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tenspeed 02-12-2017 11:45 AM

Opinions on gas grill smoker boxes
 
K-girl's post about the gas grill smoker box got my attention. I didn't know they existed, so I asked Mr. Google about them. From a portion of a Cook's Illustrated review that I could read it looks like their favorite is a cast iron rectangular box, and the picture looks like a Nexgrill. Does anyone have any experience comparing the V-shaped Charcoal Companion with the rectangular cast iron box?

At the low price of these things it's not much of a financial risk, but I'm wondering if one of them has any advantages over the other. I saw a comment on YouTube where the person was successful placing the box on top of the grate, rather than underneath, which isn't an option with the V-shape box.

I have a Weber gas grill, so I could go with either.

Roll_Bones 02-12-2017 11:58 AM

If it has automatic temperature control, I'm all in.
I would never buy another smoker without this feature. Add chips/chunks, set temp and forget.

Andy M. 02-12-2017 12:19 PM

You're talking about a container to put woodchips in that goes in a grill. Right?

If so, I'd recommend just going with a foil packet. Cheaper and it doesn't need to be cleaned afterwards.

roadfix 02-12-2017 12:42 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by Andy M. (Post 1498745)
You're talking about a container to put woodchips in that goes in a grill. Right?

If so, I'd recommend just going with a foil packet. Cheaper and it doesn't need to be cleaned afterwards.

Agreed. I've used both. Also, foil packets use up less space and no clean up required.

Kaneohegirlinaz 02-12-2017 12:50 PM

10, when I was at the home improvement store yesterday, I was looking for the Weber brand of smoker box but they didn't have any.
What they did have was the cast iron rectangular box (I can't recall the brand) and that cute SS V shaped one. The price difference was vast, and I figured that since I had never tried any sort of a smoker box before, I'd go with the lesser priced V shaped and see how it all went.

In the past, I simply used HD tin foil pouches of chips, messy; now that I have a "big girl toy" aka my beautiful 3 burner SS Genesis, I figure I should step up my game.

And let me say that the V shaped box sitting directly on the flame, well between two flames, IMHO, I think that it got going quicker than setting a pouch or rectangular box on top of the grate. I had large plumes of smoke in less than 10 minutes, with only two burners going. I put the b/s Chicken Thighs over the direct heat for just a few minutes to brown the meat and then over to the other side for indirect heat to finish up. It was DELICIOUS!! I used Mesquite, mostly because that is in the same family as Kiawe Wood we use in Hawaii.

I'm no expert griller, but I'm happy with my purchase, for sure! :chef:

Kaneohegirlinaz 02-12-2017 12:53 PM

I wanted to say that I feel that foil pouches are messy for me, `cuz notoriously the foil winds up disintegrating and then I had all that ash in the bottom of my "little girl" grill... that's just me :cool:

Kaneohegirlinaz 02-12-2017 12:54 PM

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Andy M. 02-12-2017 01:02 PM

No reason why you couldn't shape a foil packet to fit between the burners like the picture. Never had a problem with the foil breaking.

buckytom 02-12-2017 08:13 PM

I was given a Bobby Flay brand steel smoker box for my grill a few years ago. It's simply a small rectangular box with holes on top that sits on the grill bars. I used it a few times with little success since it takes a very long time to begin smoking as it is far away from the flames.

In theory it's cool, but not worth waiting so long for it to smoke up a gas grill. Gas grills are for the convenience and speed.

caseydog 02-12-2017 08:37 PM

Smoker boxes and foil packets work fine, as long as you have realistic expectations. They are not going to do a 12 hour brisket smoke lie a true wood-burninig bbq pit will. But, if all you want is a little smoky flavor on your grilled chicken, they will do the job.

I'm a charcoal/wood grill guy. I don't find my Weber kettles any harder to use than a gas grill, after so many years of using them. I bought oldest Webber kettle new in 1995. Not many gas grills last 22 years (and still going).

So yes, those smoker boxes do work, and work fine for many applications. Just don't expect too much from them.

BTW, I use something similar for cold smoking, made from an empty tomatoes can, and a soldering iron, if anyone is interested.

CD

CraigC 02-13-2017 07:22 AM

Gas is great for the jet cooker. Grilling and "Q" only with wood or charcoal. Thats my story and I'm sticking to it.:lol:

Steve Kroll 02-13-2017 01:34 PM

I have a GrillPro cast iron smoker box I got a few years ago when I bought my Weber Genesis. I love it. On my grill, it fits perfectly between the "flavorizer bars" and the grate, so it's sitting right over the flame.

As far as having to wait for the smoke, you can add dry chips, too. Just be aware they won't last as long. It's perfect for something that cooks quick, like steaks or burgers, for example. I add a handful of chips to the box when I start the grill and it's usually smoking pretty good within a few minutes. And you can definitely taste the difference in the meat.

Roll_Bones 02-14-2017 11:47 AM

Quote:

Originally Posted by Kaneohegirlinaz (Post 1498755)

I like that! Looks like it would work well.

Quote:

Originally Posted by buckytom (Post 1498811)
I was given a Bobby Flay brand steel smoker box for my grill a few years ago. It's simply a small rectangular box with holes on top that sits on the grill bars. I used it a few times with little success since it takes a very long time to begin smoking as it is far away from the flames.

In theory it's cool, but not worth waiting so long for it to smoke up a gas grill. Gas grills are for the convenience and speed.

I bought a box many years ago. Just like you describe. Its cast iron and it takes forever to start smoking. By the time I get any smoke, the chips are burned away or close to being gone.
It is a piece of junk.

caseydog 02-14-2017 07:21 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by Roll_Bones (Post 1499033)
I like that! Looks like it would work well.



I bought a box many years ago. Just like you describe. Its cast iron and it takes forever to start smoking. By the time I get any smoke, the chips are burned away or close to being gone.
It is a piece of junk.

Something you learn when you get serious about BBQ, is that the smoke you see is not the smoke you want. The best smoke is the very thin blue-ish smoke you can just barely see. The thick white smoke people think is good smoke is actually bad smoke -- bitter in flavor.

I got WAY too serious into BBQ for a couple of years, and I've dialed way back on that over the last year or so. But, the basics I learned have stuck with me.

My single best piece of smoking advice is to SMELL your smoke, instead of looking at it. If it smells good, your food will taste good. If it looks good, but smells like burning tires, well guess what your food is going to taste like.

CD

buckytom 02-14-2017 09:07 PM

Actually, I was able to get good, tasty smoke from the little box (it doesn't take much to flavor the food when you're grilling), but I just didn't want to turn the grill on, then wait 20 or 25 minutes for it to make smoke to flavor the food. Yes, this isn't Q. It's just a way to add some flavor to quickly grilled foods when using a gas grill.

I'd think the ones heretofore described that fit under the bars might work better as they're closer to the flame.

I need to get back into smoking meats. I had about 35 trees taken down in my yard when we moved in so we could have a backyard - not a forest, and the tree guys chipped 4 huge garbage bags of hickory and cherry for me to set aside. Plus I have about 12 cords of oak that needs to be split from the trees we saved for firewood. Maybe more.

Kaneohegirlinaz 02-14-2017 09:20 PM

Right, we started talking about Gas Grilling Smoker boxes... 'Q' is a whole other bag of beans.
IMHO, Grilling, especially over Gas/LP/Propane, for is sheerly for speed and cleanliness. I don't care to clean up all the ash and leftover coals of BBQing over wood/charcoal/briquettes ... did that, got the tee shirt, and I don't care to again. Not to mention, were we are now, there's LOADS of no burn days, which includes grills/BBQing, but Gas/LP/Propane is allowable if constantly attended.

caseydog 02-14-2017 10:36 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by Kaneohegirlinaz (Post 1499091)
Right, we started talking about Gas Grilling Smoker boxes... 'Q' is a whole other bag of beans.
IMHO, Grilling, especially over Gas/LP/Propane, for is sheerly for speed and cleanliness. I don't care to clean up all the ash and leftover coals of BBQing over wood/charcoal/briquettes ... did that, got the tee shirt, and I don't care to again. Not to mention, were we are now, there's LOADS of no burn days, which includes grills/BBQing, but Gas/LP/Propane is allowable if constantly attended.

I think my previous post may have been misinterpreted.

There is nothing wrong with using wood in some kind of container on a gas grill. You're not going to get pit-master results on a 10-pound brisket, but as long as you are realistic in your expectations, you can get some honestly good smokey flavor from some wood chips in a metal box on your gasser.

Those metal wood chip boxes do work, if you use them right. To be totally honest, some wood chips wrapped in foil with a few holes poked in the foil works, too.

I like the looks of the triangular metal boxes for a Weber Genesis, because they put the wood chips right up against the fire. BTW, IMO Weber Genesis grills are the best gassers you can get. Expensive, yes... but worth every penny. My dad has one that is at least 15 years old. He wanted to go cheaper, but I made him pry open his wallet and spend the 600-plus-bucks for it. He still thanks me for it.

You are going to get your best results on things like chicken, which soaks up smoke like a sponge. A big slab of beef is not going to work as well with a metal box of wood chips, as I've already mentioned.

So, to re-state what I said in my last post, don't go for a thick cloud of white smoke, no matter how you burn you wood. SMELL your smoke!!! If it smells good, your food will probably taste good. Again, if it smells like burning tires, your food is going to taste like burning tires.

CD

Kaneohegirlinaz 02-15-2017 12:07 AM

Quote:

Originally Posted by caseydog (Post 1499095)
So, to re-state what I said in my last post, don't go for a thick cloud of white smoke, no matter how you burn you wood. SMELL your smoke!!! If it smells good, your food will probably taste good. Again, if it smells like burning tires, your food is going to taste like burning tires.

CD

Casey, I don't think that anyone has debated your statement on how to use a smoker box. ie smell v looks, IMHO it's just the type of smoker box one might prefer for a Gas/LP/Propane grill :shrug: that's all :smile:

Kayelle 02-15-2017 01:35 AM

Quote:

Originally Posted by Kaneohegirlinaz (Post 1499107)
Casey, I don't think that anyone has debated your statement on how to use a smoker box. ie smell v looks, IMHO it's just the type of smoker box one might prefer for a Gas/LP/Propane grill :shrug: that's all :smile:

I know I'm late to this thread, but I've had the same little V smoker Kgirl found for a long time. The design is perfect for a gas grill, unlike some others. I've used it for whole tri tips that take around 50 minutes to cook, and also for steaks, pork and chicken with less time. Depending on the amount of water soaked wood chips you use, you'll get excellent results with practice.
The design just makes sense.

caseydog 02-15-2017 02:44 AM

Quote:

Originally Posted by Kaneohegirlinaz (Post 1499107)
Casey, I don't think that anyone has debated your statement on how to use a smoker box. ie smell v looks, IMHO it's just the type of smoker box one might prefer for a Gas/LP/Propane grill :shrug: that's all :smile:

I'm not looking for a debate, I am just saying that you want to use whatever gets the wood to burn the most efficiently. You want to get that wood burning hot, so you get clean smoke. A box/foil-bag that gets the wood chips burning efficiently will give you a cleaner smoke. If your gas grill is surrounded by thick white smoke, you may feel happy, but it doesn't mean you are making good food.

It really doesn't matter what you use to make your smoke. Whatever you use to make your smoke needs to make good smoke. It is no different than salt and pepper. Use it right, the food tastes good. Use it wrong, the food tastes bad.

I cant tell you what product to buy, but I can tell you what to look for as an end result. Get or make at home with foil, something that burns wood quickly and efficiently, or be satisfied with food that tastes really smokey, but not particularly good.

CD

CraigC 02-15-2017 04:53 AM

Please don't soak your wood chips.:sad: That is almost as bad as using "green" wood. All those smokers you see on Steven Raichlen's shows, spewing that white smoke, is exactly what you want to avoid. White smoke equals bitter, acrid taste. Of course, if you like that flavor, go for it. You could kick it up a notch and use pine chips!:rofl:

caseydog 02-15-2017 05:45 AM

Quote:

Originally Posted by CraigC (Post 1499127)
Please don't soak your wood chips.:sad: That is almost as bad as using "green" wood. All those smokers you see on Steven Raichlen's shows, spewing that white smoke, is exactly what you want to avoid. White smoke equals bitter, acrid taste. Of course, if you like that flavor, go for it. You could kick it up a notch and use pine chips!:rofl:

I'm with you all the way, assuming your were kidding about the pine chips.

I love watching Julia Child, and a number of other food celebrities. I'd like to punch Steven Raichlen in the face. I am not a violent person, but we all have our limits. :wink:

CD

roadfix 02-15-2017 12:27 PM

I also agree about not soaking wood chips or chunks.

And as far as achieving that thin blue smoke, it's a lot easier to get that on a dedicated smoker where you're actually using wood as fuel or charcoal and some dry wood chunks thrown in.

tenspeed 02-15-2017 01:47 PM

Thanks to those who have used these for sharing their opinions. Sounds like both the cast iron boxes and the V-shaped boxes will do the trick. The local big box home improvement store carries both, so I think I'll pick up one of the V-shaped boxes next time I drive by.

I have no delusions about trying Q a 10 lb. brisket on a gas grill with a smoker box, just want to add a little flavor to some items. I use the gas grill for quick items like boneless chicken, burgers, steaks and fish. I use charcoal occasionally, but gas is so much more convenient.

Quote:

Originally Posted by CraigC (Post 1499127)
You could kick it up a notch and use pine chips!

The recommended wine pairing is retsina. :smile:

caseydog 02-15-2017 05:08 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by tenspeed (Post 1499159)
Thanks to those who have used these for sharing their opinions. Sounds like both the cast iron boxes and the V-shaped boxes will do the trick. The local big box home improvement store carries both, so I think I'll pick up one of the V-shaped boxes next time I drive by.

I have no delusions about trying Q a 10 lb. brisket on a gas grill with a smoker box, just want to add a little flavor to some items. I use the gas grill for quick items like boneless chicken, burgers, steaks and fish. I use charcoal occasionally, but gas is so much more convenient.

The vessel you use is really not the thing to focus on. It is the efficiency of burning your fuel -- the wood chips. You can buy a smoker box, use a foil pack, or even recycle a tin can.

It is really a lot like an old car. If the exhaust pipe is spewing thick white smoke, the fuel is not burning efficiently. If you can't see much, if any, smoke coming from the exhaust pipe, your engine is burning fuel efficiently.

Like others have said, get your wood chips down close to your fire, and don't soak them in water. And, as I have said over and over, SMELL your smoke, don't look at it. If the smoke smells good, your food will taste good. It doesn't matter how you create that smoke, if it smells good, your food will taste good. I can't repeat that enough times.

You don't need to be a BBQ pitmaster to enjoy some smokey goodness. I hope you didn't take any of my earlier comments to mean that. But, understanding how wood burns and how the smoke interacts with proteins is important, whether you have a high-dollar dedicated smoker, or a gas grill with some wood chips in a tin-foil pouch.

CD

CraigC 02-15-2017 05:18 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by caseydog (Post 1499129)
I'm with you all the way, assuming your were kidding about the pine chips.

I love watching Julia Child, and a number of other food celebrities. I'd like to punch Steven Raichlen in the face. I am not a violent person, but we all have our limits. :wink:

CD

Yes I was kidding, but I have seen a show where some Canadians are using pine needles for smoking fish. That would be, IMO, like using mesquite for a long cook.:sad: Way too much over kill. Use post oak as the main wood and mesquite to finish.:yum:

caseydog 02-15-2017 05:26 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by CraigC (Post 1499185)
Yes I was kidding, but I have seen a show where some Canadians are using pine needles for smoking fish. That would be, IMO, like using mesquite for a long cook.:sad: Way too much over kill. Use post oak as the main wood and mesquite to finish.:yum:

Where I live, mesquite is abundant. Great for steaks, but not so much for long cooks.

I am somewhat intrigued by the pine needle smoked fish. It sounds like one of those things that could be awesome, or could really suck.

Oh, we use live oak and red oak where I live. Post oak is a South-East Texas thing.

CD

CraigC 02-15-2017 05:50 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by caseydog (Post 1499187)
Where I live, mesquite is abundant. Great for steaks, but not so much for long cooks.

I am somewhat intrigued by the pine needle smoked fish. It sounds like one of those things that could be awesome, or could really suck.

Oh, we use live oak and red oak where I live. Post oak is a South-East Texas thing.

CD

Being in SE Florida, I'm quite familiar with live oak. My wife brought back a couple of cords of pecan from a visit to Mississippi a few years ago. It was " cured" before I got it and is still dry at this point. Mixed with oak and hickory, it is a great combo for butts, shoulders/butts and sausage. Fruit woods also are used, but I'm not sure how they are combined.:sad:

Kayelle 02-15-2017 06:46 PM

Well, I learned not to soak my wood chips anymore for my little V smoker. Thanks.:smartass:

caseydog 02-15-2017 08:12 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by Kayelle (Post 1499195)
Well, I learned not to soak my wood chips anymore for my little V smoker. Thanks.:smartass:

Yep, that water adds nothing to the flavor of your food, and makes the wood burn less efficiently. To me, wet wood chips burning smell like my shoes after a long, very hot and sweaty day. As Alton Brown would say, that's not good eats.

CD

Kayelle 02-16-2017 01:03 AM

Quote:

Originally Posted by caseydog (Post 1499201)
Yep, that water adds nothing to the flavor of your food, and makes the wood burn less efficiently. To me, wet wood chips burning smell like my shoes after a long, very hot and sweaty day. As Alton Brown would say, that's not good eats.

CD

:rolleyes: Hold on there good buddy, before you step over the line. We've been happy till now with my smoker food and I'm pleased to learn something new and useful. Stay tuned, I just may be able to teach you something useful down the line. :wink:

caseydog 02-16-2017 02:32 AM

Quote:

Originally Posted by Kayelle (Post 1499225)
:rolleyes: Hold on there good buddy, before you step over the line. We've been happy till now with my smoker food and I'm pleased to learn something new and useful. Stay tuned, I just may be able to teach you something useful down the line. :wink:

I have no doubt that you can teach me something useful. I'm still alive, so I aint done learning yet. However... don't count on me pouring water on my wood before I set it on fire.

CD :mrgreen:

tenspeed 02-16-2017 06:16 AM

Quote:

Originally Posted by caseydog (Post 1499230)
I have no doubt that you can teach me something useful. I'm still alive, so I aint done learning yet. However... don't count on me pouring water on my wood before I set it on fire.

CD :mrgreen:

Weber recommends using damp wood chips in a smoker box:

Grill Skills - Smoking on a Gas Grill | Weber.com

We're not trying to keep a fire going with wet wood, as propane is the fuel. I've used damp wood chips on a charcoal grill, and they don't smell like wet shoes at all - just mesquite.

You have stated that you use charcoal/wood grill guy. Have you actually used a smoker box on a gas grill?

Andy M. 02-16-2017 09:52 AM

Wet wood chips burn more slowly and generate smoke rather than burning up quickly.

roadfix 02-16-2017 12:08 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by Andy M. (Post 1499265)
Wet wood chips burn more slowly and generate smoke rather than burning up quickly.

I think the trick to producing good smoke is to give it just enough air for a slow, constant burn.
The problem with most wood chip boxes is that they come with huge vent holes so it's impossible to produce a slow, regulated burn. And on top of that, gas grills, by design, allow too much air to enter the cooking chamber.
I think you get much better smoke from foil packs by poking just tiny vent holes and using dry chips.

RPCookin 02-16-2017 02:33 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by Andy M. (Post 1498745)
You're talking about a container to put woodchips in that goes in a grill. Right?

If so, I'd recommend just going with a foil packet. Cheaper and it doesn't need to be cleaned afterwards.

Agree. I bought the cast iron box and It doesn't do any better than a foil packet with a few holes punched in it. The best thing about that is that I can prepare 2 or 3 of them and when one burns out, pull it and pop in another one. it's a royal pain to refill the cast iron one when it's hot.

CraigC 02-16-2017 02:33 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by Andy M. (Post 1499265)
Wet wood chips burn more slowly and generate smoke rather than burning up quickly.

Yes, they produce smoke, just not the kind I want to flavor my food.:wink:

caseydog 02-16-2017 08:32 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by Andy M. (Post 1499265)
Wet wood chips burn more slowly and generate smoke rather than burning up quickly.

I'm with Craig on this, 100-percent.

The key to getting good smoke is to have efficient combustion. Thick white smoke may look good, and make you feel like you are smoking your food well. But, talk to any good pit-master, and he/she will tell you that the best smoke for flavor is the smoke you can barely see. The coveted thin-blue-smoke.

In a gas grill wood-chip box or foil pouch, use dry wood chips, a little at a time. There is no rule that says you can't add more wood chips as you cook. RPCookin nailed it. If your wood burns up, add more. Wet wood will make a lot of smoke. If that is your thing, go for it. When it comes to smoking food, quality of smoke beats quantity of smoke every time.

CD

caseydog 02-16-2017 08:48 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by tenspeed (Post 1499236)
You have stated that you use charcoal/wood grill guy. Have you actually used a smoker box on a gas grill?

Yes. My dad has a Weber Genesis. I bought him one of those smoke boxes. We used it on some pork tenderloin. I think it is the only time it ever got used. My dad isn't into cooking like I am.

I used dry wood chips -- IIRC it was apple wood. I like apple with pork. Pork tenderloin is a delicate meat, so it didn't need a lot of smoke. The smoker box worked fine. Once again, I used my nose, not my eyes, to judge the smoke. It smelled good, and tasted good.

CD

roadfix 02-18-2017 12:19 PM

But to be fair and honest, I don't remember ever getting even a wisp of blue smoke out of these smoke boxes or foil pouches.
I can produce them on my charcoal smoker or even with my charcoal Weber kettle with a few pieces of dry wood chunks thrown in.


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