How to Build a Meat Smoker Out of a Fridge

Updated February 21, 2017

True barbecue lovers will want to build their own smoker, and one of the most commonly used materials for this project is an old refrigerator. The refrigerator comes with shelve grooves that can hold metal racks, enabling you to smoke more meats at one time. Since smokers rely on low, constant heat to cook food over long periods of time, your refrigerator smoker won't get too hot.

Cut two holes in your old refrigerator using a chisel or coping saw: one will be the flue and the other will be the draw. A flue allows smoke to flow out the smoker, while a draw works as an intake valve for air.

Locate the draw hole on the left or right side of the refrigerator near the bottom. This doesn't need to be any special size, according to Ask the Meat Man. Then create a fist-sized hole on the top of the fridge for your flue.

Measure the width of the refrigerator on the inside where you see shelf notches. Then locate or purchase metal grill racks to fit on these grooves. You'll place your food on here for cooking. You only need one rack to start, but you can purchase and install as many as you have space for. Slide the racks inside to install them; they'll rest on the grooved lip inside the refrigerator.

Place two fire bricks on the bottom of the refrigerator. Put a hotplate on top of this, then a square cake pan on top of the hotplate. Fill the cake pan with wood chips or sawdust.

Locate two small pieces of metal or wood that you can use to screen out the draw and the flue. To start, cover both the draw and the flue with the metal or wood.

Connect your hotplate to an extension cord. Bring your meat out to the fridge and place it on the grill rack inside. Close the refrigerator door. If it won't stay securely shut, use duct tape as a temporary fix.

For a more permanent fix, tie a thin wire to the refrigerator handle. Then bang a nail into the side of the refrigerator with a hammer. To close the smoker door, wind the thin wire around the nail and twist to crimp it closed.

Turn the hotplate on low. As the hotplate heats up, the wood chips or sawdust will get hot and begin to smoke, slowly starting to cook your food. Leave the fridge smoker alone for a couple of hours, with both the draw and the flue covered over with wood or metal.

Return after 2 hours. Move aside the wood or metal covering both your draw and your flue so they are now one-third open. Allow the meat to continue smoking for the suggested cooking time.

Things You'll Need

  • Old refrigerator
  • Chisel
  • Coping saw
  • Measuring tape
  • Grill racks
  • 2 firebricks
  • Hotplate
  • Square cake pan
  • Wood chips
  • Sawdust (optional)
  • Scrap metal or wood
  • Meat
  • Extension cord
  • Wire (optional)
  • Nail (optional)
  • Hammer (optional)
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