Love the flavor of wood-smoked barbecue? Craving mouth-watering, slow-smoked meat? Consumer Reports’ experts say you don’t need to run out and buy a smoker. A few steps and your gas or charcoal grill can handle anything from beef brisket to pulled pork and chicken.
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.
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. … 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.
The Weber Summit S-470 has a built-in smoke tray and cost $2,100. However, CR says you don’t need to spend nearly that much for a top performer.
For a lot less money, the recommended Nexgrill 720-0882A from Home Depot for $500 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 $10, you can get an aftermarket smoker box at a home center and just add wood chips directly to that.
If charcoal is more your fuel of choice, CR says the barrel-style Dyna-Glo DGN576DNC-D grill makes smoking a cinch and costs $230.
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 $1,200! 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.