As the summer heat peaks, you probably don’t want to stand over your grill. Luckily, you can turn your grill into a smoker, creating a largely hands-off cooking process.
The taste of smoked meat screams summer to me, especially after spending the last eight years in North Carolina. If you want to try your hand at smoking at home but don’t have a dedicated smoker, you can actually transform your propane grill into a makeshift smoker. The process is fairly simple, but smoking time can be lengthy if you’re smoking a large cut of meat. So, a full tank of propane and some time at home are necessary to make it happen.
In this post, we’ll walk you through transforming your gas grill into a smoker and use bone-in pork chops as our test recipe.
How to Turn Your Grill Into a Smoker, and a Smoked Pork Chops Recipe
Serves: 2-4, depending on size of your pork chops
Time in the kitchen: 55 minutes, including 40 minutes hands-off smoking time
What Type of Wood Chips are Best for Smoking Meat?
Fruit tree wood: pork or chicken
Bold woods (like hickory): large cuts of pork or beef
First decide the type of wood you want to use. Fruit tree woods like apple and cherry are great for pork or chicken. More bold types of wood like hickory work well with large cuts of pork or beef. Mesquite has a distinctive flavor and best for beef. For an all-purpose wood, go with pecan which tastes great with pork, chicken and beef.
Are Wood Chunks or Chips Best for Smoking Meat?
Wood chips are much smaller than chunks and therefore burn more quickly. If you’re smoking small cuts of meat like pork chops or chicken pieces, chips work nicely. If you’re going to smoke a large brisket or pork butt, use chunks instead. I recommend using about 3 handfuls of chips for every ~40 minutes you spend smoking.
Should You Soak Wood Chips Before Smoking Meat?
Soaked wood chips take a bit longer to create nice smoke, but they will also continue smoking for a longer period of time. I recommend soaking here because it keeps the smoking environment moist and the meat is less likely to dry out. Soak wood chips for about 30 minutes.
Do You Need a Smoker Box When Using Your Grill as a Smoker?
Some people buy a smoker box, or their grill comes with a smoker box, but mine does not. I kept costs down by draining the wood chips and placing them in the center of some heavy duty foil. Wrap up the wood chips in the foil and make a few holes in the foil with a knife. These holes will be where the fragrant smoke emanates from the package.
Once you have your wood chips ready, prepare your meat. Some brine their meat, but I found that a nice dry rub works well for something like bone-in pork chops or skin-on chicken thighs. Drizzle the pork chops with avocado oil and then cover the chops in the spice rub.
Turn your grill on and set all burners to high. Set your packet of soaked wood chips over the left or right-most burner on your grill. If your grill uses 4 heating sections, set it over 1 or 2 of the heating sections. If your grill has 3 heating zones, set the chips over the far left or far right zone.
Close your grill’s lid and let the grill heat up. It will take around 20-25 minutes for the wood chips to begin smoking. Once you see a steady amount of smoke coming from the wood packet, place your pork chops all the way to the left or right side of the grill (the side that’s opposite the wood packet). Turn off the two (or three) heat zones that aren’t heating the wood packet so that the only source of heat still on is the heating zone under the wood packet. Some say that you don’t want grill marks on smoked meat, but I can’t help but love the look of them, so I placed the chops on the right side of the grill when the grates were still a bit hot to get some marks.
Set a meat thermometer with a probe to the desired internal temperature (for pork chops, I like 145 degrees Fahrenheit) and place it through the side of the pork chop so the tip of the probe sits in the center of the chop.
Cover the lid of the grill and let the smoking begin!
Try to avoid opening up the grill while the smoking is taking place, although after 15-20 minutes, you can flip over the chops if you choose. Continue smoking until the internal temperature is reached.
Our chops were about 1” thick and took around 40 minutes to smoke. If you are using a thicker chop or larger cut of meat, consider having a second packet of soaked wood to place on the grill after 45-60 minutes once the first packet burns out.
Slice into strips, and serve with your favorite Primal Kitchen® BBQ Sauce on the side. If you like sweet heat, the Mango Jalapeño BBQ Sauce will make you very happy.
A food blogger, recipe developer, and personal chef based in Missouri, Priscilla specializes in low-carb, Paleo, gluten-free, keto, vegetarian, and low FODMAP cooking. See what she’s cooking on Priscilla Cooks, and follow her food adventures on Instagram and Pinterest.