How to Use a Smoker Box

how to use smoker box

Smoked meat is some of the most tasty meat that you could possibly serve at your backyard wedding, party, or celebration. The problem is that many backyard barbeque enthusiasts are unfamiliar with the process of smoking and as such, haven’t experienced the wondrous world of hand-smoked meats.

If you’re interested in learning how to use a smoker box, you’re in luck. In this article, we’ll go in depth on what exactly a smoker box is, how it’s used, what types of grills it can be used on, and much more. We’ll also show you how to choose the best smoker boxes for grills.

What Is A Smoker Box?

Generally speaking, smoker boxes are small metal containers that have been designed for use with gas grills. They have solid bottoms and tops with slats through which smoke can escape. Their purpose is to infuse food with the smoky flavor that we all love. 

Smoker boxes are easy to use and don’t have a learning curve. Usage is pretty much as simple as taking them out of the box, placing them on the gas grill, and cooking. 

Types of Smoker Boxes


Over-grate smoker boxes sit, as their name suggests, over top of the grate on your gas grill. They are usually square or rectangular in shape but have also been known to come in tube-like shapes and circles.

The wood capacity that you can fit inside each box varies by model, depending on its size and shape.

Over-grate smoker boxes are arguably the most popular type of box, simply because of how easy they are to use. However, their downfall is that since they sit on top of the grate – which has cooking meat below it- their smoke is sent straight up and to both sides, missing whatever meat is positioned below the box.


Under-grate smoker boxes are usually V-shaped. They sit between your grill’s burner and grates. They can be used on almost any gas grill that has removable grates and enough room for the box to sit underneath.

The benefit of under-grate smoker boxes is that it’s a lot easier to direct the smoke towards whatever you’re cooking.

How To Use A Smoker Box in Three Easy Steps 

Load Wood Chips

To get started, place your desired wood chips inside of the smoker box. You can use dry wood chips or soak your wood chips first.

 If you’re hesitant about using dry wood chips because you know that they can catch fire, don’t be. Modern smoker boxes do not have holes in the bottom. This ensures that the wood chips are never directly in contact with open flame. 

Position the Smoker Box

Place the smoker box near the heat source. If you’re using a gas barbeque, you’ll place the box on top of the burners while if you’re using a charcoal barbeque, you’ll place the smoker box directly on the coals. 

Turn the heat up as far as it will go to encourage your smoker box to start producing smoke. Keep in mind that this process often takes a bit of time. 

Start Cooking

After you’ve seen smoke, readjust your temperatures. Bring it back down to regular cooking temperature. Don’t worry about your smoker box losing its heat — if you’ve heated it correctly,  the smoker box will retain its heat throughout the entire time you’re using it. 

Cook your meat as you would on any given day. 

If at any point during the cooking session you feel that you need to replenish your wood chips, do so with caution. Use heat-resistant metal tongs to remove the smoker box from the heat and then, using heat-resistant gloves, open the lid and refill the woodchips.

Smoker Box Buying Guide 

Now that you’ve learned how to use a smoker box, you might be interested in buying one for yourself. Just remember that not all smoker boxes are designed the same and keep the following factors in mind:

Ease of Use

Be sure to choose a smoker box with a lid that opens from the top. This helps to ensure that it’s a simple matter to fill and refill your smoker box – especially when it’s hot from being recently used. The size and shape of your box should also match well with your barbeque just to avoid unnecessary issues. 


If a smoker box isn’t coated with non-stick material, don’t buy it. Smoker boxes that lack non-stick coating are hard to clean and have a tendency to trap food. They’re also prone to developing ash build up that blocks the holes of the box.

Quality Design 

Any good smoker box will be made with quality materials. They should be made of cast iron or consider a stainless steel smoker box, both of which are resistant to rust, durable, and versatile. A quality smoker box will initially cost you a bit more but will be well worth it when you’re still using it ten years later. 

Final Thoughts

Smoker boxes are a real delight. They give already delicious barbequed meat an extra something and are an investment that you can be proud of. They’re easy to use and readily available for purchase online and locally. Now that you know how to use a smoker box, just remember to choose one that ticks all of our quality-control boxes.