How to Turn a Charcoal Grill into a Smoker in 5 Easy Steps

It’s really easy to set your charcoal BBQ up for indirect smoking. We’ll show you how to turn a charcoal grill into a smoker in just 5 easy steps.

Although a wood pellet grill allows you to control the temperature more easily, you can still get pretty decent results from turning your charcoal grill BBQ into a smoker.

How to Turn a Charcoal Grill into a Smoker
How to Turn a Charcoal Grill into a Smoker by Setting Up 2 Different Heat Zones for Indirect Cooking

How to Turn a Charcoal Grill into a Smoker in 5 Easy Steps

To turn a BBQ into a smoker, you will need to follow these easy 5 steps:

  1. Choose a BBQ with a lid. We used a Weber Go-Anywhere for this. Any charcoal BBQ will work as long as it has a lid to keep the heat and smoke inside the barbecue to create a consistent smoking and cooking environment.
  2. Place good quality charcoal in a chimney starter along with natural fire wood lighters, and ignite it.
  3. We are now going to set up 2 zones for cooking inside the BBQ – a cooler zone for indirect heat and a hotter zone with hot coals and wood chunks or pellets. When the coals in your chimney starter are white hot put them all in one half of the bottom of your BBQ. In the other half place a disposable aluminium tray half filled with water (you can also use beer, apple juice or cider). The liquid in the water pan helps to keep the environment moist allowing the smoke to stick to your food better. It also catches fat from the meat to help avoid flare-ups, and moderates the heat inside the BBQ.
  4. Add your wood of choice to the coals – hickory is good for a strong smoke taste – use apple or cherry wood for a lighter, fruitier smoke flavour. We used a chunk of oak which is also a great wood for smoking with.
  5. Place your grills on top of your barbecue and then close the lid to let the BBQ come up to temperature. We are aiming for somewhere around 225-250F (107-121C). Use an infrared digital thermometer to check this for best results.

Now you are ready for smoking!

Check out the video below to see the simple process.

What to Smoke in Your Improvised BBQ Smoker

We used our charcoal grill smoker to make smoked jerk chicken breast, but really you can smoke plenty of different kinds of meat or vegetables in it as long as you have enough fuel!

Check out this Instagram post to see the process. Tag us or leave a comment if you try it out.

Easy Smoked Jamaican Jerk Chicken Showing How to Turn a Charcoal Grill into a Smoker

We wouldn’t recommend using the charcoal grill to smoker set up for long smokes like brisket or pork butt. You’ll be constantly refueling and burning through a stack of wood and coal. It works best for smaller pieces of meat such as chicken breast, thighs, wings or smoking sausage.

These smokes will only take 2-3 hours max.

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