Intro: 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.