How to build a fridge smoker

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ty stromquist

Original poster
Jul 23, 2007
Well Im getting a 1945 International Harvester Steel fridge in great shape. In fact it still works for cooling. HA But id like to make it a smoker for deer sticks and sausage.

Ive searched on here but havent found a lot of info.

Also what are your suggestions on if I should go with a cold smoker or hot smoker?

Id prefer electric control.

Also where can I purchase the parts needed?
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I did mine with a side fire box, my brother did his with an electric element and a thermostat controller from Grainger




A kitchen range which is often free has all the parts you need, use the baking element, and oven control.

What type door gasket does the fridge have--if its rubber you likely will want to replace that with a rope like gasket often obtainable from the oven door of a kitchen range, some have a tube of cloth with a spring inside--they work good

What is the inside of the door on the fridge made of? Fiberglass or metal?

Are you planning on adding additional shelving?

How about a vent?
Mine is an old Kenmore freezer, I put a electric replacement element for a Brinkmann in for heat source. I use an thermostat control that I got from Allied-Kenco. It is pricey but basically a plug and play unit. I have a seperate smoke generator that is an old printer cabinet with a hotplate and stainless steel dog dish. This gets piped in to the smoker. I have also just added a Smoke Daddy style generator as well, I'm still tweaking it. The photos are the original incarnation. It's different now. I've also added fire brick to the bottom and am making a perforated sheet metal diffuser plate.



Mulepackin, I am looking to build a similar unit to the one that you have. I am trying to figure out how to make a unit that i can concievably hot and cold smoke with. Is your smoker capable of doing both?? Originally, I was going to just get a PID and a brinkman element and be done with it, but the more that i thought about it, as the element gets closer to temperature with a PID, would i still have the necessary heat to keep my chips smoking?? I just don't know. Also, would i be able to do a cold smoke and maintain a low temperature with a PID with the element and the smoldering chips adding heat to the system?? I guess i thought that an offset firebox with a properly vented box would allow me to maintain the heat in the smoke chamber with the PID without adding much heat from the smoldering chips. Is this the case??

What do you use your smoker for first of all?? :) Any info you could give would be appreciated.
My smoker is primarily for sausage and cured products. I also do jerky, cured turkeys and chickens and plan on bacon and hams. I have done some brisket and ribs on it as well, although I am from the charcoal wood camp when it comes to BBQ. My smoker will do hot and cold smokes very well, but that wasn't my goal when I built it. It is designed so that once I put something inside the meat chamber, I don't have to open it again until it reaches the proper internal temperature. The "cooking" portion, or the actual freezer has the thermo controlled Brinkmann element. The smoke is generated in a separate box alongside. I just changed from the Little Chief box to a metal printer cabinet. Inside that is a 1250 watt hot plate upon which I place a stainless steel pan (dog dish) of sawdust or chips, the smoke is piped into the freezer. I also just added a Smoke Daddy type generator for smoke as well. So my goal was to keep smoking heat and cooking heat sources seperate to prevent heat loss, but it will work beautifully for cold smokes, since the heat required for smoke generation is physically removed from the freezer. Here are some of it's latest pics, as well as a link to the Allied-Kenco



OK, I’m starting a project of building a smokehouse out of an old refrigerator,too. About a year ago I got and old refrigerator gave to me, under the assumption that it work, and I’m sure it did when they took it out of the kitchen. Well when I got it home it didn’t work, I kept it with the idea of a few different projects, and the one that seemed to have won out is a smokehouse for cold smoking. It has some plastic inside but the sides are metal, so my plans are to remove the freezer and plastic out, and cut a 4” hole in the top and bottom of one of the sides. I have a used 16 gal oil drum that I will clean up, cut down to make a smoke box out of using an electric hot plate and saw dust pan or chip box, also going to put a hot plate in the bottom of the refrigerator for a heat source.

For now I’m going to just manually control the heat with an external switch and temperature gauge. With near future plans of adding a thermostat controller to it, as soon as I find a old oven to use the controller out of or save enough money to buy one.

I’ve studied several different web sites on building a smokehouse out of a refrigerator, but all seemed a little incomplete. I keep asking myself if I’m forgetting something, so I’m asking for any ideas or suggestions that might be out there.
Hi Mulepackin, I see that you have a smoke daddy on the side of your smoker. Is the purpose of that primarily for cold smoking?? Would it work to have that as the only source for your smoke?? I am not familiar with the smoke daddies or how they work othere than they say you can light the chips without soaking and get 4-5 hours of smoke out of them, and they said the big kahuna smoke daddy can maintain a good smoke in a fridge sized smoker. My question is would the smoke daddy be a decent option for cold AND hot smoking given the fact that the temperatures are maintained by the internal element in the smoker?? I really like your setup, but i don't understand the need for two smoke sources. Please let me know when you get a minute. Thanks.
My smoker is very similar to Mulepackin's but i used a thermo from an old deli soup warmer to controll my brinkmann element. Works very well for cured sausage and hams. Very good temp controll for low heat cooking. I have never seen the smoke daddy smoke generators before but they look pretty awesome. I was wondering if anyone has ideas for adding convection fans to the smoker? Or steam to increase water retention.
My Smoke Daddy type generator is really an experiment, and work in progress right now. The small box is the main smoke generator. Inside it is a hot plate, upon which the stainless steel pan of chips or sawdust sits. The smoke is passivley ducted into the freezer. But as I stated above, my setup is ideal for cold smoking exactly because my heat sources are seperated. If you chose to go only with a smoke daddy type deal, it should work well for that. My issue right now is that I'm not happy with the quality of smoke it produces, kind of a stale nasty stuff, not sweet and aromatic as it should be. So I'm tweaking my process with it, trying different fuel combos and air controll. I didn't really need two smoke sources, just trying them both. I thought I needed more smoke at one time, but I think I overcame that problem with a different tack.

I have in my opinion built a very nice fridge smoker that performs exceptionally well. It is a smoker that was built with a lot of help here. Mulepackin, Mordach and walleye1 among others that I don't want to leave out but can't remember. Their contributions will be on the thread. It is called start of a fridge conversion by me builder59. I have documented the build so you will be able to order any of the things you may like. It has been used about 40 times now and has seen hundreds of pounds of product, which none have even been close to being overcooked due to the pid for time and temp control.

Any questions you have I'd be glad to help. I wish I knew how to put a link here, maybe one of the moderators will help.

Good luck,
I think if you do a reply message and click on this icon in the tool bar you can insert your link.

How is your "cycle" time on your PID?

I would like to be able to "adjust" the range a little so its not kicking in so often.

I have used it a few times and maybe I am just over concerned. They work great at keeping temp.
My father in law and I are building our own fridge smoker. I was going to do an electric element and wood chip pan right in the fridge on the bottom with a drip pan on a shelf above? I am seeing seperate smoke houses, comments on PID (??) etc. is there a better way than I am planning?
Hey, check out ScooterMagoo's post on this site to see a killer fridge conversion. It's what dreams are made of. He offers a ton of good info and he also used a Smoke Daddy pellet burner in it. Anyway, it is gorgeous! Good luck and keep us posted on your progress! is reader supported and as an Amazon Associate, we may earn commissions from qualifying purchases.

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