How to get the charcoal flavor on a gas grill - Lunch Review

Gas grills are convenient, easy to clean, and can cook almost any food, from grilled vegetables to large pieces of meat. However, sometimes you can miss the smoky, burnt flavor that only a traditional charcoal grill can deliver. So How to get the charcoal flavor on a gas grill?

Thankfully, there are a few ways to bring that delicious wood and charcoal flavor to your gas grill barbecue. While you'll never get that exact burnt flavor, a few tricks will help you create a much closer flavor.

1. Burn coal in your gas grill

Use these five simple steps to get that smoky flavor on a gas grill.

  • Turn off half or all of the gas burners in your oven
  • Remove flame deflectors
  • Place a small heavy cookie sheet directly on the burner
  • Place a charcoal grill on top of the cookie sheet
  • Add a thin layer of charcoal

These steps can be our way to get the charcoal flavor on a gas grill. You get the taste of charcoal without buying a separate grill, and cleanup is as simple as waiting 24 hours and discarding the coal ash.

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Burn coal in your gas grill

Another option is to add charcoal on a charcoal grill or cast iron skillet and burn on low and slow. Adding a few wood chips or blocks can add flavor but don't add too much wood as the wood can flare up and leave a burnt smell in your gas grill. This will allow you to get all the flavor of the charcoal and a steady temperature from the gas stove burner.

2. The perforated metal smoke box is designed to be placed inside the gas grill

To make a gas grill taste like charcoal, use a smoker box to flavor your food, add additional seasonings, use liquid smoke, and season your grill. Adjusting your technique by using indirect heat, then grilling and remembering to cover the grill will give you a richer flavor.

The perforated metal smoke box is designed to be placed inside the gas grill

Gas grill metal smoking cans can hold wood chips and sit directly on the grill. They will smolder and create smoke that spreads over the food. (If you have a high-end grill, it probably has a built-in fume hood, located just above the burner.)

Most stand-alone smoking boxes are rectangular, be sure to purchase large-format stainless steel that can withstand the heat of a grill. They are placed on the grill or the angled metal plates below the grill. There are also V-shaped boxes to place between the panels.

The perforated metal smoke box is designed to be placed inside the gas grill

Place the smoking box on the grill before starting to bake. Distance from the flame will help keep the wood chips from catching fire, and since they will take longer to ignite, the grill will be fully heated before smoke appears.

The perforated metal smoke box is designed to be placed inside the gas grill

Note: Soaked wood chips. Soak chips or logs of oak, fenugreek, pecan, apple, or some other fruit or hardwood in water for an hour, then drain and put them in a box or bag. Place the can back on the grill and turn all burners high to preheat.

You can use chunks for longer-lasting smoke.

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3. Heat Conversion

The biggest difference between charcoal and gas grills is the temperature at which they cook your meat. So you need to increase the temperature.

Heat Conversion

Change this on your gas grill by turning one side and letting the flame go out on the other. Grill your meats over high heat and move them to finish on the no-fire side. The combination of hot and indirect heat will give you a nice brown outside like meat grilled over charcoal but still retain the moisture inside.

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4. Close the grill

To increase and maintain heat on your gas grill and get the same high heat as a charcoal grill, make sure the grill has enough time to heat up and close the grill lid. Cover grills with foil or baking trays to keep them hot and avoid opening the lid while food is cooking. Keep as much heat inside as possible to avoid heat loss.

5. Use liquid smoke

Liquid smoke, as the name suggests, is "liquid" smoke that condenses from burning wood. It's made by burning wood - all different types, that's how you get the flavor - and holding the vapor. The vapor turns to condensation, then is distilled and filtered.

Use liquid smoke

It comes in a spray or glass bottle that looks a lot like BBQ sauce when it's condensed.

If you find it too thick, try diluting the same amount in water or vinegar. It's pretty strong, so start with a small amount and adjust the flavor from there. Try the mesquite, hickory, and applewood varieties.

6. Rub and Sauce

Don't underestimate the flavor that a good marinade or rub can infuse into your meat. Try marinating your meat with them before placing it on the grill. Seasonings like Spiceology's Smoky Honey Habanero can also enhance the flavor of meat on a gas grill.

Using marinades and rubs is a safer way to flavor your foods without the carcinogens caused by high heat. They are also a great way to flavor vegetables, tofu, and other meat substitutes.

7. Pellet smoke tray or a metal smoker box

The easiest way to add flavor to your gas grill is smoke seasoning. Using a pellet smoker or a metal smoke box is a way to spice up your gas grill and give a smoky flavor to every dish you cook.

Pellet smoke tray or a metal smoker box

** Notes:

  • Remove the grids and set them aside.
  • Light up your smoke pellet tray with a camping lighter or a kitchen torch.
  • Place the pellet smoke tray as low as possible and near the oil drain to provide airflow.
  • Close the lid and insert a long piece of foil into the vent located at the back of most gas grills.
  • Leave to smoke until the tray is completely burned, about eight hours or more.

When the pellet tray burns, smoke will come out from the edges and rotating holes of the lid. When you're done, remove the tray, clean the ash from the bottom of the grill, and reinstall the grills.

Many people love the smoky flavor of a charcoal grill, and luckily, there are ways to achieve this from your gas grill. Experiment with methods to find out which works best for you!

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