How to Smoke Meat on Your Grill

Jun 26, 2023 12:00:00PM

Do you love the smoked meat taste but don’t have a smoker? You might not realize that you can turn your grill into a smoker and get that delicious smoky BBQ pit flavor whenever you want.

There's nothing better than smoked chicken, ribs, salmon, or veggies, whether you're cooking for your immediate family or a large crowd. With some wood chips and a metal box, you can use what you have instead of adding yet another appliance to your backyard or spending more money.

Be the hero at your next barbecue gathering with sweet, no-sugar-added BBQ and Ketchup!

Here’s how.

What You’ll Need

Before getting started, here are some essential tools you'll need. Of course, a grill (charcoal or gas) is necessary, but here are some other things you'll have to gather. 

  • Meat thermometer
  • Wood chips with the flavoring of choice
  • A wood chip smoking box to keep the wood chips in place

As far as wood chips go, there are many flavors to choose from. These can range from sweet to smoky, fruity to woody, so think about what kind of infusion you’re going for, or choose a sampler pack to give yourself some variety.

Steps to Smoke Meat on Your Grill

A day or two before you smoke your meat, prepare yourself. Determine if you must defrost the meat or if they require any steps, such as brining or dry rubs, beforehand. Check your supply of charcoal or gas, depending on your type of grill too. Once you get it started you’re not going to want to take a break to refuel.

On the day you’re smoking, follow these steps.

  • Soak the chips – For 30 minutes to one hour, you’ll want to soak your wood chips. This allows them to create smoke which creates flavor, instead of going up in flames.
  • Start the grill – While the wood chips soak, start your grill. You’ll use indirect heat, so either turn on one burner or put coals on one side of the grill. If using charcoal, you’ll need 30 minutes to an hour to get the grill to the proper temperature.
  • Drain the wood chips – At the end of the 30 minutes to one hour, drain them and prepare them for the grill. If you're using a charcoal grill, you'll dump the wood chips directly on the coals. But if you're using a gas grill, put them in a metal box or in a foil packet with holes poked into it, placing it on the grill grate.
  • Add the meat – It's time for the meat! If you are using a gas grill, oil the grates lightly and place the meat on the side without direct heat. Close the lid and keep it closed as long as possible.
  • Have patience – Now you let the meat cook slowly; it could take as long as six hours, depending on the cut of the meat. If using a charcoal grill, check back periodically to see if you should add more. 
  • Check your thermometer – Avoid opening the lid as much as possible. Instead, use the meat thermometer to determine when the meat is cooked. *Note that you can’t always go by looks, because smoked meat often has a pinkness to it that you don’t have with traditionally cooked meat. 

Ideal Meat Temperatures

To know whether your meat is cooked, here are the ideal temperatures:

  • Beef, fish, and pork chops or roasts should be at least 145 degrees
  • Chicken or turkey should be at least 165 degrees
  • Brisket and ribs should be at least 180 degrees

Using a hands-free thermometer that connects wirelessly to your phone makes smoking meat on the grill the easiest.

For safety, never leave your grill unattended. 

Tips for Smoking Meat on the Grill

To have the most success when smoking meat on the grill, here are some additional tips:

  • Use hardwoods like hickory, pecan, or oak. Softwoods don’t produce the best result.
  • Be sure to use wood chips that are made for smoked food. Other wood sources may be treated with chemicals.
  • Don’t use too much wood. Start small, and add more only if necessary. Too much wood can take away from the taste you’re trying to get.
  • Open the vents to keep the cooking even. 
  • Don’t over-season your meat. Smoking gives your meat the desired flavors; the seasonings are just an add-on and shouldn't act as a crutch. Sauces are a different story though, and a great BBQ sauce can turn a basic meal into something special. 

Final Thoughts

Smoking meat on your grill is possible! You don't need to be a fancy smoker or spend a lot of money. You can turn your charcoal or gas grill into a smoker and produce delicious chicken, beef, pork, or fish.

Play around with different flavors using different seasonings and wood chip flavors. Just be sure to cook your meat low and slow, and don't peek at it! Let the magic work underneath the cover, and enjoy the fruits of your labor when it's cooked.

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