How to Get a Charcoal Taste with a Gas Grill?

get charcoal taste with gas grill

Are you a gas grill owner? And still, you like the taste of charcoal grill? Would you love to have it but do not want to leave the gas grill’s convenience? Then the only question remains: how to get a charcoal taste with a gas grill?

In this case, this guide will be the one you are looking for. Here, you will find all you need to know. You see, getting that smoky taste and the dense flavor is challenging. Still, it’s very possible, even to a great extent.  

All you need to do is understand the keys behind the taste and then imitate it into your gas grill. Hence, we are going to do just that. So, hop in, follow along, and let’s get started! 

Understanding the Charcoal Taste

Gas can give you an instance of ease. But charcoal gives you the flavor, a smoky flavor that is rich and dense. You may still be wondering, can you get charcoal flavor with a gas grill for real. 

Well, under the right conditions, the answer is yes. Now, let's see how it works. 

We all know it's the smoke that brings the smoky taste. And the next key element is the charcoal heat. The charcoal grill gets much hotter than gas. Almost up to double at the highest. 

Actually, the fat dripping into the charcoal flames at higher temperatures is the flavor's real source. Besides, the burning wood adds up to that too. On the contrary, you can't just get the gas grill hot enough.

The way the heat is distributed is also different. It's uneven, unlike gas. In brief, this is how to get the charcoal taste & flavor with a gas grill

Let’s Bring the Charcoal Taste & Flavor in Gas Grill

Now that we had our head around the key elements, it’s time to apply them in our gas grill. So, we can mimic that same flavor. Here is how you get the gas grill to that taste level,

1. Create the Smoke 

Create the Smoke

The first step on how to get charcoal taste with gas grill is creating the smoke. So, let’s add the smoke to your gas grill. You can use either mesquite or wood chips smoker boxes to do that.

Mesquite or hardwood

Whether you take some mesquite, oak, or any other hardwood, it will do. You want to chunk them in the same sizes as your palms. The chunks should be about three-quarters to nearly one inch thick. Then, soak them in good creek water for almost about half an hour.

Not put some of those wood pieces into your gas grill for about 10 to 15 minutes. Put the gas on high. Check in-between at least once and spray some water if any of the pieces catches direct fire. Heat them up good till some good amount of smoke starts coming out. 

When that happens, with them on the gas just put your meat or the food you are grilling. They are ready to provide you with the smoky taste you are looking for.

Wood Chips Smoker box

A wood chips smoker box is another source of consistent steady smoke. All you need to do is to seal some wood chips in a foil packet. Then you place it on your gas grill. However, that is not all. 

Before you jump into foiling the chips they need to be water-soaked for at least 15 minutes. To make one smoker box or packet 2 cups of wood chips would be enough. You can use any type of wood chips you want. However, different types of chips such as apple, cherry, hickory, etc. have their own slight distinctions on flavor.

You have to drain them next. Take about a 12 by 10inch foil. Now wrap the drained chips with the aluminum foil and make about an 8 by 4inch smoker box. Make sure no holes are poked in the sides or at the bottom of the packet by the chips.

In addition to that make another box but this time out of dry, not soaked chips. Now, you have to make a pair of 2inch slits on the top of each of the boxes. Then just place both the boxes on the primary burner of your gas grill.

This is how you ensure the wood-fired smoky charcoal test out of your gas-fired grill.

2. Imitate the Heating

Imitate the charcoal Heating

It’s time to properly set the heat of your gas-fired grill. By setting I meant mimicking the heat of the charcoal. Again, the heat in the charcoal grill is substantially higher and unevenly distributed. So, this is the second step on how to get charcoal test on gas grill. Hence, we will try and imitate both.

Now, to make the gas-heat a little uneven simply adjust the burners. Set the fire output at different parts to different levels. Make it a random combination of higher and lower temperature output. 

Next, you need to build the temperature up. Before you put the steak or beef to be grilled, building the heat is crucial. Especially the initial temperature. You can use either a baking sheet or tin foil for that. 

Put any one of them on the gas grill and shut the lid. Let the heat build-up. When it is really high, quickly replace that with the beef or anything that you want to grill. You will witness some beautiful char and testy charcoal flavor getting ready.

3. Keep It Covered  

Keep the gas grill Covered

As you created the smoke, built the heat you are almost through. Now the third task on how to get charcoal taste from gas bbq or grill is to keep it all together. Unlike a charcoal-fired grill, you need to keep the lid cover on. Therefore, do not open the lid unnecessarily. 

Keep it on the whole time. Only open when you really need to. Like to put something on the grill or check how grilling is coming. Still, avoid checking randomly.

It will help you in two ways. First, the heat will be maintained at high. Second, the smoke will really be able to mix more.

So, let it be covered and you will see the improvement.  

4. Be Aware of the Timing 

be Aware of the Timing

Last but not least you have to be mindful of the timing. You see, it is overall very crucial. Not only from start to finish of the grilling but also beyond that. Like you have to soak the hardwood or chips for a minimum amount of time. Then preheat the chunks and the grill itself later. 

Besides, often one single smoker box of chips may burn out in a certain amount of time. You have to be careful about those extra details too and change one box to the next in time.

Most importantly depending on all the conditions you have to grill it for an optimal amount of time. So, it does not get overcooked or remain undercook. Therefore, maintaining time, in general, is very important to have a perfect taste.

So, overall you have to have a clear idea about what you are grilling. Likewise, if you can show mastery on maintaining the time smoothly everything will come along like a piece of cake. 

In brief, these are the four best tips that get you the taste of charcoal grilling except in your gas grill. Though it’s not bona fide but not any less either. 


When you are talking about grilling, the biggest debate probably is gas vs. charcoal? With gas, of course, you have a finer degree of temperature control. It’s clean, quick, efficient, and also better for the environment. 

Then again, the counter-argument is ‘for taste charcoal is best'. This is where the gas and charcoal grill owners start to get a little scrappy. And for good reasons, they all have their points.

Yet, quite fortunately, there is a middle ground too. That is getting the best from both. This is where it comes to our query on how to get charcoal taste with gas grill? That we have discussed here at your convenience. You can just follow along and have the taste you like on your very own gas-fired grill. 

There you have the capacity of enjoying the charcoal flavor without leaving the ease of gas. So, take what suits you best, grill with comfort & elegance, and finally enjoy your delicacy. Bone apatite, it's grilling time! Happy grilling!