Your Own Gas Grill Smoker!
(Smoker Box)

What? You mean you can smoke on a grill?

You bet your smoker box you can! This guide shows you the basics.

For step-by-step instructions to smoking amazing BBQ ribs on your propane grill, check out this recipe and guide.

The Basic Idea

smoker box


It's just a metal box, and a metal lid with some holes in it. Put wood chips inside, heat up the box, it smokes. That's it!

No box? No problem! Make one out of foil.

Here's how to setup the box in your gas grill smoker:

grill smoker

Start with a cold grill.

Scatter soaked chips in the bottom of the box, cover, and place underneath the grate. Place directly on the flavor bars, rocks, or briquettes.

If you have room, add a drippings pan under the grate next to the box.

Preheat the grill to the desired temperature. When you see smoke, add your food on the grate over the pan.

Smoker Box Pictures:

 smoker box

smoker boxsmoker box

smoker boxsmoker box


  • Smoke with the grill you already have
  • Zero / low cost
  • Add delicious, light smoky flavor to food
  • No new recipes required (it'll spruce up your old ones!)


  • Difficult to add more wood
  • Must keep adding wood if you want to smoke for more than 45 minutes
  • Some say they don't get a strong enough smoke flavor



Build your own smoker box

There are tons of smoker boxes available in stores, but you can use whatever you have around the house to make one yourself. Try:

  • Disposable pie tins / aluminum pans (cover with foil and poke holes in the top)
  • Old iron skillet (covered in foil and poke holes)
  • Short, wide can (tuna, coffee, etc.)
  • Just foil (wrap the chips or make a foil dish. No need to poke holes…it'll find a way out.)

Catch the drippings in a pan

Why? For authentic BBQ flavor, of course!

When you grill food, the drippings fall and hit the hot flavor bars, rocks, or briquettes. This evaporating fat makes a charbroiled burger taste delicious. Mmmmm good!

But you don't want your ribs to taste like a charbroiled burger, do you!? So collect those drippings! Either in an empty pan (save it for gravy), or in a pan filled with water or other flavoring liquid.

Don't overfill the smoker box

It will not smoke. Use a thin spreading of chips – just enough to cover the bottom.

Try experimenting with different amounts:
Less wood = tons of smoke for a short time
More wood = less smoke intensity, but over a long time

Don't touch the box with your hands for at least 3 hours

It's hot metal with hot coals inside…meaning it stays hot! So please don't reach in there and grab it.

Even though the wood embers may not be smoking, they can still be very hot. Be careful when adding more wood or cleaning out the box.

Get the right size / shape for your grill

The best placement for a smoker box is right on top of your flavor bars / lava rocks / briquettes. You will also probably purchase drip pans.

Make sure you measure before you buy.

Some boxes even have an angled bottom to fit in between the flavor bars (see below).

angled smoker box

Don't trust the built-in temperature gauge.

Many grills come with a built in temperature gauge, some more accurate than others.

Bottom line, don't trust it.

When it comes to smoking, holding a steady, accurate temperature is KEY. Even an accurate lid thermometer will always read a little bit higher, since it is located at the hottest part of the grill (the top).

Use a thermometer you know and trust when smoking food. If you can, position that thermometer at the same level as the food.

Cover the wood to make it last longer (and avoid fire).

This limits the air to the wood, making it burn slower and longer.

Yes, uncovered wood also has a tendancy to catch on fire. Benefit or disadvantage? You decide.

No lid with your box? No problem!

Cover the box in foil and poke a few holes in the top.

Soak those chips!

Covered chips last longer, but can still burn too quickly when dry. For best results, soak those chips in hot water, beer, whisky, wine, or other flavoring liquid. Keep in mind, the stronger the flavoring liquid, the less soaking time is needed.

For more tips and info on smoke woods, check out the smoke wood section. (link)


Try a smoker box tonight!

It's so easy to set up a smoker box, so why not give it a try the next time you grill.

Make a foil box first. If you like it, think about upgrading to a stainless steel box. There are many affordable options out there.

Check out our review section to see what other smoker box owners are saying.