How to Build Your Own Smoker with 5 Different DIY Projects to Choose From

There's something magical about smoking meat. It takes a long time and some patience, but at the end of the day the infusion of that sweet smoke into savory meat just couldn't taste better. If you don't have a meat smoker, you could buy one of these smokers under $100. Or, you can consider making a homemade smoker with one of these DIY smoker projects.

Making a smoker from scratch might be easier than you think. In fact, most of them can be ready to use by this weekend! We compiled 5 popular plans, from easiest to more challenging, that will fit any budget and skill set. So get ready to learn how to make your own bbq smoker using these quick and easy smoker plans.

1. Clay Pot Smoker

Make Zine

This is the easiest smoker to make on the list. This plan uses a few large, terracotta flower pots to get the job done. Install a grate on the top of the pot to hold your meat and use the elements of a hotplate to heat up your wood.

You can use any wood chips available at the hardware store for this model. As a bonus: using cheap cake pans to hold your wood as it burns is a great way to keep cleanup to a minimum, too! Get the DIY smoker plans here.

2. File Cabinet Smoker


Craigslist is full of old file cabinets (because who prints out anything on paper anymore?). Take advantage of one of these contraptions by building a smoker inside. It has a drawer for your first and a few drawers for your meat (depending on how large it is).

Since it will get direct heat from the fire box, you'll need some patience and practice to learn how to regulate the heat on one of these. Get the DIY smoker plans here.

3. Ugly Drum Smoker


If you want an upgraded smoker without having to do any welding, this is the one for you. All you need for this so-called ugly drum smoker is a 55-gallon drum. You might notice that this isn't the fanciest barbecue smoker (hence, the word "ugly" in the name), but it certainly gets the job done.

After you clean up your barrel, drill some holes into it for air intake, and install brackets to hang your grill grate. The charcoal burns underneath the meat, so it's more akin to a charcoal grill than a smoker. You may find you have trouble regulating temperature in this model, but your meat will grill and smoke at the same time.

Get the DIY smoker plans here.

4. Barrel Smoker

Popular Mechanics

If you know how to weld, then you can really upgrade your barrel smoker. The design here has the wood fire separate from the grill. That means that only the smoke can access the meat, allowing you to smoke at lower temperatures than on the pit. Just make sure you're getting a food-grade barrel for this project.

Any barrel that used to contain chemicals is not a good idea (unless you're hoping to morph into a superhero, of course). Get the DIY smoker plans here.

5. Smokehouse Built from Pallets

DIY Projects

If you want to go really crazy, upgrade from your barrel smoker and build a smokehouse! This plan is really for those looking to smoke an intense amount of meat. Line the inside of the pallets with aluminum foil and install a tin roof and this 3' x 3' smokehouse will be big enough to smoke a whole animal!

Get the DIY smoker plans here.

Once you built the best backyard smoker for your needs, let's get ready to fire it up! First, choose your wood, then choose your meat. We'd definitely recommend starting with some jerky recipes, but if you want to jump right in then go for a smoked brisket. If you want to save a bit of money, check out this amazing replica recipe using beef chuck instead.

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