Homemade Cold Smoker Box

The antidote to boring food.

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by Josh Lau
A grill lid fits well over a fire pit.

If you can’t take the heat, use cold smoke. Learn how to construct a homemade cold smoker box to flavor all your food without having to time it perfectly.

Years ago, I read a description in a text, the name of which has long since been lost in my memory, of a cold smoker built into the hills of Appalachia. I’d never heard of such a thing. It had a small firebox in the ground that poured smoke into a horizontal chimney, also in the earth. From there, the smoke, now much colder (having bled a great deal of its heat into the soil), filled a small shack with its flavor-enhancing mist through a hole in the floor. It became one of those projects I just couldn’t let go.

Flavoring food with smoke, without having to time it perfectly, is a fantastic idea. While an apparatus of that size and scope is a decent undertaking, there are upsides of having it in your yard. Sometimes, friends come back from Alaska with more salmon than they can preserve. Sometimes, you wonder if the deer you took to the locker plant is the deer you got back, and what if you had cold-smoked it first so you could tell for sure? What if you cold-smoked your Thanksgiving turkey and then deep-fried it? What if there’s enough room to do a turkey, pork belly, and a tray of table salt at the same time? How do smoked artichokes taste?

Homemade Cold Smoker Box Construction Tips

Firepit. A brick-lined hole for your fire pit will offer options for size and configuration but gets a little messy where the smoke tube exits the pit. An upcycled 55-gallon steel drum will keep the dirt out but may still need a protective brick liner to keep it from turning into a rusty crumble. In a convenient coincidence, the lid of a large charcoal grill is close enough to the size of a steel drum to make an attractive, dampenable top. If the site grade allows, a side-loading door can help you add fuel and allow in just enough oxygen to keep it smoking.

  • Updated on Mar 8, 2024
  • Originally Published on Feb 23, 2024
Tagged with: cold smoker
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