How to Build Portable BBQ Smokers

Updated April 17, 2017

Barbecuing meat is fun, but the equipment can be heavy and cumbersome. That makes travelling with a BBQ smoker difficult. There are ways around this inconvenience, however. If you have a couple basic backyard essentials, you can build your own portable BBQ smoker.

Prepare the wood chips. Several hours before you are ready to grill, fill a bucket with water and dump half a bag of wood chips into the bucket. These can be mesquite or hickory chips. Let them soak for at least two hours. This will give them enough moisture so that when they are placed on top of the fire in the grill, they will smoke but not burn. Once they have soaked long enough, drain the chips and pat off excess water. But don't let them dry too much.

Build a charcoal fire. In your hibachi, build a mound of 15 to 20 charcoal briquettes on one side, leaving the other side empty. Create a well in the top of the mound. Place five or six briquettes in your charcoal stove and ignite them using scrap newspaper. Once they are lit and glowing, dump them into the hibachi, in the well of briquettes. Fan the glowing briquettes until they have ignited.

Start the smoke. Once the charcoal pile is burning, place seven or eight wood chips on top of the fire. They should start smoking almost immediately. Place the metal bowl filled with water directly over the side with the fire. This will act as a cooling agent, and will regulate the grill's internal temperature, so the meat you will be smoking will cook at a lower temperature.

Smoke your meat. Put your meat on the side of the grill opposite the fire. There will be room for two small racks of ribs, half a side of brisket or even two small chickens. Shut the top of the hibachi. Open periodically to replace the water in the bowl or put more wood chips on the fire. After four hours, the meat will be done smoking.


Have a full bucket of water within reach whenever cooking with fire.

Things You'll Need

  • Portable hibachi grill
  • Charcoal briquettes
  • Wood chips
  • Small, heat-proof metal dish
  • Charcoal stove
  • Bucket of water
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