How to Make a Smoker From a Keg

Updated November 21, 2016

Meat smokers tenderise meat while cooking it slowly over wood. The contained smoke wafts over the meat flavouring it on the outside. As the wood burns, the heat permeates the meat cooking it thoroughly. The result is meat with a flavour distinctive to the wood it was smoked in. The meat is edible as is or ready for the barbecue. Smoking is an ancient way to preserve meat in the absence of refrigeration. Smokers can be as complex as a small building equipped to smoke whole carcases or a beer keg smoker to handle a single roast or turkey.

Place the empty keg on its side to cut away the top quarter of the keg. Draw a cut line around the circumference of the keg. Straddle the keg and secure it with your legs. Cut the keg with the angle grinder. Cut out the tube that you find inside with the grinder. File down the rough edges of the cut keg with the grinder and wash out the keg.

Make the rack next. The section you have cut off the top of the barrel will become the lid of the smoker. Use it now to size the rack you will place inside. Place the lid on a sheet of heavy-gauge wire mesh. Trace around it to get the proper diameter on the mesh. Use the angle grinder to cut out the rack. The rack will rest inside the barrel on the angle irons that you affix to the keg.

Cut four pieces of heavy-gauge wire or a coat hanger with a wire snip. Twist each piece into an S-shaped hook. These will be used to hang the aluminium pan on the bottom side of the rack to catch the juices from the meat while it smokes. The juice will keep the meat moist as it steams in the pan.

Install the angle irons on the inside of the keg at the top. They will support the rack and also hold the lid tight on the keg when it is closed. Mark a place for each angle iron at equal intervals around the circumference of the keg. Place each angle iron, so half of it rises above the lip of the keg. This will help to brace the lid when it is closed. Drill the holes and bolt on the angel irons.

Cut a half dozen slits to act as vents at the bottom of the keg with the grinder, so the air can flow in when the lid is closed. Make each cut 2 or 3 inches long. Put small logs in the bottom of the smoker for a fire. This must be a small fire. The smoke will do the work. Hang the rack with the pan affixed inside the keg.


Stainless steel kegs can take awhile to cut. Have plenty of grinding discs on hand because the job may take a few discs.

Things You'll Need

  • Empty stainless steel beer keg
  • Angle grinder and several grinding discs
  • Drill with a 3/16 inch titanium bit
  • 2-inch angle irons, 4
  • 3/16 inch steel bolts, 8
  • Sheet of large gauge wire mesh wider than diameter of keg
  • Wire snips
  • Heavy gauge wire of coat hanger
  • Round aluminium pan 4 inches deep with diameter 2 inches less than keg
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About the Author

Roz Calvert was a contributing writer for the award-winning ezine Urban Desires where her travel writing and fiction appeared. Writing professionally since 1980, she has penned promotional collateral for Music Magnet Media and various musicians. The "Now Jazz Consortium" published her jazz educational fiction. She published a juvenile book about Zora Neale Hurston and attended West Virginia University and the New School.