How to Turn Your Grill into a Smoker

You don’t need to invest in a smoker to enjoy the depth of flavor smoking gives to meat and other grill-time favorites. Your current covered gas, charcoal or electric grill can become a smoker by simply adding wood chips, turning down the heat and keeping the lid closed.

Hot or Barbeque

Hot smoking, also called smoke cooking, is the easiest way to add a smoky flavor to foods. Just add the choice of wood and grill food as usual. Best used for small portions of meat that cook quickly.
Barbeque smoking is done low and slow, producing a deeper smoke flavor and is best used on thick cuts of meats like ribs, briskets or shoulders.

Soak the Wood

Decide which smoking method you’ll use, then soak the wood. Use chunks of woods for long barbeque smoking and soak the chunks for at least 3 hours in water before grilling. Wood chips or shavings for quicker hot smoking should be soaked at 30 minutes prior to grilling and sawdust (used in electric grills) need a quick 10 minute soak and drain before using.

Wood Packets

After the wood has been soaked, created foil wood packets for food smoking. Tear off a square of heavy-duty aluminum foil and place 1-2 cups of chunks, chips or sawdust in the center of the foil. Fold foil edges over the wood to create a sealed packet. Poke 6 holes in the packet top with a fork (so the smoke can escape) and place packet directly onto hot charcoal, or gas or electric grill grates.


Use plenty of charcoal or adjust the gas burners to maintain a temperature of between 300 and 325 degrees for hot smoking. Keep grill lid closed and cook as usual.
Barbeque smoking goes low and slow, so start with only half of the normal amount of charcoal and add a wood packet to the hot coals. Every hour or so, add more charcoal and 4-5 chunks of soaked wood to the hot charcoal. For barbeque smoking on a gas or electric grill, remove the old wood packet and replace with a new one every 2 hours. Keep grill lid closed to infuse meat with that great smoky flavor.

Wood Flavors

Wood types will add a distinctly different flavor to food. If you just want a hint of smoky flavor in hot grilled foods, toss a woody rosemary stem or small grapevine stem (leafless and un-soaked) onto the hot coals during grilling.

* Apple wood produces a mild and fruity smoked flavor, good for pork, fish or poultry.
* Alder wood gives a mild and sweet smoky flavor that pairs well with salmon.
* Cherry wood produces a medium smoke flavor that is great for smoking game meats like duck or venison.
* Hickory wood gives a full-flavored and is traditionally used to smoke pork.
* Maple wood provides a sweet, clean flavor and is a good all-around choice.
* Mesquite gives beef, pork and poultry a sweet, strong flavor.
* Oak wood provides a rich, mellow flavor that pairs well with red meat.
* Pecan wood makes a nutty, sweet smoke flavor that tastes great on ribs.

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