How To Build A Smokehouse for Less than $100

From DIYREADY if you plan on raising some of your own animals for food this is a nice project for your own smokehouse, not only will it save you money, but smoking your own meat is a great way to preserve  it for future use.

Food is smoked when it comes in contact with the smoke generated by smoldering wood, plant, and other organic material. Not to be confused with grilling – a relatively high-heat cooking process in which food is generally suspended over an open flame – smoking relies on indirect heat, low temperatures (180-225 degrees F), and long cooking times to produce food that is mouthwateringly tender and uniquely flavored. In the U.S., common smoke woods include hickory, oak, mesquite, apple, and cherry.

Historically, smoking was performed as a means of preserving food because the smoke itself acts like an acidic coating on the surface of the meat, preventing the growth of bacteria. The smoking process also helps to dehydrate the meat, again creating an environment that is less hospitable for bacteria to thrive in. Like curing, in modern times, smoking of food is done primarily as a way to enhance food’s flavor and color, rather than preserve it.

There are generally two types of smoking methods:

  • Hot smoking: Performed at temperatures of at least 150 degrees F. The goal is to cook the food at the same time it is being flavored with smoke.
  • Cold smoking: Smoking at temperatures of less than 100 degrees F. This method generally doesn’t cook the food product; rather, it is used for flavoring. This is an ideal way to add smoke flavor to cured fish without actually cooking it, or impart smoke flavor to salami and other cured meats before they are hung to dry.

Smokers come in all different shapes and sizes and can use many different types of fuel (charcoal, electricity, propane, etc.) to generate smoke. Some common backyard kettle grills can be lightly modified so that they function as smokers. There are also numerous MacGyver-esque ways to produce smoke using an oven or stove top. If you do purchase a stand-alone smoker, make sure you have outdoor space available. 

The Advantages of Preserving Your Own Meats

For many reasons, modern chefs and home cooks are embracing the idea of curing and smoking their own meats. For one, it is a great way to forge a stronger bond with your food, where it comes from, and how it’s made. More importantly, by doing your own curing and smoking, you are increasing your food resiliency while eating high-quality meat that contains little to no artificial ingredients.

Take bacon, for example: Much of the bacon consumed in this country is mass-produced in large manufacturing plants to take advantage of speed, distribution networks, and other economies of scale. Yet the curing process required to turn pork belly into bacon takes time. Rather than letting nature take its course, many manufacturers rely on mechanical and other shortcuts to speed up the curing process, choosing to pump the pork bellies with a salty brine containing phosphates to increase the moisture retention of the meat, thus improving yield for the manufacturer. Flavor is also often boosted by introducing MSG to the mix, and in some cases the actual smoking of bacon is even replaced by introducing liquid smoke into the curing mix. 

So with that said.

yes, with a pile of old pallets, less than $100 and a bit of work, you can built this really cool smokehouse. 3′ x 3′, it is big enough to smoke a whole animal, or at least a few big trays of meat plus some links of sausage.

I love this project – It still amazes me what you can build with repurposed wood and how great it looks. We really wanted to make a big DIY smoker, but most of the plans we looked that showed you how to build a smokehouse were too small and/or they called for using quite a bit of expensive materials. We never found plans that really met our requirements, so we ended up making our own.

Our considerations for DIY smoker plans were:

  • size – it needed to be big enough to a lot of items at once and also smoke large items
  • cost– it needed to be as inexpensive as possible while still allowing you to smoke meat well
  • skill level required – it needed to be something you could do with basic woodworking knowledge

I don’t know if you have ever smoked meat before, but it is a rewarding, yet time consuming task. Since your meat will be preserved, and therefore good for a long time, it makes the most sense to be able to smoke a lot at once. After determining how much wood we needed for a decent size smoker, we decided to go with repurposed pallets. For less than $100, we were able to put together this great smokehouse that can hold a ton of meat. Multiple racks for smoking as well as a place to hang sausages, you can even hang a whole deer in it if you like.

Here are the supplies you need to get started and the instructions and video for this cool project: