Smoking on Your Gas Grill

Smoking on Your Gas Grill
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Smoking meats and vegetables is a great way to add new flavors to old favorites. Even if you own a gas grill, you can still smoke like a pitmaster. And it’s not as time-consuming as you’d think.

Pick Your Meat

Smoke everything from a pork butt to a salmon filet on your gas grill. We don’t really recommend a beef brisket because of the large size and time commitment, but other great candidates for smoking are fish, chicken breasts and thin-cut pork chops.

Pick Your Wood

Like fine wine, there are some woods that go better with certain meats.

  • Alder wood, apple and cherry produces a delicate flavor as does pecan.
  • Hickory and oak are more assertive.
  • Mesquite is strong and full-bodied and is really only suitable for beef brisket.
  • Aromatics, such as herbs, fruit peels or cinnamon sticks, also can be added to produce even more flavor. Aromatics with high oil content, like rosemary, will produce a stronger flavor.

Pick Your Wood Size

Wood comes in all sizes from big chunks to tiny pellets. Choose the right size for your needs.

  • Wood Chunks
    Chunks burn more slowly that chips. Often a chunk or two, about the size of an egg or weighing two to four ounces, is all that is necessary. Chunks are a slow, steady source of smoke, and are in many ways, the most desirable for smoking. When you use chunks, you can add one or two at the start of the cooking cycle.
  • Wood Chips
    Chips are about the size of coins and generally easy to find. They burn quickly and you may find that you need to add them more than once during the cooking cycle. Chips are fine for short cooks. But for long cooks, chunks are better. Wood chips will begin to smoke more quickly than wood chunks so choose accordingly.
  • Pellets
    Pellets are made by compressing wet sawdust into small rods, about a half an inch long. Food-grade pellets contain no binders, glue or adhesives, and when they get wet they revert to sawdust immediately. Some smokers use pellets as the main fuel. For both flavor and heat, pellets do well, especially in competition barbeque. That’s because they can be fed into the fire in a very controlled manner, usually by an auger. Pellet cookers can be regulated with a thermostat, making them very controllable. They also burn very hot and clean.

Choose Your Delivery Method

  • Smoking Packet
    Making a smoker packet is simple. Take a square of heavy-duty aluminum foil and put a fist full of wood chips in the center. Completely close the foil around the chips and then poke a few holes in the top with a fork to allow the smoke to escape the packet.
  • Smoker Boxes
    If you are a big-time smoker, you may want to invest in a smoker box. There are variety of smoker boxes, grilling chambers, aluminum smoker packets and more on CharBroil.com.

Wet or Dry Smoke?

It’s a hotly contested topic on whether or not to soak wood chips – in wine, beer or water – before using. Wet wood takes longer to smoke. If you put chips in a pan of water, you’ll see steam before you see any smoke. If you are worried about chips catching on fire when you add them directly to the grill, make a smoke packet by wrapping the wood in foil and poking holes in the foil. Or switch to chunks.

Amount of Wood

If you are smoking a pork shoulder or ribs, which will take several hours, a good rule of thumb is to add a new smoker pack with a handful of wood every 30 minutes. You can also add wood chips directly to any TRU-Infrared grill. Two to three handfuls of wood chips will smoke for about an hour.

Get Your Grill Ready

To preheat the grill, turn one side of your grill to high and leave the other off. Place the wood chips on the hot side. When they begin to smoke, turn the burners down to low. Then place the meat on the unlit side of the grill. The temperature range for smoking is 230-250 degrees. You can measure the heat of the grill surface with a digital probe thermometer.

Don’t Lift the Lid

While the meat is smoking, resist the urge to take off the cover and check it frequently because the smoke will escape. You also will extend the cooking time every time you remove the cover.

Tip: Always use a thermometer to check the internal temperature before serving smoked meats. Start with meats that are at room temperature before placing them on the smoker.

23 thoughts on “Smoking on Your Gas Grill

  1. When you want to use Mesquite for smoking, collect the beans from the tree after they dry or from the ground when they have fallen off. use them like you would use chips. You will save the trees and have an endless supply or great mesquite smoking material. You can soak them or not as you wish.

  2. question: I want to use my charbroil Tru-infrared grill to SMOKE a turkey. There’s some info. in the text of the web site BUT NOTHING about how long to cook a 10 lb bird and at what temperature. Please help….thanks, Ed

    1. You’ll want to cook the bird until the internal breast temperature is 165F. This may take 15 to 30 minutes per pound in ideal weather and conditions.

    2. Google or YouTube “spatchcock” for cooking turkey. Cuts down cooking time by a lot and cooks the bird much more evenly. Smoked my last turkey on my Tru Infrared grill with pecan and cherry wood chunks placed directly on the grate, (cooked a 12 lb. turkey and two chickens, all spatchcocked, in a little over an hour on med high heat). Most beautiful and delicious birds I have ever seen or eaten. Every bite of meat was gone by the end of the day. No leftovers!!! Also “dry brining” your birds for 10-12 hours produces amazing results. You can Google or YouTube (YouTube is better) that as well. Spatchcock your bird, then rub liberally with only Kosher salt (no other seasoning at this stage, also carefully get some salt between the skin and meat if you can, more trouble but really worth it!), fold bird back up, wrap in Saran wrap then again in foil, refrigerate or place in an ice chest, with a plastic or foil barrier between the ice and birds just in case, over night. The spatchcock/dry brine combination will give you the juiciest turkey you’ve ever had! Dry brining works great for ALL meats, by the way. Careful not to add any additional salt when seasoning to cook! Oh, and cook the birds breast side up, no need to turn them either. Wish I’d discovered this years ago!

  3. Growing up in Oklahoma, I loved it when my dad would fire up the smoker with Mesquite wood chips and make some amazing brisket. It has been a long time since I have eaten good meat like that, though, and I really want to get a smoker and cook some brisket this weekend. How can I tell when the meat has been correctly cooked? I just want to know what exactly I am looking for so that I can make sure to take the meat out of the smoker once it has reached perfection.

    1. Use a thermometer in the thickest part of the brisket. When it reaches 190°-195°F, take it out of the smoker, wrap it in foil or plastic wrap, and set it in an (empty) ice chest. This will let the meat rest. After an hour or two, it’s ready to go!

  4. If I place the wood chips directly on my infrared grill grates, what happens to the ashes the burnt wood leaves? Do they clog the grate holes? Or would I just be better off making foul packets?

    1. Wood chips used on your infrared grates will turn to ash and can be easily cleaned off the grates with hot soapy water and our nylon brush to avoid clogging. If you would rather make packets, wrap dry wood chips in aluminum foil and poke holes in the foil to release the smoke.

  5. I can not figure out where the wood chips go for grilling on my new “Big Easy” grill/smoker

  6. I would like to smoke a boston on my Commercial TruInfared 3 burner grill. I tried using wood chips the other day, directly on the grill grate, but they burned up very fast and were ashes in no time! Can I use wood chunks directly on the grates for a longer smoke?

    1. You may use wood chunks instead of chips, but be aware that they may take longer to ignite and will burn hotter than wood chips.

    1. Hi Tim, you can use a water pan when smoking on a gas grill, but it is not necessary. It is based on personal preference. If you do, make sure to add boiling water as it will help keep the control temperature steady during the smoking process.

  7. HI. I tried grilling a piece of salmon on a cedar wood plank designed for grilling that I soaked in water. The salmon cooked fine but the cedar never smoked. I have your two-burner infra-red type grill. Am I doing something wrong? Thanks!

    1. Hi Cliff, depending on the size of the wood plank, you may not get an intense amount of smoke. It can also depend on how much liquid is absorbed by the plank; the wetter the plank, the longer it is going to take to smoke.

      1. Thank you for the response. I tried using the plank dry and I cut it in half making it pretty small. It still doesn’t smoke. Would dropping smoking wood chips right on the grill or below the grate be appropriate and effective? Thanks again!

        1. Hi Cliff, wood chips would not be the most effective as the heat from them would not necessarily help the plank in regards to smoking. You might try leaving the plank on the grill to preheat, and when it starts to crackle and smoke add the salmon on then.

  8. Do certain wood types go better with wine than beer, or the other way around? Does the quality of wine and beer influences the quality of the smoking significantly?
    Thanks

    1. Hi Paul, a good rule of thumb for beer and wine pairings is the heavier the wood, the heavier the wine and beer. For instance, Apple Wood is going to pair well with a white wine such as Sauvignon Blanc or Riesling and a Pale Ale or Lager, while Cedar Wood is going to pair better with a Cabernet Sauvignon or Shiraz and a Porter or Stout. It won’t be so much the quality of the wine or beer that influences the flavor you get from smoking but the overall profile of the wine or beer and how it pairs with the smoked wood flavor profile in your food.

  9. I cannot get my 2 burner commercial infared to cook at a low enough temperature to cook all the fat off baby backs. I put them on the warming shelf to cook to lengthen the tie and they were delicious but far from the wonderful smoky flavor of charcoal and still too fatty. I a not a fan of precooking to get fat off. I used a stainless smake box that I left open. Next time I will pre heat the box longer, but it still doesn’t deal with the truly slow cook one needs to get the fat off the ribs.

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