How to Make a Tabletop Smoker

BBQ Smoke

Instructions courtesy Elliott Moss, Buxton Hall Barbecue, Asheville, NC.

If you don’t have a grill, make your own. Set this smoker up outdoors (not on your kitchen tabletop, despite the name) and you’ll be ready to smoke pork, beef, chicken, or anything else that will fit inside.

What You'll Need
  • Wood chips, 2 handfuls (Moss recommends a mix of hickory and apple woods)
  • Water, cider vinegar or beer
  • 6-inch-deep, full-size aluminum hotel pan (Note: hotel pans can be purchased online or at a restaurant supply store)
  • 2 ½-inch-deep, full-size aluminum perforated hotel pan
  • Heavy-duty aluminum foil
  • Gas burner (like a turkey fryer burner or a side burner on a gas grill)
  • Oven, range, or gas grill along with a resting rack or wire rack and cookie sheet to finish cooking

Soak the wood chips for 20 minutes in water, cider vinegar or beer.

After the chips are soaked, drain the excess liquid and place the chips in a small pile inside the 6-inch hotel pan. Then place the perforated hotel pan inside the 6-inch pan.

Place seasoned meat on top of the perforated pan; make sure to leave plenty of the holes uncovered by the food, so the smoke can escape.

Wrap the top and sides of the pan tightly with heavy-duty foil. You don’t want any spaces uncovered where smoke can come out the side (this might take 2-3 sheets of foil). Once the pan is covered up, cut a quarter-size hold in the top. This will be the vent for the smoke.

Place the pan on a gas burner, doing your best to line up the burner to where the wood chips are inside the pan. Turn the burner to high. Once you see smoke – it won’t take long—turn the burner to low. You want to see a light stream of smoke coming out of the vent. (Note: if the smoke turns a yellowish color, the wood chips are spent. Use gloves to remove the old wood chips and add fresh ones.)

Published on May 25, 2017
About the Author
Kara Newman 
Spirits Editor

Kara Newman reviews spirits and writes about spirits and cocktail trends for Wine Enthusiast. She’s the author of several cocktail books, including Shake.Stir.Sip., NIGHTCAP: More than 40 Cocktails to Close Out Any Evening and Cocktails With a Twist, released August 2019. Email:

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