Building a BBQ Smoker

After many suggestions that I should smoke my jalapeno peppers in comments of my making jalapeno pepper powder post, I decided to give it a try.  After doing a little looking most recommendations say to use a new or very clean smoker so this eliminates using my propane grill as smoker and an excuse opportunity to make myself a smoker.

After a little research on the internet I determined my two potential proposed homemade smoker solutions.

First is Anton Brown’s flower pot smoker, which takes a couple of terra cotta pots and a 16 inch grill.  This is electric powered using a hot plate topped with a pie pan full of wet wood chunks/chips.

The second design I liked was the aluminum trash can smoker design, which is basically the same idea as the flower pot design except (obviously) you use a garbage can instead of the flower pots.  You use the hot plate and pie tin in the same manner.

Armed with my design ideas in my head I was off to my local home improvement store to pick up some materials.  I first started with the flower pot design but I couldn’t find the azalea pot bug enough to cover the bottom terra cotta pot, nor a grill to fit.  That along with the estimated prices being $60-70 dollars not even including the electric heater.

Optimistic I checked out the aluminum garbage cans, though there was a similar problem of not being able to find a grill to fit right.  I thought about creating a couple supports using metal rods or attaching with a few pieces of wire.  In the end the cost of the can/grill minus the electric heater was about $50-60 and I get the great aesthetics of a garbage can smoker in my back yard.

This led to my eventual purchase of the Brinkmann Smoke’N Grill Charcoal Smoker and Grill for $40 or as it is affectionately known online as the ECB (El Cheapo Brinkmann)  Though not as DIY as the previous two versions but given it was cheaper, looks a little better in my backyard, and I have the option of cooking with charcoal seemed like the obvious choice.

Though the hacker in me could not resist making a couple of minor modifications.  First I added a real thermometer given the Warm/Ideal/Hot was a little lacking in specific information.


Second I used some of my leftover wire from the construction of my soil sieve cut to size with the corners bent to elevate the charcoal about an inch from the bottom to allow the ashes to not smother the lit coals.


I completed the 2 hour curing process using charcoal and will be smoking some peppers this labor day weekend, so stay tuned.

8 Responses to “Building a BBQ Smoker”

  1. Lynda Says:

    Two things:

    A) You are going to love your Brinkman!

    B) Once you start smoking your peppers there is no turning back! They taste so wonderful!

    I also roast my long green chilies over the coals to blister the skins and peel them. So good!

  2. Barefootedwonder Says:

    I’ve made the flower pot smoker before, works well. Notably, both the trash can and the flower pot smoker are Alton Brown designs, the flower pot smoker being the improved upon version of the trash can.

    Building the smoker didn’t cost that much either, but I already had some of the parts laying around.

  3. Red Icculus Says:

    I think I found the exact smoker that I want. Thanks for the heads up.

    If you end up smoke curing any meat, it is a good thing you added a real thermometer. A steady external temperature will make for more consistency when you take the internal temperature.

  4. meemsnyc Says:

    That’s a nice looking smoker! The DIY ones are pretty cool too!

  5. Molly On Money Says:

    This is great. My husband has been dreaming of building a smoker all summer.
    We were going to do the clay pot smoker but now I think we will look into the Brikmann.

  6. How to make chipotle pepper powder (smoked Jalapenos) Says:

    […] my last post I talked about my quest for a cheap smoker to make some of my own chipotle pepper powder.  […]

  7. The Cheap Vegetable Gardener Says:

    Lynda, I am really liking the soker right now. Also looks much better than a garbage can 🙂

    barefootwonder, I didn’t see the video of his garbage can version, I will have to look that one. I agree, finding some of the pieces around the house can help with the cost…though I guess they were purcahsed sometime.

    Red Icculus, keep an eye out for post labor day sales. You may want to check out the gourmet model. Pretty close to the same as mine but allows you to lift the smoker off the fire box to allow easier starts (restarts) With sales probably can find this one the same price. Already tried some pork shoulder on it yesterday, actual temps were much more helpful.

  8. Andrew Says:

    There is a small but active group of users of these Brinkmann smokers who have posted all sorts of great hacks for optimizing them for all sorts of uses.

    I used to have one of these and one of the simplest and most useful hacks was to drill some holes in the rounded part (where the sides and the bottom meet) of the charcoal pan. This allows for more air to get up into the charcoal, so they burn more completely.

    Another hack I saw, but never tried, was someone modified the legs and the charcoal pan so that they were separate from the smoker. This way, if you were smoking something for more than a few hours, you could life the smoker off of the legs and charcoal pan, add more hot coals and replace the smoker without ever lifting the lid. It was really clever.

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