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Turn your grill into a smoker for Labor Day cookouts

Posted September 4, 2020 5:15 p.m. EDT
Updated September 4, 2020 6:16 p.m. EDT

It's easy to turn your grill into a smoker for upcoming Labor Day cookouts.

Paul Hope, a home editor with Consumer Reports, said some grills are better suited for smoking than others, such as charcoal and Kamado grills, which let you add wood chips or chunks to charcoal to get that smoky flavor.

You can smoke any meat, 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," said Hope. "Foods that are smoked for many hours actually break down slowly and become really tender.”

Even a gas grill can work if it is great at indirect heating.

"A lot of manufacturers have noticed there’s been a big spike in the interest for smoking," Hope said. "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.”

Consumer Reports recommends the Weber Summit S-470, which has a built-in smoke tray, but the less-expensive Nexgrill from Home Depot outperforms the Weber when it comes to indirect cooking and temperature range.

The Nexgrill doesn’t have a dedicated smoker box, but there's a fix for that.

"For about $10, you can get an after-market smoker box at a home center and just add wood chips directly to that," Hope said.

If charcoal grills are your top pick, Consumer Reports recommends the barrel-style grill from Dyna-Glo.

Ceramic Kamado-style grills can also take cookouts to the next level, but for a price. The top-rated Kamado Joe Classic Grill costs $1,200.

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