How to Smoke Meat on a Gas Grill: Tips and Tricks

how to smoke meat on a gas grill
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Smoking adds a unique flavor to meat and vegetables since the blend of new flavors to the old ones bring a treat for the taste buds. What if you don’t have a smoker? Can you still enjoy the luxury of having smoked meat?

Well, yes, you can! All you need is a trusty gas grill and learn how to smoke meat on a gas grill. Don't worry; we are here to guide you on how to smoke any food you desire on a grill, be it meat, vegetables, nuts, bratwurst, and more! Many people use smokers designed especially for this purpose, and there are plenty of options available today.

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How to Smoke Meat on a Gas Grill

Smoking meat on a gas grill is not as easy as it sounds; a lot of caution and detailed effort goes into the process. However, the mouth-watering result at the end pays it all off. We have formulated the basic information about smoking, step by step.

We'll help you learn more about smoking, the temperature settings, your food placement in the gas grill, the use of a thermometer, safety precautions, and more. With the help of these tips and tricks, you can master smoking meat in no time.

Pre-Requisites

For the finest results, you must choose the meat you want to smoke, the wood you want to use, and the delivery method you want to opt for, along with many other details. Simply put, smoking meat on a gas grill is not the only thing you need to worry about for the best flavors. Don't worry; we will help you get through every phase in detail.

1. Choose Your Meat

You can smoke almost everything from salmon fish to beef steaks on your gas grill. You can even try pork shoulder or beef brisket, but it requires a longer time.

2. Choose Your Wood

Knowing the right wood can add to the flavor of your meat. Pecan, cherry, apple, and alder wood gives subtle flavor, while oak and hickory produce comparatively firm flavor. On the other hand, mesquite is intense and strong but is only suitable for beef brisket.

Some people also add aromatics, such as rosemary, fruit peels, and cinnamon sticks, to add to the flavor even more.

3. Select Your Wood Size

You can choose from a variety of wood sizes that best suit you. Some of which are:

  • Pellets

Pellets are about half an inch long small rods, prepared by compressing wet sawdust. These give good results with both heat and flavor.

Pellets can be fed into the fire in a very organized way, generally by an auger. You can control pellet cookers with a thermostat, which makes them very manageable. Moreover, they burn very hotly and cleanly.

  • Wood Chips

Wood chips are good for short span cooks since they have the size of a coin. They burn quickly, and you may need to add them various times during the cooking cycle.

  • Wood Chunks

Wood chunks are ideal for long cooks as being a slow, steady source of the smoke. These are generally the size of an egg, weighing around two to four ounces. Wood chunks burn comparatively slowly, so you can add one or two at the beginning of the cooking cycle. 

4. Pick Your Delivery Tools

You also have an option to choose between different delivery tools, as listed below.

  • DIY Smoker Packets

You can create a smoker packet by taking a heavy-duty aluminum foil and put a generous amount of wood chips in the center. Fold the foil and completely seal it around the chips, and then poke some holes with a skewer at the top. This allows the smoke to escape the packet and add flavor.

  • Smoker Boxes

You can also use a smoker box for this purpose. It's a heavy-gauge, stainless steel box with holes on the top lid, and sits right on top of the cooking grate. A variety of smoker boxes, aluminum smoker packets, grilling chambers, and more are available in the market.

  • Pellet Tube Smoker

Pellet tube smoker is another popular product used for cold smoking. It's a tube around 12 inches of size with holes in it.

Soaked or dry pellets are added in the tube; they are then lit from one side using a lighter for almost three to five minutes. After this, the fire is blown out. Pellet tube smoker is relatively easy to use and is affordable.

how to smoke meat on a gas grill

Types of Smoking

You can choose from two types of smoking commonly practiced:

  • Hot Smoking
  • Cold Smoking

Both bring up exquisite flavor and aroma in your food. Let's discuss the two types in detail and know how to smoke your meat in gas grill and get the best possible results.

1. Hot Smoking

Hot smoking adds an exquisite smoky flavor to any food you like. The optimum temperature you need for hot smoking is between 190 degrees F and 275 degrees F. This implies that the food is being cooked while adding smoke flavor to it.

To keep this delicate balance and enhance smoke-rich flavor in the food while cooking it to perfection, a two-zone indirect setup is established.

  • Two-Zone Indirect Setup

Mastering the temperature for a more extended period is the key to perfectly smoked meat. You don't want your meat to be either raw or exposed to direct flame. The perfect way to avoid any unwanted situation is to use the two-zone setup on your grill.

In this way, you’ll have a cool zone and a hot zone on your grill, as obvious from the name. You'll need to turn one burner on to provide the required heat, while the food cooks on the opposite side.

You also need to place an aluminum pan of water between your food and the gas burner. This water helps to keep the temperature stable by absorbing heat in your grill.

Since the temperature is not enough to make the water boil, you don’t have to worry about it steaming your meat.

  • Watching the Grill Temperature

Smoking on gas grills is tricky since you need to keep a constant eye on the temperature. Unfortunately, many gas grills come with standard bi-metal thermometers, which are not precise. Their deviation from the right temperature goes ±100 degrees F sometimes, which implies that there is a strong chance of everything going south.

We would advise you to use a quality digital thermometer to keep a close check on the temperature. Some thermometers come with a probe clip. If your thermometer has one, you can clip the probe on the grill grid near the food to get an idea of the actual temperature you are cooking your meat with at that moment.

In case you don’t have a thermometer with a probe clip, just take some tin foil, ball it up, place the probe over it and then put the tin foil ball on the grill grate. This is to ensure your probe doesn’t fall through the grate.

  • Making Smoke

Add wood to your fire to get smoke flavor by using wood chips, wood pellets, or wood chunks. Generally, the grills come with some kind of barrier present on the top of the burner.

You need to place a wood chunk on top of this barrier, so it smolders and produces smoke. Some high-end grills come with a built-in smoker box as well.

You can also use chips and pellets for this purpose. However, they cannot be placed on this barrier due to their requirement of deprivation of oxygen to smoke.

  • Use a Pellet Tube to Create Smoke

As mentioned earlier, you can use a pellet tube for creating smoke by putting wood pellets in it and lighting one end with the help of a lighter or blow torch. After a few minutes, blow out the flame, lay it on the grill grate, and it will burn up to four hours.

People often use these pellet tubes with their dedicated smokers to add some extra smoke and flavor to their food.

  • Use a Smoker Box or Aluminum Foil Smoker Packets

Some people who prefer to use wood chips opt for the smoker box. It is a heavy gauge stainless box with holes on the top lid. You can fill it with wood chips and place it directly over the burner.

If you don't want to invest in a pellet tube or smoker box, you can always go for the DIY aluminum pouch for this purpose. All you need is heavy-duty aluminum foil, make a pouch out of it, and fill it in with wood chips or wood pellets. Then poke a few holes using a skewer or a fork for the oxygen and smoke to move around, and voila! Your DIY smoker is ready to use.

You can also put pellets or chips in a disposable aluminum pan, repeat the poking process, and put it on the top of your burner. It generally takes about 45 minutes to burn through all of your wood pellets in the aluminum pouch, so when the first one burns through, you have some extra on hand. Continue to cook and smoke your food until it reaches your desired internal temperature.

2. Cold Smoking

Cold smoking is a method of preserving meat to prolong its shelf-life. The main difference between cold smoking and hot smoking is that the food remains raw, rather than cooked, throughout the cold smoking process.

When you are not in the mood to cook some food, cold smoking is an ideal way to smoke a selection of food items. You can use cold smoking for making smoked salt, cold-smoked salmon, smoked cheese, and more.

Pellet tube smokers are ideal for cold smoking. The optimum temperature for cold smoking is less than 80 degrees F in the grill, with constant smoke during the entire process.

The Right Way to Cold Smoke

Follow the method to cold smoke for the optimum result:

  1. Fill up the pellet tube smoker. Put wood cooking pellets to fill up your pellet tube smoker until they are an inch from the top. Ensure to buy wood cooking pellets and keep in mind the difference between wood cooking pellets and wood heating pellets as the latter is not made for cooking.
  2. Light the end. Use a lighter or match stick to light one end of the tube, and let it burn for five minutes.
  3. Put out the flame. After about three to five minutes, put out the flame. You are ready to cold smoke your food.
  4. Cold Smoke. Close the lid after putting pellet tube smoker in your grill, and let the magic begin. Pellet tube helps you to turn anything into cold smoker; all you need is a grill with enough space and a lid to keep the smoke inside. Get to know more about cold smoking and hot smoking here.

Careful Not to Over Smoke

It's extremely important to be careful with the smoke. You must not over smoke it, or your food will turn bitter. Over smoked meat cannot be consumed since it doesn't taste good at all. If this is your first time, make sure to use half a cup of wood pellets or chips or a small chunk of wood.

When your food is ready, you can decide if you need to or need not use more wood for a stronger smoke flavor next time. Experimenting with adding a little more or less won't harm until you get your desired flavor. A comparatively less strong flavor is way better than an over smoked meat.

Be Prepared

We would recommend you to get everything beforehand, so you don’t have to rush for any missing items. Keep your meat ready and well marinated with sauces and rubs.

Pick the wood that best suits your meat. A hefty amount of these wood chunks or pellets should be available along with a sufficient supply of propane if you are not using natural gas.

A shortage of anything during the process can create unnecessary panic and hassle. Plan out everything well so that you can have the best experience after much input.

Conclusion

There is no way to tell how your grill performs, but experimenting with it can help you get your desired result. While the meat is smoking, we would recommend you to resist the urge to lift the lid and check it frequently because this may result in the smoke escaping. This will also extend the cooking time every time you remove the cover.

Try out our tips and tricks on how to smoke meat on a gas grill, and we are certain you will get the hang of it.