You don't need an expensive smoker to become a BBQ master!
How to Use Your Grill as a Smoker
by Gary Foreman
Homemade BBQ Sauce Recipes
Homemade Steak Sauce
How to Clean a Gas BBQ Grill
You smell the hickory burning on your neighbor's smoker. Sure, he shares what he cooks with you, but you'd like to learn how to smoke meats on your own. Buying an offset smoker isn't an option, though. You don't have the space or the finances right now. So you decide to see if you can use your grill as a smoker.
And, the answer is "yes, you can." But if you want to get really good results, you'll need a couple of pieces of equipment and a basic understanding of how an offset smoker works.
A true smoker relies on indirect heat. There are two chambers that are connected by a passthrough. One chamber is a firebox for the wood and/or charcoal. The other chamber is where the meats are. Heat flows from the firebox through the cooking chamber. Temperature is regulated by controlling how much air flows through the smoker. Typically meats are smoked at low temperature for many hours.
We'll assume that you already have either a gas or charcoal grill. Next you'll need a smoker box. It's a small box that fits inside the grill and holds wood chips that add that smoky flavor you crave.
Most smoker boxes are made of either cast iron or steel. Those who favor cast boxes point out that they hold heat well and last a lifetime. An excellent example is the GrillPro 00150 Cast Iron Smoker Box.
Metal boxes are great if you only use your grill as a smoker a few times a year. Find one that is shaped to fit your grill. Here's one by Charcoal Companion that's designed specifically for gas grills.
Next you'll need some wood chips. Don't be overwhelmed by the different woods available. Some cooks swear by certain woods for specific cuts of meat. You can get lost in the choices available. Depending on your preference, you can get hickory or apple. There are even some flavored with bourbon! and all kinds of different woods and flavors. Most beginners start with hickory, which is a good all-around choice no matter what you're smoking and all kinds of different woods and flavors. Most beginners start with hickory, which is a good all-around choice no matter what you're smoking.
You'll need to learn new techniques. Grilling is usually done over higher heat with your food directly over the flames. Smoking is done using low indirect heat. If you don't already have one, you'll probably want a Digital Meat Thermometer. Knowing the internal temperature of your meat is essential to a tasty result.
Outside of hot pads and tongs, you probably won't need any special tools. You will need a good BBQ brush, especially if you sauce any meats and put them back on the grill. This set from Mr. Bar-B-Q includes both a brush and tongs.
So if you want to try smoking your own meats but don't want to commit to a smoker, turn your grill into a smoker with the addition of a smoker box and a little wood. When you taste those baby backs or pulled pork, you'll be glad you did!
Reviewed July 2017
Gary Foreman is a former financial planner and purchasing manager who founded The Dollar Stretcher.com website and newsletters in 1996. He's been featured in MSN Money, Yahoo Finance, Fox Business, The Nightly Business Report, US News Money, Credit.com and CreditCards.com. Gary shares his philosophy of money here. You can follow Gary on Twitter. Gary is also available for audio, video or print interviews. For more info see his media page.
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