Many of us own both Gas and Charcoal BBQ’s and whilst smoking is traditionally done using charcoal, it couldn’t be easier to get started smoking on a gas BBQ!
Before we dive into the article, I just want to mention one thing. The old Gas vs Charcoal debate has been going on for quite a few years and is sure to carry on into the future. On one hand, some people say that gas is more convenient and on the other, some say that charcoal is the only true way to BBQ. There are valid arguments for both and I’m not going to get into them right now.
All I will say is this. If you own a gas BBQ or are planning on buying one then go for it! I’ve learned a lot on my Gas Weber and all those skills have transferred over to my charcoal BBQ’s as well. My first ever brisket was smoked on a gas BBQ and it turned out great! At the end of the day, you are still outside, cooking over flame and learning how to make outstanding food.
OK, just give me a second to jump down from this soap box and we’ll crack on with the rest of the article!
How to add wood smoke on your Gas BBQ
On your gas BBQ, you would traditionally use wood chips or pellets in a heat proof container to generate smoke. If you are cooking on a Weber gas BBQ, they sell a smoker box that fits directly on top of the flavorizer bars or you can make your own using a foil drip pan covered with some foil and a few holes punched on top.
On a charcoal BBQ, wood chips will generate smoke almost instantly when placed on the coal. Smoking on a gas BBQ is a little different. It can take up to 15 minutes for the chips to start producing smoke so I would recommend putting the smoker box onto the BBQ while you are preheating it so when it is up to temperature, you should be producing smoke.
You can also add smoke using a smoker tube filled with wood pellets. By lighting one end of the tube and placing it on the cooking grate, it will slowly produce smoke.
Tips for smoking on a gas BBQ
Placement of the smoker box is crucial on a gas BBQ. The ambient temperature inside your BBQ won’t be high enough to get the wood chips smoking. The smoker box needs direct heat from the burner to get the chips smouldering so place the smoker box under your cooking grate, on top of the flavorizer bar. The burner directly below that flavorizer bar should be lit to provide enough heat.
Airflow on a gas BBQ is a little more random than on a charcoal BBQ as it doesn’t have a single vent that channels the air out of the BBQ. This means it’s a little harder to direct the flow of smoke over your meat. When smoking on a gas BBQ, it’s really important that you keep your lid down as much as possible while the chips are smoking to contain the smoke inside the hood. You may find you need to add a second batch of chips to allow your meat to take on the desired smokey flavour!
Always soak your wood chips in water for around 20 minutes before placing them in the smoker box. The idea is to get them smouldering slowly to give off the optimum amount of smoke. Dry wood chips will eventually ignite and burn away. Pellets on the other hand should be dry before placing them in a smoker tube to ensure they keep burning. As the tube will not be placed directly over a heat source, you shouldn’t have to worry about them igniting.
Low and slow BBQ is simple on a gas BBQ. On my 3 burner Spirit, The first burner on high is enough to keep the temperature around 110°C. Place your smoker box filled with wood chips over that first burner and your meat over the unlit 3rd burner and close the lid. As I said above, My first ever brisket was smoked on my gas BBQ and I’ve had some great results with pulled pork as well!
In my job, I talk to a lot of people who think they can’t smoke because they use a gas BBQ and they always seem surprised when I explain how simple it is. Don’t feel like you have to wait until you own a charcoal BBQ or dedicated smoker to start smoking, crack on with your gas BBQ and learn the basics now.
In the next article, I’m going to look at the different types of dedicated smokers and when it might be time to pull the trigger and buy one.
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