This smoker box wins points for being sturdy and resisting warping, which is an issue with other brands. The thick stainless steel also conducts and retains heat well, producing good smoke that lasts.
This smoker box has a flat bottom and is designed to sit on top of the grill rather than underneath it. Despite the claims that the thicker stainless steel construction won't warp, some users complain that it did.
This inexpensive smoker box is well made, easy to use, and easy to clean. Because of its small size, it doesn't hog grill space but holds enough wood chips to produce good flavor.
This box tends to discolor badly with use, which doesn't affect it's functioning, but makes it unsightly. It's made of thinner stainless steel than some of the other models, so it doesn't hold heat as well.
This smoker box is sturdy and works well on a gas-powered barbecue grill. It heats up fairly quickly and produces good, lasting smoke. It even works well on an electric grill.
This smoker box tends to warp and rust fairly quickly. It's also on the small side, which means it won't hold too many wood chips at a time.
This well-designed smoker box gets props for being one of the few v-shaped models available, which makes it able to fit under the rack of a gas grill.
It may rust and warp. Because it sits under the grill, putting the chips closer to the heat source, the chips burn up quickly and require replenishing. The fact that it is positioned underneath the grill makes replenishing awkward.
A top-selling smoker box from a quality brand is made from sturdy stainless steel. Won't rust, discolor, or warp. Hinged lid makes it easy to lift the lid with tongs and replenish the wood chips when its hot.
Even thoroughly soaked wood chips sometimes burn quickly, not lasting long enough for foods that need longer smoking times.
We recommend these products based on an intensive research process that's designed to cut through the noise and find the top products in this space. Guided by experts, we spend hours looking into the factors that matter, to bring you these selections.
Grilling is a great way to cook meat and other foods, but grilled chicken, steak, and other barbecue favorites can lack that smoky “char” taste you get from smoking. You could shell out a considerable amount of money to buy a new grill with a built-in smoker, or you could even buy a dedicated smoker. An easier solution is to pick up a barbecue smoker box.
A barbecue smoker box is a simple metal add-on that you can fill with wood chips or pellets and place in or on your grill to impart a smoky flavor. The best smoker boxes last for years, clean up easily, and fit your grill.
In this buying guide, we highlight the considerations to keep in mind as you shop for the perfect barbecue smoker box.
A barbecue smoker box is subjected to a fair amount of heat, so it needs to be durable. You’ll need to choose between a stainless steel or cast iron box.
Stainless steel: The majority of barbecue smoker boxes are made of stainless steel. The steel may be brushed for better heat distribution, or it may be stamped to ward off warping. Regardless of the type of stainless steel you choose, you can feel good knowing that the box will resist rust, corrosion, and staining. The thicker the steel, the better it will hold up (not warp) when exposed to heat. Thicker steel conducts and retains heat better, too, which can provide a more consistent smoke.
Cast iron: While less common and generally more expensive than stainless steel, there are some cast iron barbecue smoker boxes on the market. Cast iron is more durable than steel, and when properly cared for, it will last a lifetime. Cast iron heats slowly and retains heat better than steel, which can lead to a longer smoke time with fewer wasted chips or pellets. Cast iron can also be used on a wider variety of grills.
If you cook with propane, you can use just about any barbecue smoker box. This is not the case if you cook with charcoal, though. Because a charcoal grill can burn much hotter than a gas grill, some smoker boxes, particularly those made of thin steel, can warp. Reinforced steel usually fares well with charcoal, but to be safe, go with a cast iron smoker box if charcoal is your go-to grilling fuel.
If you’ve got your eye on a particular smoker box and want to know what type of grill you can use it with, check with the manufacturer or seller. All smoker boxes are rated for certain types of fuel, and this information should be readily available to you.
While none of them are overly large, barbecue smoker boxes vary in size. If you have a larger grill, this probably won’t be an issue, but if you have a compact grill, you will need to find a smoker box with compact dimensions.
Measure your grill carefully to verify that a box will fit. This is particularly important if you plan to place the box under the grate. If this is your goal, be sure to measure the distance between the burner shields and the bottom of the grates and compare that with the height of the box.
One benefit of a smaller smoker box is that it will take up less grill space. If you’re cooking for a crowd, you’ll appreciate this. On the downside, a smaller smoker box holds fewer chips or pellets, which may result in you having to refill it in the middle of grilling.
Always clean your smoker box after using it. This is usually as simple as dumping out the ashes and wiping the interior with a cloth. Some smoker boxes have a nonstick coating that protects it from rust and makes it easier to clean. Any charred bits that stick to the inner surface of the box can be removed with grease-cutting soap and warm water.
In terms of the exterior, some smoker boxes char easier than others. Try to remove as much of this as you can with soap and water, so it won’t build up over time.
The majority of barbecue smoker boxes are rectangular, but some take other shapes. The most common alternative shape is the V shape. This box is (usually) placed under the grates and between the burner shields. A V-shaped smoker box provides a great way to free up space while allowing the flames to evenly heat the chips or pellets from two sides.
Some smoker box pans have holes in the bottom. While holes or vents are important on the sides or top of the box to let smoke out, holes in the bottom can let ash escape and cause the wood chips or pellets to catch fire, which can greatly lessen your smoking time.
The majority of smoker boxes will have a hinged lid with holes or vents. The more holes or vents in the lid, the more smoke you will produce. The lid should be secure enough that it won’t easily open or fall off, yet it should be easy to open so you can add pellets or chips while the grill is on.
While not standard, some smoker boxes come with extras that can help you to start smoking right out of the box. These can include the following:
Sample wood chips or pellets: High-end barbecue smoker boxes sometimes include samples of different types of pellets or wood chips for you to try.
Recipe collections: While the internet abounds with smoking recipes, it’s sometimes helpful to get a recipe right away so you can immediately start your smoking journey.
Brush: A brush is sometimes included to help with cleanup.
Inexpensive: Some barbecue smoker boxes cost less than $10. These boxes tend to be small and are usually made of thin stainless steel. This type of box is best for light use on a gas grill.
Mid-range: Between $15 and $20, you will find larger boxes made of better-quality steel. Often, these pricier boxes can be used with a wider range of fuels.
Expensive: For $20 and up, you will find quality smoker boxes made of thick steel or cast iron. Some of these boxes come with a lifetime warranty, and many include extras such as a recipe book, sample chips or pellets, and cleansing aids.
Q. How many chips or pellets should I put in the smoker box?
A. This can vary for a number of reasons, including the size of your smoker box, how long you’re planning to smoke, and even how the box is positioned on your grill.
A decent rule of thumb is to fill the smoker box about half full with chips or pellets. Arrange them in a flat layer in the box so they receive even heat. With a half-full box, you won’t be wasting chips or pellets, and you will have the option of adding more later.
You should also consult any documentation that came with the smoker box for manufacturer recommendations.
Q. Can I use a smoker box in my kitchen oven?
A. No. A barbecue smoker box is designed to be used on or in your outdoor grill. The indirect heat of an indoor oven would probably not be enough to generate much smoke from a smoker box. Even if you were to place the box close enough to the flame or heating element, the resulting smoke would quickly drive you out of your house.
Q. Can I use a smoker box to smoke cheese?
A. Generally not, although some claim to have a design that can be used for this purpose. Because cheese has a low melting point, you will need to use a cold-smoking method to smoke it. The Kaduf Pellet Smoker offers a slow smoldering tray system that produces “cold” smoke over several hours, which is the perfect environment for cold-smoking cheeses and other foods.