With traditional gas grills, you can do direct and indirect grilling, along with spit-roasting. But when it comes to smoking, both the process and outcome are quite disappointing. And the main issue here is that the wide back venting lets smoke escape before it can create the desirable smoky flavor on your food.
It would be irrational to expect gas grills to produce that deliciously crunchy browned exterior with the perfect amount of bitterness and sweetness. Unless you’re using one of these best gas charcoal combo grills of course!
But then you already have a brand new or high-performance gas grill and aren’t interested in buying another grill. So what’s the solution then? It’s buying the best smoker box for gas grill. And all the top choices are reviewed for you below.
But before the top recommendations, let’s find out how to use the grilling/smoking accessory.
Table of Contents
- But First, What Is A Smoker Box?
- Do Smoker Boxes Work On Gas Grills?
- How to Use A Smoker Box the Right Way On A Gas Grill
- Best Smoker Boxes for Your Gas Grill
- Things to Take Into Consideration When Buying
- Frequently Asked Questions
- Final Note
But First, What Is A Smoker Box?
A smoker box is nothing but a metallic crate or small-sized stainless steel or cast iron box that you fill with wood chips. These chips are then ignited and brought to smolder. At the time of smoldering, the box is shut of course. And the air vents and holes the design of the lid is equipped with make way for smoke to fill up the chamber of the gas or charcoal grill.
Using a smoker box on a gas grill is the most convenient, cost-effective, and easiest method to bring about the delicious smoky flavors that are often the best part of grilling.
Do Smoker Boxes Work On Gas Grills?
You probably already know that gas grills perform direct and indirect grilling, along with spit-roasting. But they’re not as reliable for smoking. So, for that, you have the option of buying a smoker box. All you have to do is just place the smoker box filled with your choice of wood chips over the grill’s burner.
But then smoker boxes are not just made for gas grills. They can use be used with charcoal grills as well as some electric grills. The whole idea here is to generate smoke in a controlled manner using wood chips.
How to Use A Smoker Box the Right Way On A Gas Grill
If you’re new to this, then here are easy-to-follow instructions you might find the most useful.
Step 1 – Preheat Your Gas Grill
For preheating the grill, light up all the burners on a high-temperature setting for 10 to 15 minutes. This should get the grill’s temperature up faster. And that leads to the wood chips igniting more quickly for the smoker box.
But what if the grill gets too hot? Then opt for low or medium heat on the burners. The downside to this, however, is the wood chips taking a long time to ignite. But then that’s not such a major problem because the ultimate goal here is for the heat to be well-distributed, which is a less time-consuming way of cooking.
Step 2 – Load the Smoker Box
How to get the smoker box ready? Meaning how to start the smoker box? Here’s what needs to be done.
Once the box is in your hands, place your choice of wood chips into its chamber. As for what type of wood chips you should use, let’s explore the options.
Moving on to another very important factor - getting the smoker box ready or started. In that case, what about soaking the wood chips? Should you soak or not?
Many home barbecue enthusiasts highly advise soaking wood chips for anywhere between 15 minutes and 24 hours. But why soak them in the first place? Because wood absorbs water to prevent any premature burning up of the chips.
Then there are those who advise against soaking wood chips. And the reason for this is the fact that wood chips don’t absorb water that well. Meaning the water may not even be able to penetrate very deeply.
And another compelling reason to not soak is that soaked wood chips fail to burn and release the desirable, delicious flavors until all the water evaporates. So there may come plenty of steam before actual smoke begins to form.
Water, all of it, present in soaked wood chips needs to boil off completely before they get ignited with heat energy. And that happens only when the temperature reaches above 500 degrees Fahrenheit.
Step 3 – Place the Smoker Box Over the Burner
You now have a loaded smoker box for your gas grill, right? So it’s about time to set it up and do some indirect cooking. Switch off all the burners positioned directly under your food. This means your favorite meat cooks with the help of the temperature of the grill, and not any direct heat or flame.
The placement of the smoker box actually depends on what size and shape of the grill you own. Does it have 3 burners? If yes, then turn off the center and left burners. Then place the box on top of the only burner that’s lit.
Step 4 – Set Up the Grill
At this point, close the lid of the grill and allow the appliance to reach the desired temperature. You can now adjust the burner heat to reach a temperature from 225 degrees Fahrenheit to 250 degrees Fahrenheit.
Needless to say, these heat adjustments take time to stabilize the temperature. So give it enough time and don’t expect instantaneous results. And as your grill is reaching the targeted temperature range, it’s most likely that the smoker box has begun to smoke.
Step 5 – Add More Wood
Are you cooking something that you know takes time? Then it’s important to keep checking the smoker box to see if it’s producing enough smoke or not.
The general consensus is re-filling wood chips until the internal temperature of the meat touches 160 degrees Fahrenheit.
When Do You Know Your Food’s Done?
In the case of red meat, you know it’s cooked through and through when the reading of the internal temperature (using a thermometer) is between 190 degrees and 200 degrees Fahrenheit. As for poultry, it should about 160 degrees Fahrenheit in the breast and 175 degrees Fahrenheit in the thigh.
Best Smoker Boxes for Your Gas Grill
1. Weber 7576 Universal Stainless Steel Smoker Box
Built for almost every gas grill out there, the Weber stainless steel smoker box is a must-have if you’re a frequent griller. Just place the box, half-filled with wood chips, on your grill for around 15 minutes when grate-warming in order to get the smoke started.
And just so you know, you can use wood chips of any kind. Just make sure they’re soaked to avoid flame combustion.
2. Grillaholics Stainless Steel Wood Chip Smoker Box
With a smoker box like this, you can turn just about any charcoal or gas grill into a heavy-duty smoker. Add your choice of wood chips and then place the box right over the flame. And watch the thing transform your entire grilling experience.
Those who enjoy the taste and texture of smoked food (smoked pork chops, chicken thighs, ribs, etc.) are sure to appreciate the versatility and convenience of a grilling accessory like this one.
3. Charcoal Companion Stainless Steel V-Shape Smoker Box
Firstly, the V-shape allows the smoker box to be positioned between the flame deflector bars of the gas grill. And that means you get the most intense, delicious smoky flavor. Secondly, the stainless steel design can tolerate a high grilling temperature.
And here’s one more thing that might just seal the deal in your head. The Charcoal Companion smoker box keeps all the ashes well-contained. Thus, making your grill and grilling experience mess-free.
4. DKS Smoker Cooker Box for Grill
You can maybe gift a loved one who you know cannot exist without grilling. And go ahead even if that person is YOU. A smoker box like this is a very useful tool because it makes way for smoking on your grill without having to separately buy a smoker.
The box has a large capacity that holds bigger pieces of wood. And the entire construction of the thing is heavy-duty, without any warping concerns by the way.
5. Rulunar Smoker Box
Beginner grillers are certainly going to enjoy the convenience and simplicity of a smoker box like this. As a first-time griller, know that you should be using dry chips for better results. Just position the box below the grates of the grill and over the burners to welcome a delicious smoky aroma, flavor, and texture into your grilled meats.
Moreover, there’s the stainless steel construction, which is also quick to dry, thus easy to clean. So the chances of rust formation are also highly unlikely.
6. Cave Tools Smoker Box
The majority of smoker boxes out there warp very quickly, but not this one. In fact, Cave Tools Smoker Box still retains its bright chrome finish after a year of use. You could keep the grilling accessory outside through cold, icy weather and it would still look the same when Spring comes about. That means it’s solidly built and pretty tough.
As for the smoking application, enough wood chips can be accommodated into the box to create light or medium smoke. And the fact that it’s flat-bottomed means perfect for gas grills.
Things to Take Into Consideration When Buying
Here are the most important factors that matter if you want your grilling and smoking experience to be a memorable one too.
Size and Shape
In terms of shape, it can either be V-shaped or flat-shaped. The former is able to fit the most conveniently and universally between grill burner covers. As for the flat-shaped version, it’s compatible only with a few grills.
Moving on, you can decide what size works best for your grill simply by measuring the depth of the smoker box. The box should be positioned between the grill grates and burners. So measure that distance before finalizing what to buy.
In this post, the top recommendations are made using heavy-duty, thick, durable stainless steel. That offers exceptional tolerance against high heat. On top of that, stainless steel also consists of chromium, which provides rust protection.
Then there’s cast iron as well. Smoker boxes made of this particular material are also a great choice as far as longer heating sessions and higher tolerance to extreme temperatures are concerned.
Keep in mind that by choosing premium quality and, most times, even expensive smoker boxes, you’re also preventing potential discoloration and warping issues.
Almost every smoker box shortlisted here is outfitted with a hinged lid. Simply because it offers easy access for convenient re-filling of wood chips. And when this lid is also tight once shut, not a lot of air is allowed to enter. Otherwise, those wood chips start to burn more deeply or intensely, thus generating less smoke.
Types of Smoker Boxes
There’s the under-grate and then the over-grate smoker box. These two are the most common and popular indeed. The under-grate design is made using stainless steel, cast iron, or aluminum foil. It’s the reusable kind that you place directly between the grill’s flame diffusers below the grate.
Under-grate smoker boxes for gas grills are the most versatile because they come in all shapes and sizes. This includes cup-shaped, tube-shaped, flat-shaped, and V-shaped.
What about performance? With under-grate smoker boxes, the result is much more pronounced, even in terms of the richness of the flavor.
Now let’s talk about over-grate smoker boxes. These have a rectangle shape and are also built with stainless steel. And they can be pouches, trays, grids, or tubes.
The two less popular types of smoker boxes include disposable and free-standing. Needless to say, a disposable smoker box, made using aluminum foil, is like a bag-shaped container covered with a foil lid that has holes in it.
As for free-standing, it’s a stainless steel or cast iron smoker box with a larger capacity to accommodate more wood chips or pellets. And you can place them directly over the grill’s burner.
Frequently Asked Questions
Where to put the smoker box on your gas grill?
The smoker box should be positioned over the grill’s burner because that’s where it receives maximum heat.
How long do wood chips take to smoke?
Wood chips, once placed over lit burners, begin smoking anywhere between 5 minutes and 20 minutes. The time taken for them to start smoking is actually based on the heat output of the grill’s burners (that is BTUs), along with the type and moisture content (soaked or unsoaked) of the wood.
How to stop wood chips from catching on fire?
The most effective method to prevent wood chips from catching on fire involves cutting off any oxygen supply. Meaning packing the wood chips tightly together in an aluminum foil or smoker box.
Why do you need to add more wood?
More wood chips pave the way for more smoke. But then you have to make sure that you don’t go overboard. Meaning respect the maximum capacity limit of your smoker box.
When you have the right grilling gear at your disposal, every barbecue party, get-together, etc. becomes memorable. Even if your goal is to just prepare a single meal for yourself over the weekend, a grilling accessory like the smoker box goes a long way. Particularly if you enjoy the delicious smoky flavors that wood chips are so popular for!
No point in buying a separate smoker for the job, right? But then you have to make sure to pick the right kind of smoker box for your gas grill. It should have a solid, sturdy stainless steel construction with a hinged lid. More importantly, check whether or not it’s compatible with the type of grill you own.