Make yourself an inexpensive homemade smoker

Looking for an inexpensive way to smoke your pork, ribs and chicken? You don’t have to spend a fortune to produce great barbecue! We all know that there are just three things you definitely need to smoke meat: Heat, smoke (duh!) and time. The vessel you create to house the heat and smoke can be left to your imagination.

Here are a couple of ideas to help make your own homemade smoker:

Alton Brown’s Flower Pot Smoker

I really love this idea! So simple and you can put it together rather quickly for about $60 or so — depending on what is on sale at your local hardware store or what you already have at home. That’s about 1/10th of the price of a brand new 18″ Big Green Egg. Those bad boys go for over $500 bucks (not including the stand or “nest” or other platforms used to hold it in place).

We found an article on Dave Naffziger’s blog that breaks down all the parts to this ceramic flower pot smoker. Below is Alton’s full episode where he makes his infamous flower pot smoker. By just watching Alton’s video you will pretty much know everything you need to know about building one but you can refer to Dave’s article for more in-depth instructions.

Trash Can Smoker

That’s right, you can turn a trash can into a meat smoker! Just make sure you do yourself a favor and buy a brand new trash can before trying this :-). For just around $50 bucks you can turn an ordinary metal trash can into a smoking machine! It’s pretty much the same setup as Alton’s ceramic flower pot smoker, only with a metal trash can. Here’s the lowdown on what you’ll need:

  • Trash Can w/ lid:  Approx. $12.00
  • Electric Hot Plate: Approx. $13.00
  • Grating: Approx. $10.00
  • Wood Chip Box: Approx. $10.00
  • Temperature Gauge: Approx. $9.00

All you need to do is cut a small opening near the bottom of the side of the trash can with some tin snips, put the electric hot plate on the bottom of the trash can with the wire going out of the small hole opening. Put the wood chip box on top of the hot plate with some water soaked wood chips in it, place the round grate on top and your pretty much ready to start smoking! For the lid, poke a hole for the temperature gauge to slide through and poke a couple of holes in the lid to allow the smoke to slowly escape. (images courtesy of

There are various ways to build a smoker from scratch. From cardboard smokers (which we wouldn’t really recommend for obvious reasons), to 55 gallon drum smokers to old retired refrigerator smokers. Depending on your ingenuity and tools on hand, the sky is the limit!

If you have ever built your own smoker we would love to post it here on MegaBBQ. So send in those photos and a few words describing how you built it (email address is also listed on our contact page)!

About A.J.

Owner and creator of Worked in the BBQ industry since 1987. No longer in the restaurant business, however I am enjoying experimenting at home smoking, grilling, barbecuing and writing about my experiences here on!
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