You might not know it but building a sausage smoker is pretty simple. Using just a few things that you might have laying around your house, you can construct a mean smoking machine, cooking up sausages with flavors that you can’t imagine.

You can build a homemade sausage smoker in just a few simple steps using things like clay pots, trashcans, and even an old file cabinet. All you need is a closed space, a heat source, and your favorite sausages.

Sausage Smoker Essentials: Here’s What You’ll Need

older employee standing in smokehouse with smoked sausages

When smoking meats, there are a few things you will need. Before taking off and using your imagination for your homemade sausage maker, check out the essentials you’ll need to make it work.

A Chamber

This is one of the most essential parts of the smoker, as it works to retain the smoke and heat. This is where the creativity can come in, allowing you to use anything that has sturdy walls that won’t melt when you turn up the heat.

A Heat Source

To get things smoking on the inside, the heat has to come from somewhere. That’s why you need a heat source to come in and start getting the smoke going. You can use an electric burner or many other types of heat sources for your smoker.

A Rack or Rod

You can’t just throw your meat in and smoke them. You have to have something to sit them on or hang them on so they get a nice, even cook. For sausage, it’s common to have a rod, adding several links to one and letting them hang so they get a nice, smoky flavor.

A Pan

On the bottom of your smoker, you’ll need to put a pan to add things like wood chips or sawdust. These will keep your smoker going and make sure that your sausage comes out with a savory flavor.

A Thermometer

Because you don’t want to let the smoke out, it’s recommended to have a thermometer on the outside that will indicate the temperature on the inside. This will help you track the temperature and decrease or increase if needed.

3 DIY Ways to Build your Own Sausage Smoker

smoker grill with turkey and smoked sausage

Now that you know the essentials, it’s time to start getting your creative juices flowing. There are tons of ways to make a homemade sausage smoker, a few of which we’ll share below. Use them as inspiration or copy them to try out your first batch of homemade smoked sausage.

1. The Refrigerator Smoker – The Best Homemade Sausage Smoker

If you’ve got an old fridge lying around, you can actually gut it out and turn it into a pretty sweet smoker. The sealed doors and sturdy walls are perfect for smoking up some sausage,  keeping all the smoke in, and maintaining the temperature.

If you decide on a fridge smoker, here’s what you’ll need to do.

Step 1. Gut It

First thing’s first, you’ll need to gut out the entire fridge. Remove shelves, compartments, and all other parts that were used to hold contents. You want it to just be a large, empty space that you can eventually fill up with meats and wood.

Step 2. Hook Up Some Brackets

L-brackets are used to support things like wire racks. Add some small one’s in your fridge, making at least one and up to 4 depending on how large your fridge is and what kind of cooking you hope to be doing.

Step 3. Add Ventilation

You’ll need some form of ventilation to allow the smoke to keep on rolling. To do that, you can cut a hole in the top of your fridge. Go for one that‘s around 4 inches, as this will give you plenty of space to work with.

Step 4. Hot Plate

While you might be able to use a different kind of heat source, an electric plate works pretty solid. Place it at the bottom of the fridge and stream the cord outside of the door. If you want to get fancy, you can drill a small hole to feed the cord through to place it out of sight.

Step 5. Thermometer

To add a thermometer to your fridge, you could just drill a hole on the side and feed it through. This will allow you to check the temperature on the inside at any given time to make sure it’s right where you want it.

And that’s it! From there, all that’s left to do is find your preferred sausage, set it up the way you want, and light up your homemade smoker to get it started. As you gain experience, you can make improvements as you go.

2. The Trash Can Smoker – Easiest Homemade Sausage Smoker

Though it might sound kind of ick, using a trashcan is a great way to make your homemade smoker. It has the perfect shape and it’s already gutted out. All you’ll have to do is set it up the way you like, add some heat, and then you can smoke your sausage in little to no time at all.

If you have an old trashcan around the house, here’s how you can convert it into your next smoker.

Step 1. Setup your Hotplate

The hotplate will go at the bottom of your trashcan, so you’ll only have to plop it in. You can cut a hole in the bottom or side, using it to feed the chord through and also have a source for fresh air to come through. Try and cut a hole that’s about an inch in diameter.

Step 2. Add Supports

You may want to have some spots within your homemade trashcan smoker to add racks. If you do, then you’ll need to add L-brackets at equal heights for the number of racks you want. Then, you can choose to place racks in when you cook or not.

FYI: Racks are pretty easy to find, most of them coming with a fairly low cost. You can use those from a grill you have on hand or even purchase them at little to no cost.

Step 3: Add Thermometer

Lastly, all you’ll need to do is cut a small opening on the side or at the top to add your thermometer. Don’t forget that you need a hole toward the top for ventilation, so you may need to add another if you choose to add your thermometer on the top.

Keep In Mind: While the trashcan smoker is one of the easiest, there are some things to consider. For instance, you will have to lift out racks at least a few times while your sausage is smoking, replacing, or shaking up the wood chips.

You may need to plan for that before creating your setup, making it easier for you to get done.

3. The Clay Pot Smoker – The Most Creative Homemade Sausage Smoker

Clay has been used for slow cooking for centuries, maintaining the heat that gives foods an even cook. It’s no surprise that some savvy DIYers have found a way to create a clay smoker, using nothing but clay pots around their home.

If this one seems more up your alley, here is what you’ll need to do.

Step 1. Find your Pots

If you’re a plant enthusiast, more than likely you have two clay pots lying around. If not, you could purchase them, buying two that you can use together to create a sealed clay object. Try and find one larger and one slightly smaller.

Step 2. Find Bricks

Clay pots shouldn’t be kept on the floor, requiring something that will lift them up off the ground. The best things to use are 2x4s or bricks. Using 2 to 4 place around the base to lift your clay pot smoker off the ground at least a few inches.

Add the larger pot to the bricks or 2x4s, turning the smaller pot upside down and placing it on top of the larger just like a lid.

Step 3.  Place your Hotplate

Just like all the others, you’ll need to add your hotplate. Do so at the bottom and run the cord out of the drainage hole. It’s almost like they were meant to be smokers!

Step 4. Add Racks

There are round racks found on round grills, which are perfect for clay pot smokers. Add one to your clay pot smoker to place the sausage on top.

Step 5. Add Thermometer

There is also a drainage hole at the bottom of the smaller clay pot which is perfect for adding a thermometer. Be sure to add one so you can check the temp throughout cooking time.

This is not only one of the easiest but one of the best smokers, as the heat stays in and the smoke gets dispersed evenly throughout all of the sausages.

Heat Sources for your Smoker

pile of wood pellets in front of open flames

Apart from knowing how to set up your homemade smoker, it’s also necessary to know how to heat it up and get it smoking. While the most common source of heat for homemade smokers is a hot plate, the things that produce smoke can be all sorts of things. A few of the most popular include:

  • Wood chips
  • Charcoal
  • Sawdust
  • Wood pellets

Guide To Smoking Your First Batch of Sausage

man bakes trout in a homemade electric smoker

Once you have your smoker set up, it’s time to start smoking. If you’re a first-timer, here is what you’ll need to do.

1. Pick your Sausage

Among the most popular for smoking are Italian, Summer, and Polish. However, if you have one you fancy, go with that one and get it ready.

2. Start your Smoker

Turn on the heat source and let your smoker heat up to 250°F. Don’t be in a hurry to get it there, let it reach the temperature gradually.

3. Add Fuel

Whether it’s wood, charcoal, or sawdust, you’ll need to add your fuel.

4. Add Sausages

Now it’s time to add the sausages, placing them either on a rack or hanging them up.

5. Close Up and Wait

Once you’re loaded, you’ll need to close the lid and sit back and wait. Check the temperature here and there and turn them after about 45 minutes to make sure they get a nice, even smoke.

Getting your homemade sausage smoker set up is simple, you just have to be creative. Check out our top 3 sausage smokers and see what your imagination can cook up for your next homemade smoker.

bratwurst cooking on grill

Frequently Asked Questions

How long does it take to smoke homemade sausage?

Sausage doesn’t take too long when it’s in a smoker. You can have juicy, smoky, ready-to-eat sausage in about 3 hours with the temperate controlled at 250°F. Be sure that you’re flipping them over at least every 45 minutes.

What is the best heat source for a DIY smoker?

You can use DIY smokers with several heat sources but, one of the best is a hotplate. Hotplates help to create an even temperature on the inside, also allowing you to choose materials like wood, sawdust, and more for extra smoking.

Which fuel source for smokers should I use?

Speaking of wood and sawdust, there are the two most common fuel sources for smokers. DIY sausage smokers can also keep going strong with help from charcoal briquettes, which will give the sausage a unique flavor.

How can I make a cheap smoker?

As long as you have a large container and a heat source, you can make a smoker. On our list of the top 3 homemade sausage smokers, it’s the trashcan that’s the cheapest, as it’s already gutted and comes with plenty of space.

Close to that is the refrigerator, though you’d need to have it gutted before beginning.

Is it healthy to eat smoked meat?

Sausage comes with vitamin D, vitamin B6, and thiamin, all of which we need. Still, sausage is something you want to keep on your plate in moderation, ensuring that you don’t overdo it as it tends to be fatty meat.