Food & Drink

How to Turn Your Grill into a Smoker

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If you own a charcoal grill, you already have a smoker. Charcoal is the easiest fuel to smoke with—a lot easier than propane in a gas grill. Simply set up the grill for indirect grilling, add wood chips or chunks to the coals, and you’re in business. Note: You need a charcoal grill with a tall, tight-fitting lid for smoking.

Advantages:

  • Charcoal grills are widespread, space efficient, and inexpensive. (You may well own a kettle already.)

Drawbacks:

  • Because kettle grills are designed for grilling, it’s harder to maintain an even heat at lower temperatures.
  • The relatively small cooking grate limits how much meat you can smoke at one time.

Tips:

  • Place the food on the grate, then add the wood chips or chunks. If you add the wood first, you’ll have to maneuver through clouds of eye-stinging smoke.
  • Use tongs to add wood to the fire, laying it gently on the coals. Don’t drop or toss in the wood or you’ll stir up ash, which will land on the food. This holds for any charcoal-burning smoker.

How To Turn Your Grill into a Smoker

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Light your charcoal in a chimney starter and load the side baskets of your kettle grill for indirect grilling or smoke-roasting. For smoke-roasting (high-heat smoking), use a full chimney of charcoal; for low-heat smoking (low and slow), use a half to a third chimney of lit coals (about 10 coals per side). For cold-smoking, use a smoke generator or smoking tube or mesh smoking pouch.

 

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Place an aluminum foil drip pan between the ember baskets.

 

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Install the grill grate.

 

Soak the wood chips in water to cover prior to smoking.

Soak the wood chips in water to cover prior to smoking.

 

Add soaked wood chips to the coals to generate smoke. There is no need to soak wood chunks.

Add soaked wood chips to the coals to generate smoke. There is no need to soak wood chunks.

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Once you’ve gotten your smoker set up, you’ll be ready to tackle this perfect Smoked Apple Crisp topped with Smoked Vanilla Ice Cream.

Excerpted from Steven Raichlen’s Project Smoke (Workman, 2016). 

2 Comments

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    Noelle Robbins
    October 13, 2016 at 8:55 pm

    Please consult with your neighbors before you start sending wood smoke from your converted grill into neighboring yards and homes. Wood smoke contains the same toxic chemicals as cigarette smoke, and can trigger asthma attacks, blood pressure spikes, respiratory reactions and even, in some people, respiratory and heart failure. And wood smoke can penetrate homes, even with windows closed. Please do not poison your neighbors, or your own family.

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    marshalpaul
    November 20, 2016 at 7:13 am

    Don’t forget to stock up with high-quality timber for this thing, otherwise you won’t get desired flavor. I’ve stocked up with https://flavourwoodbbq.com/ for BBQ, it has large assortment of wood species.

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