How to Smoke Meat on a Gas Grill: The Best Way to Turn Your Gas Grill into a Smoker

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Grilling meat is fine and dandy, but what about smoked meats? While everyone can appreciate a summer barbeque with piles of grilled burger patties, hotdogs, and an assortment of ribs and whole chicken.

But the complex and smokey notes of smoked meat is amazing and often overlooked. Besides being delicious, cuts of smoked meat last much longer too. The problem? Not many people own a separate smoker.

But most people do have a regular gas or BBQ grill. And if you want to experiment with smoking meat, you can absolutely get the job done with a gas grill. While the results won’t be the same as with a proper smoker, your meat will still taste just as amazing.

If you’re hesitant to try your hand at this, don’t worry. We will walk you through how to smoke meat on a gas grill. Smoking on a gas grill isn’t difficult, but there are a few things you need to be aware of.

Once you find out how easy it is, you won’t be able to wait to try smoking meat on your own!

Smoking Meat on a Gas Grill: How It Differs from a Smoker

Gas grills are not designed to smoke meat. The spaces around the lid allow the heat and smoke to escape. 

While the meat will still taste great, it won’t be the same as those cooked on a smoker. But if you’re in a pinch, you get to make some amazing smoked meats on your grill.

Some gas grills have a smoker of their own, like a propane grill with a smoker box. If your gas grill doesn’t come with a dedicated smoker box, you can buy a heavy-duty stainless-steel smoker box and set it over the cooking grate.

The metal will transfer the heat of your grill to the soaked wood chips piled inside the box. The holes in the lid will direct the fragrant smoke to the meat. Once the wood chips have burned out, you just have to open the lid and add more if needed.

You can even make your own smoke box for grill grates. Place drained wood chips in a foil pan. Cover the pan with aluminum foil, then poke holes in the foil to allow the smoke to escape. 

Place the pan directly on the bars over unlit burners. Position the cooking grates in place. Light the grill, with all the burners on high, and close the lid. Find out how to use a smoker box here!

Using a Gas Grill as a Smoker: How to Smoke on a Gas Grill

For smoking most meat, it is best to keep the meat at temperatures between 180F and 275F. As a result, the meat is being slowly cooked, while being infused with the signature smoky flavor.

If you’re smoking on a conventional gas grill, this works for many kinds of meats and vegetables. You can even make a whole smoked chicken on a gas grill. 

Hot smoking works for any kind of food you’re cooking that you also want to add a smokey flavor to. You can even smoke seasoning like paprika and salt, so there are endless possibilities!

There are two different opinions about wood chips when smoking on a gas grill. Some people prefer dry wood chips, while others favor soaked ones. 

Soaked wood chips are a great idea if you are adding them directly to the fire like in a charcoal grill or offset smoker.

This is because this creates steam which turns into smoke and gives the wood chips more longevity. But if you want to make a smoking pouch, using dry chips is a better idea because you will be placing them directly over the burners of your gas grill.

Smoking Meat on a Gas Grill with Chips

Let’s move onto the process of making smoked meat with a grill.

Making the Smoking Pouch:

To make the smoke for your gas grill, you can make your own smoking pouch. This will turn your basic grill into a char broil smoker box.

  1. To do this, start with some aluminum foil. Cut off two big pieces of heavy-duty aluminum foil and layer them flat on your work surface.
  2. Make the pouch by putting two cups of dry wood chips in the middle of your foil. Fold up each of the long sides and crimp them to secure the edges. Next, roll the ends to make a properly sealed wood chip pack.
  3. Poke holes in the pouch. Poking holes in the top of your pouch will allow the heat from the fire to scorch the wood chips in the pouch and make that gorgeous smoke that will be released through the holes and impart a delicious smoked flavor to your meat.

Smoking the Meat:

  1. Place the pouch in your grill. Remove one of the grates on the gas grill, and set the pouch right over one of the burners. Put the grates back, and you’re ready to start smoking.
  2. Fire up your grill. Turn on the burners on your gas grill. If you want a temperature of around 180-275F, there’s a good chance that you will only need to turn on one burner.
  3. The burner will heat the pouch, which in turn circulates the smoke through the grill. It should also provide enough heat to get your grill to the ideal smoking temperature.
  4. Cook your meat. Place the meat on the opposite side of the grill from the smoking pouch and shut the lid.

    Use the dome thermometer on your grill to keep track of the temperature. If needed, switch on any additional burners to sustain your desired smoking temperature (often around 225F).
  5. Keep an eye on your grill and your smoking pouch. It generally takes around 45 minutes to burn through all of the wood pellets in the pouch, so keep some extra packs on hand for when the first one burns out.

    Continue cooking and smoking your food until it reaches your desired internal temperature for doneness.

Cold Smoking Meat at Home on the Grill

Keep the fire away from the meat. People often use pellet tubes together with their gas grills to direct the smoke towards the meat.

You can even attach some kind of smoke generator to your BBQ gas grill and keep your meat on the cooking grates. Other people hang thin strips of meat over their improvised smoking pouch to allow the smoke to infuse the meat without directly cooking them.

Temperature control is the most important part of cold smoking. You have to keep the temperature below 86F at all times.

This will ensure that the smoke is curing the meat, as opposed to cooking it. You can also use this method to smoke cheese and vegetables.

Any Other Questions?

We’ll address some issues people often have about smoking meat on gas grills.

01. Can You Smoke Meat on a Gas Grill?

As this article has demonstrated, you can easily smoke meat on a gas grill. Whether you choose to construct a makeshift smoker box or use a smoking pouch, you can enjoy the complex flavors of smoky meat without buying a traditional smoker.

02. Does Hot Smoking Preserve Meat?

No hot smoking on a grill only infuses the meat with the smoke. To preserve meat, it has to be cured and dried out so it is safe for consumption.

03. How Long Do I Have to Smoke the Meat Before It is Edible?

The smoker or grill has to maintain 160 degrees or more for at least 30 minutes to safely kill any parasites and pathogens. For a cold smoker, the process needs to be carried out much longer to dry the meat properly.

04. What is the Best Wood for Smoking Meat?

The following kinds of wood give the best flavor when smoking meat. You can even mix them for complex notes and unique flavoring:

  • Oak: This is everyone’s go-to for smoking meat. It will give your food a medium to a strong flavor that is rarely overpowering.
  • Maple: If you like a more subtle flavor with sweeter notes, this is a good option.
  • Hickory: It is the most versatile choice as it can be used to smoke food in many ways. It has a sweet, and umami flavor and hints of bacon that makes it so popular. However, too much will make your meat bitter.
  • Cherry: Cherrywood is mild and fruity. As a result, it pairs really well with other hardwood like hickory and the two flavors balance each out amazingly well.
  • Mesquite: This hardy wood has a stronger, intense flavor. Because of the depth and richness, you only need a little and can mix it with something milder.

Final Verdict

Anyone who is venturing into the world of prepared meats is intrigued by the smoking process. Smoking will take your grilled meat from good to amazing with just a few extra steps.

If you aren’t ready to invest in a fancy smoker, learning how to smoke meat on a gas grill is a wonderful alternative.

Now that you know how it’s done; you can start putting your smoking pouch together. Give it a shot and take your testbeds on a magnificent adventure!