How to make your own mini smoke box for an electric grill

One way to add a smokey flavor to your electric grilled food, especially when the grill is new is to use smoke chips. NOTE: Check with your grill’s manufacturer for their recommendations on if you can/should use wood chips.

When I originally bought my grill I used (pre-soaked) wood chips more, but now I find getting a reasonably smokey flavor after enough usage.

The biggest problem I found with pre-made smoke boxes is that they were too big and would take up too much space on an electric grill. Gas and charcoal grills are generally larger. Not wanting to give up precious grilling space I decided to make my own wood chip holder. Here are two simple and inexpensive options that I’ve tried.

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Wrap wood chips in double thick aluminum foil

Smoke chips in a foil packet on an outdoor electric grill

The first quick way to grill with wood chips is to simply wrap the pre-soaked wood chips in aluminum foil and put them on top of the grates. Don’t forget to punch a few holes so that the smoke can escape. Also if you’re not using extra-thick aluminum foil, double layer your foil.

Use an aluminum muffin cup

Uncovered Muffin Cup with Wood Chips

The second, fairly quick way is to cut one of the sections of a 6 muffin/cupcake disposable aluminum pan, fill it with pre-soaked chips, and top it with aluminum foil (holes punched again). You can reuse this cup multiple times, so a little greener and budget-friendly. You need to plan ahead for this one unless you happen to have one of those muffin pans on hand.

Using a muffin cup keeps things a little more organized and using your own packet from foil is easier to use a larger amount of wood chips. Depending on what you’re doing, one may work better than others. OR you could create a few of those mini cups and place them in different parts of the grill.

And one final tip

Make sure you leave enough time to let the wood chips actually start to smoke. Every time I think it will take about 5 minutes, it really needs more like 15 or 20. I grilled BBQ ribs again the other week (using the wood chip packet method from above) and even with a super hot grill, I should have put those chips on much earlier to allow them to start smoking.

How to make a mini smoke box for an electric grill