How to Use Wood Chips on a Gas Grill (5 Easy Steps)

Do you have a gas grill but want to add some more flavor to your meats? Believe it or not, this can be done when you use wood chips on your gas grill. It’s a bit complicated, though, so we will show you how! 

In this guide you will learn:

  • How to use wood chips on a gas grill
  • Tips for using wood chips on a gas grill
  • And much more!

What You Need to Know About Using Wood Chips on a Gas Grill

Do you have a gas grill but wish you had the ability to add some smokiness to your meat? You absolutely can, and you don’t need to purchase an entirely new grill to do so. But don’t just start tossing wood chips on your grill because this won’t work and may even cause a fire hazard. 

In order to use wood chips on your gas grill, you first need to soak them in water. Then, you need to put them in the correct vestibule, either a smoke box or an aluminum pouch, and place them on the grate. 

Using wood chips really only works in a gas grill that has multiple grates, though it can be done in single grate gas grills but with extreme caution. Read on to learn more about how you can use wood chips on your gas grill.

Supplies Needed for Using Wood Chips on a Gas Grill

Before you can start smoking meats on your gas grill, you need to gather the following supplies.

  • Wood chips (see below for flavor choice assistance)
  • Large Bowl with water
  • Aluminum Foil
  • A smoke box

Editor’s Note: The aluminum foil and smoke box can be used interchangeably. We recommend the smoke box because it is a more official way of using wood chips on your gas grill and is generally safer. But, if you don’t have one, you can use aluminum foil to create your own. 

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07/13/2024 01:43 am GMT

How to Use Wood Chips on a Gas Grill

Do you have all of the supplies handy? Below is the process for using wood chips on your gas grill. 

Step 1: Soak Your Wood Chips

Start out by soaking your wood chips in water for at least 45 minutes. While this is never recommended for other types of grills, when it comes to a gas grill, this is a necessary step to prevent the wood chips from immediately catching fire when they are put on the grill.

Step 2: Create a Pouch/Fill Smoker Tube

Next, load your wood chips into your smoke box. If you don’t have a smoke box, make one out of aluminum foil folded into a pouch shape. Poke holes in the aluminum foil to allow the smoke to escape. 

Step 3: Set Up Your Grill

Ideally, you are doing this on a gas grill with an upper and lower rack. The smoke box should be placed on the lower rack and your food on the upper rack. If you only have one rack, you can place the smoke box below, as long as it can be set away from the flame. 

Step 4: Preheat Your Grill

Turn on your gas grill and allow it to preheat. This will take about 15-20 minutes, and you should start to see smoke coming from your grill towards the end. 

Step 5: Add Your Meats

Once the grill is going, place your meat on the top rack. If you can, set it on the opposite side of your smoke box. This is called offset smoking and will make your food taste better. And just like that, you can use your gas grill as a smoker!

wood chips in a smoke box

How to Select Wood Chips

A major aspect of using wood chips on your gas grill is taking the time to select the right wood chips. Different types of wood can bring different flavors to your meat. Because you are using a gas grill instead of a charcoal one, the flavors from the wood chips will be more pronounced, making their selection more important. 

Light Smoke Flavor

When you are first starting out with smoking, we recommend using alder, cherry, or apple wood as these provide a lighter smoke flavor. We also recommend them anytime you are making chicken, veggies, or fish. 

Medium Smoke Flavor

Oak and pecan are great wood chips to get a medium flavor from, and they go well with most darker meats. 

Heavy Smoke Flavor

For those who would like a heavier smoke flavor, or are planning to cook beef, then a hickory or mesquite wood would be better. 

Don’t forget that you can mix smoke flavors together to make additional flavors. Mixing a fruit flavor with oak is a great place to start! 

If you are planning to smoke a turkey this year, we highly recommend using a mix of orange and pecan woods, as these compliment the turkey meat nicely. Also, check out our article on how to smoke a turkey for tips and tricks. 

Tips for Smoking Meat on a Gas Grill

Smoking meat on a gas grill is a little bit different than using a pellet grill or a smoker. This is because you only have one small tube or pouch which is producing all of the smoke. Below are some tips to help you out as you learn to smoke on your gas grill. 

Keep the Lid Closed

Keep the lid of your gas grill closed as much as possible. Because there is less smoke, the last thing you want to do is let it out into the environment rather than into your food. 

Soak Your Wood Chips in Liquids Other Than Water

You don’t just have to soak your wood chips in water. You can also soak them in jack daniels, apple juice, wine, or beer to achieve your desired flavor. Since you have to soak the wood chips to use them anyway, it seems like as good a time as any to try out wood chips soaked in one of the above beverages!

Start Small

Because you have less smoke, it’s a good idea to start small and only grill a steak or two until you get an idea of where to place your smoker box and how much you need to fill it in order to get results. We recommend starting with just a cup or two of wood chips for your first go. 

If you notice absolutely nothing even after filling the smoker box (and have a large gas grill), note that you may need two smoker boxes or foil pouches in order to infuse that smoky flavor into the meat. 

Add Wood Chips

If you are using the aluminum foil packet method and have a long smoke time for a piece of meat, consider making a few foil packets of wood chips and adding them to your grill every 30-40 minutes. This will keep the smoke going for the entire cooking time of your meat. 

Can You Put Wood Chips Directly on the Grate on a Gas Grill?

It may seem like a lot of hassle to fill a smoker tube or create a foil pouch. The truth is, you can put wood chips directly on the grate of a gas grill (after they have been soaked), but the problem is, they won’t last long enough to infuse much flavor.

You might get enough smoke for veggies or maybe fish, but this method is not long-lasting enough for beef, pork, or chicken. You also would need to be careful that the wood chips don’t fall through the grate and onto the burner, as this can cause a fire hazard. 

Therefore we recommend taking the time to make a foil pouch or purchasing a smoker tube. Although it may seem annoying to take this extra step, it will give you much better results in the long run.

Alternative to Wood Chips for a Gas Grill

Besides just using wood chips on your gas grill, you also have the option to use a cedar plank. Many people choose this method instead of the foil packet method because it is easier. 

For the cedar plank method, all you have to do is purchase a cedar plank and then let it soak for one hour in water or the liquid of your choice. Then place it on the grill and allow it 5-10 minutes to heat up. Once it heats up, flip it over and place your meat directly on the plank. This is a great way to make cedar plank salmon.

Using cedar planks can get a bit addicting because they are so easy to use. Don’t feel limited to just using them for fish, as they work well for veggies, chicken, and even pork.

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07/12/2024 05:07 pm GMT

Final Thoughts on How to Use Wood Chips on a Gas Grill

Overall, using wood chips on a gas grill is a piece of cake, especially if you have a smoke box on hand. Even if you don’t, you can still create your own to add amazing smoky flavor to your meat. 

Just remember to always soak your wood in advance, and don’t be afraid to experiment, and you will be making some amazing smoked creations on your gas grill in no time.

Photo of author

Hope Davis

Born in Denver, Colorado as the oldest of 5 children, I learned at a young age that the grill was one of the best ways to prepare food for a crowd. And during the winter storm months, when the snow was likely to knock out the power to our house, the propane grill was a lifesaver! You wouldn’t believe the number of things you can cook on a grill when necessary. With parents who couldn’t tell salt from pepper unless you told them, I spent my late teen years making my own seasoning mixes and marinades to dress the meat before barbecues. It wasn’t long before I developed a secret marinade that people still beg me to make for them today! When I was 21 years old I bought my first smoker. Picked up some cedar chips for making a cedar plank salmon...and well, the rest they say is history! I’ve been grilling and smoking all kinds of creations ever since and I’m always excited to share my passion with others through my favorite medium--writing!

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