Love a classic BBQ style pulled pork but only have a gas grill? Get all the techniques, tips, and tricks to turning your propane grill into a meat smoking machine to cook a pork shoulder or pork butt to perfection!
I’m all about low and slow classic BBQ, but I often find that if people own a grill it’s usually first and foremost a gas grill. While it makes sense to invest in this grilling method first, many times we all still crave and want to recreate classic smoked BBQ without having to use a charcoal grill.
You’re in luck! This post is all about the tips, tricks and helpful cooking techniques to teach you how to smoke on a gas grill and specifically how to make pulled pork a reality. If you’d love to learn more about the classic method to making a smoked pork shoulder or pork butt, check out the full recipe guide here first to get the basics down!
This recipe is not hard, but it is important to make note of a few technical components before getting started. I’ll go over how to prep and add smoke to your gas grill (there are a few methods you can use), how to set up and cook your roast on indirect heat, and how to full pull and serve your pulled pork start to finish. Let’s dive in!
Love pork!? Check out these popular Bon Appeteach fan favorites too!
- Smoker Tube or Foil Smoke Packets
- 2 Foil Pans
- Cooling Rack
- Thermometer Probe for Smoking
- Tongs/ Oven Mitts as needed
Here is a break down of common questions to help you have a positive grilling experience! For reference, I am using a 36″ Lynx All Trident stainless steel grill for this cook. Any standard, multi-burner propane grill will work for this recipe.
Can you use a gas grill to smoke meat?
Yes! While it may not be a traditional method for low and slow BBQ there are a handful of techniques and ways to apply smoke to meat on a gas grill. Here a few methods I utilize-
- Using a Smoke Tube or Smoker Box- A smoke tub or smoker box allows you to manipulate and move the lit wood pellets or wood chip blend easily from a small grill proof mental box. I used a smoker box that comes as an accessories to my Lynx gas grill, but I also love how affordable this model is from Amazon!
This works by lighting the tube (or using the heat from a direct burner) to ignite and slowly burn your pellets, emitting smoke into the grill. It’s important to close the lid of your grill and not open it often when using a smoker tube to hold in as much smoke as possible.
- Foil Packets with Wood Chips- If you want to smoke without a smoking tube or box, you’re in luck! You can do this by simply making several foil packets full or wood chips (check out Christie’s tutorial I linked) to light for smoke instead.
This works best when you place the aluminum foil packet of wood chips over a direct heat source. It allows the chips to slowly burn. Make sure you poke a few holes in the top of the foil packet for the smoke to escape, while also allowing a small and steady amount of air into the packet to keep the wood burning (but not too fast).
You will have to periodically (every 1-2 hours) change out the pellets or wood chunks as they will burn out. Have this prepped and ready on hand as needed to max out the benefits of adding smoke flavor to your meat.
Do I need to soak wood chips before smoking them?
No! Despite popular advice, you do not want wet wood your wood chips for smoking. Water means moisture, and moisture that is heated means steam. While this indeed prolongs the “smoking” process, it doesn’t actually create smoke until the water evaporates. Thus not actually smoking anything at all.
You want to avoid adding steam to your meat, so instead use dry wood or wood pellets per the outline of smoking methods listed above. I prefer these wood chips and these wood pellets when using these methods.
How do I prep my gas grill for smoking?
Most gas grills will have the ability to set it for two zone cooking (aka direct heat and indirect heat). I go in depth regarding this popular cooking method with this Free BBQ Basics Guide. Sign up to get the free guide straight to your email!
My gas grill has three burners, yours may have two, three, or maybe even four depending on the make, size, and model. The goal here is to heat one side of the grill only while leaving the other side cooler.
Pre-heat your grill to high heat to start with one burner. Then adjust and dial in the temperature as needed. My grill was able to maintain a low temperature of 250 F. with the left burner all the way on low. Shoot to keep your grill temp between 225 F- 250 F. for this cook.
Preparing and smoking your Boston butt roast on the grill:
Here are some key tips for getting the best results when making pulled pork on your gas grill.
- Go with a smaller pork butt roast for this cook. Stick to a roast under 4 lbs. Full pork butts and shoulders can take 16-20+ hours of cooking. This will take you roughly 8 hours instead and it still produces a lot of meat.
- Remove the Boston butt roast from the fridge a few hours prior to grilling. This helps bring it closer to room temperature and will help it cook a little faster on the gas grill.
- When the meat hits a stall (usually around 165 F. ) you will want to wrap it to get it to cook faster. Cover the roast in foil and wrap it up in the pan with the probe still inserted.
- Pulled pork becomes tender enough for pulling around 195 F. Typically it will be best closer to and internal temperature 200-205 F. Insert a probe into the meat to check tenderness.
Tips for holding, serving, and re-heating pulled pork:
- When your pork is done, remove it from the grill and cover the foil wrapped roast in a kitchen towel and place in a cooler to rest for 1-2 hours before pulling.
- Pull with your hands (I wear gloves) for easiest results. This helps you break it up and remove any large pieces of un-rendered fat.
- Serve with your favorite barbecue sauce (I like this healthier keto style AKA sugar free Caroline gold sauce recipe) and this dill pickle coleslaw as a side! Have leftover pork? Try my KC style hot dog or these delicious pulled pork tacos!
- 1, 3-4 lb. Pork Butt Roast (smaller cuts work best for gas grilling and still take roughly 8-10 hours so plan accordingly)
- BBQ Dry Rub (of choice)
- 2-3 tbsp. Mustard (or other binder of choice)
If you're newer to grilling and have never smoked a pork butt, you may want to read through my guide on traditional slow smoked pork butt first. This will give you a base knowledge of what you're working with! If not, check out the post above and dive in!
Start by removing your pork butt roast from your fridge 1-2 hours before you plan on smoking it. This helps bring it up to a slightly warmer temperature before getting it on the grill.
Prep your pork butt by scoring the fat cap (if yours has one), lightly coating the entire roast in a binder (I use yellow mustard) and then covering it generously in a spice dry rub you prefer. Set it aside on a cooling rack over a foil pan.
Set our grill for "two-zone" cooking. Heat only one of your burners and prepare your smoke tube or wood chip packets. I go in-depth in the post above regarding these two methods to help walk you through this. You will need to replace your smoking method a handful of times throughout your cook to get enough smoke flavor into your food (so read the notes above)!
Get the grill to hold a steady temperature of 225-250 F. For me this was lighting my far left burner to high initially, then I reduced it fully to low and it held steady around 250 F. Dial in your grill (they are all slightly different).
Place your smoking method over the direct heat, place a pan full of water (this helps keep the pork moist) and the pan with your pork onto the cooler side of your grill (fat cap side closer to the heat source).
Keep your grill closed as much as possible and let it smoke. Use a smoker friendly thermometer to watch the temperature. Spray the bark with water as needed and check your smoke every hour or so.
When your pork butt hits 160-165 F. Place it fully in the foil pan and wrap the entire pan tightly in foil. This will help you get passed the stall and will speed the cooking process up a bit. You can stop infusing with smoke around this point (it took about 4 hours to get to this point with a 4lb pork butt).
Pulled pork is best when the roast hits between 195-205 F. When you insert the thermometer probe it should feel like softened butter and easily go into the meat. Pull from the grill and let it rest a bit before shredding.
To shred, remove the bone (if it's a bone in roast) and pull it. Pulling by hand is my favorite method because I can also feel any larger pieces of fat that didn't render and remove it (wear gloves).
Serve it up with your favorite sides and this Carolina gold style mustard sauce! Enjoy!
This is not a hard cook, but it is slightly technical. Please read through this post and my longer guide to help you have the best results! Leave a comment or rating too to let me know how yours turned out. Thanks!
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 1260Total Fat: 87gSaturated Fat: 32gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 46gCholesterol: 397mgSodium: 526mgCarbohydrates: 4gNet Carbohydrates: 3gFiber: 1gSugar: 3gProtein: 108g