Homemade Smoker Ideas for DIY Smokers That Are Easy, Affordable to Build

Smoking, no doubt, is an ancient tradition or practice, right? In prehistoric times, smoking food was a part of everyday cooking. So at the most basic level, smoking meat is simply cooking salted, seasoned meat over slow and smoky fire. But then why are we talking about a homemade smoker at this point?

If you go to a smokehouse, any smokehouse in the world, you’ll see that not every place has the same style or even size of smoker. Even when buying online, there are plenty of options available. And maybe for some reason, probably because of the expensive price tag, you can’t purchase one of these commercial units, then what?

That’s when you think of building your very own do-it-yourself smoker. In that case, keep in mind that some projects are pretty straightforward and easy to build (at the max., a single day’s job) while there are a few which may take a couple of days. My goal here is to present you with both options, so you can choose based on your convenience.

But first, let’s talk about something not very widely known…

The Different Smoking Techniques

When it comes to smoking, there are 2 primary methods. Namely, cold smoking and hot smoking. Both techniques have a different setup and they don’t produce the same results. Even the safety concerns of the food are different.

A quick distinction – with hot smoke, you can expect the cooking of the meat. On the other hand, cold smoking means not cooking the meat i.e. raw meat but you get that perfect smoky flavor.

Hot Smoking

Hot Smoking

I think I don’t need to tell you that hot smoking is what’s been a part of our culture for the longest time. And I think it’s mainly because hot smoking is accompanied by the least likelihood of food-borne diseases. After all, the smoke created by the fire and the meat are enclosed together in the chamber.

Plus, the whole smoker is heated really well in order to cook the raw meat. This applies to all kinds of smokehouses – from the traditional 17th-century models to the latest, more advanced barbecue grills.

Hot smoking is a slow method indeed, because of the low-heat setting. Speaking of which, the temperature should be between 180 and 250 degrees Fahrenheit. You can check the temperature of the fully cooked meat with the help of a meat thermometer in case the cooking process takes longer than anticipated, which is only normal.

Just remember that the longer you allow the meat to smoke, the more intense and savory the flavor is going to be.

Cold Smoking

Cold Smoking

Obviously, with cold smoking, the methods AND concerns involved are different. The meat here remains raw, which means all harmful microbes present in the meat are not killed during the cooking process. Instead you keep the meat under 41 degrees for halting the growth of bacteria.

Now you can cold smoke all sorts of meat but it’s highly advisable to cook the meat before eating unless it’s fresh fish.

Although this is a very tricky smoking technique because you have to ensure the meat is smoking without its temperature increasing. In simple words, cold smoking is done best in a refrigerator or even a mini-fridge with the smoke element piped into the thing.

Our ancestors used to cold smoke fish using two separate underground chambers. One would have the fire. And then a pipe for cooling the smoke produced by the fire gradually was connected through the ground into the second chamber, which is where all the meat was contained. This perfect low-heat ambient temperature would keep the smoke and meat cool.

Now comes the downside to using meat smokers in general, irrespective of what kind they are. Whether you’re using a commercial or homemade meat smoker, there is going to be an excess release of carbon monoxide. Hence, setting up your smoker in a well-ventilated space or outdoors is a MUST.

Also, consuming smoked food on a regular basis or more frequently is not the healthiest idea.

22 DIY Homemade Smoker Ideas

It’s time to get the creative juices flowing, so you can build your very own meat smoker for all the social gatherings, get-togethers, and parties you wish to host.

1. Cardboard Smoker

Cardboard Smoker

This whole cardboard smoker guide is a brilliant idea you won’t take time to fall in love with for the sheer joy of devouring delicious smoked food at home.

It does seem slightly unusual but then it’s such an affordable and easily available option that you simply have to try it out if you don’t want to spend a fortune just to install a smoking station in your backyard.

2. Building A Smokehouse

How to build a smoker, a legitimate smokehouse, is surely is a process that you won’t be able to complete in a day. A small, compact smoker in your backyard is more than enough for satisfying your cravings. But what about those of your friends, loved ones, and guests?

In the case of smoking a larger quantity of food, consider building your very own homemade version of a smokehouse for that. No denying it’s going to be a challenging task, but nobody said it was impossible!

3. DIY Woodstove Smoker

Would you find the whole idea of making your own DIY smoker even more exciting if that smoker could do both hot and cold smoking? If yes, it’s time to construct this highly efficient and useful unit.

The process, as demonstrated in this video very thoroughly, is quite plain and simple. The instructions in video format, which is even more helpful when it comes to building such a thing on your own, are quite elaborate. So there’s no chance you should be feeling intimidated to build a DIY woodstove meat smoker.

4. DIY Filing Cabinet Smoker

It’s just so fascinating how people use the most basic stuff to create a product like a meat smoker. I’m talking about this DIY filing cabinet smoker that requires a budget of not more than only $35.

And the installation, if you read the comments section of the video on YouTube, is nothing but sturdy, thus highly durable. Building a DIY smoker for your favorite meats using a mere filing cabinet does sound like a crazy idea but it’s also a creative and practical one for sure.

5. DIY Smoker/Grill Station

DIY Smoker

If you already have an old grill but want to upgrade your setup to create an entirely new smoker and grill station in your backyard, this undertaking is for you. Just head to the nearest Walmart since they have a broad range of grills, smokers, etc., even affordable models as a matter of fact.

6. DIY Offset Smoker

Why buy even a cheap-priced and low-quality smoker and constantly have to keep a check on the temperature to ensure stable cooking of the meat when you can do this – a DIY offset smoker!

Rescue a hot water tank (120-liter capacity) and turn it into a luxury smoker indeed. You also need 0.2 inches or 5 mm of hot rolled steel sheet. Why spend $2,000 when you can fashion your own version in the form of this DIY offset smoker! Just be extra careful with the power tools during the DIY process.

7. $5 DIY Meat Smoker

$5, really? Is that actually possible? If they could do it, so can you!

No doubt, this DIY project for building a meat smoker on your own is the most inexpensive option there is. And it also goes without saying that the results are not going to be the most ideal. But as a budget-friendly approach to hot smoking, it’s a perfect choice.

8. DIY Flower Pot Grill and Smoker

How about using a large-sized flower pot for designing a smoker that’s bound to fill up the tummy of your social circle! It’s a very simple DIY plan that, when ready, can smoke ribs in around 2.5 hours the most deliciously.

9. DIY Clay Pot Smoker

Just use a clay pot instead of a flower pot, but make sure it’s large. This is the most basic DIY idea actually perfect for those new to building stuff on their own. So if it’s your first attempt, you don’t have to worry much because it’s least likely that anything will go wrong with a small, simple DIY project like this that’s certainly worth checking out if you loved everything about hot-smoked meat.

10. DIY Drum Smoker

DIY Drum Smoker

Surprisingly, you don’t need much to construct a DIY drum smoker. Plus, only a few hours are enough for completing the project that begins from scratch.

With a homemade version like this, it becomes possible to try out different flavors and woo your loved ones. Although just the mere fact that you built this DIY drum smoker is an impressive act on your part already!

You only have to understand the right temperature, cooking time, cut of meat, and also the most suitable wood to use as that, no doubt, has an impact on the final taste of your meat.

11. DIY Concrete Kamado Smoker

Just 5 minutes are enough for building this amazing concrete Kamado-style meat smoker, which is both affordable and simple to make. And what’s even more enticing is that you require zero tools for the job!

In the comments section, praises and only praises are showered in abundance, which is proof of just how effective and downright brilliant this DIY barbecue project really is.

12. DIY Budget Smoker

More often than not, minimal cost and functional meat smokers don’t go hand in hand. But there are always exceptions, like this DIY meat smoker on a budget. Obviously, expecting it to perform like real smokers is a notion that should not be entertained. Nevertheless, this DIY version is definitely a great choice for those who can’t afford to buy expensive models.

You need aluminum foil baking pans, stainless steel cooling rack, searing grates, and more. Here’s the whole process that takes not more than 5 minutes to build.

13. Building A Backyard Smoker

Building A Backyard Smoker

How to make a smoker for your backyard? Now I know that traditional meat smoking is carried out in a proper brick pit. But then there are all kinds of commercial smokers available in this day and age – both budget-friendly sheet metal models and heavy-duty stainless steel smokers.

If you’ve used one of those inexpensive, small-scale sheet metal water smokers, then you might not require any convincing in terms of building your own version of a backyard smoker. However, the project at hand demands an experienced welder. So if you do welding, even at the most basic level, then go ahead and take on this DIY project.

And once you finish constructing your very own backyard smoker, you’ll have built a unit bound to last for many, many years.

14. DIY Meat Smoker for Beginners

DIY Meat Smoker for Beginners

Not every DIY has to be a complicated task, right? So if you’re a newbie to the whole rewarding concept of DIY, this beginner-friendly process of creating your own smoker at home is for you. And even though beginner-friendly, don’t expect your smoked meat to be any short of utterly delicious.

The one who crafted this DIY process is someone extremely fond of smoked meats. And it was his love for the smoked flavors itself that made him transform an ugly and old drum smoker into what you see here.

15. 55-Gallon DIY Drum Smoker

All you have to do is purchase two 55-gallon steel drums off Craigslist. This should solve your problem since most commercial smokers out there are either too expensive or too small, right? However, the process might be a little too complicated. But then the video demonstration takes you a long way and ensures that the DIY job gets done right.

It’s the perfect budget-friendly version of a large meat smoker. And to be honest, the process is pretty simple once you understand what’s happening, so achieving the same results is not such a hassle.

16. Homemade Meat Smoker Under $20

Charcoal on one side and wood chips placed in an aluminum pan – a simply perfect cold and hot area to grill with a delicious smoked flavor. So that’s the kind of experience you’re dealing with here. And it suits a limited budget (under $20 is budget-friendly indeed).

DIY projects like these are proof of the fact that you can build your personal smoker without having to spend more than $20. So no need to purchase expensive smokers when you can make something of decent quality on your own!

17. Ordinary Grill to DIY Barbecue Smoker

Ordinary Grill to DIY Barbecue Smoker

Not game for building a thing like a meat smoker from scratch? Well, that’s completely alright because if you already own a conventional grill, you can just convert the thing into a DIY barbecue smoker.

I mean if you have a grill already, then I don’t need to tell you how much of a useful tool heat is. And the fact that there are plenty of ways for harnessing this heat seems more delightful with a charcoal grill. So how about you smoke your meat in a smoker-less manner!

18. DIY Smokehouse Under $100

An actual, albeit homemade, smokehouse for less than $100? Yes, that is very much a doable thing. And here’s how.

Making a smokehouse using minimal cost is the reason why there are DIY enthusiasts in the world. Because nowadays all sorts of things can be undertaken as a DIY project!

For this one, all you need are pieces of discarded or scrap wood lying around in your garage or home. Along with some other such materials and items around your yard or farm.

19. Custom-Built Smoker

This solid smoker design is certainly one that’s more permanent than any of the DIY iterations discussed so far. As for how well does the smoker work, all the deliciousness of the smoked flavors shall do the talking indeed.

You can easily build it a size bigger. You can even replace those cinder blocks that are placed over the firebox and just add a detachable thick steel plate (1/4 inches). Then install the grill grate below that. With this approach, the firebox can be used as a large-size grill when not smoking.

20. Trash Can Smoker

The guide to trash can smoking is just the perfect way of turning a hot plate paired with an aluminum waste bin into an electric smoker. The process involves drilling holes, but then you’ll be done building it in only half an hour and with as little money as just $50.

21. DIY Cinderblock and Wood Smokehouse

How about actually smoking your favorite meats and foods using a custom-built, more permanent smokehouse? A generously spaced smoking area that doesn’t cost a fortune to build. And all these benefits with the use of simple elements like a cinder block base.

The smoking space is so large that you can smoke large sausages, large pieces of beef or ham, and even whole carcasses.

22. DIY Propane Tank Smoker

Do you happen to own an expired propane tank (100 pounds)? If yes, you’re in luck because that means you can turn the thing into a meat smoker.

Don’t forget to build some meat protection by using a large-sized water bowl and round-shaped metal plate over that fire for retaining moderate heat and protecting the meat during the smoking process.

That’s All For Now!

With a cooking technique like smoking, you make the meat taste even more delicious and succulent. The sad part, however, is that high-quality, heavy-duty mainstream smokers cost an arm and a leg. But then there is great news – you can build a meat smoker with your own two hands and with plenty of basic materials.

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