How to Build a Smokehouse In Your Backyard (with Pictures)

By Anne February 13, 2017 14:43

How to Build a Smokehouse In Your Backyard (with Pictures)

One of the best and tastiest ways to conserve meat is to smoke it. The meat is delicious, and if you keep it in a cool, dry place, it can last up to a year and sometimes even longer.

The system used is pretty simple. You make a fire, and the smoke goes through a long tube or pipe. The smoke will then cool down and reach the meat at the appropriate temperature (85 degrees to 125 degrees Fahrenheit).

Here is a step-by-step guide for building a smokehouse right in your own backyard:

Step 1:

Dig the groove. The fire pit will be built downward so that the smoke can go upward. 

Step 2:

A pipe should be laid out between the holes so that the smoke can travel to the meat.

Cement was put in the first hole to create a floor.

Step 3:

The fire pit was built using bricks and cement.How to Build a Smokehouse 24

Step 4:

A cast iron door was installed in front of the fire pit.

Step 5:

Line the hole for the actual smokehouse with bricks.

How to Build a Smokehouse 28A fire was lit to make sure everything was in order.

Step 6:

You need wood pallets, preferably hard wood, to build the foundation for the smokehouse. Ideally, the trees used to construct the smokehouse should be cherry, pear, apple, or apricot.

A space for the horn has been carved out and for the wires used to hang the meat on.

The finished product:How to Build a Smokehouse 26

Step 7:

Dirt was put around and over the pipe, and wood pallets were used as steps.

The smokehouse has been painted and is used regularly.

Here are the meats being smoked.

Photos from

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By Anne February 13, 2017 14:43
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  1. Jean February 13, 15:23

    This is excellent information. Also the links to follow. Thank you. We are anxious to build this. ( after we get rid of two more feet of snow! )

    Reply to this comment
    • Govtgirl April 10, 15:38

      Very straight forward. Elegant, but simple design. Now that you have experience with it, is there anything you would do differently if building another one today?

      Reply to this comment
  2. WILDBILL February 13, 15:50

    What are the measurements for the smokehouse itself ?

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    • bullmaster February 14, 02:04

      it fit foundation perfectly so,that was given,loos like 11 4 in slats, and a 2 in base toset on and it lookes squared,,simple math

      Reply to this comment
  3. SFC TimTimer February 13, 15:54

    Excellent Report and design. Your service to and Im sure other subscribers is appreciated. Thanks from a 3rd generation U.S. Army, Navy and Marine Corps Veteran.

    Reply to this comment
    • PB- dave February 13, 22:18

      Thanks to all vets for their service !
      My GrandPa was fighting with the Belgian army in WWI until the Germans kicked their butt, then fought 4 more years with the French in the trenches. In 1918 he brought his family to the US and gave up the Flemish, French, and duetch languages and spoke only “American”……. they never looked back.

      Reply to this comment
  4. Sharon February 13, 16:33

    Great idea but I need plans above ground as there is no way I can dig 23 inches in the rock and high water table that I have.

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    • Graham February 13, 20:12

      You can try building the walls of the tunnel with the same bricks that you use for the fire pit. I don’t know if it would work but it feels like it would.

      Reply to this comment
    • Shafer1 February 16, 18:06

      Just build it above ground and raise the smoke house higher than the fire box. Pretty simple. One with a low foundation. The other with a higher foundation. Cover the pipe with wheater you want for decoration.

      Reply to this comment
    • Hulkingfyrftr January 31, 19:01

      Hello Sharon, I had much the same problem where I used to live, and found a way to do it anyway. I built a masonry foundation wall that gave me the required rise. Then I put the smoke piping around it, and then added another course of decorative retaining wall stones outside that, and backfilled it with sand. So the fire box was at ground level, and on one side of the foundation of the smoke house. This does add to the cost, but it worked well for me. Hope it helps.

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  5. praise February 13, 16:37

    Thank you for such clear instructions…Great pics…

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  6. left coast chuck February 13, 17:36

    This is an interesting and informative article. However, unless one has a large yard and lots of time on their hands, a simpler method of obtaining a smoker and probably at close to the same cost is to go on line to and purchase the Weber barbecue smoker for $200? My daughter gave me one and it is large enough to smoke a 25 pound turkey. It wouldn’t smoke a whole ham hock, but I think if you are going to start smoking a whole hog or whole steer you will need something bigger than the smokehouse described here. If you have refrigeration and can store the meat so that you can smoke the pig a little at a time, then a smokehouse the size of the one in the article is fine. On the other hand, the world has ended and you need to smoke ole’ Porky, you need to get him in the smokehouse before he turns rancid. That’s why most of the slaughtering was done in the fall or early winter. @Sharon: go on line and look for smokers, not just on Amazon.

    Reply to this comment
    • The Crusty Crow February 14, 03:31

      I think the difference between this smoke house and the Amazon Weber smoker and others like it is that this is considered a cold smoker. The long length of pipe cools the smoke resulting in a longer smoking process. The other types of smokers are called hot smokers and in addition to smoking the meat, they also slowly cook it. I can’t say if one is better than the other. Personal preference I guess.

      Reply to this comment
    • BillK January 8, 22:13

      How BIG do you think a ‘ham hock’ is?
      A ham hock (or hough) or pork knuckle is the joint between the tibia/fibula and the metatarsals of the foot of a pig, where the foot was attached to the hog’s leg. It is the portion of the leg that is neither part of the ham proper nor the ankle or foot (trotter), but rather the extreme shank end of the leg bone.

      It is much smaller than a chicken.

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  7. left coast chuck February 13, 17:42

    I might add that once upon a time and far, far away, people had larger yards and we burned our leaves in the fall. Today in many locales burning leaves is against APCD rules and will get you a citation. In the Peepuls Republik there are days when burning wood in your indoor fireplace is proscribed. I have read that even in Alaska the out-of-control feds want to ban wood burning fireplaces, so I imagine smoking ole Porky in your back yard is liable to bring the APCD swat team armed to the teeth with full auto M-4s crashing into your back yard in their M-RAP with its M-2A in the turret pointed at your head. I’m only half kidding.

    Reply to this comment
    • PB- dave February 13, 22:07

      No No Chuck, look at it this way…. you are preparing food, not unlike a grill or BBQ.
      Even in the Peoples Republic of Illinois, they allow “ceremonial fires”, and cook-outs 🙂

      Reply to this comment
  8. Val February 13, 18:48

    For those who can not dig you might just make the smokehouse higher than the fire pit. Should work the same. You would need to put dirt over the pipe so that the smoke is cooled.

    Reply to this comment
    • Mike April 10, 18:37

      We used an old refrigerator as the house. A control vent was cut in the top for a vent and we used a hot plate and cast iron pan for the smoke. This is hot smoking. I imagine cold smoking could be done using the pipe to get the smoke into the box. Mike

      Reply to this comment
  9. Pityu February 13, 22:37

    So when I was a wee lad…
    Grandma & Grandpa came to visit, we got a pig and butchered and made sausage and the four hocs brined in the there too all tied to our Bunk bed ladder. We lived in the projects in Delray and it was 90% black the cops came through all the time and actually gave dad the warning that he Will Not do this again or a big fine. Dad reworked the connections of the walls so it could be broken down by pulling four pins. So we the boys were set up as relay spotters for THE MAN.
    Parents were Legal immagrants to the USA. REFUGEES running from the USSRs Communistic soul oppressing ideology of BALANCE FOR ALL…

    Reply to this comment
    • Magyarapa1956 August 28, 17:54

      Before we moved from upstate NY my family would join with 3 other Hungarian immigrant families and have a “pig slaughter” once a year. Depending on the size of the hogs (usually 400lbs. plus each) 2 or 3 split 4 ways lasted each family almost a year. Safe, less expensive, easy to store, great taste, much better than store bought and a great socializing event. What could be better?

      Reply to this comment
  10. RayK February 14, 09:41

    I’ve been looking for a place that sells the cast iron door and frame, but can’t find one. Where did this one come from???


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  11. Dlt February 15, 00:52

    You could use the door from a barrel stove kit.

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  12. Hoss February 16, 04:02

    Thank You so much for the clear instructions. I remember my grandfather haveing something like this when I was little. But really only remember the great smell. and of course the great taste of the meats. Ive always wanted to build one.

    Reply to this comment
  13. Marcus Lobenstein February 17, 16:15

    We made one easier than this. You can see me using it in the video.

    Reply to this comment
  14. Russ February 26, 19:57

    I use old truck brake drums for fires and other projects.
    Can be cut with an angle grinder and also drilled for door bolts. They last forever and most are giveaways.
    Plate steel is ok for low intensity fires as doors.
    Hollow logs can be used as the smoker room, just add a roof and cut door with hinges.

    Reply to this comment
  15. PatFromQuebec April 22, 01:37

    Great smoke house. Could you provide infos on the door cost and seller please? Thank you !

    Reply to this comment
  16. Teddy August 28, 19:09

    What do you plan on doing with that tiny thing

    Reply to this comment
  17. Jonsey December 31, 14:54

    You people should try Lemanns out of Ohio. They cater to the Ohio and Pennsylvania Dutch.. Have tons of tools and well hand pumps etc etc for off the grid. Very nice retail store! Have website!

    Reply to this comment
  18. Clergylady December 31, 21:23

    Grandpa’s smokehouse was built from the squared trunks of trees from the farm. It was pegged. Well sealed room. Smokey fire was built in a wide shallow hole in the middle of the room. Hams and wild turkeys were memorable.

    Reply to this comment
  19. James May 29, 00:10

    Where did you find the door for your fire box?

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  20. Ladywrangler July 8, 18:06

    We built a beautiful smokehouse like this. Just finished up. I am wondering what kind of interior thermometer you used and how? We can’t seem to find one. Is it really just as simple as drilling a hole and putting the stick style thermometer in the door? And for fun, I live in Alaska and they have a fight on their hands stopping us from burning wood. Lots of places don’t have any alternative.

    Reply to this comment
  21. Meathead June 17, 17:17

    When mixing the cement for the bricks, you should use fire clay added to the mixture. DO NOT use mortar!
    One part fire clay.
    One part cement (no gravel).
    Three parts sand.
    Add water to obtain a thick “peanut butter” consistency.
    The fire clay aids the cement in withstanding the heat and keeps it from cracking and deteriorating over time.

    Reply to this comment
  22. Nina November 20, 23:00

    Does anyone know if I need a permit or is the smoke House fire hazard. I live in New York City

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  23. Evvie December 7, 02:20

    What are the best woods to burn for this type of smokehouse?

    Reply to this comment
  24. red June 26, 18:11

    Smart move. We can’t because of snowbirds and people moving around the area. But, gonna put a smoke room in the house ASAP. It has to be very well sealed to keep out smoke. In old houses, fireplaces usually had somker closets along the chimney. niio

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