Introduction: Cheap Redneck Ceramic Smoker

Picture of Cheap Redneck Ceramic Smoker

this is a slow cooking smoker. the process takes an overnight soak and most of next day cooking but it is cheap and works better than some hundred dollar metal smoker my neighbor got.
inspired by Alton Brown of Good Eats

Step 1: Hardware Store Time

Picture of Hardware Store Time

Hardware includes -
you will need an 2 large terra cotta, or other earthenware non-lead non-glazed planters that fit on top of each other, an electric hot plate that will fit in the bottom of the planter, standard grill grate that fits inside of the "bottom" planter, and a replacement grill thermometer whose probe fits inside the planter hole while the dial can rest on top, a "garbage" pan without a handle or heavy duty pie pan, and wood chips. i bought the planters at the same hardware store as the grate, hot plate and thermometer to make sure they fit together.

Software includes -
1 1/2 cups kosher salt or 1 cup regular salt
3/4 cups molasses and
2 quart of water
1 teaspoon whole cumin seed
1 teaspoon whole fennel seed
1 teaspoon whole coriander
1 tablespoon chili powder
1 tablespoon onion powder
1 tablespoon paprika
last but not least a whole pork shoulder AKA Boston butt 6-7 lbs.
optional -
burger buns
BBQ sauce or my fav pickle juice mixed with some mustard and hot sauce

Step 2: Have a Soak

Picture of Have a Soak

then the pork must be brined overnight in a solution of 1 1/2 cups kosher salt or 1 cup regular salt, 3/4 of a cup molasses and 1 quart of water heated to dissove the salt and cooled with 1 quart AKA 2lbs. of ice. add meat when brine is cool and store in refrigerator with a clean bowl and weight on top to keep meat submerged. i heated the mixture in a large pot, cooled it, put meat in with bowl covering it, put the lid on and placed the whole thing in the fridge overnight.

Step 3: Assemble Smoker

Picture of Assemble Smoker

place one planter on top of spare bricks, wood or any heat proof piece of ceramic, metal ect. place hot plate inside of planter and run cord out of bottom hole and connect to extension cord (don't do this indoors), place unsoaked wood chips on pan or metal plate, turn hot plate to medium high and place pan on top. put grill grate on pot and rubbed meat on grill grate, top with upside down planter to fit over the top and place grill thermometer in hole of pot. preheat smoker to 240 degrees before adding rub to meat and meat to smoke.

Step 4: Have a Rub Down

Picture of Have a Rub Down

this is the rub that i used but you can use any you like and apply liberally to meat, use more than you think you need, this made about 1/4 of a cup.

1 teaspoon whole cumin seed
1 teaspoon whole fennel seed
1 teaspoon whole coriander
1 tablespoon chili powder
1 tablespoon onion powder
1 tablespoon paprika

grind whole spices in a clean coffee grinder until they turn to dust then add other ingredients and pulse a few seconds to combine. place in any shaker with small openings and apply liberally to all sides of meat, use all of the rub.

Step 5: Cook and Chill Out

Picture of Cook and Chill Out

let the smoker come up to 210-230 degrees, if it goes above 250 turn hot plate down. then relax, watch it every hour or so to make sure smoke is still sneaking out of the smoker. when smoking slows (about 2-3 hours) take everything off (with hot pads please), add more chips to plate and put it back together.
A fast method is smoking for 3 hours, wrapping tightly in aluminum foil and finishing in 300 degree oven for 4 hours.
A slow method is smoking for 12 hours. total smoking time for my 7lbs of pork was 8 hours of smoking and 1 bag of wood chips adding more chips 3 times.
Either way its done when it falls apart when pinched with tongs.

Step 6: Time to Pull

Picture of Time to Pull

when its tender wrap the pork in foil and rest for 30 min to an hour before placing on your biggest cookie sheet and pulling pork apart with 2 forks only pull what you need. place pork on burger buns with some BBQ or my fav pickle juice mixed with some mustard and hot sauce and devour with or w/o coleslaw. Keep leftovers (if you serve less than 10 people) whole and store in fridge.

P.S. the pan and grate need to cool and soak for a while to get clean.


LasVegas (author)2007-07-20

This looks a lot like a Alton Brown, Good Eats eposode. If that's where you got the idea, you should at least give him some credit.

psikot1 (author)LasVegas2007-07-20

True it is. i forgot to give him credit, my bad. he is in there now, want the episode number?

LasVegas (author)psikot12007-07-20

Episode's not so important. Since you actually did build it, the Instructable's fine as long as credit is given where it's due.

ArtisanEclectic (author)LasVegas2017-09-16

So Alton get's the credit since he put it up on the teevee right? got it.

Freakin Einstein (author)psikot12008-09-20

Forgot? Uhh yeah....Ok.

NancyS214 (author)LasVegas2017-04-07

The article said it was inspired by alton brown right at the beginning.

LasVegas (author)NancyS2142017-04-07

Yes, Nancy. He did give Alton Brown credit 10 years ago...

MArlauckas (author)LasVegas2007-07-20

I agree LasVegas, that's a total Alton Brown rig. Give credit where credit is due. Sorry psikot1, just because you used a slightly different pot, you shouldn't pull a "Vanilla Ice".

bigcat (author)MArlauckas2008-07-06

I learned how to do this 20 years ago in Boy Scouts, so should there be credit listed to them too? Just because someone uses it on TV doesn't make it specific to them. Plus, using Kosher salt has been around for quite a while. So by saying that Alton's use of kosher salt is his trademark, shouldn't people like Emeril Lagasse give credit to Justin Wilson every time he uses cayenne pepper?

bfpazza (author)bigcat2009-09-26

lets get a grip here. neve seen so many armchair lawyers in one place. even alton brown admits on his show these are not his ideas but things he has seen done. still not giving credit to where he saw them done. an idea is not copyright. a patent is only for a new device. u cannot patent a changed device. as well as the credit about the pot from esmagamus? check on the net there are over 2000 manufacturers of these pots. not even an issue. so no copyright, no patent, no trademark infringement. an idea and maybe u guys should just thank him for taking the time to show you.

Esmagamus (author)bigcat2009-07-15

Nice idea. Give credit to the manufacturer of that vase (might be me!)

CatMan (author)LasVegas2007-07-20

MUST be Alton Brown material. notice the use of Kosher Salt? it's almost a trademark...

Absinthe-Dragon made it! (author)2015-08-26

Thanks for the great info on the Smoker!

End of hte Season at Wal-Mart had cheap Pots and the Dollar Store had the Tin and Mits.
Amazon for the Burner, Grate, and Thermostat and it was a very cheap and easy build!


filtercages (author)2015-07-19

Kosher salt?

All salt is kosher for practical purposes - unless you're bothered by the minor flow-assisting ingredients.

So why the different quantities?

There aren't different strengths of salt.

dragonito (author)filtercages2015-07-23

not sure about this, but I think kosher salt might be less dense than granulated salt. granulated salt is in solid granules while kosher salt is more flaky and has more surface area. that's what makes it good for sucking the moisture out of food for preserving it. which, I think, why it became known as koshering salt, hence the name kosher salt. its not that all salt is not kosher, its that it became known by that name because of its use

filtercages (author)dragonito2015-07-23

Granulated or flaky, once dissolved, salt is salt.
As I said, there aren't different strengths.

RandyO4 (author)filtercages2015-07-29

WRONG! Sea Salt, having larger crystals than table salt, requires a smaller amount to get the same amount of sodium. (And taste.)

filtercages (author)2015-07-19

PZ456 (author)2015-04-13

I have one of these which I got from a friend for free. It works great! The difference in mine is that the top pot is slightly smaller than the bottom one therefore fitting down into the bottom one to the first ridge. I've smoke a few roasts in it and am thinking of installing a hanging rack to hang jerky from.

madduxm (author)2012-07-08

Great job

amcbride1 (author)2012-05-12

Awesome smoker! My wife was looking at getting a smoker for me for Father's Day but we couldn't afford the $119 cheap smokers let alone ones price higher than that. So I came across this and purchased the items needed the next day.

We have had it for 3 days now and have been smoking meats every day. Had company with us last night and they said it was some of the best smoked chicken they had ever had.

Thanks for giving us these instructions.

vincent7520 (author)2011-01-17

Well …
This seems more a BBQ grill with a cover than a smoker : you get the taste of the smoke thru a sauce not thru the process.
I mean, it 's so beautiful to have meat or fish smoked with a very slow consuming (not burning) wood with the benefit that you can keep you meat for a longer time.
After all salt and smoke were the refrigerator of our ancestors before refrigerator time !…
It does not have to take a lot of time, like 24 - 36 hours as they do in the smoking industry : one of the biggest thrill (besides sailing) in our vacations was to smoke the mackerels we just caught on a small stainless steel smoker on the beach or on a quay. We bought it in Sweden about 12 years ago when we sailed there. What you need is ample provision of saw dust (birch preferably, avoid oak, all kinds of pine and all "red" woods…) … line and fish hooks, and a smoker. Our lies in the bottom of the Barfleur harbor (France) following a hazardous jump from the boat to a pontoon by one of the crew member (no I will not give you the name ! And anyway I'rather have a piece of metal in the water than having to recover fast someone who made a bad fall…).
But then, as always, this instructable is so tempting that it gives me the idea of making a new one out of scrap. An other job on the list that is slowly changing into a "wish list".
When project comes true be sure I'll post it (with the mackerel in place !…)

clydicus (author)vincent75202011-07-14

There's "cold" smoking, which is a method designed to preserve food, and popular in Scandinavia for smoking fish. Temperatures around 160 f. for 24-36 hours. Then there's "hot" smoking or BBQ, which is a cooking method designed to make tough cuts of meat very tender, and of course to add flavor.

wheelnawheel (author)2010-06-27

Most people that make their ideas and inventions public without a patent is because they like to be inspirational and just give things away, whether they get credit for them or not. Alton Brown is a master chef that get's paid very well. I'm glad he had no problem with putting this smoker on his TV show.

spylock (author)2010-03-06

My smoker will be finished tommorrow providing I can find a replacement cooking grate,I will be smokeing a pork tender loin next Saturday useing your basic method,though I guess we all have our favorite/secret rubs.The finished meat looks very good by the way.

the rural independent (author)2010-01-21

I'm wondering about cleaning up afterward.

My smoker (manufactured) has a water pan that all the grease pretty much drips into, so it is all consolidated in one pan and I just have to clean that up.

With yours, do you have much grease at the bottom or does it collect in the wood chip tray - or just burn off?

Great instructable.  Thanks for sharing!

ironsmiter (author)2007-07-20

I wonder if the rat's(pets) would like a smoked cornish game hen for thanksgiving, to match the webber smoked turkey? is it the molases that turned your meat black in the final picture(cajun style/burnt?) or was the hot plate just up too high? try adding ONE more step. grab an extra pot and tray at the store while you're there. put the hotplate on the tray. then the pan/woodchips. then invert the extra pot. now put the origional 2-pot smoker over the rig, and fire it up. should also allow you to run your hot plate at a higher temp, meaning better?/thicker smoke production. If you try the three pot method, let me know how the temperature stability of the smoker is effected. by not having the chamber "open" it should retain it's heat better. Glazing should NOT be an issue on your pots. painted pots are a definate nono unless you painted it yourself with engine paint(if your exhaust manifold won't burn it up, the hot plate won't likely either :-) if you know your pot glazing, or glaze it yourself... it should be just fine. defintely avoid lead based glazes. also watch out for bright green glazes that MAY be copper based... if in doubt, avoid.

Esmagamus (author)ironsmiter2009-07-15

And what about the engine paint? Have you got any idea of what they put in it? Even lead based glazes can become quite harmless if you force them to leach out all of the lead. I wouldn't use it, but I wouldn't use engine paint either.

psikot1 (author)ironsmiter2007-07-20

also the multi-planter method is more like "cold" smoking AKA preserving not cooking. the single planter is "hot" smoking AKA cooking with smoke, with a lot less hassles, simplicity is delicious.

psikot1 (author)ironsmiter2007-07-20

the "black" is from the smoking, not burn.

BentSlightly (author)2007-12-19

"Hardware includes - you will need an 2 large Terra cotta," Any ideas on sizes of pots that workout to do a turkey? I have seen Terra cotta pots that are gigantic, would a little bigger be better?

Esmagamus (author)BentSlightly2009-07-15

Get yourself a old wooden chest and poke holes on top of it. I did that so I could smoke about 20 sausages at the same time. Worked too good.

M F (author)BentSlightly2008-06-02

Will stacking work?> What if I use two smaller pots on top of the big ones for jerky or such?

josephprivott (author)M F2008-09-15

not really, for either. I would use a different method than the one here for Jerky; this is more suited to the meat pictured.

Esmagamus (author)2009-07-15

Submerge everything in a strong sodium hydroxide solution (careful, it's caustic!). It's such a powerfull degreaser I use it to clean creosote stains on my stine stairs.

Freakin Einstein (author)2008-09-20

THIS IS TAKEN FROM FOOD NETWORKS ALTON BROWN...Great idea, I did it myself and it really works. Howver, you should give credit where credit is due. You took Alton Brown's idea, his recipe and his whole half hour program hook, line and sinker and didn't even give him credit for it.....Did you used to sit behind me in Algebra?

doubleabattery (author)2007-07-26

Great Instructable! Yes, slow smoked meat is going to be black due to the smoke. I've got a big propane smoker, but this would be a great rig if I was just smoking for a small gathering and didn't want to pay $14 for a propane refill.

soaking the wood chips prior to use will allow them to smolder, instead of burning... which means you still get a smoky flavor, without the dark blackening.

Lenny K (author)2007-08-02

Question on the smoker. I have all the necessary parts including a 1000 watt electric hotplate. problem is all the ones I've looked at have an auto on/off control so they don't burn up or something. Is there one i can buy that doesn't have that or is there someway to bypass this heat reostat? I can't get my temp above 150 degrees cause it keeps shutting off.

psikot1 (author)Lenny K2007-08-02

most hot plates have adjustable thermostats. i don't know if you have one thats made for cooking or if its a glorified warmer, but if yours doesn't you can pick one up for around $10 at the hardware store.

indyguy (author)2007-07-22

Wouldn't mind seeing some pictures of the finished project ready to eat. It would make a nice cullmination of your efforts.

psikot1 (author)2007-07-21

this is the best thing EVER

seolfor (author)2007-07-20

Looks great. I'll have to try making this.

rimar2000 (author)2007-07-20

Very good.

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