How to Build a Smokehouse From Scratch

With summer here, BBQ season isn’t far behind – and that means bringing your A-game to the BBQ parties. If you’re tired of going with the same old recipes, then why not try smoking meat this time? But wait – for that, you first need a smokehouse and in case you don’t have one already, we’ve got you covered. In this guide, we’re going to walk you through how to build a smokehouse from scratch.

So let’s dive straight into it. 

How to Build a Smokehouse – Step by Step Process

Step 1: Assemble your Supplies

For your project to be successful, you need to first be well-organized and prepared. So start by going on a shopping haul to the local hardware store and collect all necessary supplies. 

These primarily include materials like cedarwood, gas pipes, stove openings, concrete-based blocks, red-clay bricks, fire bricks, fire mortar, bolts, hinges for the door and knobs, locks, 2-1/2 inch deck screws, wooden screws, metal mesh and some steel plate gauges. Once you have all these, you can move onto building the smokehouse. 

Also, when selecting the wood you are using for your smokehouse, be sure not to buy wood that is overtreated. That may cause contamination of the meat. But even from the all-natural variety, there are some woods to avoid. These include scrap wood, pine, woods with any fungal or bacterial growth, amber and eucalyptus. 

Step 2: Start with Encasing the Bricks

Similar to concrete-block foundations usually seen in houses and other structures, these square-shaped blocks have concrete that runs through the middle of them – and are more commonly known as cinder blocks. These can cost you somewhere around $1-$3 per block. 

Investing in this is a good idea because it makes for a sustainable and solid base for your smokehouse while being cheap. You will need roughly around 2 dozen of these blocks, with your cost for these adding up to around $70-$80.

Before putting them to assembly, you need to lay a few layers of cement, at 2-3 inches’ distance. This will protect your smokehouse foundation from overheating, oversaturating with smoke and will improve its lifespan. 

Now all you need to do is assemble them in a square, leaving a gaping, open space somewhere near ground level for the connection of the flue pipe. This pipe basically connects the feeder tube to the fire pit and transfers in the smoke. 

Step 3: Building the Hot-box

When you put this segment together, envision something that is tall and robust (almost similar to a big dog house), sitting on the foundation of your cinder block smokehouse. And well, you can make changes to the design to suit your needs – such as making it longer so you can store all your BBQ tools under the roof, instead of somewhere else. And at the roof of it, you will install your chimney, so that the smoke escapes. You can simply do this by making an extra, smaller hotbox with an opening for the smoke to travel toward the chimney above it. 

As for the material – choose something that guarantees value for money. A good option is cedar because it has anti-rotting properties, due to the natural oils that the wood contains. You may also use pure lumber with a weather-resistant coating. We advise you to go for what fits your budget. 

Step 4: Constructing your Fire-Box

Build this using lumber and then layer it with your firebricks, giving it a connection to the hot-box via a flue pipe. And before you encase it, give it an opening on the lumbering box so it doesn’t let any of the smoke leave when it’s working. 

And another important thing to remember is to give it a cement layer with the same 2-3 inch spacing as instructed previously. 

Step 5: Install a Hanging Rack

This just makes your smokehouse way better, in terms of functionality because you can hang and store all your meat. This does, however, depend on how big and tall your smokehouse is, so keep that in mind when you’re going to build it. 

Most commercial smokehouses come with installed racks, so you can take a look at them to model your own. For example, a basic smokehouse has the capacity to set up racks at two varying heights, so your smokehouse doesn’t get crowded. 

So if you install one of your meat racks at the top and one in the middle (and this can work especially well if you install devices in your smokehouse that’s able to alternate the distances of the poles and how far apart they are.)

You can then carve out small pits for the polls to be put in place. And this can be changed as per convenience, and how much space the meat takes up. 

Step 6: Adding Extra Features (Optional) 

When you have the freedom to build your own smokehouse, why not innovate and play around with the design? You can tweak the conventional layout by customizing the features. For instance, you may research and get a bunch of ideas of what you want to do with your smokehouse. 

You can add up storage space, by creating an external and internal cavity to keep the wood logs. You can attach the lumber to your hotbox and create a roof that extends to cover your firewood. 

Additionally, you can also put together a small deck that is connected to the wooden posts that frame the roof, so that you can catch a cup of coffee or tea, while the smokehouse is operating. And if you’re one for a bit of color, just paint the exterior with weather-resistant paint. 

You may also install a door onto your hotbox, with basic materials like some hinges, knobs and steel plate gauges. 

Extra Tips to Remember

For some added security to your foundation, you may add in the firing mortar between the cinder blocks if there is any space that remains empty. This will seal the cinder block boundary and allow the flue pipe opening that runs through the hotbox and into the firebox. This will increase the longevity of your smokehouse. It forms a key aspect of knowing how to build a smokehouse.  

Moreover, to budget the project, simply get an estimate from the market and scoot out versions that are both classics and advances so when you invest in materials for building your own smokehouse, you can break down the cost of making one for your own specific needs. 

The general consensus says that it takes somewhere around $150 – $250 to make your own smokehouse, so now you have a baseline price to stick to.