Want the flavor and slower cooking method of a smoker, but only have a grill? Don’t worry! By following these few easy steps, you can use your grill as a smoker and live the best of both worlds in no time. To do this, you will need:
- Grill (charcoal or gas)
- Smoke box (aluminum foil or foil pans can be substituted)
- Wood chips (soaked or dry)
- Water pan (optional, but recommended)
Before You Start
First, you must get your materials ready. If you do not have a smoke box, then you can use aluminum foil or a foil pan to make your own.
- Using a foil pan, place your wood chips in the pan and cover it with aluminum foil. Be sure to poke holes in the aluminum foil cover so that the smoke will be able to travel to your food to produce the desired flavor.
- Using only aluminum foil, make a bag around the wood chips and poke holes in the foil. You will need to replace the foil pouch every 30-45 minutes, so be sure to prepare several foil pouches.
Once you have your homemade smoke box, turn your burners on high, place the foil pan/pouch on the direct heat, and adjust the temperature once you see smoke.
In order for your food to absorb the most smoke, it is recommended that you use a water pan in the cooking process. The water pan will also help to keep the temperature within the grill stable. However, to keep the food from steaming, ensure that the temperature is below 225 degrees throughout the cooking process.
Fill a two- or three-inch pan with hot water and place it on the grate over the heat source. If you only have one grate, you can use a baking rack to add another level or simply place the pan on the burners.
Transform Your Grill
To use your grill as a smoker, you must create two zones within your grill: direct and indirect. The indirect zone will be used to slowly cook your food without exposing it to significant heat. The direct zone will be used to produce the smoke and give your food a nice sear at the end.
- If you have a gas grill, turn the burners on one side of the grill off. This will be your indirect zone, which is where your food will remain for the cooking process. The other half of the burners, which is where the water pan and foil pan/pouch will remain, should be turned on medium or high heat.
- If you have a charcoal grill, load briquettes into your chimney starter until it is about one-third full. Then, put the lit coals on one side of the grill. Add your wood chips on top of the coals. Place the water pan on the other side of the grill, leaving room for your food in the middle. Add coals according to the changes in temperature (typically every hour).
Close the lid and let the grill get to work! Make sure that you monitor the temperature inside the dome and adjust your burners, wood chips, coals, etc. accordingly. Remember, even though it’s tempting to continually peek at your masterpiece before it’s ready, try not to open the grill unless it is to add coals or check the temperature.