Ideally, a smoker box will keep your wood chips burning between 550 and 750 degrees Fahrenheit (287.7 - 398.8 Celsius). Anything outside of that heat range will take you from a barbecue hero to a grilling zero in no time. Luckily, we've put together this easy 5-step guide that will show you exactly how to use a smoking box, and get a tasty flavor for grilled meat. We've got some tips, too.
Step 1. Preheat the Grill and Clean the Grate
It is recommended that you preheat the grill for about 10 to 20 minutes long. You can set your burners up to high during this time. This will shorten the time it takes in producing the normal grill temperature right.
You don’t need many tools or accessories to smoke your food. A smoker for grill purposes is sufficient and often comes great at the side of a smoking grill.
You'll find that preheating the grill first allows it to smoke faster when you place in the smoker box next.
Using a stainless steel type grill brush to directly clean the metal grill grate will also come in handy. You should also keep your grill brush clean at all times. Read our guide on how to clean your BBQ brush if you wish to learn how to do it effortlessly.
Step 2. Fill up the Box With Smoking Chips
Fill up slightly more than half of the smoker box with dry wood chips. One other way is adding wood chunks to allow it to burn more slowly and consistently.
There are many types of wood chips to choose from, and you can pick a type or two. You can also use hickory or pecan to smoke red meat as this would give the best results. Cherry wood and apple wood work well to add a sweet, smoky flavor to chicken and pork. Mesquite means a strong flavor to red meats, and oak is perfectly made for the light classic beef taste to give you a happy grilling experience.
Some people say you need to soak your wood chips in water for close to 30 minutes to prevent them from catching fire. However, most smoker boxes do not have small close holes on the bottom, so the wood chips are not in direct contact with the flames. Soaking them may increase the amount of time needed for them to start smoking.
Don’t want to buy a new smoker box yet? Load up a foil pan with the smoking chips and cover the top lid with aluminum foil. Poke little holes in the aluminum foil for the smoke to escape.
“If you want to get serious, get a wood-fired smoker.”
- Derrick Walker, co-owner of Smoke-a-holics BBQ in Fort Worth, Texas
Step 3. Place the Smoker Box on the Grill
If you're using a gas grill, lower the smoker box on top of a burner. For charcoal grill users, make sure to put your box on top of the coals, and always use the best-rated charcoal for smoking.
You need the smoker box to be as close to the heat source as possible. Don’t pile too much charcoal close around the smoker box when using it, as embers from the fire can fall low in through the holes on the top of the box and set your chunks on fire. For electric grill users, cover the box with a foil where you will poke a few holes in it.
If your gas grill burners are not already on the highest setting, one way is to get them going high up, so your smoker box will get hot enough, and the chips will start smoking better. It's actually easier this way. In case you've run out of gas and need to replace your gas tank, be sure to check out our guide on how to remove the propane tank from your grill safely.
Step 4. Turn off the Burners Once the Box Is Smoking
Once you see the wood chips smoking, we recommend you turn down your burners on your gas grills to the typical cooking temperature of 225 and 250 degrees Fahrenheit . This is designed to especially set up your grill for indirect cooking.
You can keep using the burner with your smoker box on and turn down the others so that wood smoke continues to be produced throughout the cooking process.
Step 5. Place Meat on the Grill and Close the Lid
Place your food directly on the cooking grate over an unlit burner on your gas grill and close the lid. The cooking time can vary depending on the beef, fish, or ribs you are cooking, but you need to let it cook slowly to get the delicious mild smoke flavors. This method can be up to 1.5 hours per pound of meat.
You can cook poultry on a temp of up to 160 to 175 degrees Fahrenheit and red meats way up to 190 to 200 degrees Fahrenheit.
If you find the smoking chips burned through, though, you can just open it, remove the smoker box with full heat resistant tongs, and replenish it.
Will wood chips catch fire in the smoker box?
No, your wood chips will not quickly catch fire in the smoker box. The flashpoint of wood is 482 degrees Fahrenheit or 250 degrees Celsius . The typical temperature range used for the smoking process is around 220 degrees Fahrenheit or 104 degrees Celsius.
Should you use wet wood chips in a smoker box?
You should not use wet wood chips inside as they take longer to smoke. The heat is used to evaporate the water into steam which slows down the increase in temperature of the chips.
Conclusion: How to Use a Smoker Box
When it comes to grilling, there's nothing as flavorful as smoked meat to share. Good thing you have your handy smoker box.
A smoker box gives that irresistible smoked flavor to your grilled meat recipes. Now that you know how to use a smoker box, it's time to bring back home the bacon. Literally. If you want a more evenly cooked meat, use a vertical pellet smoker.
1. Fellows, P. (2000). Food processing technology. Woodhead. Retrieved from https://www.researchgate.net/publication/272495249_Food_Processing_Technology_-_Principles_and_Practice