BBQ is American food and smoke is a key element of the BBQ foods. However, it’s not necessarily easy to make BBQ on a smoker, so we’re often asked how to cook BBQ without a smoker.
Maybe you don’t have the space for a smoker, or don’t think it’s a good purchase for you. Maybe you have a smoker, but just don’t want to take the time to get it going. Whatever the reason why you are unable to make BBQ on a smoker, this post will share three ways how to cook bbq without a smoker.
Each of these three methods you can use to cook BBQ without a smoker has a specific advantage compared to the other method, but each one will turn out well-cooked food with incredible BBQ flavor. Let’s get to it!
How to Cook BBQ Without a Smoker: On A Grill
If you want to make BBQ outside AND still get real smoke on your food, but you don’t have a smoker, you can use a grill!
Gas grills are the best type of grill for this method, because they can maintain heat more consistently and evenly than a charcoal grill, but if you’re a charcoal grill master, you can also use a charcoal grill.
Here’s how to cook BBQ without a smoker outside on a gas grill:
- Turn on heat on one side of your grill. If your grill has 2 or 3 burners, use only one burner, if your grill has 4 or more burners, use two burners.
- Heat the grill to the temperature you want to cook at: 250ºF – 300ºF are most common temperatures for BBQ.
- Place a container full of wood chips or chunks directly on the burner to create smoke. There are two ways you can do this:
- Buy a purpose made smoker box like this one you can find on Amazon.
- Make your own by wrapping wood chips in aluminum foil and poking holes in it.
- Put a water pan over the heat source to create a humid cooking environment to help keep your meat tender. This step is optional, but it’s easy and helps the food taste delicious!
- Put the meat on the side of the grill with no heat and cook until it’s done!
Many people use this method and are able to make great BBQ. It’s especially useful for cooking outside when you just don’t have space for both a smoker and a grill.
Another advantage of this method is that recipes written for smokers translate almost directly to this cooking method. Depending on the space in your grill, the meat may be exposed to some direct heat, which is undesirable when cooking BBQ.
If your meat is exposed to direct heat, make sure to rotate your meat while you cook so that it evenly cooks and one side doesn’t get more cooked than the other. Turning and flipping every 30 minutes will help take care of this challenge!
How to Cook BBQ Without a Smoker: In the Oven
If you need to get BBQ cooked fast and accurately, you can cook your BBQ in the oven!
I won’t lie, if I am short on time, I like to cook baby back ribs in the oven. Ovens are precise and you can cook at a higher temperature in the oven than in a smoker. This translates to faster cook times. For this reason, you’ll need to look for recipes that are specifically written for oven cooking such as braised recipes. Here are a few:
- Bourbon Braised Brisket Recipe – an easy to follow recipe that also picks up smoky flavor notes from the bourbon cooking liquid!
- Oven Roasted Beef Brisket Recipe – a simple but delicious way to make brisket without a smoker.
- Oven Roasted Baby Back Ribs Recipe – I use this recipe a ton because it’s basically fool proof!
- Oven Roasted Pulled Pork Recipe – great for BBQ pulled pork or pulled pork for any other recipe.
- Oven Roasted Whole Chicken – this recipe can be adapted to use BBQ seasoning, then pull the chicken to use as part of a BBQ platter!
- Sheet Pan BBQ Chicken Thighs – use these chicken thighs as a BBQ entree, or roast them, pull the meat, and serve as apart of a BBQ platter.
I’m going to share three major advantages of cooking BBQ in the oven:
- It is easy to monitor your cook since you can look through the oven window without opening the oven door and letting heat release and messing up your cooking times. You can also run a temperature probe out your oven door for easy temperature monitoring.
- You can cook smaller pieces of meat in the oven than on a smoker. You don’t have as much shrinkage in an oven because it’s not as dry of a cooking environment, so you can use smaller pieces of meat. Perfect for smaller groups!
- If you have a brisket going on the smoker, you can make pulled chicken or ribs at the same time, using the oven as a second cooker!
As you can see, an oven is a great way to cook BBQ without a smoker with some unique advantages and even can be combined with BBQ cooked on the smoker to make a complete BBQ feast!
How to Cook BBQ Without a Smoker: In the Slow Cooker
If you’re looking for the most reliable, foolproof, and easy way to cook BBQ without a smoker, we suggest cooking in a slow cooker!
The set it and forget it ease of a slow cooker will turn out tender and flavorful food without much effort on your part. If you’re having a party that needs a lot of planning and prep, a slow cooker can be the helper that takes care of your cooking while you get the rest of the work done!
At the most basic, you can put 1 – 2 cups of liquid in the bottom of a slow cooker, season your meat, put it in, and then cook for low on 8 hours or high for 4 hours. The meat will be cooked and delicious, it’s that simple.
If you’d like more specific directions, here are three basic recipes you can use to make your favorite BBQ meats in your slow cooker:
Here are a few tips on how to cook BBQ in your slow cooker:
- You can use a slow cooker with a temperature probe to cook the meat to the exact right temperature. This is a nice feature of newer slow cookers, but not necessary.
- Adding liquid smoke to your cooking liquid (not our preferred method) or using a cheap whiskey as the cooking liquid will help add smokey flavor to your cooked meats!
- If you’re making a pulled meat, add some chopped onions to the cooking liquid and then toss the pulled meat in the mixture for added texture and flavor on the finished product.
If you’re looking for more resources about how to make great barbecue, you can check out these links:
- Baby Back Rib Recipes from LGCM – our recipes for our favorite ribs, including smoker recipes.
- Beef Brisket Recipes from LGCM – our collection of beef brisket, including smoker recipes.
- Pork Shoulder Recipes from LGCM – a wide variety of pork shoulder recipes, including smoker recipes and creative ways to use this affordable cut!
- 9 Great Barbecue Resources – this post shares our favorite websites, books, and more that will help you improve your BBQ!
- Learn About American BBQ Styles – this email series will send you 4 emails about different types of American BBQ – they’re not all pulled pork with tomato sauce, you know!
Thanks for reading our post about how to cook BBQ without a smoker. We hope you find the three methods of using a grill, using your oven, or turning to a trusty slow cooker effective methods to turn out great BBQ food without the smoker.
As we said, even if you have a smoker to cook your BBQ, there are occasions where you will want to use one of these methods. You can still make delicious BBQ food even without the smoker, and in many cases, it’s a good idea to use a variety of cooking methods to turn out multiple types of BBQ food!
Do you have any tips or suggestions on how to cook BBQ without a smoker? Let us know, we love talking about BBQ and we love hearing from our customers and readers. Drop a comment below with your tips, suggestions, and questions. Sharing is caring!
Have a great day, and we’ll see you soon at Lake Geneva Country Meats.