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How to use Wood Chips

Not everyone may know this, but certain gas grills are equipped with a smoker box. These are usually the much more expensive and better equipped models so this only applies to a smaller number of grills on the market.

If your grill doesn’t have a smoker box then it’s no problem, you can buy it separately and it’s not a huge expense. Make sure, though, if your grill’s construction allows to place the box directly over the burner.

A smoker box combined with wood chips might generate smoke, which will give your food a smoky flavor. It’s a way to enrich food cooked on a gas grill or to effectively smoke, which is also possible thanks to adequate accessories and technique.

How to use Wood Chips on a Gas Grill

  • The whole process of utilizing wood chips is simple, you just need the right tools.
  • For that purpose, you need to prepare:
  • Smoker box (if you don’t have one, you can easily make your own disposable one)
  • Wood chips

There are many types of wood which is why you should pay attention to the type of wood chips and choose the wood that suits what you’re planning to cook on a grill. Especially pay attention if you’re going to cook meat over a longer time, in such situation an inadequate type of wood might ruin the food’s flavor.

How to use wood chips with smoker box on a gas grill:

Step 1 – First and foremost, put the wood chips in water for about 30 minutes. This will prevent them from catching on fire when the flame is created, which would burn them in a moment. Of course that depends also on the type of smoker box and whether it has the hole in the right place, which will protect the wood from catching on fire.

Step 2 – Heat up the grill to the temperature you’re planning to cook at and clean the grates in the meantime.

Step 3 – If the smoker box is located in the grill then it is time to fill it with wood chips. You’re going to need tongs and gloves in order not to get your hands burned with hot elements. If, on the other hand, you have a smoker box bought separately then simply place it directly over a running burner.

Step 4 – Close the container, then the grill lid and wait for a few to about a dozen minutes. Once you see smoke coming out, lower the burner power under the container to the minimum/medium setting.

Step 5 – All you have left to do is place the food on the grates and start cooking. Remember to lower the burner power below the smoker box once you see the smoke. Too high a temperature will cause the wood to burn down very fast.

Step 6 – Continue cooking, refilling wood chips in the container when needed. Remember not to overdo it with the wood or else the food’s flavor will become too overwhelming and bitter depending on the wood type.

Obviously, remember to cook the food with the lid down or else it’s pointless.

You also need to know that using wood chips makes sense when it comes to longer cooking of thicker pieces of meat. The smoke will practically do nothing if you’re going to grill a burger, wiener or steak fast and in a very high temperature.

This method is mainly recommended for smoking where the smoke has a lot of time to give flavor.

An alternative for the smoker box

You don’t have a metal box for wood chips? No problem, there is also another, equally effective and simple method to smoke with wood chips.

You only need two sheets of tinfoil.

I think that this is a material that almost everyone has in their kitchen which is especially why there should be no problem using this method.

Fold the tinfoil to form something like an envelope with an opening on one side. Then place the previously prepared wood chips in such envelope using the opening.

smoke pouch

Next close the envelope and make sure that it is 100% sealed so that the wood chips won’t fall out. On the side facing upwards make a small hole and place the resulting so-called smoke pouch on the grill grates directly over the burner.

The way it works is the same as with a smoker box, after about a dozen minutes you will see smoke coming out of the small hole. That’s the moment when you have to lower the burner power, preferably to the minimum.

Usually a single properly prepared smoke pouch lasts for about 25-30 minutes.

When it comes to long smoking, you’re probably going to need one more smoke pouch, which you will replace the old one with at the right moment in order to keep the smoke going.

It is a solution just as effective as a smoker box but if you smoke a lot then I encourage you to buy a metal container that in a longer run is simply cheaper and more convenient to use.

Don’t overdo it with the smoke

That’s the basic rule in smoking, don’t overdo it with the smoking or else the food will taste horrible.

If you have no experience in this regard then start by using wood chips gradually, for example only for 30 minutes during the first cooking, then increase it to one hour next time if you believe that the flavor is too delicate.

That way you will discover how much wood you can use.

An equally important issue is to select the right type of wood chips. There are many types of wood and they have different impacts on food by giving it a mild and sweet flavor, or a strong and bitter one.

In both situations you can overdo it which will cause the food to be overwhelmingly sweet or in most cases bitter. I encourage you to do a lot of tests as that’s the only way to discover how much of a particular type of wood to use for smoking.

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