How to Build a Smoker

Updated February 21, 2017

Nothing is better than a barbecue. Whether it's with friends and family, out camping or even in the parking lot of your favorite teams stadium, barbecue is as American as apple pie. But what you might not have known is that the slowest, most tender way to cook your meat is not over a grill, but in a smoker! Here are a few ways to make your very own smoker out of...a trash can!

Purchase and gather supplies. For this little project (which will cost around $50), you will need the following: metal trash can with lid, electric hot plate, grating, a wood chip box, an extension cord and a meat temperature gauge.

Drill a hole into the side of the trash can near the bottom. Be sure to use a drill bit made for metal and to also file down the edges, so your power cord will not get cut.

Place the hot plate on the bottom of the trash can, snaking the cord through the hole that you just drilled.

Fill the wood chip box with wood chips and place it on top of the hot plate.

Insert your grating, or "grill" on top of the garbage can using the inner lip as support. This may be the trickiest piece to find. But if you bought the trash can at your local hardware store, go to their appliance section and search for a grill top to fit. Luckily the round trash can is the same size diameter as many common round grills.

Plug in the electric burner. In a few minutes the wood chips will begin to smoke.

Cook your meat! It's that simple! Place your meat on the grill with the meat thermometer inside it. This way you'll be able to gauge the temperature. Keeping your temperature between 220 degrees and 230 degrees to slow-cook meat is best.


Don't rush. The longer you let the meat cook the more flavorful it will be. Soak the wood chips for 40 minutes before heating.

Things You'll Need

  • Wood chip box
  • Meat temperature gauge.
  • Extension cord
  • Grating
  • Metal trash can with lid
  • Electric hot plate
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