How to build BBQ pit smoker

Written by teresa starr | 13/05/2017
How to build BBQ pit smoker
A dustbin can be built into a barbecue pit smoker quite easily. (trash image by Orlando Florin Rosu from

A barbecue pit smoker is another word for a smoker, because the food is placed into a "pit" and cooked with indirect heat at low, controlled temperatures. Experienced welders can make a barbecue pit smoker out of an oil drum or water tank, but for those who have no experience, a dustbin barbecue pit smoker, or even one constructed out of an old charcoal grill, is probably the easiest. Never use a smoker near your house or any combustible material.

Soak three to four handfuls of wood chips in water. You can use plain hardwood chips such as oak or hickory or wood chips that have been infused with flavour, such as honey, barbecue or mesquite. Either kind of wood can be bought at your local home store or at online retailers such as Amazon.

Drill a hole for the electrical cord of the hotplate near the base of the dustbin. The hole needs to be large enough to fit the electrical cord, so it should be roughly 1 inch in diameter. Place the hotplate on the bottom of the dustbin and pull the cord through.

Place the soaked wood chips in the metal wood chip box and then lay the box on top of the hotplate. The soaked wood chips will give off smoke once the electric hotplate is plugged in.

Place the circular grill rack or grill grate into the dustbin. In order for the grate to rest near the top of the can, it needs to be roughly 2 inches smaller than the circumference of the dustbin. Once the grate is in the dustbin securely, you can plug in the hotplate so that it begins to generate heat.

Drill five smaller holes into the lid of the dustbin. One of the holes needs to be large enough to fit the temperature gauge, approximately a half-inch in diameter. The other four holes only need to be a quarter-inch in diameter--large enough for some of the smoke to escape. Insert the temperature gauge into the larger hole on the lid.

Arrange the food you wish to smoke on top of the grill rack, evenly spaced. Even spacing will ensure that each piece of food receives the same amount of heat and moisture from the soaked wood chips. Cover with the lid and observe the temperature of your new barbecue pit smoker.

Smoke the food for three to six hours, keeping an eye on the temperature throughout the smoking process. The temperature should remain under 121 degrees Celsius, but ideally between 65.6 to 93.3 degrees Celsius. If the temperature exceeds 121 degrees C, remove the lid to allow some of the excess heat to escape.

Things you need

  • Metal dustbin
  • Lid
  • Drill
  • Drill bit
  • Electric hotplate
  • Flavour-infused wood chips
  • Water
  • Bowl
  • Wood chip box (metal)
  • Round grill rack
  • Temperature gauge

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