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Tparker424 Writes:

"For Father's Day my twin sons gave me the pieces to make a homemade smoker they saw on a Good Eats cooking show and it works great. It consists of 2 large clay/ceramic flower pots, a low cost single burner electric hotplate, a STEEL pie pan and a 12-14" round replacement grill. The bottom clay pot has a ID of 161/2 in. and stands about 16 in. tall. Select the top pot so it will just fit upside down inside the bottom pot (mine top pot has an OD of 16 in.). Make sure the the bottom pot has a drain hole large enough to run the hotplate power cord thru. If you have to buy everything new, should not cost more than $60.00.

To set-up, place the bottom pot on a couple of bricks or 2X4's (the bottom of the pot stays cool). Place the hotplate in the bottom of the pot and run the power cord out the bottom. Set the thermostat of the hotplate on high. Place the pie pan on the hotplate and fill with dry wood chips/chunks of your choice. Place the circular grill inside the bottom pot, place the meat on the grill, place the inverted top pot on top of the lower pot and plug in the hotplate power cord. If using an extension cord, make sure its rated for at least 15 amps.

Ours starts smoking within a couple of minutes and with a full pan of wood (using approx 2X2 in. chunks) will generate coupious amounts of smoke for up to 3 hours before refilling the pan. The smoker maintains a temp. as measured with a digital thermometer between 170-215 degrees as the hotplate cycles on and off. We recently cooked a 7 lbs. pork butt for 14 hours and it came out fantastic. We have also smoked chicken quarters for 3 hours and then finished them in the oven for about 30 minutes, testing with a internal thermometer for doneness. The pots hold the heat well but do not get hot enough for bad burns. The steel pie pan shields the meat from the direct heat and other than filling the pie pan with wood a few times, not much to do but watch it smoke.


June 13, 2006 at 4:34 pm
(1) Bill Hunt says:

Thank you very much for publishing the how to of the Good Eats ceramic smoker cooker. I am planning to buold one and I feel this will help. Bill

June 19, 2006 at 10:15 am
(2) mike heenan says:

I followed your instructions to a “T” however my ribs came out tasting like a cigarette? what did I do wrong?

June 26, 2006 at 10:03 am
(3) Andrew says:

Answering Mr Heenan’s question, the choice of wood can have a great influence on the flavor. If he got a tar like flavor, perhaps he was not using hard woods. Just like in your fireplace, the use of pine and other conifers, leads to creosote.

August 14, 2006 at 12:20 am
(4) Paul Caruso says:

I tried it a few days after it appeared on tv but my elecrtic element which I took from a flavorwave oven because it had a thermostat control however inclosed in the clay pot it got to hot and began to melt ..what kind of hot plate did u use???

October 10, 2006 at 2:27 pm
(5) Rick says:

I put together a flower pot smoker using an 18″ pot. I used an old weber clone lid I had from an old BBQ. The hot place was from Wal-mart. The plate went in the bottom, the pie tin on the plate for the wood chips. (home made oak chips)A water pan (8X8) hanging about 6″ below the grill by small lengths of coat hanger. Then the grill. The lid had adjustable vents. I had trouble getting the hot plate from kicking on and off (would only stay around 175 deg) After taking it apart and removing the switch it worked great. Heated up to around 225 deg. (measured by a deep fryer thermometer.) For a test I did a small tri-tip. I used Mccormick steak rub. Took about 3-1/2 hrs adding chips about each 45 min. or so. Came out GREAT!! Moist and done. Best smoke flavor I have ever had!! I’m not sure how long the hot plate will hold up but it sure is a lot of fun.


March 16, 2007 at 1:33 pm
(6) andy says:

Alton Brown is the Mr. wizard of the food world! I watch his show every day. i will give this smoker a go and let u know how it turns out!!!

June 23, 2007 at 4:26 pm
(7) jeff says:

I have also seen the good eats episode and interested in the flower pot smoker. Any ideas on the cost of running a typical electric hot plate for 12-14 hrs. Convenience and consistent heat certainly considered a plus.

September 24, 2007 at 7:48 pm
(8) Shane says:

estimating 1500W hot plate.

16-21 kWh X your utility rate.

at .10/kWh $1.60 –> $2.10

if your rate is higher multiply that number (say .16 kWh multiply by 1.6)

November 23, 2007 at 9:22 pm
(9) Donald says:

I made the flower pot smoker. it works great and is a wonderful conversation piece. A copious amount of smoke is generated.
Sometimes I run the smoker with just the wood and no meat, just to drive the brothers down the street crazy.
I did get a hot plate but couldn’t keep the temp up enough (it went on and off) like Rick’s.

I then got an electric burner from an electric stove, ran 220 to it and got all the heat I needed.

I then had a young techy guy make me an electronic controller to turn the 220 on and off.

It maintains + or – 15 degrees and can be set anywhere from 100 to 400 f.

Makes the best BBQ I ever had

March 11, 2008 at 12:40 pm
(10) Michael Reardon says:

Might more moisture be retained in the meat if the top pot was soaked first (like a clay pot oven cooker)?

April 3, 2008 at 11:17 pm
(11) Becky says:

Just to let you know, after the cost of the flower pots, hot plate, grill grate, and pie plate, you could buy a cheap electric smoker that is actually made for smoking. That way you don’t have to remove the top, take off the meat, and lose all the heat just to change the wood chips. I priced it out, and just the terracotta planters are $20 a piece.(at Menards, hardware store)

April 24, 2011 at 11:43 pm
(12) Denise says:

Life isn’t always about the easy way out. Sometimes it more fun to be able to tell you friends you made the smoker and something made out of a flower pot I can’t imagine why it wouldn’t be quite the conversation piece with family and friends. I sure am amazed and actually would like the complete directions to make one.

June 2, 2008 at 3:17 pm
(13) Smokin' says:

“you could buy a cheap electric smoker that is actually made for smoking” …

I would put the emphasis there on “cheap”. Terracotta or ceramic type materials are far superior to metal for this application. There *is* a reason big green eggs cost so much.. and for smoking this design is actually superior to that, not gonna even start to compare it to a cheapo metal gizmo.

June 30, 2008 at 12:48 pm
(14) Sterling says:

The resourcefullness and sometimes inconvenience of it makes it fun and worthwhile…the McGiver factor, if you will. I would suggest a drip pan – or a bigger pie tin. I didn’t trim enough fat off and I’ve had the woodchip pie tin overflow with drippings and short out my hot plate. A water pan may also do the trick. Anyone figure a way to hold the heat on these in the winter time?

August 20, 2008 at 12:57 pm
(15) amy says:

IF you don’t have a hot plate…would using a bunch of hot coals under the wood chip pan work? How did the pioneers do it with out electricity?

September 19, 2008 at 11:04 am
(16) Kevin says:

I would like to make the smoker, but my wife is concerned that the clay pots may not be safe to cook in. Can anyone tell me if the pots or glaze used on the pots would contaminate the food while cooking? Thanks!

November 2, 2008 at 12:10 pm
(17) jim says:

Never use a glazed pot! It’s for the very reason your wife worries about. Only unglazed pots

March 6, 2009 at 9:39 pm
(18) Mick (australia) says:

I’ve built one based on a trash can and like Rick (comment 5) I have trouble with the hotplate switching on/off and limiting the heat to around 180f.

Rick (or anyone else) how did you go about removing the thermostat/ switch? Any help would be great!

Smoking food is nearly unpracticed in Austraila, I made a smoker because I couldn’t find a decent sized electric one for sale anywhere!!!

July 13, 2010 at 10:14 am
(19) Bryson Rast says:

The least expensive smoker option I have seen is the ‘Old Smokey’ grills made in Texas and have a cult following apparently.

They have a variety of sizes and the option of electric, I am thinking of getting the small one for $28 :


July 8, 2012 at 11:40 pm
(20) Olen says:

Sorry about you fellas that are complaining about maintaining temps of 225 or so, but smoking is, and should be, slow. The best smoked food I have eaten is from a chef who smokes in homemade smokers made from 275 gallon fuel oil tanks. That’s a lot of cubic inches to heat up and I doubt that his temperature is up at 225 for the 9 hours he smokes each batch of meats. But, his product is wonderful.

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