Refridgerator Smoker

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Fire Starter
Original poster
Feb 9, 2007
So today a friend of mine told me he has an old refridgerator he wants to get rid of and asked if I wanted it. I said YYYEESSS. Now I have searched and read all the threads on this topic and even had the pleasure of chatting with Cajun but I still have some questions.

First my buddy says the refridgerator has already been gutted - it is now nothing but a big metal box - no plastic or insulation. I guess he tried turning it into a smoker but lost interest or just did not need something that big. It is the style with one big door and the rounded top. Right now there are no vents or anything so it will require work.

Here are my Questions:

1. For the top vent would just a stack coming out of the top be fine or would it be better to run the stack deeper into the box so the opening for the vent stack is about half way down inside? Will this keep more smoke in the box?

2. My buddy removed the seal around the door so the door it sounds like does not seal tight - he said when he used it smoke would come out from around the door. I think this might be a problem. Can I reseal it or not worry about it? What keeps the seal from melting at 220 degrees?

3. What is the best heat sorce to use. I will probably go with gas or electric since I already have a charcoal smoker. Can I just buy replacement parts for a gas grill and use them to control the temp? If I go electric will a normal single burner from Kitchen Collection create enough heat to get up to 220?

Other wise I can't wait to go pick it up when I have the time. Do my mods, put some wheels on it, paint it and start smoking.

Any help or ideas is always appreciated.

Thanks Cheech on the tips. Glad I asked about running the stack down in cause I probably would have done that.

I think I will look for someone tossing their old gas grill to get controllers and such.

My buddy says there is a place underneath where the compressor used to be. I am hoping it is big enough to use as my heat box. Place my burner and smoke box in there, cut a hole to the top and there we go. I will know more when I see it.
Oh and a name.... Have to think of that one. I guess "the smoker" is not original enough huh?
Im in the process of doing the same thing, in your message you mention he removed the insulation, was that because the box was plastic and when he removed the plastic he had to remove the insualation or because he thot the insulation would catch fire behind the metal linning?

for heat on mine i had a old portable gas grill (small) i punche a 3/4 hole on the side and stuck the small part of the gas element thru it leaving the element inside the box and the control outside
Hanifen,I emailed you the pics I had.It should give you some things to go on.As far as a burner if you dont want to scavenge from an old grill or oven I bought a burner from Its from the guy that sent me the pics I sent you.I spent some time talking with Ed and decided that I would try one of his units.They may not seem like the cheapest deal out there but I have read a lot of positive comments on other sites about these.
Uff Da! You should have a damper in/on the exhaust stack to help control the flow through the smoker. It can be as simple as a moveable cover on top of the stack or it could be an actual damper inside the stack, such as used with wood stoves.
You can buy replacement door seal material. In this application just glue it in place. Might use automotive adhesive used for door seals.
Glad to see some folks in the miniapple starting to smoke. When I lived up there the neighbors thought I was nuts when I had the smoker going and it was 23 below and snowing sideways. They liked my ribs though, you betcha!
PeculiarMike, glad to see your post. Are you going to be going to the SMF Gathering this June 15th and 16th? Would love to have you and any family there.
Thanks for all the replies...

Stiffy - I think he ripped out the insulation just cause he wanted it to get down to just a plain metal box. I am not sure if it orginially had a metal lining or a plastic one, but I will have to ask him.

Coz - Those pics are great and I can only hope my smoker looks as great as that one does. I think what I am going to do is just put out the word looking for someone who is throwing away their old gas grill. Most gas grills don't last very long so there are lots of them getting tossed each year. I do like how he configured the burner and so I will take that to mind when I start working on mine.

Peculiarmike - I think I will have to check into a stack damper - I feel that would be the best way to go. I also though about putting a small damper at the bottom for air flow as well. What do you think about using register as a damper - you know like you have on forced air heating. They have the little adjuster that will open and close them - just an idea.

On the door seal either Cajun or Cheech had mentioned using high temp caulking around the door to seal it. Wonder where you find that? If I just put is regular refrigerator seal back in it would I have to worry about the heat melting it?

Yea Mike not many smokers here in the Twin Cities but we do exist. Couple weeks ago I was out smoking in -9 degrees and the wind chill was -26 degrees. My trusting smoker never flinched. Its always nice when your meat freezes just in transporting it to the smoker. LOL

I am hoping that in the week after next I will be able to go over to my buddies house and pick up the frig. Least then I will be able to see it and know what I have to work with.

I also plan on running a couple stainless steal rods through the sides at the top so I will be able to hang sausage to smoke. That is what I really can not wait to use this for. My currrent smoker I can really only fit about 15 - 20 lbs so when your doing 50 lbs it can be a pain.

I will keep you all updated.

Thanks again.
Register in the bottom with a damper in the stack would give you really good regulation, allow you to fine tune to control heat and smoke.
I think a regular fridge door seal would hold up okay. You are not subjecting it to that much heat and it would seal really well. Shame the original seal is gone.
Make sure you install a good thermometer to keep track of interior temp. and drill some access for a probe cable if you use a remote meat thermometer. I have a Brookstone Grill Alert Remote Talking Thermometer and I drilled a 1/2" hole in the lid of my ECB to route the probe cable through.
Smoke on! Spring and ice out are coming! Makes me want to get back up there and hit Chisago, Green and Coon lakes for bass, or go on up to Vermillion for smallmouth, crappie and walleye in June.
Pigcicles -
Yep, Jane and I will be there. I told her to make sure she is not traveling those dates. She gets around as the midwest H.R. person for her co., keeps me in the manner to which I have become accustomed. She's outta here for Tulsa a couple days this week.
We'll probably tote the ECB and Harley along in the toyhauler. Might bring the Champion and fish a bit.
So I have been out searching the web to see if I could find something out in other places about building a smoker out of a frig (No I am not cheating on you just window shopping is all). To my surprise there is almost nothing out there. I few hits here and there but nothing close to what I have found out here. I guess maybe frig smokers are not a popular as I thought they would be.

Oh well I know I can't wait to build mine.
you sound as excited as i was was last week when i picked up my refrigerator to convert into a smoker, i did some research and i found what year mine is its a 1938 frigidair meter miser, its the coolest box, so im trying to be careful with my conversion so that to maintain the intergrity of the style and looks, ill finish this weekend and post a picture, i am useing a metal louvered vent on mine like you mentioned
Hanifen -

I probably don't need to suggest this but then we can't think of everything...

To make a custom door gasket, run a bead of caulk around the door put a stip of plastic wrap over it oiled over the caulk and close the door normally. Let it sit for the recommend cure time and open the door and remove the wrap.

Well time finally is getting on my side and so this weekend I will finally get the time to work on my smoker.

Here are some more info I found out after picking up the fridge from my buddy.

It is an old GE and it has a metal inside box so all the insulation (which looks like nothing but several sheets of paper pressed together) is still intact.

For fuel I will be using gas. Am buying a cast iron two burner stove from Habor Freight - heres the link:

Will put out 30K BTU's so that should be good - plus I can control it with the values. will run a copper hook up from this to the outside of the fridge and then hook the rubber hose, regulator and propane tank to that. On top of the burner will sit a cast iron skillet to hold the wood chips.

Am going to buy a couple thermometers and place one toward the bottom and one to the top so I can see how good my temp control is.

Already have 4 racks in it and they can slide in and out easily. I will also be installing two rods at the top so I can hang sausage since that is what I smoke a lot of.

Some vents and a stack and I think I will be good to go.

Once it is done I will post some pics.

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