Improved terracotta DIY smoker

Don’t get me wrong, the Alton Brown terracotta smoker is great. I’ve made a dozen or so batches of ribs and they all turn out great!

There are some slight improvements that make this a little better version than the first one I made but it will put you a bit over the $100 mark.

  • More cooking area
  • Better lid handling
  • Better temperature control

Here’s the list of stuff you will need:

So the first thing is: DON’T use a plain little $4 replacement generic thermometer. My first one was 25 degrees off of the correct digital reading and the 2 more I checked from Home depot had a mean difference of 40 degrees!

Second: Don’t wedge your grates into the walls of the pot. They get hot and expand. Terracotta does not stretch. SO using the cracked first pot for parts, I made some improvements on the new new one.

You can use the same damper but don’t drill a hole for the stupid thermometer since you have a fancy ass digital one now.
sm4  sm6

Run down to Home depot and get some little handles that are tall enough you can get your fingers under without touching the lid. Drill 1/4 holes for the bolts, use some washers under the lid to make sure the holes are covered and stick them in place with some lock washers.

Next is the pot. So now that I destroyed one pot by wedging a grate into it and applying heat until the grate expanded and cracked my pot, I used the pieces to make little feet for the inner walls. They hold the grill a little higher so it has a gap between it and the pot for expansion. Just use some of that great furnace cement to glue them into place so the grate has some gap around the edge. I made a bottom grate holder out of some of the broken pieces too. You can fit a decent brisket on it while stuff is smoking on the top rack. Make sure the grate is above your chip pan, diffuser and drip catcher, mark the height and glue the pieces in place. Give the furnace cement a full day to cure. Add a strip of that nifty Nomex felt to the rim to help it seal.

I used the same wiring that I used on the first pot.  I cemented that and the little metal face for the light and knob into place. I used globs of furnace cement to hold the wiring in place so they wouldn’t droop,  touch each other or the pot and let it all setup overnight. The globs cure rock hard in about 24 hours. Furnace cement is my new favorite thing. The problem is all the home repair places call it seasonal because it’s for fixing furnaces. This is stupid because it’s for fixing BBQs too. Tell that new college grad working the customer service desk to go look in the seasonal storage area and they will find it with the snow shovels and ice melter.  It is meant to repair leaks  in furnaces  but it glues metal, stone and plastic to each other like a champ. Perfect for many busted BBQ seam or element holder or diffuser bracket repairs.
Again, I’m sure this wiring  is not UL approved.

Pot, lid and new grates ready for action!




Author: admin

6 thoughts on “Improved terracotta DIY smoker

  1. Looks absolutely great! Have a question for you since I could not see it clearly in the pictures. Is there any space between the hot plate, chip pan, and drip pan? Or are they stacked on each other?

    1. Hot plate, chip pan on top, perforated pie pan flipped over the top of it, drip pan on top. All set on top of each other.

  2. How do you adjust the heat on the electric hot plate considering that it is inside the pot?

    1. The controller is attached to the bottom of the pot so you can access it from the outside. Always disassemble the hot plate you use and put the just the coil and it’s shield inside.

  3. Did you remove the element from the hot plate or put the hot plate inside the pot? I have gone through a few hot plates that cannot stand the heat inside the pot. I am considering remoting the element from the controls so that I can control the temperature without disasembly.

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