Pot Smoker

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Smoking Fanatic
Original poster
OTBS Member
Jul 2, 2007
Lakewood, CO
Got your attention didn't I?

I'm just getting started here, and I've already had a few requests for some pix of my flower pot smoker. I've got a couple here for yas.

This setup here is obviously for light work, it'll only hold maybe a 12lb butt at best, but MAN does it do an awesome job. Not just for a lil homemade setup either. I'd put my lil baby up to an equivalent manufactured ceramic smoker and probably turn out better goods. But thats enough bragging for now, I'm a beginner amongst some apparent pros.

Now, I've said before in another thread that I'd love to take credit for this design. Alas I'm not the genious behind this smoker. I'm just spreading the word and saving people money. The inventor of this design is Alton Brown of Good Eats fame on Food Network. His design was slightly different in that he used a bigger, wider lower pot and a bowl shaped pot for the lid. I opted for 2 Azelia pots cause thats what I could find. Plus a Weber Smokey Joe grill grate fits snugly on the lip of the pot. The hot plate power cord fits nicely out the bottom hole of the bottom pot. You will want to place at least three bricks or something under the bottom pot to allow air flow and room for the power cord. Then you place a pie plate directly on the hot plate, throw a few chunks of your favorite wood in it and your ready to go.

Heat control is a bit of an issue here if you have no electronics experience or are wary of voiding warrantees as once the smoker is on and going, theres no real way of controling the heat except for unplugging the hot plate. BUT, a quick run to Radio Shack to pick up a little turn nob and the right stuff to make it safe, you can set up an external temp control knob.
THAN AGAIN, heat control isnt a HUGE issue because of the thermal properties of the terra cotta.

To top it all off, just throw on the top pot and insert a grill thremometer like the one i use off my Weber Performer. The overall cost of my "Pot Smoker" was about $45. Compare that to Store bought ceramic smokers. I haven't found any for less that $500

Interesting set up. It may not be your idea, but you modified it to make it yours. Nice job... now lets see some of that Q View from it

Keep Smokin
I'll post pics when i get something made up on there, it's only been used once so far and I need to season the insides. I'll dafinately post pics of what comes out of the lil guy.
Thats about the price range cmacv. I just don't count the price of the hot plate as I got it as a Christmas present. Depending on the tax rate and prices of various items depending on where you get them, I'd guestimate a price range of $50 - $70. Still far below the asking price of a manufactured ceramic smoker.
The more I look at this thing, the more I like it... I wonder if my wife will miss those two pots on the patio... nahhh, better not.
one more thing, I had a hell of a time finding 1) a round hot plate, and 2) a pot that would fit the hot plate. If there's anything you want to make sure to get right, its that the hot plate will fit in the bottom of the pot you buy. Thats the reason I went with azelia pots rather than the origional design. But as stated before I took the design and made it mine.
What a simplistic idea! Bet you can take a roto drill and drill/carve a small hole/opening in the edge of the top pot, add the thermometer there so as to get the temp at the grate.
Good idea, but I think that once the smoker is up to temp, the ambient temp would be relatively the same throughout the smoker due to the radiation from the pots. But you might be on to something here, I just might have to grab my trusty Drill and poke a hole in the side to test the theory.
I just signed up when I did a Google search for smoked fig recipes and this place popped up. Great place for me, 'cause I'm a total noob at this. I hope you guys are patient. Here goes...

I want to assemble my own terra cotta smoker. I have the electric burner already. Next, I need to select the pots before I get the grill. Makes sense. I'm not sure what size to use, though.

I hear you should get a pot that's much bigger than the burner. If you don't, it could melt, get too hot and constantly shut off which of course is not what I want. So, here are some questions I have.
  • What size are those Azelia pots (inch diameter)?
  • Is burner overheating (melting) a problem?
  • How EXACTLY did you mod your burner?
  • Can you provide more pics? I can't get enough!
Thanks for any help you can offer me! If there are any tips you can offer me, like where to get these items, what items I should use, how I should start using the smoker, etc. I'd appreciate it.
Here's some answers for your questions

What size are those Azelia pots (inch diameter)? I think they are 14.5" at the rim...a smokey joe grill grate should fit snugly in the lip just above the ridge on the inside.

Is burner overheating (melting) a problem? I haven't had a meltdown yet. I'm assuming the plastic is tempered to withstand most of the heat that the heat coil will put out so melting should be the least of your worries.

How EXACTLY did you mod your burner? No mods as of yet. I'm still perfecting the initial design and have plans on putting a dimmer switch on the power cord so I can control the output from outside the smoker. I suddenly feel an urge to rip my hot plate apart to see if there's a thermostat in the hot plates circuit to make it turn off or anything as i've been having heat problems. Maybe it was because I was using an aluminum pie plate (BIG NO NO).

Can you provide more pics? I can't get enough! Sure! I'll do a photo shoot with my smoker tomorrow and get you as many details about it that you could possibly want.

Some extra stuff you might want to know...

DO NOT USE ALUMINUM ON THE HOT PLATE!!! The direct contact with the heating element can ignite the aluminum. I'm no chemestry major so I couldn't tell you how it happens. I just know it does cause it happened to me.

I'm going to try a terra cotta water catcher (the thing that goes under the pot its self) and a steel pie plate to see which works better.

I think thats about it for now. I hope I answered some of your questions to your liking.
Yeah, it sure does. Thanks!

Yeah, I don't like the idea of using aluminum, myself. But, I heard so long you used a HEAVY pie pan, you would be OK. I was thinking of using a stainless steel cake pan, too. Ever try that? I also heard the idea of using a terra cotta water catcher, too. I cannot remember where, though. I've been doing research for this project off and on for a few weeks, now. I've learned some interesting stuff.

I hear you should always use CHUNK hardwood, and not chips. I noticed you use chips. Do they ever flare up? I read chips will burn quickly and could cause temperatures to spike too high. Also, they don't last a long time, so you end up changing them often.

This gets my thinking that I should find a cast iron skillet and use that on the burner. I have a heavy pie pan on the side I was going to use. I think I'll cancel that idea.

Again, great tips. Keep them coming!
I use chunk and chip wood, depends on what I buy and where. There's not enough air flow through the smoker to let the chips ignite if you put it all together right.

Cast iron would be great, but you might have to saw off the handle to fit it in the pot.
I'm actually brainstorming that idea presently. The only problem is that with this setup it's highly impractical since to replenish the coals you will need to pretty much take apart the whole thing to put more coals on. I think a propane setup would be easier to set up. However, with enough brainstorming, it could probably be done.
See? now you went and gave me an idea. I've received questions about setting up this smoker to allow charcoal as the heat source on more than one occasion.

Here's my idear:

The setup will require a third pot of a lesser diameter than the origional bottom pot (from here on he shall be known as the middle pot). The picture I painstakingly drew up in paint in about 15 minutes is a very basic "rough" rough draft of what I was thinking about doing. You take said third pot and drill some vent holes above and below where you will put the charcoal grate, this allows somewhere for the ash to go and provides ventilation for the coals so they can get good and happy (sorry Emeril). Simple huh? The reason for the pot needing to be of a lesser diameter than the middle pot is because if they were the same diameter, they would nest rather nicely, or not so nicely in our case. We want the middle pot to rest just a few inches below the lip of the bottom pot.

Now for the blatently obvious design flaw(s) that i can't seem to figure out a solution for as of yet:

Ventilation. The design I drew up has no way of controling air flow through the bottom pot. That means you could very well be able to get your smoker up to 600* if not more
. That isnt good...I need to figure out a way to have vent covers to restrict air flow so the thing doesn't get rocket hot. I've got some ideas but they all would work best on a flat surface. I need to think round...and simple. If it gets too complicated or expensive, the purpose of this smoker will pretty much be a mute point.

Helpful comments are more than welcome and I will definately post pics of my progress once I start work...now there's the problem of convincing my wife that it's gonna be worth the mess.
VENT COVERS!!! I NEED VENT COVERS!!! Anybody know where I could find vent covers that could be used with what I'm trying to do?
As requested, here's more pix for your viewing enjoyment!

here's my base, three bricks for $.03 at Home Depot. These are probably the most important part as they allow air flow through the bottom to feed the wood, and it also makes a great place for the power cord to poke out of.

Here's the UPC sticker that I still haven't taken off the pots yet so you know what kind of pots I'm using.

I feed my hot plate power cord here through the bottom. Please note the liberal use of polymerized fat globules decorating the inside of the smoker.

Here's the bottom assembled with a soda can in place for size comparison. The grill grate is a replacement cooking grate for a Weber Smokey Joe.

All parts present (minus the "smoke box" you all heard of my adventure with that
) We got 2 Azelia pots of the 14.6" variety, the grill grate that fits ever so snugly over the lip of the pot, the hot plate, and base bricks. The soda can returns again for size comparison.

Thats all there is to it. now, back to the task at hand
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