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Consumer Reports: Use your grill like a smoker

Posted at 5:00 AM, Jul 17, 2020
and last updated 2020-07-17 09:48:22-04

TUCSON, Ariz. - With grilling-season in full swing, you might be wondering - how else can I use my grill? Paul Hope, Consumer Reports’ dedicated Grill-Master and fan of all things barbeque, says try your hand at slow-smoking on your grill.

“Smoking imparts a really deep, rich flavor to foods that you won’t find from grilling alone. And foods that are smoked for many hours actually break down slowly and become really tender," says Paul Hope, Consumer Reports Home Editor.

Of course, some grills are better suited for smoking than others. For example, charcoal and kamado grills work well because you can just add wood chips or chunks into the charcoal at any point and get a nice smoky flavor. Even a gas grill that’s great at indirect heating can handle the job. And enthusiasm for slow-smoking has not gone unnoticed by manufacturers…

“So a lot of manufacturers have noticed there’s been a big spike in the interest for smoking and what some gas grill manufacturers have started to do is actually build in integrated smoker boxes that you can fill with wood chips to smoke on a gas grill," says Hope.

The Weber Summit S-470 has a built-in smoke tray. However, CR says you don’t need to spend nearly that much for a top performer. For a lot less money, the recommended Nexgrill, from Home Depot, outperforms the Weber when it comes to indirect cooking and temperature range. It doesn’t have a dedicated smoker box but here’s a hack from CR…

“For about ten bucks you can get an aftermarket smoker box at a home center and just add wood chips directly to that," says Hope.

If charcoal is more your fuel of choice, CR says this barrel-style grill from Dyna-Glo makes smoking a cinch.

If you want to take your grilling to the next level with a kamado-style grill, CR also top-rated the Kamado Joe Classic Grill. It’s not cheap: a whopping $1200! It does come packed with features that make it a standout for smoking. And in CR’s cooking tests, it handled slow cooking a pork shoulder just as well as cooking a thin-crust pizza over high heat.