The process to smoke a potato is essentially the same as smoking meat. It involves low heat, indirect cooking and flavoring with wood smoke. You can use, and get great results with, several types of backyard cooking equipment to smoke a potato, including vertical smokers, gas grills and charcoal grills.
Things You'll Need
- Smoking wood
- Wood trip tray or aluminum foil (optional)
- Vegetable brush or sponge
- Salt and pepper
- Olive oil
Setting Up a Vertical Smoker
Soak smoking wood chips in water for at least 30 minutes before cooking.
Set up a vertical smoker for low heat smoking -- approximately 250 degrees Fahrenheit for cooking potatoes, based on the instructions for your model. Vertical smokers run on several different fuel types -- electric, gas or charcoal -- and have varying configurations.
Fill the wood chip tray and start the smoker. Once the wood chips start to smoke and your smoker stabilizes to approximately 250 F, you are ready to begin cooking.
Setting Up a Gas Grill
Soak the smoking wood chips in water for at least 30 minutes before cooking.
Light the grill and turn all the burners to high. Once the grill is heated, clean the cooking grate with a wire grill brush.
Turn off the gas for one-half of your grill, leaving the other side’s burners on high. Place the wood chips in a smoker box, or in an aluminum foil pouch punctured with several holes, and set it over the high heat burner or burners.
Reduce the high burners down to medium once the chips begin to smoke.
Setting Up a Charcoal Grill
Remove the top cooking grate from the grill and light the charcoal.
Move the charcoal to one side of the bottom of your grill, once the charcoal is blazing. On the other side, place a large aluminum foil pan filled with water.
Replace the top cooking grate, wait for several minutes and scrape it clean with a wire brush. Once the charcoal fully ashes over and is a light, pale orange, spread the wood chips over the top of the coal. If you prefer, use several wood chunks by carefully lifting the cooking grate using tongs or heat-proof gloves and placing several water-soaked chunks directly on the hot coals.
Adjust the vents on the top and bottom of the grill to partially open. Once the wood begins to smoke -- you should be able to smell the difference between burning, smoking wood and charcoal -- you are ready to cook.
Cooking the Potatoes
Clean and scrub the potatoes using a clean vegetable brush or sponge to remove any dirt or debris from the exterior. Do not to remove the skin of the potato.
Prick the potatoes several times with a fork.
Rub the potatoes with olive oil and season them with salt, pepper, garlic and other seasonings of your choice.
Place the potato on the cool part of the gas or charcoal grill, away from the direct heat of the lit burners or coals. For smokers, follow the manufacturer’s directions for proper grilling grate placement for low-heat cooking.
Cook the potatoes for approximately 60 to 90 minutes, or more, until they are tender and give when squeezed. The finished consistency should be similar to a fully cooked baked potato. Cooking times will vary greatly based on the size of the potatoes.
Tips & Warnings
- Most common smoking woods will work well for smoking potatoes. You may want to avoid hickory as its sweet, strong flavors are more suited for heavy, fatty meats.
- The best potatoes for smoking are either baking potatoes, such as Russets and Peruvian blue potatoes, or Yukon Gold potatoes.
- Even with low heat and little fat on the grill, you should never leave a lit grill unattended.
- How to Grill; Steven Raichlen
- Idaho Potato: Smoked Idaho Potatoes
- Photo Credit Stockbyte/Stockbyte/Getty Images