How to Build Your Own BBQ Smoker


A backyard smoker creates tender and extremely flavorful meat through the low-heat cooking technique called smoking. Making your own smoker is an afternoon project that will have you throwing barbecue parties in no time. While there are many types of free smoker plans available on the Internet, the cooler model is a reliable and easy place to begin. While you might think building a smoker from a plastic cooler is a fire danger, rest easy. Other popular smoker setups include cardboard boxes and old refrigerators. The smoker doesn't ever reach a high enough temperature to cause melting or food contamination via plastic.

Step 1

Cover your cake pan with aluminum foil for easy cleanup. Fill the pan with wood chips and set aside.

Step 2

Place the hot plate in the bottom of your cooler, then set the temperature to medium and feed the cord out through the top. You might need an extension cord to be able to turn the hot plate on.

Step 3

Check to make sure that your cookie sheet and roasting rack fit inside the cooler; find another size if you need to. Your cookie sheet will collect any drippings, and the roasting rack will hold the meat you're smoking.

Step 4

Place the cake pan full of wood chips on the hot plate. One full pan of wood chips should be enough to smoke the items you can fit inside this cooler.

Step 5

Insert your cake pan and roasting rack, and place the meat you wish to smoke on the rack.

Step 6

Plug the hot plate in and shut the cover on the cooler. Your meat will begin to smoke as the hot plate heats up.

Tips and Warnings

  • Always unplug your hot plate when you are finished using the barbecue smoker.

Things You'll Need

  • Large plastic cooler
  • Hot plate
  • Wood chips
  • Cookie sheet
  • Roasting rack
  • Cake pan
  • Aluminum foil


  • Barbecue Party - Homemade Smoker
Keywords: BBQ smoker, DIY smoker, build your own smoker

About this Author

Based in Northern California, Elton Dunn is a freelance writer and nonprofit consultant with 14 years' experience. Dunn specializes in travel, food, business, gardening, education and the legal fields. His work has appeared in various print and online publications. Dunn holds a Master of Fine Arts in creative writing and a Bachelor of Arts in English.

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