Thrifty DIY Smokers
Great things are not rushed. Time and patience is often the answer to many problems and is an often overlooked virtue. Some will believe that money is an integral part of this virtue, but they have been led astray. Save your money and you will be happy. While this may be true, it has nothing to do with grilling an amazing steak. With practice and patience, you can grill an amazing steak over a fire pit. However, you discovered that brisket tastes best by the smoker and choked on your tender bite of meat when you find out how much a smoker costs.
Even if you have $800 lying around, you’re a hunter- you didn’t buy your meat at the market, so why buy the smoker if you can make it yourself for a fraction of the cost? Here’s to doing it yourself.
Smoke your meat in a damn trashcan:
How do you smoke your meat for $60? You smoke it in a trashcan. Hold on, don’t go pulling the garbage out of your can just yet. This one is best with a quick trip to a hardware store.
Here’s what you’ll need:
Stainless Steel colander or pan without the handle
3 x 2″ Stainless Steel bolts and nuts
1 sheet of thin steel and 2 (heavy-duty) magnets
1 x 14-16″ wire racks or pizza pans that you shot a few holes in
If you are on a really tight budget, skip this next part and return your sheet of steel and magnets. It is not required to cut a hole in the side of your trash can, but is the easiest method of controlling air ventilation and adding charcoal if needed.
– Cut an 8 x 8” square hole a little lower than halfway down the can.
I used a knife since the metal is very thin. Pop four holes to mark each corner of the hole. Cut the top and sides of the hole and then bend the flap down. (If you have the tools, cut the entire square out).
– Pop 3 holes evenly around the trashcan just above where the square ventilation hole was cut. Insert each bolt into each hole and screw on the nuts.
These will hold your wire rack in place.
– Place the colander at the bottom of the can.
This is used to put the coals/wood chips in.
– Place the wire rack on top of the bolts.
– Bend the sheet of metal to fit the curve of the trashcan. Secure the curved sheet with the magnets
You have now completed your very own smoker. If you would like, buy a replacement grill thermometer. Cut a small hole in the trash can lid to put the thermometer in. That way you will be able to monitor the cooking process more precisely.
disclamer: Average Hunter did not write this article but since we are posting it on AverageHunter.com, we must inform you that galvanized cans can be harmful to your health when cooking. When the galvanized coating reaches a certain temperature, the fumes can be harmful to your health. Use these plans as an example and if possible, find an alternative non-galvanized barrel or can. Please read update at bottom with instructions on how to build with a drum barrel.
Smoke your meat in a damn flowerpot:
Ok, maybe not a flowerpot, but here’s how to make a ceramic smoker for around $50. Meat can be smoked in just about any metal barrel, keg, or trashcan, but heat retention must always be kept in mind. The better heat and smoke is contained, the more evenly your meat will be cooked. Heavy ceramic smokers are ideal for this, but are incredibly expensive. Don’t let that stop you- you’re a hunter remember? It’s time you made yourself a ceramic smoker. You can find the materials needed at your local hardware store, but buy them online if you want to optimize your thriftiness.
Here’s what you’ll need:
Two large non-lead and non-glazed planters
Round grill grate that fits the base pot
Cooking pan without the handle
Replacement grill thermometer
Electric hot plate
Make sure there are holes in the bottom of each pot. One pot will act as the lid and should properly fit the lower pot. The lower pot should be large enough to fit a round electric hot plate.
Place the electric hot plate at the bottom of the lower pot and thread the cord through the hole at the bottom of the pot.
Fill the cooking pan with wood chips and then set it on the hot plate.
The cooking pan should be one that you do not care to use again in the kitchen. Make sure you remove the handle.
Put the replacement grill thermometer in the hole of the pot acting as your lid.
Make sure the thermometer will not fit through the pot’s hole, unless you were planning on smoking a thermometer. You want it to rest on top of the hole.
Place the lid pot on to the base pot.
There you go! You can now admit to your friends that you’re a smoker and not feel bad about it. There are a plethora of recipes and guides to cooking your meat at the correct temperature on the internet and plenty of wood chip ‘flavors’ to choose from. The best method of cooking meat is unfortunately the slowest, but that is why you are a master of time and patience. You sat in that blind all day didn’t you? Happy smoking!
A reader pointed out that using a galvanized trash can is not safe for your health and that he uses a 55-gal drum instead, this was echoed by civilizedhealth.com. I made it my duty to put in some smoker research and figure out how, in the easiest way possible, to make a 55-gallon drum smoker.
Smoke your meat in a damn (safe) big-ass barrel (The ‘Ugliest’ Drum Smoker):
Bring more beer to your tailgate parties because this smoker will feed more mouths than a flimsy trash can. Also, this smoker is more advanced to construct because you can’t just cut a ventilation hole out of the side of the drum with your pocketknife. Your first step will be acquiring an UNLINED 55-gallon steel drum, preferably with a bung hole in the lid. Your best bet will be to find the nearest store that specializes in drums (they do exist). I found Malcom Reed’s Ugly Drum Smoker instructions to be the easiest and took him up on using strip magnets to cover the bottom ventilation holes instead of pipes.
There are quite a few sites on the internet that give instructions on how to build a fire basket without having to weld anything. However, do not skimp on the fire basket and substitute it with a colander or anything else for that matter. A mesh fire basket allows for optimum ventilation to the coals so your fire pit can last for quite a while.
The Ugly Drum Smoker is not the most affordable DIY smoker, but it will last a long time and yield a lot of meat at once. Good luck and happy smoking!
About The Author
Michael Redkey works with CamoTrading.com an online retailer of everything camo for the home. Since Michael recently discovered the art of smoking, he has been smoking everything from pineapple to brisket- the possibilities are endless.