Make Your Own Smoker

There is little better than the smell of summertime grilling, unless it’s summertime grilling and smoking—smoking over fragrant hardwoods, especially.

You don’t need a separate smoker grill to turn the grill you already own into a smoker, and there are several easy and super inexpensive ways to do this.

Start with tracking down top quality wood chips or wood chunks. Check in with your local grill dealers, who likely have some opinions on great types of wood (each has its own flavor) or read up on what makes good wood on a site such as “Smokinlicious,” where there’s an extensive FAQ section for backyard smoker enthusiasts. Tips include making sure you get wood with no bark and deciding whether to use chips or chunks.

Soak the chips or chunks for about 30 minutes before using them. Let them drip dry a few minutes before adding them to the grill or your smoker.

To turn your gas grill into a smoker, get a smoker box like this one from Bass Pro Shops or make your own with heavy-duty aluminum foil—wrap the soaked chips in a couple layers of foil, seal the edges and poke a few holes in the packet. Patio Daddio BBQ has some good instructions for this and some other “MacGuyver’d” smoker boxes.

Light your grill and put the smoker box right onto the burner grids below the grill itself (the Bass Pro Shops box nestles right into place). As the fire gets hotter, the chips will start to smoke.

Follow directions for cooking. Typically you will sear the meat on the grill then lower the heat to about 220 and close the grill lid. You want to keep the cooking and smoking going long enough to impart that smoky flavor from the wood chips you’re using. This is great for roasts, which won’t dry out with the long, slow cooking.

If you decide to cook smaller cuts such as steaks or even burgers, and you want a little smoky flavor, get the grill going, get the smoke going. Sear the meat on high heat, lower the heat, lower the lid to keep that smoke in there and cook until the steaks or burgers are just done. Even simpler for quick cooks: add a generous handful of soaked chips right to the grill (no box required) and grill, lowering the lid as often as you can to get the smoke flavor imparted.


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