How To Use A Charcoal BBQ As A Smoker

If you want to try smoking various meats, but don’t want to invest in a smoker, using your BBQ could be the answer. In this article, we take a look at how to use a charcoal BBQ as a smoker.

To use your charcoal BBQ as a smoker, you first have to setup a two-zone grilling area. When smoking, it’s important to use the side of the BBQ with indirect heat. Placing one aluminium pan on top of the grate, with another one underneath, will help to ensure that the meat does not dry out.

That’s the basic outline for smoking meats with your BBQ. Below, there is more information and a simple, step by step guide for the entire process.

How To Use A Charcoal BBQ As A Smoker

When To Use Your BBQ As A Smoker

Often, investing in an expensive smoker can be avoided by simply using your BBQ. Truth be told, smoking with a two-zone grilling method can offer fantastic results. Meats that require longer cooking times are best suited to smoking. This can include chicken, turkey, beef brisket and pork shoulder. Typically, larger cuts of meat will be smoked and then cut into suitable portion sizes.

When smoking, you’ll want to keep the BBQ at a constant temperature. Inconsistencies in the level of heat can result in the meat being cooked incorrectly, or not thoroughly. Smoking is performed at a relatively low temperature, within the range of 225-250℉.

How To Use A Charcoal BBQ As A Smoker

Now that we’ve established which meats should be smoked, let’s take a look into the process itself. In many ways, it is similar to a standard two-zone grilling procedure. However, adding one or two pans of water is highly advised. This will prevent the meat from drying out, keeping it juicy. Here’s a simple guide on setting up your BBQ for smoking meats:

1. Setting The Pan – To begin setting up your BBQ, place an aluminium drip pan at the base. This should fill approximately half of the BBQ.

2. Adding Your Coals – With half of your BBQ sectioned off, you can add lit coals to the other half. The easiest method of doing this, is with a chimney starter. For better performance and increased flavour, you can add some unlit coals and wood chunks on top of the hot charcoal.

3. Filling The Pan – Now, fill the aluminium pan below the grates with water. Some people use wine, beer or juice, but this has little effect on the taste. This is more personal preference however, so you can substitute water for another liquid if you wish.

4. Another Pan – Another pan can be added directly over the charcoal, on the grill grate. Again, fill this one with water.

5. Add Your Meat – After seasoning the meat to suit your preferences, place it in the space on the grate. It should be above where you placed the first pan.

6. Close The Lid – Finally, you can close the lid and wait for the meat to smoke. Keep the vents on your BBQ about 1/3 open.

Occasionally checking the temperature of your cooking area is a great idea. Remember, you’ll want to keep it at a consistent level, around 250℉. You’ll also need to regularly check the meat itself. A cooking thermometer is the perfect tool for this. When your meat reaches 185-190 Fahrenheit in the middle, it’s ready to be served.

How To Use A Charcoal BBQ As A Smoker


With the help of this article, you no longer need to spend large amounts of money on a smoker. Armed with this knowledge, you can smoke an array of meats on your BBQ. Remember to keep an eye on the temperature and always check that meats have been cooked thoroughly before eating.


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