How to Build a Smoker Out of a Freezer

Elton Dunn

Building a smoker is an easy afternoon project and requires mostly materials and tools that are easy to find. Barbecue enthusiasts can use an old upright freezer to convert into a smoker or convert a refrigerator with a freezer unit. Both offer plenty of room for meat lovers to smoke chicken, turkey, bacon and pork.

  1. Wash the inside and outside of your freezer with soapy water, using a rag. Since you'll be cooking meat in the freezer, clean out any dust and debris.

  2. Cut out insulation, using a craft knife or a box cutter. Discard the insulation.

  3. Measure the shelf grooves inside the freezer. Install grill racks that will fit that width. The ideal rack will rest on the shelf grooves, naturally supported by the freezer.

  4. Cut a fist-sized hole in the top of the freezer, using a chisel or a coping saw. This serves as the flue and will let smoke out. Cut a small hole near the bottom of one of the freezer sides, large enough to fit a cord through.

  5. Place a hot plate inside the bottom of the freezer and run the cord out through the hole you just made. Turn the hot plate on low, then connect the cord to an unplugged extension cord.

  6. Fill a metal cake pan with wood chips. Cover this with aluminum foil. Place the cake pan on the hot plate.

  7. Place meat on a grill rack inside the freezer. Place a large roasting pan on the shelf below to catch any drippings. Shut the freezer door.

  8. Cover the flue with a brick or scrap piece of wood so the smoker can get started. After two to three hours, slide the brick aside so 1/3 of the flue is open.

  9. Plug in the extension cord to turn the smoker on. Monitor the amount of wood chips left after three hours and add more if necessary.


Barbecu'n on the Internet warns against using freezers that were made before 1960 since they may contain traces of cadmium, which is toxic.