How to Make a Cardboard Smoker





Introduction: How to Make a Cardboard Smoker

Feel like real BBQ? Don't have a smoker? Don't feel like spending more than 10 bucks or so? Like Alton Brown? Here's how to make a very serviceable smoker out of a cardboard box and some other things you might have laying around the house.

This rig worked remarkably well. The biggest problem was getting the temperature high enough. You want to cook BBQ at around 225 degrees F. If you can't get your smoker up that high, you can still use it to smoke, then finish whatever you're cooking in the oven.

Step 1: Get a Cardboard Box

You need a box that's big. But not too big or you'll never be able to heat it up. My box is about 4 feet high, and two feed square. This is actually on the larger end of the size you want. Cut a hole in the bottom as shown, so that you can change the wood chips out during the cooking. Its a lot easier if you leave the bottom attached to use as a hinge.

Step 2: Add Dowels to Support the Racks

You'll need at least one rack in the box to hold the food you're cooking. Ideally, you should also add another rack so that you can have a drip pan. This will keep your food from dipping onto the pan with the wood chips, which could start a fire. This would be very bad, since cardboard is pretty flamable. I used wooden dowels stuck through the box.

Step 3: Add the Racks

I used a cooling rack to hold the food, and a disposable baking rack for the drip pan.

Step 4: Add Your Heat Source

For a heat source I used a hotpot. I put an old cast iron skillet I had lying around on it and fill it with wood chips. I tried both dry and soaked chips, and both worked equally well. The soaked chips just took awhile longer to start smoking and brought the temperature of the smoker down.

Step 5: Monitor the Temperature

A probe style thermometer is very useful to monitor the temperature inside the smoker

Step 6: Start Smoking

I smoked a pork shoulder. Google and you can find hundreds of recips for rubs and marinades.

Step 7: Close It Up and Let It Smoke

Close the box and let it smoke. Keeping the box closed will keep the temperature up, which is good since this whole thing is being heated by a hotpot. Ideally, you want the temperature to be around 225 degrees F. When you see the smoke stop, change out the wood chips. For me this was every hour and a half or so

Step 8: Remove Your Food

This is after a seven hour smoke. I would have smoked it longer, but I got started too late in the day to go the full 12 to 14 hours pork BBQ normally takes. I finished cooking it in the oven, until it hit an intenal temperature of 190 degrees F.



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    What setting do you have the hot spot at?


    why the hell is the meat blue??

    I think it may be the light reflected on it that makes it look blue.

    Could be creosote, which builds up on smoked meat if you don't have good enough airflow. It makes the meat bitter and numbs the tongue, though it varies considerably and some people don't notice (likely due to the numbing effect).

    Thats what I was wondering.

    light plus angle?

    I like this! I like a mans with a plan. Although there is a small chance of catching fire, I'm sure if you have the brains to do this you will also know the dangers and watch it all time. Damp the card box every now and then will help. I have done this many times, cooking fish next to the lake.


    Ist so ein Räucherofen nicht gefährlich , der könnte sich doch entflammen oder nicht ????

    Solange das Feuer nicht die Seiten der Box berührt. Auch das Fleisch sollte nicht auf die Box tropfen. Dann sollte es in Ordnung sein. Viel Glück! C;

    Wen interessiert es, wenn dies fünf Jahre zu spät ist.

    There are a few things worth noting for anyone who wants to try this-first off, if you have lined with foil throughout your smoker, there is little fear of fire, IMHO-paper and cardboard ignites much hotter than the 220 degrees considered optimal for good smoking. Also a slow cook with low cooking temp is unlikely to result in grease splatter while cooking-we aren't deep frying here...the most likely spill would be as you are removing the bird or checking/mopping/spraying it to keep it moist. Also I have learned that newer hot plates are often wired to shut off in these homebuilt smoke chambers-something about a sensor or resistor that senses the ambient heat, mistaking it for a short in the plate element (?)-this can be bypassed, or you can search for an older hotplate at your local thrift or yard sales without such ridiculous failsafes, lol. Finally, your smoking should only have to be 10 hrs max-any more and you can bitter the meat. 8 hours with a finish in the oven (wrapped in foil) keeps it nice and moist up til the end-let her sit for about 20 minutes before you cut. Enjoy.

    Remember the Book FARENHEIT 451, that is the temp that paper bursts into flames