In the world of grilling meats, there is no flavor more irresistible than that which comes from smoking. With the aid of a smoker box, smoking meat is made easy for even smoking newcomers to enhance the flavor and aroma of whatever meat they choose to tackle.
Don’t know how to use a smoker box? Don’t worry; you’ve made your way to the right place.
A smoker box may seem simple enough to use, but with this how-to guide, we’ll walk you through the steps and offer helpful tips to ensure an excellent smoking experience.
How to Start a Smoker Box
If you’re wondering how to start a smoker box, you have to start with the wood chips. You can buy wood chips in just about any grocery store or even a hardware store. Just look locate the BBQ section, and you’ll find what you need.
Wet or Dry Chips
To prepare your chips before you put them in your box, it’s a good idea to soak them for about 30 minutes in water, completely submerged. Wet chips may take longer to heat up and start smoking, but the smoke is longer, and thicker for a much richer flavor.
If you prefer using dry chips, however, you’ll have to replace the chips with new ones periodically to keep the smoke going.
Heating the Chips
You’ll want to fill the smoker box up entirely with wood chips once you’ve settled on wetting them or leaving them dry. If you overfill the box, it’s alright.
It’s better to have a little more than not enough. Just make sure you can still shut it.
Your smoker box will work for any grill, as long as it’s able to heat the box. You’ll likely have to go somewhere toward 220 degrees Fahrenheit to get the chips to start smoking.
Usually, it only takes a maximum of ten minutes to get going, but the size of your chips, the length of time you soaked them (or didn’t), and the temperature you set all affect the time.
Remember that once your box starts smoking, you want to lower the temperature back down to the typical temperature for the meat you’re grilling.
Where to Put the Box
How to start your smoker box depends on the type of grill you have, but it’s relatively simple. For a gas grill, you’ll want to put your box in between the burners. For a charcoal grill, it’ll go directly onto the coals.
Preventing Fire on Your Wood Chips
Generally, your wood chips shouldn’t catch fire. A wood chip smoker box is made from durable metal and possesses holes only on the top, not the bottom.
If the chips in your box do catch fire, chances are you may:
- Have your temperature set too high – though typically you have to get to 600 degrees Fahrenheit for a terrible fire to start
- Have too much charcoal piled around the box. If the charcoal is too high around your wood chip smoker box, embers could fall into the holes on the top of the box.
- Have a warped box. Heat slowly melts your box over time. If you have a warped smoker box, the lid won’t close properly, and burning debris might get in easier. It might be time to get a new box if this is the case.
Another reason soaking wood chips is a good idea is because it prevents these fires. Dry chips are a lot more susceptible to being burnt.
Wood Chips Flour (Sawdust) & Smoking Chip Types
An alternative to wood chips is using sawdust. Sawdust is less expensive than wood chips, burns slower, can’t be soaked, and needs to be replaced often.
You can grind sawdust out of any wood type, so here are a few smoking wood flavors that might help you figure out the best smoking chips for your grilling preferences:
- Oak: The classic wood type. Oak gives the meat a medium to strong character and works best for lamb, beef, and sausages.
- Alder: Gives a light and sweet flavor. Alder works well for Salmon and other similar fish.
- Hickory: Gives off a savory flavor. An excellent choice for ribs, pork shoulders, and red meat in general.
- Mesquite: Adds a robust and intense flavor best suited for red meats.
- Maple: Adds subtly sweet flavors that work for pork and poultry.
- Cherry: Gives mild and fruity flavors that work wonders for holiday meats like turkey and ham.
- Applewood: Adds mild and sweet hints best for meat like chicken and pork.
- Pecan: Gives meat a rich and nutty flavor. This flavor works best for things like roasts, briskets, and ribs.
Using a Smoker Box on Different Grills
Whether you have a gas or a charcoal grill, your smoker box will work.
If you’re wondering how to use a smoker box on a charcoal grill, place the smoker box directly on top of the coals.
This is, of course, assuming your grill is already appropriately filled with charcoal and the box with wood chips.
Remember not to put too many coals around the smoking box. It might take a few minutes to start smoking, but it’s better to have patience than potentially burn the chips.
If you’re wondering how to use a smoker box on a gas grill, you need to be a bit careful. You’ll typically place your smoker box between the burners, so if you have to take it out to replace the wood chips, make sure to use something like tongs to remove it and avoid burning yourself.
Gas Grill Smoker Box Tips:
- Close the lid to your grill when smoking to trap in the aroma and get a stronger flavor.
- It’s best if your smoker box does not directly touch the flame of your grill. Not only will the risk of the chip burn less, but the smoke will come out more evenly.
- Some gas grills come with a smoker box already. Check your grill out before you go out and immediately buy one.
Consider some of these final tips:
- To get the best smoker box, check out boxes made from cast iron or steel.
- Have a backup box handy to make the smoking process go faster by cutting out the time it takes to replace the chips.
- Check out video tutorials and other blog posts to make sure you’re making the best use of your smoker box.
Smoking meat using a smoking box is a simple thing. It can be done by anyone, and it’s a lot less complicated than you might think. Follow this guide, and you’ll be on your way to cooking up some great things.