How to Make Your Own BBQ Smoker from an Old Grill

Smokers bake meat very slowly at low temperatures. The heat source simultaneously warms non-resinous wood chips to create smoke that flavors the meat. If done correctly, the result is succulent, juicy cuts of meat.

Though commercial smokers are expensive, you can stick to your budget by converting your old charcoal grill into a smoker. Conversion is a snap and the possibilities for tasty, tender main dishes are endless.

Smoke meat in a converted charcoal grill.
  1. Stack charcoal briquettes in the bottom of your grill, creating a shallow pyramid. Light the four corners of the pyramid with a long kitchen match. This may take a few tries; be patient.

  2. Wait until the flames burn down into red-hot embers. Hold a food thermometer over the embers; it should read from 200 to 250 degrees F.

  3. Soak two handfuls of non-resinous hardwood chips in cold water while your fire dies down. These chips provide the smoke and flavor for your smoker.

  4. Drain the chips and pour them out onto a double layer of heavy-duty aluminum foil. Roll up the sides of the foil to create a lidless foil box. You may also wrap the foil around the chips and poke holes in the foil to allow smoke to escape.

  5. Place the foil packet on top of your burning embers. Set the grill rack in place and lid the grill, opening the lid vents. When smoke rises out of the vents, add your meat.

  6. Smoke the meat for 8 to 12 hours. Add more charcoal about every 2 hours or so to keep the temperature constant.


  • Make sure the wood for your smoker never touches the heat source in your grill directly. This could cause uncontrolled flames.
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