or in the space between the direct and indirect zone. The amount of smoke produced by your wood chips shouldn't create white billows of smoke – what you're looking for is a light, almost invisible, vapor of smoke. This rule of thumb applies to smoking with a smoker and gas grill alike.
Now that we're smoking and preheated, place the meat in the indirect zone, above the drip pan and you're good to go. Remember to check the temperature of the grill often and add hot water or wood as needed.
This is not the type of smoking set up you can just start and then leave. You'll need to pay attention to the grill throughout the whole smoking period or else you'll end up with a smoked mess.