Photo credit: Weber
Smoker boxes are a fantastic way to turn your regular gas or propane grill into a temporary barbecue smoker.
They’re used to house wood chips, and are stored over your grills burners. Smoker boxes have holes across their top surface, which allows smoke to escape and impart flavor on your food.
If you’ve read any of my other posts on smoking meat then you know just how much I love the BBQ form.
Don’t get me wrong, I love my grilling, but there’s something special about smoking meat.
Smoker boxes give bbq fans a great entry point into BBQ smoking by giving you an easy and affordable entry to the method.
You can turn your regular gas grill into a smoking machine just through the use of a smoker box, and today I’m going to run through my top 7 picks of the best smoker box for gas grills.
The Best Smoker Box: Cave Tools
Cave Tools have long produced specialist grilling equipment, so it stands to reason that they produce one of the best smoker boxes out there.
It measures at 3-by-9 inches, and can hold up to 2 cups of wood chips. This is more than enough to house a good amount of wood chips to turn your grill into a smoker.
The key to a good smoker box is to not dominate the grill, and this box from Cave Tools fits the bill perfectly.
It comfortably fits between the grill grates of most gas grills, and can even be adapted to work in charcoal grills. It has a convenient lid that allows you to add new wood chips while you cook. This is really important because a smoker box needs to be refuelled regularly during smoking.
Fully sized BBQ smokers are known for taking a while to heat up to target temperature, but the beauty of a smoker box is that there’s nowhere near as much waiting around. In the case of the Cave Tools box, it just needs about 10 minutes before your wood chips are smoking.
Here’s a quick guide on how to use it:
Runner-Up: Cave Tools Smoker Box Maximum Wood Chip Capacity
Not the first Cave Tools smoker in this list, but these guys really do know what they’re doing.
What I really like about this one is its smoking potential. Its size means that its smoke output is extremely impressive, and surpasses most of the other smokers on this list.
It’s a large box, which means that its wood chip capacity is excellent at 3 cups. This doesn’t just mean that you don’t have to replenish the fuel supply as much, but it also means that your smoking power output is far better.
Its dimensions make it quite a shallow box, but wide. This helps keep heat distribution within your grill very even, reducing the risk of dreaded ‘hot spots’ (or indeed cold!) and helping to cook a greater area of food.
Its size does mean that it might be too big for some grills, so before buying it do check the size of your grill. If your can grill can fit it though, definitely get it.
This is a great option for people wanting to get as much bang for their buck out of their smoker box as possible. The only potential obstacle is it actually fitting in your grill.
#3: GrillPro 00150 Cast Iron Smoker Box
Meat smoking really is a simple approach, so why over complicate it? The GrillPro is a stripped down box, that looks classic and sleek in appearance.
It comes in your choice of either stainless steel or cast iron. This makes it extremely durable and robust, while its wide ventilation holes ensure that you get good smoke flow coming through your grill, infusing your food with the flavor of your wood chips.
#4. Charcoal Companion Stainless Steel V-Shape Smoker Box
Don’t be fooled by the name of this one – it actually suits gas grills perfectly.
One of the first things to strike you when you see this smoker box is it look sturdy. Made with heavy gauge stainless steel, it is built to last. It’s extremely durable and will be able to easily withstand the temperatures involved in BBQ smoking.
Made in a v-shape, it’s designed to sit perfectly in your gas grill, lying between your grill’s deflector bars and grill grates.
It’s quite a large box, close to 14 inches in length. It’s designed to be wide enough to enure even heat distribution and increased cooking capacity. However this length could be prohibitive to users with small grills, so be sure to measure up before buying it. If your grill is big enough to fit it then you’re onto a winner.
It has an easy-to-open lid on a hinge, making replenishing your wood chip supplies during smoking easy.
#5. Weber 7576 Universal Stainless Steel Smoker Box
Almost no barbecue list would be complete without something from Weber. Their grills are top of the range, and this smoker box is no different.
Claimed to match perfectly with Weber grills, in truth it can go in any grill as long as it fits.
It’s made of stainless steel, so it’s extremely durable without being too heavy in weight.
Its topside has wide holes to aid smoke flow, while it catches and keeps all ash at its base.
#6. Grillaholics Smoker Box
This box fits comfortably in almost any gas grill, and is deep enough to hold a good amount of wood chips.
The walls of the box are quite thin which has a couple of side effects. One is that it generates a lot of smoke. This is great for imparting a rich, thick smoky flavor on your food. Perfect at replicating the flavors of an authentic smoker.
The other consequence of this is that your wood chips will burn out faster, meaning you will need to replace them more frequently. This can be an inconvenience, but will also involve higher wood chip costs over time.
#7. Charcoal Companion Large Nonstick V-Shaped Smoker Box
It’s v-shaped, which means that it can sit perfectly between your grills flame deflector bars and grates without it slipping at an angle.
It has a large surface area that’s 13 inches in length. This ensures your meat is smoked evenly, while it has 25 smoker holes which will do a lot to infuse your food with a strong, rich and beautiful smoky flavor.
It has a hinged lid that helps you quickly and easy access your wood chips when you need to replace them.
How to choose your smoker box
What to look out for when choosing your smoker box
Shape & Size: Some smokers are flat in shape, while some are v-shaped. WIth flat boxes, not all grills can accommodate them well, while v-shaped boxes tend to be able to slot between your burner covers quite well.
The key thing to consider is the depth of the box. It needs to be able to fit between your burners and your grill grates. So be sure to measure this distance before buying your smoker box.
Material: While a smoker box is in essence a really simple tool, there is a big difference in cheaper and elite models. This difference can usually be found in the type of metal that they’re made of.
Stainless steel or cast iron is your best bet, as it will retain heat well while guarding the chips from overheating and burning out. Further to this, they’ll also be durable so will help to withstand being exposed to high cooking temperatures time and time again without rusting or falling apart.
How to use a smoker box
Like with any form of cooking, preparation is key. Start by pre-soaking your chosen wood chips about half an hour prior to smoking. This helps generate smoke, as well as stops the chips from burning out too quickly.
What flavor of wood chip you go for largely depends on what meat you are smoking. As a rough guide, oak or hickory goes great with red meats, while mesquite matches well with fish.
Once your chips are ready, start to transfer them to your box. Aim to fill it just over halfway.
The key thing is to place it so that it sits between your flame deflector bars and grill grates. It needs to be firmly still, and placed at the center of your grill’s chamber. Luckily, a lot of the best smoker boxes are v-shaped, which helps them stay in place securely.
Turn your grill on at high temperature and preheat the box. Different smokers and grills take different lengths of time to get going, so there is no hard and fast rule here but once you start seeing smoke coming from your box then dial down the heat to low and you’re good to go.
When cooking, be sure to keep the lid of your grill closed. This will keep the smoke condensed in your grill’s barrel, and help make your food rich in smoky, BBQ goodness.
Different meats take different lengths of time to cook, so for help make sure to check out my guide to meat smoking.