How To Use A Smoker Box On A Gas Grill

how to use a smoker box on a gas grill

There’s nothing quite like the bold flavor of melt-in-your-mouth meats and veggies fresh out of the smoker. Even if you only have a gas grill and aren’t willing or able to splurge on a coal grill, you can still prepare wholesome smoked meals like a pro pitmaster using a smoker box.

In this article, we will explain:

  • What smoker boxes are
  • How to use us smoker boxes on a gas grill
  • The benefits of using a smoker box
  • And a few tips to help you achieve that perfectly smoked taste you crave

Grab your grilling gear, and let’s get you a step closer to smoked food perfection

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What Is a Smoker Box?

First, a smoker box is simply a container that uses chunks or chips of wood to create the smoke used in this type of food preparation. Many smoker boxes are available in different shapes, sizes, and ventilation options to suit each person’s needs.

There are three main types of materials used to make smoker boxes, each possessing its own unique characteristics:

Stainless Steel Smoker Boxes

These are the most common and favored types of smoker boxes used by veteran food smokers because they retain heat well and are extremely durable. As a rule of thumb, you should always look for a smoker box that is thick and sturdy so it can provide consistent smoke and not ruin your food. The Weber Universal Stainless Steel Smoker Box is an excellent example of a top-quality and affordable option that ticks all the boxes you’d look for in a stainless steel smoker.

Cast Iron Smoker Boxes

The slightly less popular cast iron variation of smoker boxes is generally cheaper and more durable than its stainless steel counterparts. The main con of these smoker boxes is that it takes significantly longer to heat, although it tends to retain the heat better. Cast iron smoker boxes are perfect for relaxed, all-day cooking.

Another issue with cast iron smoker boxes is rust. When you are done using the box, you need to protect it from humidity and other sources of moisture.

Note: I have had my current case iron smoker box for more than ten years. Many people say cast iron smoker boxes have life spans similar to cast iron frying pans.


The final option is the aluminum smoker box, which is extremely lightweight and is typically intended for disposable use. These smoker boxes are ideal for small, quick food preparation because they are extremely thin. Aluminum smoker boxes should not be placed directly onto the heat source as they may melt.

Using a Smoker Box on a Gas Grill

Using a Smoker Box on a Gas Grill

The first time using a smoker box may seem intimidating; however, we’ve provided simple step-by-step instructions below to get you smoking your favorite foods confidently in no time.

Step 1 – Preheat your gas grill

Before smoking, it’s essential to get your grill fired up and bring it to the ideal cooking temperature. For stainless steel smoker boxes, you should aim for a temperature in the range of 230°F – 250°F.

Step 2 – Select your wood chips

Wood chips can be added in wet or dry forms and are the key element that gives your food that wonderful smokey infusion. While there is no wrong or right option, hickory wood is generally preferred for longer roasts such as beef, while fruit wood, a milder smoking wood like alder, is excellent for white meat and veggies.

Step 3 – Set your smoker box on the gas grill

When placing your smoker box, ensure it is as close to the heat source as possible without touching the flame. You can turn the gas setting to its highest level for roughly 10 minutes to allow the smoker box to heat up and get those wood chips emitting that glorious smoke you’re after.

Step 4 – Once you’ve achieved the level of smoke you require, you can set your gas grill back to the prescribed cooking heat and place your food directly onto the highest cooking grate of the gas grill. The high you place the food in the smoker the more smoke will be introduced to you food, but there is a tradeoff with temperature.

Cooking time will depend on the type of food you are preparing; however, most experienced smoker box cooks suggest that the time taken ranges above 90 minutes per pound at 235°F.

Wet Wood Chips or Dry Wood Chips

I never use wet wood chips. I do not use water to prevent steam and produce smoke faster. For the wood chips to smoke, they need to smolder; this can not happen if wet. Dry wood chips will heat up and produce smoke quickly, especially if you preheat the smoker box.

The one con to dry wood chips is they can combust very easily. Once the wood chips start to smoke lower the temperature, and always avoid direct contact with flames.

However, many people use wet wood chips, and the manufacturers of the products featured in this article recommend soaking the wood chips for 30 minutes before adding them to the smoker boxes.

My Favorite Wood Chips For Smoker Boxes

When using a smoker box, the flavor of wood is subjective, but the perfect size wood chip for a smoker box is not. The best size wood chip for a smoker box is 1/2 inch by 1/2 inch in size.

There are my brands of wood chips the size varies greatly by manufacturer. Weber brand wood chips are a good size for smoker boxes, but Smokehouse Products’ wood chips are far too small. Smokehouse Products wood chunks are a great size for smoker boxes, except for the leftovers in the bottom of the bag.

My favorite item is Smokehouse Products Hickory wood chunks. I like to use a stronger flavor profile so I can use fewer wood chips and get the perfect addition of smoke flavor. Weber Mesquite wood chips are my second choice.

There are many other good wood chips available. When selecting from other brands make the size the priority.

Benefits of Using a Smoker Box

Smoker boxes provide several more benefits than just preparing delicious food. If you aren’t sold on the idea of using a smoker box just yet, here are the top five main benefits that may just give you the push you need:

  • Intense flavor
  • Significantly cheaper than a regular smoker unit
  • Simple to use
  • Much more versatile
  • Easy to clean

Most grilling fanatics agree that anyone using a smoker box with their grill will not be disappointed and will likely never go back to grilling without adding smoke.

The Wood Chip Smoker Boxes I Use

The Wood Chip Smoker Boxes I Use

I am currently using the Skyflame Wood chip smoker box in my propane grill for my day-to-day cooking. The main reason for choosing this smoker box is how well it fits in my propane grill.

However, I have a list.


  • It fits well on flame deflectors
  • Small bottom slots for less direct flame
  • budget-friendly


  • The V-shape bottom is too wide
  • Lightweight construction

The other smoker box I use is a Weber Universal model. I like the Weber with more slots on the top and medium-grade stainless steel. The slots on the bottom are a bit much so I place a small piece of heavy-duty foil in the bottom before adding wood chips.


  • Medium-grade stainless steel
  • easy open lid tab
  • well vented lid


  • Too many slots on the bottom
  • flat bottom

Tips to Smoke Food Like a Pro

While it is easy to smoke food like the best of them, there are a few tips you need to keep in mind when smoking your food. Here are the main considerations to note:

  • Never start with the whole bag of wood chips. Rather, start with a handful and gradually work your way up. It is possible to over-smoke food, and it really isn’t very appetizing.
  • Control your heat. Too much heat will dry out or overcook the food, while not enough heat will take forever to prepare. It may be worth investing in a good-quality ambient temperature thermometer to track the temperature at the grill level. I prefer a ThermoPro TP-17 dual-probe thermometer. I monitor the food with one probe and the ambient temperature with the other probe. 
  • Avoid using too much water or other liquids that cause steam. There is a huge difference between steam and smoke. Smoke infuses flavor using the wood, while steam leaves a boiled taste.
  • Leave the grill lid closed. Refrain from lifting the lid for at least the first 10 minutes to prevent the smoke and heat from escaping. Each time heat escapes, it can take up to an hour to recover and will prolong the cooking time.


Smoked food preparation may seem daunting for smoker box newbies, but following the steps and tips above will make you a grill master in no time. Remember, the greatest advice is to ensure you can control your heat well. If you still have a few doubts, it may be worth testing your hand with a cheaper, disposable smoker box on a small meal until you’re confident or have mastered the craft of smoking food. Happy smoking!