How To smoke on a gas BBQ Grill

by Joost Nusselder | Last Updated:  June 6, 2022

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Most people think that you can’t smoke on a gas BBQ or propane grill, but that’s not true! You can actually smoke on any type of grill, including a gas grill.

The key is to use indirect heat and control the temperature so that your food doesn’t get overcooked or burned.

How to smoke on a gas grill

Learn more on how to turn your propane grill into a smoker here

How to create a two-zone indirect heat setup

You can create a two-zone indirect heat setup:

What is important for a smoker to function properly is that it must be controlled over long periods without interruption.

You don’t want the temperature above 300F. Also, you don’t want brisket, for example, to be exposed to flames.

It also involves setting up two-zone indirect setups for the grilling. The grills will have two “warm zones”, hence the name.

Then the burner will provide heat while the food is cooking on the reverse side through ambient temperatures in the cooking chambers.

Gas grill burner configuration for low and slow cooking

If you use 2 burner grills, then obviously only one burner should be turned off.

Using multiple burners, you can find the right temperature. You have to play around with some configurations for four-burner grills.

Try experimenting with the heat control and the number of burners by measuring the ambient air temperature at the other side of the food.

Once the configuration of the system is stable between 230 – 250°F it is possible to return to this configuration.

It should be remembered that other factors must be taken into account.

How to make smoke on a propane grill?

How can propane grills make good smoke?

You can burn a wood pellet on a grill with wood chunks, wood chips. Most gas grill models have built-in smoke boxes.

You can also get an inexpensive accessory called a steel smoker box, however, we will provide a DIY method for which you don’t need any equipment.

Most grilling systems include a “flavorizer bar” that sits over the surface.

The purpose of the flavorizer is to vaporize juices that fall through the grates, so they don’t stick and create a mess.

So, by following the same principle, we can use this area as a smoker box. All you need for this method are some wood chips. No liquid or foil needed!

Is a DIY smoker as good as a real smoker?

No, it’s not quite as efficient and easy to work with as the real deal.

But, if you don’t have competitive barbecues every time, you can cook fine with a DIY smoker too.

The problem is that you can’t regulate the temperature on the kettle grill as you would with the expensive smokers.

With a Masterbuilt analog electric smoker, for example, you can set the desired temperature and then leave it for hours.

It will smoke the food and you can go about your day. Using a regular grill to smoke doesn’t provide this level of convenience.

However, “low and quick” cooking is crucial for the barbecue process. And, luckily, you can achieve this on a regular grill too, not just a professional smoker.

Joost Nusselder, the founder of Lakeside Smokers is a content marketer, dad and loves trying out new food with BBQ Smoking (& Japanese food!) at the heart of his passion, and together with his team he's been creating in-depth blog articles since 2016 to help loyal readers with recipes and cooking tips.