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Monday, January 21, 2008

Building a cold smoker (smokehouse)

My original smokehouse plan was to make something big enough to cold smoke two pigs worth of hams and bacon at a time. I only butcher pigs once or twice a year for curing,....but I cook several pigs a year on my cinderblock pit.
I wanted a smoke box that I could set right on my block pit, and run a pipe from a separate smoke/fire box to create the cold smoke. Use my cinderblock cooker for both hot smoking and cold.
As it turned out, I decided (after I built the box) to make the little smokehouse permanent.

The box is constructed from some untreated lumber I had on hand.

I purchased the smoke has a damper built in.
I made a rain cap for the stack using hanging iron straps and a regular old cake's attached with nuts and bolts. I painted the pan with rust resistant high heat paint. The top of the smoke stack is covered with screen, held on by a hose clamp. (to keep the bugs out)

I covered the top of the little smokehouse with metal.

Caulk around the bottom of the smoke stack.

For shelves and dowel holders, I drilled holes into a 2x4.....then cut the 2x4 down the middle.

These are attached with screws to the inside of the little house.

The dowels rest in the grooves.

I made another rod holder the same way and use it to hold racks.

The base of the smokehouse is made of cinderblocks.....I used the dry stack method. No mortar is used, the blocks are dry stacked, rebar is ran through every other hole and filled with quickcrete.
The remaining holes are filled with dirt and the whole thing is capped off using quickcrete.

A hole is left for the smoke pipe. This was made using 1" metal tubing frame and a metal plate in front. Cut a hole the size of your smokepipe.

One picture I did not get....the bottom of the smokehouse has a metal strip attached to protect it from direct contact with the quickcrete/block base.

When filling the cinder blocks with quickcrete....I ran 18" metal straps inside the corner cinderblocks before the quickcrete dried. I used these straps to tie down the smokehouse.

The fire or smoke box is a barrel cut down to about 1/4 in size. Three 3/4" nipples with caps are added for air flow.

One ball valve is also added for air flow.

The fire grate is expanded metal reinforced with 1" tubing to keep it from warping over time.

I did attach small "feet" made from the same 1" tubing to keep the grate above my air nipples and valve.

The stove pipe running from the base of the smokehouse to the smoke/fire box.

I added a damper/valve between my fire/smoke box and my stove pipe for extra smoke/heat control.

The fire/smoke box, getting a paint job with high temperature grill paint.

The fire/smoke box.

For weather protection the wood is covered with a weather proof clear coating.

The base is covered with two thin layers of mortar.

It's ready to go!

The finished house is 6'7"tall, 4 'wide and 3'deep.

Some cold smoked slab, rolled and canadian bacon. Spices, salts, olives, nuts, cheeses, honey, etc..

I'm am getting a lot of use out of the smokehouse... I love it. :)


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Anonymous said...

Awesome. Great how-to. I'm going to have to make one of these. Bet the finished product is great. Do you use it to preserve any meats? Or just for flavoring?

cowgirl said...

Thanks! I use it for preserving too. It's working out great for me. :)

Anonymous said...

Nice little project. I would love to pick your brain for a number of ideas. I own 80 acres in upstate NY. Last year I had a 1 acre pond put in which is being stocked with trout. I would like to put in a smaller shallower pond to raise shrimp. Where do you buy your shrimp? How much work in care and feeding? I would appreciate any help. Email is hassanhamza AT Thanks.

Anonymous said...

Inspired and inspiring...

I’m thinking of putting together my own cold smoker with an old wine barrel and a pot bellied stove...

Any hints and tips you could pass on... recipes, smoking times etc...

Would love to see how some salmon or trout does in there...

cowgirl said...

Thank you Aaron! I like your wine barrel/stove idea, I'm sure it would make a nice cold smoker.
Please feel free to contact me, I'm always ready to discuss smoking ideas and recipes.

Anonymous said...

Great project! What is your process for fire, what type of wood, how much, does temp matter in the actual house? Also the barrel you cut down, was it a 55 gal barrel? One last question, why so many air holes if you only put one ball valve in? Thanks.

cowgirl said...

Thanks anonymous!
I use hard wood for my heat..not many choices around here but my favorite is hedgewood. I also use it in my hot smoker, underground and cinderblock pit at times. Then I use a different wood for the in hickory, fruit woods, mesquite, etc..
It definately does not take much wood to get smoke...just a little for the heat and a few chunks for the smoke.
I keep the temperature in my smokehouse under 160...usually cold smoke under 100 degrees...depends on what I am smoking. I like to use a temperature of 65 to 70 degrees for spices, nuts, etc., but use a higher temp for jerky. All meats cold smoked have to be cured first.
I have a thermometer inserted on the left side of the door. It is about 15 inches long. It lets me know the temperature at the bottom level of any hanging meat or sausages.
The firebox was a 55 gal barrel, it's cut down to maybe 1/4 in size. The air holes are on each side of the firebox...they really do help keep the fire/hot coals at the temperature I need.
When I open one or two nipples for air intake, I can tweak or fine tune the temperature even more by adjusting the ball valve. Also by adjusting the air outlet on the top of the smokehouse.
The smoke in the firebox is cooled down before it hits the smokehouse.

Hope this helps you! If not, feel free to contact me.

Anonymous said...

Cowgirl, all of this looks awesome! I am in the process of gathering info to build a smokehouse for our farm. I would like to do fish, hams, bacon, venison, sausage, etc etc, but I am still a little confused. Can you explain to me the cold smoking thing as well as the hot. I assume the hot to be just like smoking anything. Can you smoke "hot" with the setup you have here? As for cold smoking, what do you have to do to prepare the meat first? It isnt cooked when done, right? How is meat stored if there wasnt refrigeration? Im just trying to get a full grasp. Thanks a ton!


cowgirl said...

Hi Will, Thank you!
I use the house for cold smoking (hams/bacon) and drying ( as in jerky)...the meats have to be cured before smoking, and they are not cooked. I use dry cures, brines and combination cures.
Anything else gets smoked in my hot smoker.
Hams that are cured properly can be smoked then aged....or even aged then smoked. The aging process can take from several months to a year.
There is a lot of good information about cold smoking. Please feel free to contact me, I can point you to more detailed info. :)

cowgirl said...

Hassan said...
Nice little project. I would love to pick your brain for a number of ideas. I own 80 acres in upstate NY. Last year I had a 1 acre pond put in which is being stocked with trout. I would like to put in a smaller shallower pond to raise shrimp. Where do you buy your shrimp? How much work in care and feeding? I would appreciate any help. Email is hassanhamza AT Thanks.

July 31, 2008 10:04 PM

Hassan, I have tried e-mailing a reply to you, but cannot get your e-mail address to work. So sorry!! Please try contacting me again.
Thank you!

stevo said...

You are doing what I have been dreaming of for so very long. We purchased 100 acres in Rosebud Texas several years ago. Put in a 6 acre pond, for cat fish and a side pond for shrimp. I didn't do the shrimp because I thought it was hype. Thanks for reinspireing me. Almost finished with fencing in a 330' by 220' pig pen with its own small pond. A chicken coop and smoke house will follow.
Great looking recipes. I make my own "Red Wasp Hot Sauce". I make it from chili pequines. I am getting ready to bottle some up soon. Takes about a year to make because i age it. Will send you some if you would like.
I hope to learn how to make ham and bacon.
I could go on for quite a while but realize that space is limited.
Thank you for such a wondeful site.


cowgirl said...

Hi Stevo,
Thank you!
Your place sounds great! I have contacted you via e-mail.

Anonymous said...

Great site cow girl, I have been searching the internet on "how to" smoke things, and found your site, and I must say that it is very good. You are very talented and ambitious, I am going to build a smokehouse, and I am really impressed with yours, so if you don't mind I may copy what you did, and may email once in a while for tech support.
Thanks Joe

cowgirl said...

Thank you Joe!

I really like my smokehouse, it was a fun build and it's working out great for me.

Feel free to contact me, and good luck with your smokehouse. :)


Anonymous said...

Hi,Cowgirl after Googling smokehouse plans, your is the best I have seen. I need to build one to dry venison sausage in. I'm assuming venison sausage does not get cured before drying. Down hered in south Texas it can get pretty humid. Would a small air conditioning unit help with keeeping the humidity down or will the smoke and what heat there is take care of that and prevent mildew problems?

cowgirl said...

Hi Snappybob, Thank you for the compliment, I appreciate it. :)

I do use a cure in the meat that I cold smoke. The temperature of cold smoking is so low and the length of time it takes to smoke, makes curing a must.
I am fond of Morton's Tenderquick, but there are other options.
I do not use a cure when making venison or beef jerky, but I think the high salt content in my marinade helps. If you want to play it safe, use the cure. :)

The meats I smoke in the smokehouse are not cooked, just smoked. I use my hot smoker anything I want cooked.

Today I'm cold smoking some slab bacon and canadian bacon using a bit of hickory and apple. Smells good so far. lol ... I love the smell of wood smoke. :)

There is no problem with humidity here where I live, but I do know that the proper draft on your smokehouse should take care of it.

Here is a link that has some great info about draft ...

Feel free to contact me if you have more questions. I might not know all the answers, but I'd be happy to try to point you to some sites that might be of help. :)

stevo said...

Still enjoying your site. I am in the process of building my smokehouse. Mostly like yours with a tiny modification. I am taking pictures as I progress. I will send them when I get farther along.


cowgirl said...

That's great Stevo!
Can't wait to see your smokehouse pictures. :)

David said...

Hey Cowgirl,

I really like your Smokehouse. Your directions are very complete & easy to follow. What is the difference between Cold Smoke & Hot Smoke? I want to make BBQ do I need a Hot Smoker? If so what would I do different from what you have listed here?



cowgirl said...

Hi David,

Cold smoking flavors and preserves meat. Hot smoking cooks the in ribs, brisket, etc.

My smokehouse is for cold smoking only. I cure and smoke my own bacons and hams...also cold smoke spices, olives, cheeses, nuts, etc..

Here's an example of cold smoked...

For hot smoking, I use either my drum, horizontal wood burner or cinderblock pit... I can get the heat high enough in them to cook the food...

Here's my drum...

My horizontal wood burner....

You can get hot smokers about anyplace or make your own. They have wood burning smokers, electric, propane and charcoal. Which ever you like.

If you need any help, feel free to contact me.

Anonymous said...

That's one cute little smokehouse, cowgirl. Real creative way to make the rod holders.

cowgirl said...

Thank you Mikey! :)
I really get a lot of use out of that smokehouse. It's worked out well for me. :)

Good to see ya!

Phil said...

I just stumbled upon your blog after looking at different smoker plans for the past couple hours... this smokehouse and your drum smoker are exactly what I've been looking for! I'm going to try to talk my Dad into letting me build something similar to your smoke house at his place (I rent here), and will be building a hot smoker for use at my place.

Your blog is amazing! I'll definitely be adding it to my favs, and reading all your past posts for ideas =)

cowgirl said...

Phil, thank you!!

I've sure used both my smokehouse and drum a lot... I really like them. :)
Hope you have good luck with your build. I'd like to hear about it or see pictures when you get them going.
Also, if you have any questions, feel free to contact me.

Thanks again and thanks for checking out my blog. :)

BBQ And Smoking Junction said...

Very nicely done smokehouse. I am in the works on building one to hang sausages. I dont know how I want my smoke delivery done though yet, Maybe by a Bradley smoke generator or my turkey fryer burner.

cowgirl said...

Thank you Nepas!
I would love to see your smokehouse when you get it finished. :)

Renegade said...

Howdy Miss Cowgirl, What Kind of Lumber did you use to build the smokehouse out of other then untreated Lumber Miss ?


cowgirl said...

Hi Renegade,

It's a variety of lumber but most of it is pine. I built it in 2006 and it's still working out great for me.
I've cold smoked a lot of things in it. Just sanded and put a new finish on the outside of it a couple of weeks ago.

Renegade said...

Howdy Miss Cowgirl ,

Well as an ex-carpenter and a current woodworker .You did a great job on the smokehouse Miss . What do you use to seal the outside of it if I may ask Miss ?.


cowgirl said...

Wow, thank you for the kind words Renegade!
The first time I sealed it I just used a clear weather protector, but this last time I sanded it down, I went with a light stain/sealant combination.

The base has two layers of mortar.

I've never built a smokehouse before, but it's working out fine for me. :)

Renegade said...

Howdy Miss Cowgirl,

Your Very Welcome Miss. It is easy to give kind words to a Lady that deserves them like you do Miss .


cowgirl said...

Renegade, you're a gentleman. Thank you!

Renegade said...

Howdy Miss Cowgirl,

Your Welcome Miss .Naw I ain't no gentleman Miss . Those there gentleman wear three piece suits and ties Miss lol. I wear jeans and boots and t-shirts Miss that just makes me a gentle man Miss LOL.


cowgirl said...

LOL Renegade, I hadn't thought of it like that before. Thanks for explaining it to me!
I'm more of a boots and jeans person too. lol

Renegade said...

Howdy Miss Cowgirl,

Your Welcome Miss . I'm glad I could be of help Miss Cowgirl.


Antos blog said...

Hi Cowgirl

Great job im in the process of building your cold smoker.
im a bit confused about the cold smoking, ive seen on other sites they rise the temreture on the final smoke for some reason! thing is its summer and mackerel season in Dublin Ireland and i plan to smoke several hundred mackerel maybe you might answer a few questions for me please. can you tell me how to smoke them please? and brining them? also can you tell me the length of the pipe going into the smoker? and what type of wood to yous? i have apple trees oak and pair trees would they do.
sorry for all the questions and thanks in advance

buíochas, go raibh maith agat

cowgirl said...

Hi Anto!
Thank you very much. :)
If you plan to cold smoke, you will need to brine the cleaned fish in a mixture of 1 1/2 cups of salt per gallon of cool water. While brining, the fish need to keep cool, in a temperature of 38 to 40 degrees F ( the refridgerator works great for this)
That amount of brine will cure 4 pounds of fish.

It helps to either filet the fish or open it to sort of lay flat. Also try to smoke similar sized pieces at the same time.

After brining for 12 hours, the fish need to be rinsed in cold water to remove any salt.
Then the fish need to dry... this can take a two to three hours in a cool place.
This forms a pellicile layer on the outside of the fish.

Then you can "cold" smoke the fish at a temperature of 75 degrees F or below. The longer you smoke the fish, the longer the shelf life after it is smoked. 12 hours of smoke is a good start.

If you want to cook the fish... "hot" smoke it at a higher temperature until it flakes.

My smoke pipe is 5 foot long going to the fire box.

Your apple, oak and pair wood would be great!! If I were you I'd use a log or two of the oak for heat....then add a handful of apple or pair chips for the flavoring.

I use any hard woods I can find. Mainly cured hedge wood. Your oak wood would work great!

I hope this makes sense Anto, please let me know if I didn't explain myself well.

Thank you again and feel free to contact me with any questions.
I would love to see your smokehouse when you get finished.

Thank you!

Antos blog said...

dua duit cowgirl!

thanks that cleared up allot of confusion. ill stick to your method. with the pipe going to the fire box can i youse galvanised flue pipe?
also what's up with putting in the oak log is that just for heating up the fire box before i put the wood chippings in for flavour? how much wood chip will i youse? excuse my ignorance!

thanks again

cowgirl said...

You are very welcome Anto, glad it helped!

You probably can use galvanized pipe for the smoke pipe. The one I used is double walled. The outer pipe is galvanized and the inside one is not.
The smoke should not get hot enough to make a difference. Galvanized metal puts out a dangerous gas at higher temperatures. With cold smoking...the pipe will not get that hot.

You are right about the wood. The oak would be for heat and the fruit or nut chips would be for flavoring.
I put about 1 handful of chips on top of my heat at a time. The smoke seems to last about an hour before I have to add more.

It's best to use a little smoke at a time instead of a billowing thick white smoke.
I've always been told that if you can smell smoke, you are smoking. Thin blue smoke is the best. :)

It just takes a bit of practice to get the smoke how you want it. I'm sure it will not take you long to figure out what works best for you.

You are not ignorant Anto! I am happy to answer any questions I am able to.

I'm getting ready to leave town for the weekend. If you don't get an answer from me right away, you'll know I've left. :)
Should be back sometime Sunday though.

Hope this helps Anto! Also.. hope you have a great weekend.


stevo said...


its been a while. still working on the smokehouse and other things. Just finished a hog trap. The plan is to make bacon out of a wild hog and compare it to domestic meat. I know it will be thinner. Will cut it at a slant w to make it look thicker:) What do you think? I sent more pictures. I am tenatious and methodical but slow. Hope to be ready when cool weather arrives. I will keep you up to date.


cowgirl said...

Hey Stevo, good to see ya!
Thanks for sending the pictures too. I like the looks of your hog trap... nice job!

I bet you could cut the bacon on a slant. Bet it will be tasty too!

Within Reach, A Neighborhood Farm said...

Thanks for sharing your knowledge. My buddy and I built a smokehouse very similar to yours after seeing your blog. I broke it in with some sockeye salmon fillet (incredible) and now have it loaded [for the night] with pork from some pigs we raised. A picture of beauty seeing it filled front to back.

How about a recipe page for reference?

Fantastic site for those who prefer that back-to-basics approach. Keep up the great work!


cowgirl said...

Thank you Russ,
I'd love to see pics of your smokehouse if you get the time. I'm glad to hear it's working out well for you.

I do not have a separate page for recipes at this time, but they are posted to the right, underneath my profile. :)

stevo said...

Hi Cowgirl.
It's me again. Getting ready to paint the outside of my smokehouse. What did you use on yours?
I am going to use, "Hardiplank, hardy shingles," for my roof. Thought they would give it a rustic appearance. Working on my "smoke box too. Slowly getting close to completion.
One of the first things I plan on smoking is my jerky. Have been making a lot of it but it is not smoked. Just finished a batch. What temperature do you suggest?
I was thinking of putting my two electric dryers in the smoke house and cold smoking the meat and letting the electric dryers provide the actual drying. What do you think. Am I overcomplicating things?

P.S. How did your shrimp do this year?


cowgirl said...

Hi Stevo!
Sounds like your house is coming along great!
When I first built my smokehouse I used a clear weather sealant on the outside. This summer I sanded it down a bit and put on a stain/sealer combination. It darkened the wood a bit but I like the looks of it.

I have been smoking my jerky from 130 degrees to 165 or so with no problems.

I'm not sure what your electric dryers are.... would they add heat too? They might work if your firebox isn't getting the temperature high enough for you.

Can't wait to see your set up!

Anonymous said...

Hey Cowgirl!

This is great! I live in the city and I keep reading and looking at plans for converting an old rack style refrigerator into a cold smoker using electric hot plates, UGLY. I am definitely going to build this instead since it's more appealing to the eye and it won't take a toll on the energy bill.

Absolutely Awesome!


cowgirl said...

Hi Corey,
Thank you!
I would love to hear about your smoker when you get it built.
I really like mine... I use it for cold smoking and making jerky, anything smoked at a higher temperature goes into one of my hot smokers.

I'm so glad you like the smokehouse...thanks for stopping by too!

Old Hippie said...

Put a crescent moon on the door.
PS. Best "blog" this side of that moon!

cowgirl said...

lol Old Hippie!
I have an "occupied" sign for the door in case my friends get any wild ideas during one of my cookouts. :)

Thanks!! also Thank you for stopping by. :)

galensmark said...

Nice & I particularly like the dual methodology.

cowgirl said...

Thank you Mark. I really like the was an easy build and it's really easy to use.
Thanks for stopping by!

Farmer Dave said...

Have you tried to cold smoke a ham (or sausage) for a period of time (such as four hours) before hot smoking it? I tried that with ham, and it really seemed to flavor it very well. It took 16 hours, though (a very long day!).

cowgirl said...

Hi Farmer Dave!
Yes I usually cold smoke my hams after curing then hot smoke them later.
I bet your 16 hr ham was delicious! :)

Farmer Dave said...

Not only was it delicious, it was the best ham I've ever tasted in my 54 years on planet earth.

This was done in one of those old timey tar-papered shack type of smokehouses. The "trick" I tried was to put the fire into a small metal tub (half-buried in the ground) within the smokehouse, and then cover it with a garbage can lid. The more I covered the firebox, the more "smokey" (and cooler) it was. The less I covered it, the hotter it got.

I also experimented with different additives to the cure. One had honey, one had brown sugar, and the other had maple syrup. The results were very interesting.

cowgirl said...

Dave, that sounds mighty tasty! :)

Farmer Dave said...

The honey-cured ham was the only one that turned out "sweet" (and only a little). The brown sugar and the maple syrup additions to the cure were not noticeable in the finished products. But, what was obvious to me is that they completely neutralized any saltiness in the taste.

I also tried to "mix up" my hardwoods. I used maple, apple, plum, choke cherry, some hickory chucks, and a little oak. The mixing seemed to remove some of the "harshness" from the smoke, in my opinion.

cowgirl said...

Farmer Dave that sounds good.
I like to add maple to the hams and bacons right before cold smoking sometimes. Also cracked black pepper and jalapeno powder. :)
I also use mixed woods, pecan apple is a favorite of mine for smoking spices/salts and honey.
I like to mix olive wood with fruit woods too.
Smoked foods are just so tasty. lol

The Mohagen clan said...

Wow!! I have so much to learn!!! I am getting a couple of pigs to raise and i really want to get into smoking. I live i Honduras central america so getting some of the supplies will be interesting to find, or how i can substitute. Thanks for your blog i learned so much reading it tonight.


cowgirl said...

Thank you so much Tristan and Beth!
I bet living in Honduras is wonderful!
Hope you get your smokehouse built, I'd like to see pics when you get it finished.
Home grown, home smoked hams and bacon are so tasty. :)

Good luck to you and Thank you for stopping by! Let me know if I can be of any help. :)

Unknown said...

I would like to know what you consider max safe temp. for your smoker? Have been trying to design a smoker out of wood for competition cooking. I cook a lot at 200 to 250 degrees. Would that work in your design?


cowgirl said...

Hi rasmow!
I only cold smoke in mine but have a friend in texas that said he built a small one and used insulation and lined the inside with some non galvanized metal. He said he can smoke at 250F with no problem. His is a lot smaller than mine.

I've always used mine for cold smoking and just use my hot smokers for anything else.

Sorry I can't be of more help!! Good luck to you and let me know if you come up with something. :)


Unknown said...

Just a qick note to let you know that I built a wooden smoker (24 x 24 x 72). So far I have given it two test runs and gotten up to 310 degrees! the wood seems to be holdong up just fine. This weekend I hope to smoke brisket and ribs on it's first run.We will see how it does at 250 for 8 plus hours. I'll try to keep you posted and send pictures.

cowgirl said...

Rasmow that is great!! Looking forward to seeing your pictures. Thanks for letting me know, I appreciate it. :)

Anonymous said...

This is the neatest blog ever thank you for it!! Question How do you clean the cold smoker out? Or is that not a problem?

cowgirl said...

Thank you so much Anonymous! Sorry it has taken me so long to get a reply to you!
The bottom is bare dirt, I've not had to clean it at all.
Any meat I smoke is at a low enough temperature that the fat content is not broken down or rendered.... so there are no drippings as in hot smoking.
I had thought about making a quickcrete bottom in the smokehouse but have not found a need for one.

Thanks again for the nice comment and thanks for stopping by! :)

theirishmeateater said...

Hi cowgirl, I am building a smoker at the moment. Was wondering how you get the fire started in the drum. do you build the fire up from small or do you use gas? would love you to visit my blog

cowgirl said...

Hi meateater!
For my smokehouse fire box I use either small logs of wood or charcoal briquettes sprinked with wood chips for the smoke.
The easiest way for me is to light the wood or charcoal with a weedburner.

Your blog looks great! Wish you lived closer, we could compare recipes. lol :)

Thanks meateater!

BBQ Blog said...

Hi Cowgirl!

It's been over a year since you built it. How has it been holding up against the weather? I am thinking about builing one and want it to stand the test of time.


cowgirl said...

Hi Blue! It's good to see ya. :)

I built the smokehouse in 2006, last summer I put another protective coating on the outside wood.
Other than that it's held up fine.
The inside still looks new. I only use blue smoke.. no billowing white, gunky producing smoke. lol

If you build one, let me know, I'd like to see it!


Mountain plant man said...

Your blog is amazing. You are a talented lady livin a great life.
Question; Is there a reason that you couldn't build the smoker with out the corncrete block foundation? Something like an out house only secured to the ground.

cowgirl said...

Hi Mountain plant man!
Thank you.. :)

There is no reason why you couldn't build it to the ground. I just built mine with the intention of using my existing cinder block cooking pit as a base.
I wanted to "hot" smoke pigs and be able to use the house addition on top to "cold" smoke hams, bacons, etc..

After building the top, I decided to set up a separate base and just make the house permanent.
I still have my separate cinder block pit for cooking whole hogs.

It was fun project and got me through a boring winter. lol

I've used it a lot and really am happy about how it smokes.

If you make one, please keep me posted on how it goes.

Thanks again Mountain plant man. :)

Mountain plant man said...

If I build it I will post some pics. I just started a blog and have my first entry on it. You have inspired me to blog about baking, cooking, hunting & fishing,some of my projects & motorcycling. My winters are relatively relaxed but I need to work during the summers for the most part with the economy the way it is. You have to do what you have to do.
Turkey season is comming up soon. Smoked wild turkey sounds pretty good right now.

cowgirl said...

Marty, that's great!
I'm looking forward to reading your blog. :)

Thank you!

gouthro said...

Great work, Cowgirl. When I get out into the country this summer I might make a smokehouse like that. But, right now I am in the city. I have been thinking about making a cold smoker to smoke mackeral and salmon in a charcoal weber kettle barbque. Thinking of running a length of pipe from a heat source to under the kettle. Open the vents. Maybe box it in with a small wooden or cardboard box, though. Do you think that will work?

Also, a question. Why do you need heat on cold smoke? I thought the idea was not to have heat on a cold smoke. I am not the expert, however, and will listen to your advice.

cowgirl said...

Hi Gouthro, thanks! :)
Your idea sounds like a good one. I bet it would work!
I have a fire box set several feet away from the smokehouse. I burn the wood in the fire box but by the time the smoke travels the length of the pipe to the smokehouse, the smoke is cool.

I smoke hams and bacons at around 65 degrees F.
I do smoke jerky a bit higher.

Any cold smoked meat has to be cured to be safe.

Good luck with your project. Hope it works out well for you!

Dusty Rhoades said...

Morning Cowgirl,
I love the cold smoke house plan. But what reall interests me is you cinder block pit. What did you do? Dig down a bit, build the walls, put a grate, fire below the pig, and let her go or what? This Pit BBQ really does interest me, I just have no clue as to where to start.
Can you point me in the right direction?

cowgirl said...

Good Morning Dustyplans!
Thanks. :)
The cinderblock pit is listed in my "favorites" list... under the picture of the smokehouse.
It's the fourth one from the bottom of the list.
"cooking whole hogs on cinderblock pit".

I set the blocks up on bare (dirt) ground. Then set up two rows of blocks, then the grate and one more row of blocks then the lid.
The heat is at both ends of the pit but not directly under the hog. The dripping juice will cause flair ups and you really want to cook the hog at a lower temperature.
I line the bottom of the pit with foil to channel some of the drippings away from the heat source... also place drip pans under the pig.

You only need to flip the pig one time..half way through cooking.

Hope this helps Dusty, feel free to contact me if you have questions.


Chris said...

Nice blog, cowgirl. You have another fan as I bookmarked and added you to my blog's favorites list this week.

One of the other posters asked you how difficult it is to clean your smokehouse. I had the same question, but read your response. So now my question is do you have a problem with ants being attracted to the food with the cool temps you using, or after you are done since you use it so often? They seem to find my little Brinkman, but since it is metal I just hose it off and give it a good scrubbing.

Great job with your blog, the recipes, and you are quite a photographer as well.


cowgirl said...

Thank you Chris, it's nice to meet you! :)

I've not had an ant problem at all. The smokehouse isn't air tight and I had worries about wasps..they seem to be thick around here...but I've not had any inside of the house at all.
I covered the smokestack with screen and attached it with a hose clamp..that has worked great.

I keep my grills and drum smoker on my patio.. on occasion I've noticed small ants on the large stainless grill. Like you said, it's easy to hose them off.
Not sure why the ants have left the smokehouse alone though....could be the strong lingering smoke smell.
Another thing... there are no meat drippings at all in the house sinced they are cold smoked, maybe the drippings attract ants?

Thanks for checking out my blog Chris and for the nice comments. If you have any questions feel free to ask or contact me.

cowgirl said...

Thank you Anonymous! Thanks for stopping by. :)

Anonymous said...

Be sure the shelves you use are NOT chroniun plated. The metal can leach out and into the food. This is the biggest hazard when useing an old frig as a smoke house

cowgirl said...

Good point Anonymous!
Fridge smokers need to be stripped of plastic inside too..
Old oven racks or actual grill racks work great.
Thanks Anonymous!

Anonymous said...

Was wondering when the pipe goes into the smoke house how far should it be in, beyond the cinder blocks? Thanks your awesome

cowgirl said...

Thank you Anonymous! Sorry it has taken me awhile to get a reply to you... I ran away from home for the weekend. lol Actually I went on a quick camp trip..kind of a last minute decision to go. :)

The smoke pipe runs to almost the middle of the house. Since the smoke stack is on the top left of the house, anything from the middle or less would work fine.

I keep the smoke very light...not a billowing smoke. It seems to smoke everything in the house evenly. I've not had a problem with uneven smoking.
Hope this helps!
Thanks again Anonymous. :)

Unknown said...

Can you use this design for a "hot smoker" if you add a propane burner at the base and of course watch the heat but smoke fish etc? I have not found a lot of info on useing wood to make a hot smoker. I know it has been done though. Do you know anything about using pine and why not to whether treated or not?

cowgirl said...

sts502, I've had friends who built wooden smokehouses and used them for hot smoking too.. but they have had mixed results.
Most have eventually burnt theirs down.
One friend did line his wooden house with metal and can hot smoke around 225 to 250 degrees F. He has had no problems. Like you said.. you need to keep an eye on the fire inside.
His house is a lot smaller though.. maybe 2 ft shorter than mine.

Pine puts off a "pitch" flavor when it gets hot..which doesn't taste good at all. It can make foods taste bitter.
At lower temperatures (as in using for construction in cold smoking) it is no problem.

When cooking over an open fire.. pine is okay to use to get the fire started. It burns fast..then use what woods you want for the actual cooking.

If you build a combination hot/cold smoker using pine and line the inside, I would think it would be no problem. Insulation might make it even better.

I have so many other hot smokers that I just use my house for cold smoking.

Hope this helps sts502, feel free to contact me if you have any questions or if I didn't answer yours clearly.


Anonymous said...

OMG!!! I love this blog. Very cool smoker design. I've got to build myself one of these :)

cowgirl said...

Thank you Fillyourbelly! I use the heck out of all of my smokers. lol
Thanks for stopping by. :)

Anonymous said...

Hi cowgirl. Great design. I like it so much I am going to build one myself. 1 question for you that comes to mind. How do you feed the fire? I would imagine the top of the fire pit gets very, very, very hot.


cowgirl said...

Hi Roger, Thank you! :)
The firebox does get hot but it's not a roaring fire inside.. mainly smoldering wood.
I light a few wood logs and let them burn down before adding my flavoring woods.
It does get hot though and I usually take the lid off while wearing my leather work gloves. A hot pad or oven mitt would work fine.
I've could put a handle on the lid like the one on my drum smoker.. I have to use a hot pad to take that lid off too though. :)
It really isn't too hot inside of the smokehouse firebox though.. it's mainly a light smoke.

Would love to see pics of yours when you get it going. Thanks!

Anonymous said...

Cowgirl...will you marry me? sigh...

cowgirl said...

Anonymous.... thank you very much for the kind offer. :)

David P. Offutt - The Gastronomic Gardener said...

Hi Cowgirl, I'm about to start my build for a small cold smoker on wheels - here in Suburbia I have no room for a permanant installation. I'll be sure to chart the progress on my blog. I'll keep you posted!

cowgirl said...

David that sounds great! Looking forward to seeing your smoker! :)

David P. Offutt - The Gastronomic Gardener said...

Hi Jeanie, as promised. Status report on smoker:

cowgirl said...

David it's looking great! Can't wait to see it in action. :)

David P. Offutt - The Gastronomic Gardener said...

Do you have a baffle to distribute the smoke?

cowgirl said...

Hi David!
No baffle.. the smoke distributes just fine without. :)

David P. Offutt - The Gastronomic Gardener said...

Finished! Hooray! - the bacon / pancetta making will commence!

Thank you for the inspiration!

cowgirl said...

Way to go David! Congratulations on the build. I know you are going to like it! :)

Bob G said...

I like the size of your smoke house. Have you ever wished you had made it any larger? I am in the planning stages of building one.

cowgirl said...

Thank you Robert! Sometimes I do wish it were a bit larger. I am able to smoke my hams and bacon just fine but when I start loading the thing with nuts, salts, and other things...I find more and more items that I want to throw in while it's going.
I do the same thing with my hot smokers though. I have to have a full load smoking....just need to quit being so... so...not sure what you call it. lol

I am going to add a couple more shelves to the smokehouse, that will help a lot.

Hope you have great luck with your build Robert. I've really enjoyed this smokehouse. It's just the right size for me.
If smoking for a large family I'd definately make it about twice the size. You could do more pigs at one time.

Anonymous said...

Cowgirl, great blog and good reading of all your visitors, fantastic comments. The design on your smoker is the best I have seen. On November 25, 2009 Farmer Dave mentioned that he has used "choke cherry" for some of his smoking. I live in north Florida and have researched that wood with our local extension service people and they do not recomend using it because of the arsenic content. I also had thought of using it for smoking because I do like the cherries and have made jelly from the fruit. Have you read/heard any negative opions on using choke cherry wood for smoking? Thanks for any imput or any comments from your visitors.


cowgirl said...

Thank you Pat! I have used the heck out of my smokehouse, it's worked well for me.
I've not researched choke cherry wood but if there is any doubt, I wouldn't use it. There are so many other woods that work just fine with no danger.

Another thing I would avoid is making a smoker out of any type of plywood. Some plywoods would be safe but I wouldn't want the glues used in making plywood to interfere with the meat or food I'm going to eat.
(Just thought I'd mention that)..

Thanks again for the info Pat and for stopping by!

Cam4 said...

I read where you used spare untreated lumber to build your smoke house. Maybe I overlooked it, but can you tell us what type of wood it is? We are novice homesteaders and this is something we would like to do / build.

Congrats on a great blog.


cowgirl said...

Thanks Craig,
I used a lot of pine wood...which works fine for cold smoking but not for hot smoking.
Good luck with your build, I'd love to see it when you're finished!

sandy said...

Hy cowgirl.
love your blog and smokehouse.

I am thinking of converting an old office metal cabinet into a smoker.
Maybe use a hotplate with a pan of hickory bisque ts in it.
Will the inside paint of the cabinet affect the meat/bacon/sausage flavor?

Any comments welcome. positive or negative thats fine, I am a biginer.
Thank you.

cowgirl said...

Thanks Sandy!
I wouldn't use it for hot smoking.. cold smoking under 100F degrees might be alright but I wouldn't trust not knowing what is in the paint...
I like to play it paint, treated wood or plywood.

Good luck with what ever you come up with!

Ohiofarmgirl said...

fabulous - thanks for sharing!

cowgirl said...

Thanks Ohiofarmgirl! :)

Phil said...

Hey cowgirl, this is Phil... it's been a LONG time since I posted! I found someone using your smokehouse photo, wanted to make sure you knew about it:

love your posts!

cowgirl said...

Phil Thanks! It's good to see ya. :)
DMedley contacted me and asked for permission to use my smokehouse and drum smoker. He's a really nic guy.
I appreciate you letting me know about it though. Some of my stuff has been popping up on different forums and sites without my consent.

Hope you are doing well. Winter has been pretty mild in this end of the state. If I get a good snow storm I'll send it your way. :) lol

Love your profile picture...

Thanks again Phil. :)

cowgirl said...

Hey Phil....another thought.
Will you go see Joe Bonamassa for me? lol
He's playing in Tulsa next month. :)
and if you do go, I want to hear ALL about it! lol

Thanks Phil :)

Phil said...

I'll have to look in to it, He's playing at the Brady I think I saw? I've never paid him enough attention, but he's a great guitarist I remember. Winter has been pretty mild here too, I've been helping my father in law build a log cabin all winter... pretty fun because my Dad is the Electrical contractor on it too so it's a real family project lol. I'll try to get some pictures to you, it looks awesome!

cowgirl said...

Dang Phil, the cabin is beautiful!! You guys did a great job on it! Thanks for the pics. :)

I'm listening to Joe now.. lol "So Many Roads". Let me know if you go to his show. :)

I need to hire all of you to build a cabin like that for me. :)

Thanks again Phil...

Anonymous said...

Can you smoke summer sausage and smoked sausage in your smoke house? I know you need to run the temps up to 160-170. Thanks. Long time no see.

cowgirl said...

Hi Anonymous,
I can get the temp up to 225F but usually use one of my hot smokers for anything over 170F.
I'm not sure which "Anonymous" you are but thanks for stopping by!

ganny76 said...

I am wanting to be able to do around 100 lbs. at a time of SS and Smoked Sausage. That is why I was thinking about building a smoke house. Seems everytime I do sausage the batches get bigger and bigger. Didnt know my previous post would end up anonymous. Thanks, ganny76

cowgirl said...

ganny, it's great to see you! It has been a long time. :)

I know what you mean about not having enough room. Sometimes I wish my smokehouse were a bit bigger. When I start filling it with things,I think of more foods I want to shove in there while it's running. Guess I do that with my hot smokers too though.

If you build one for hot smoking I'd line the inside with metal, maybe insulate it too.

Keep me posted if you build one.
Good to see ya. :)

Anonymous said...

Great smoker. Looking at building one in Australia.
Do you have any recipes for your brines and cures for the meats that you cold smoke please?
Kevin, Australia

cowgirl said...

Thank you Kevin!
There are a few recipes in my "favorites" list at the top of the page. They are in three parts under "Smokehouse Bacon"

I like to use Tenderquick cure. It's easy for me to find in the stores here.
Hope that helps Kevin. I'd love to see your smokehouse when you get it built. Let me know if you have any questions too, I'm happy to help if I can. :)

Thanks again!

mattk003 said...

Hi Cowgirl,
Im in Australia and want to start smoking my meat, Deer, Jerky and maybe hams. Its all knew to me so I was wondering if you can give me as much info as you can, or send me in the right direction, any websites or books you recommend

cowgirl said...

Hi Matt!
Nice to meet you. I got your message and will send an e-mail to ya. :)

BigEll said...

Hi Cowgirl,

Is it possible to have an purpose smoker? I mean to use a smoke to cold and hot smoke. I had a hot smoker I used to smoke salmon. I want to start smoking again but would like to smoke different things.


Big Ell

cowgirl said...

Hi Big E,
If you want to hot smoke too you would probably be better off building a metal or block smokehouse.
You could line one like mine with non galvanized metal on the inside..then maybe set a burner inside the house for the heat.

I've seen a lot of people build them out of wood and end up burning the smokehouse down by trying to hot smoke in them.

Good luck with it Big E!

Bellady said...

Hi Cowgirl
What an amazing blog you have here and such an incredible resource of information. I have been looking for a plan to build a cold smoker (and perhaps a hot smoker as well) and had just about given up when I stumbled across your blog. Thank goodness!!

I started today with my UDS - sanding out the inner surface of the drum (has been used for fruit concentrate). But the surface won't burn off so am having to sand (BIG job!!). Because I have such short arms, getting to sand the bottom is going to be a real challenge, and I'm hoping I can come up with a strategy to get it all off (the pain that is there, both inside and outside is bright orange). And here was I thinking an hour or so would see this task under control. NOT!

thanks a million for your fantastic sets of instructions - and those recipes. I can't wait to get these things up and running.

cowgirl said...

Thank you Bellady!
Sounds like your drum might have a liner inside.
A grinder or wire wheel will make the job go faster.
Good luck with it!!

Unknown said...

Your site is awsome. I have been looking for a plan to build a smoke house in my home, and your site is the most informative and helpful page I have found.

I want to build one in my back yard, but I have a couple of questions on the design of the smokehouse due to space limits. Is the smokebox a proportion of the smokehouse, and at what length can the smokebox be placed(for example- can the smokebox be built under the smokehouse with a cement border in between)? Thank you!

cowgirl said...

Thank you Othon!
If I understand what you are saying... to build the firebox in the ground under the smokehouse?
You might be able to do that and make some sort of baffle or deflector between the heat source and the food.
For cold smoking you would need to be able to keep the temperature under 100 degrees F and be able to get oxygen to the heat source to control the fire.
It might be possible.
Do you mean to set the heat source inside of the smokehouse?
I'm sure that wouldn't be a problem either. As long as you kept the temperature down.
(hope that makes sense).

Let me know if I didn't answer your question Othon.
Thanks again!

Unknown said...

great smoker, About how long does it take to smoke a fully loaded smoker?
I am just curious.

cowgirl said...

Thanks Tom,
It depends on what I'm smoking.
I like cold smoked bacon to be in there any where from 6 to 12 hrs..depending on the wood I'm using and how much smoke I want.
Hams take at least 12 hrs usually. (depending on size)
I cold smoke (under 85 degrees) when smoking pork to keep the fat from rendering.
Nuts, salts, spices and things get smoked around 6 hours.

I like to fill the smokehouse and pull out each item individually when it is to my liking (hope that makes sense).

I've smoked hams for days... I leave them hanging in the house after a day of smoking and start the fire again the next morning.
Works great in the fall when the nights are cool.

Thanks again Tom!

Carl said...

Very nice build, I may well have to build one myself - darn it, like I don"t have enough to do already LOL. Great blog, thanks
Mtn Charlie.

cowgirl said...

Thanks Mtn Charlie! :)
It was an easy build and I've used the heck out of it. I think you would find one usefull. I know what you mean about too many things to do already... this was one of my winter projects. :)
Thanks for stopping by, it's nice to meet you!

Honey said...

Hi! Thanks for the pics. We're looking to make one but we can't figure out how to store stuff AFTER it's smoked.

What do you do with your meat when it's preserved? I'd really appreciate it if you find the time and could email me at HoneyNBenNKids at Gmail dot com.


G-Man said...

Thanks for the blog. It is an awesome resource. I looked all over for designs but yours is the best. Question: Trying to make it a hot smoker and I have a similar question to Onton's. Can I make the bottom (cinder block section) of the smokehouse the hotbox? Wasn't sure if there would be any issue since the top is all wood. Should I put some type of separator between the hotbox and the upper smokehouse section? Concerned about fire hazard and if it will raise the temperature to high in the smokehouse. I am a novice at smoking but love your design.

cowgirl said...

Hi G-Man,
Thank you! :) I'd say you can place your heat source inside of the block base, maybe use a turkey frier burner or something similar.. but I would still line the inside of the wooden smokehouse with metal and maybe even insulate it to be able to hot smoke.
A separator in between the fire chamber and the cooking chamber would not make much difference. The cooking chamber would still need to get up to temperatures high enough to be a concern for the wood.
A drip pan or defuser over your fire is a good idea for catching grease while hot smoking though.
I've had mine up to 225F but for a short period of time.
The time it would take to hot smoke a pork butt or ribs might be too much.
In order to hot smoke, I would consider making the top out of metal or like I said, line it.
I've talked to too many people who build plywood hot smokers (don't use plywood) and 9 out of 10 have burnt down.
IMO it's best to build a good one the first time and not take the chance that the thing will burn down in during the first hot smoke. (hope that makes sense lol :))
Would you be interested in a drum smoker? They are great and easy to build.. you could have both. A smokehouse and a drum! :)

Hope this helps G-Man. Let me know if I didn't answer your question.
Good luck and keep me posted on what you build!
Thanks again...

G-Man said...

Thanks for the quick response. Lots of good info. I would be interested in a drum smoker. I like your smokehouse design because I can do more at a time. I plan to do a lot of sausage, pork buts, and ribs. I started making my own sausage. Tried smoking in a smaller bbq/smoker and learn quickly that I can't pile a lot in a small bbq/smoker. So I started my hunt for smokehouse design. How much can a drum smoker hold? Again, thank you so much for responding.

cowgirl said...

You're sure welcome G-Man!
I don't think the drum smoker would be big enough to hold a large batch of sausage. I have seen people remove the cooking rack and hang the sausage from dowels inside of drums though.. not sure if it would hold as much as you would want to smoke at one time.
What about a smoker made completely from blocks? It wouldn't have to be that tall, just tall enough and wide enough to hold dowels of the sausage and the heat source underneath and a cover of some sort over the top. Just a thought.
It's great that you are making your own sausage. I bet it tastes great! So tasty compared to store bought. :)
There is a link on the right side of my blog page underneath my profile and friends list... it's in the "favorite site" list.
The Northwest Smoking site.
There are some great sausage recipes at that site. I use them and tweak them to suit my taste. If you get the time you might want to check them out. :)
Good luck G-Man,
Let me know what you come up with!
Thanks again! :)

G-Man said...

Thanks again for the great info. I will go to the drawing board and will definitely let you know what I decided on. Thanks for the info on the sausage recipes. I will check them out and probably do some tweaking as well.

cowgirl said...

You're so welcome G-Man! :)
Hope the sausage recipes work out well for you too.
Have a great weekend!

Anonymous said...


Found this by accident. I've been hot smoking for years, but would like to build your smokehouse and try cold smoking. I live in a town of 1,700 people and have about 1/3 acre property ("big back yard"). How much "smoke" does the smoker actually put out - don't want to get in trouble with the authorities.

I would really like to build this and try it.


cowgirl said...

Hi Mark, it's nice to meet you!
The smokehouse doesn't put out much smoke at all. You can control how much you want. Just like hot smoking...thin blue smoke is better than a white billowing smoke.
If you can smell smoke in the house without seeing it, then it's still smoking. (hope that makes sense).
I use this for cold smoking only and the inside of the house is still almost the same color as when I built it.
If you build one keep me posted. I'd love to see pics!
Thanks Mark!

Andrew Narten said...

Awesome blog...can't believe it took me so long to come across it!

Do you think you could convert an unused garage into a cold smokehouse?

cowgirl said...

Thank you Andrew!
I would be leary of the building materials used in a garage. Keep away from any treated lumber or painted wood, also plastics or anything galvanized.
I guess it just depends on how your garage is built.
Good luck what ever you decide to do ...and thanks for stopping by! :)

Peter said...

OK, You've talked me into it. I'm moving house in 4 months so will go for the full size version then. For the time between its going to be the portable that a blogger made. I need to make dutch smoked beef (rookvlees). Everyone who made it commercially gets bought out by the big companies and they stop making it. Will need to do some reading on the process of cuing and how long to smoke etc, but with the smokebox/house I will have to complete it.

cowgirl said...

Peter that's great! You'll find many things to cold smoke.

I googled rookvlees, looks tasty! :)

Good luck with your move and good luck with the build. Hope you keep me posted on how it goes.

Anonymous said...


I built a smoker last year with terrible results. Want to make your cold smoker this year. Primarily for deer and fish. Think that's a good idea or should I build another model? btw i'm a pipewelder and can build anything out of metal, just not sure what to build. Any info is greatly appreciated! Thanks,


cowgirl said...

Hi Mike,
I use my smokehouse mainly for cold smoking cured meats.. usually under 85 degrees F.
It would work great for your fish and you can even raise the temp up to do venison jerky....
but if you want the option to hot smoke, say 225 F or higher, you would need to build it out of metal or insulate and line the inside with metal so the house wouldn't burn.
That's great that you are a pipe welder! You could build a pipe frame and use non galvanized metal to build your house. Set your heat source inside for hot smokes and still have an outside firebox for cold smokes.(just a thought).

Not sure if I was of any help to you. lol
Good luck Mike! Keep me posted on what you build. :)

Fred said...

I am building a smoke house similar to yours but larger, on a small trailer so it can be moved and also stored in shed when not in use. I have a couple questions if you don't mind. Did you season your smoker at all to dry out the lumber before you smoked meat? I used all new lumber and wonder if I should run it for a few days empty? I recall you stating that you put a sealer on the outside of yours and am thinking I should wait till my wood dries out some. They call it kiln dried but I can sure smell the wood. I've smoked fish and sausages for years and sure enjoy your site!colle

cowgirl said...

Hi Fred,
That's great you are building a smokehouse, I'd love to see pics when you get it finished (if you have the time).
The wood I used was aged.. I would probably season fresh wood or let it dry (before building if possible).
Not sure what kind of wood you will use but it seems like "green" wood will shrink up a bit as it loses moisture. Maybe it's just the wood I'm able to get around here.

It shouldn't cause major problems if you build with green wood..might leave a few gaps later on but they can be covered.

Yes I would give the house a couple of good runs before smoking meat.
I'd wait til the house is dry before sealing too.

Are you going to use a block base?

I wish I could catch enough good sized fish to smoke. :) I love smoked fish but only catch a few at a time and usually hot smoke or fry them. :)

Thanks for stopping by Fred and for checking out my blog, I appreciate it!
Hope you have great luck with your smokehouse! :)

Monika said...

I just came accros your site and I find the little smoak house a fantastic idea. For a long time I have searched for an economical and functional cold smoak house (old refrigerators, freezes, etc). I live in the South and the hot weather is not ideal for cold smoaking, so I am restricted to 3 months when we have colder weather. Thanks to your Idea I may get my Black Forest Ham and Bacon after all. Thanks for sharing. Monika

cowgirl said...

Thank you Monika! Hope the house works out well for you!

Lynn said...

Cowgirl do you have any plans for this smoke house? I could do it with out plans, but it makes it hard not knowing exactly what parts im going to need. I want to do this as grand kid project and would like any input you may have.

cowgirl said...

Hi Lynn, sorry I didn't use any plans to built it. I measured my cinderblock pit (the one I use to cook pigs) and decided how tall I wanted it...then went from there.

I would not recommend using plywood or anything galvanized.

I use mine for cold and warm smoking hot smoking (cooking food).

Hope it works out well for you! It would be a great project for kids or grandkids to help. :)

Lynn said...

going to start this over xmas holiday, wish me luck. ill be stealing your design and am going to try and do plans for it. will let you know how it goes.

cowgirl said...

Good luck with the build Lynn! The plans and design for my smokehouse are going to be published in a book shortly..
Hope the house works out well for you!

Lynn said...

CowGirl, could you send the the measurements of your big smoke house? height, width, depth. i dont want to go to big but on the same track not to small either.



Lynn said...


Well,,, its built!!! Not in time for X-Mas but new years should be very interesting. Been looking over your recipes, there are alot I like now just have to figure out which ones I want to do.

The grand kids Loved doing the work on this. Now they want to smoke everything. I have shown this to some of the family, I really think I bit off more then I can chew, cuz everyone wants something smoked. will let you know how things turn out.


Jerry Patty said...

HI! I found your blog and to say the least im blown away. Everything i was looking for! My dad and I are about halfway done with our cold smoker, which was entirely inspired by your incredible photos. Id love to post a pic of ours when its done! I also would LOVE to learn more about curing pork and other meats for smoking!

thanks and take care

Jerry in seattle!

cowgirl said...

Thank you Jerry! I appreciate you stopping by my blog and I'm glad to hear my smokehouse pics were helpful. Hope you enjoy your smokehouse as much as I do mine! :)

I would love to see yours... there is a "contact" button under my profile pic on the right of my page. If you contact me I can send an email address to you.
Thanks for taking the time to let me know Jerry.. I appreciate it. :)

barry said...

This is an awesome smoke house. I would like to build one and I was wondering if you had any printed plans for this project.

cowgirl said...

Thank you Barry!
I do have plans coming out soon.

riverpilot said...

Very good job. You have inspired me to do the same. I have 5 deer to grind this weekend. I will now be able to make my own summer sausage and save a ton of cash. Thank you for putting your cold smoker up for all of us to see. Very well planned out and explained.

cowgirl said...

Thanks so much Riverpilot, I hope this will be of some help to you.
Congrats on the deer, that's great!
If you do get the chance, I'd love to see your house when you get it finished.
Thanks for stopping by!

Bobby said...

Cowgirl, Do you have the floor filled in and topped with concrete, I am planning to start on a cold smokehouse this weekend and yours is exactly what I am looking for too. Thanks for all the helpful info. Bobby. PS. Let hus know when your book comes out so we can purchase a few ccopies

cowgirl said...

Hi Bobby,
You're welcome. :)
I didn't put a floor in it. The meats I smoke are cold smoked so no fat renders..there aren't any drippings like hot smoked food.
So there is really no mess to worry about.
I had thought about pouring a quickcrete floor but decided not to.
Good luck with your build, I would love to see pics when you get finished if you get the time.
Thanks! I will post when the book is ready.
Thanks for stopping by too. :)

Mr. B said...

Cowgirl. what size are the dowels and holes. it looks great. GREAT WORK

cowgirl said...

Thanks Mr B!
Seems like they were 1 1/2 to 2"... I will measure them tomorrow for sure.
I built the smokhouse in 06, I can't remember the exact size of the dowels.. They do need to be fairly thick to hold up the heavy meat without sagging in the middle.
I'll check them in the daylight.:)
Thanks again!

redneckhollow said...

Cowgirl- I am so impressed with your whole site...I am in the military and we recently got stationed in what my wife and I consider our retirement place- on some land...and we are stoked to get started with all of our "big projects"...after seeing this- my priorities on "big projects" changed- although...I have hot smoked foods in the past- I am really new to this whole cold smoke world and was wondering if you'd be able to learn me some things in the world of much as you know...ha! Seriously though- if you have any info that could help my wife and I with smokers/smoking or a book or website for us to go to for more info...please let me know...Thanks so much...and keep up the great work!

cowgirl said...

Mr B, The holes are 1 1/2 inch and the dowels are 1 inch. I've had no problems with them.. they hold quite a bit of heavy meat without bending. Hope this helps ya. :)

cowgirl said...

Redneckhollow, Thanks so much,
I appreciate your service too!
Congratulations to you and your Mrs on finding your hunk of land. I'm sure you will enjoy getting it set up how you like it. :)
I'd be happy to answer any questions that I am able to on cold smoking.
I mainly use the house for the pigs I raise.. bacon and hams and some other cold smoked items like cheeses, spices, honey, etc..( and venison)
I only cold smoke meats that have been cured. Smoking meat at low temperatures can cause problems if not cured first.
Pork fat renders at a temp of 85F or higher so I keep the smokehouse temp lower.. I don't want to cook the meat, just smoke it. Since you know about hot smoking, you know that food is brought up to a safe internal temp for eating.
In cold smoking you do not monitor the internal temp of the meat, you monitor the temp of the smokehouse.
The meat needs to be cooked after smoked. (Like frying the bacon.)
Hope that makes sense, I'm not the best at explaining things. lol
There are a few kinds of cure on the market. I like Morton's products.
They also have a nice booklet on curing meat that might be helpful to you.
Maybe when you get settled, you could raise a few pigs.. I'm sure you would enjoy the home grown meat and the bacon is hard to beat.
There is a contact button under my profile pic. Feel free to shoot me an email if you have any questions.
Not sure I can answer all of them but I'll help if I can. :)
Nice to meet you Redneckhollow, thanks again. :)

redneckhollow said...

Fantastic...thank you so wife and I have considered raising (what seems to be) every farm animal known to man but so far only have chickens...I will most definitely email you and keep in touch with updates on our projects...Thanks so much...

cowgirl said...

You're welcome Redneckhollow! :)

Steve said...

Hi Cowgirl,

I’ve been looking for a blueprint for a cold smoker for ages and, having found your fantastic blog, I want to make something based on your design. However, I’m limited in a few aspects (both technical and otherwise) so I hope you don’t mind me asking for a couple of points of clarification on your original design and to ask whether a couple of tweaks that I’m planning would make sense

1) Breezeblock foundation: Ideally I’d like to avoid setting down a masonry base because of potential conflict with local building regulations and also because the best spot for my soker has a couple of trees that need shifting that I won’t get to until fall, so I would at least like to keep the option of portability open. Is there any reason why a timber foundation wouldn’t work? I’m thinking a swquare base of 4x4s slightly larger than the house with 4x4 stilts going up 3 feet or so, another square with supports holding the house. Do you think this is feasible? Would it be a fire hazard?
2) Roof: I’m interested to know what metal you used for the roof – was it just sheet aluminium? I’m trying to keep things simple so I don’t plow too many weekends into this so I’m thinking of making the roof flat. Is there any reason why a flat roof wouldn’t work?
3) The firebox. It looks like the exhaust pipe is welded to the drum. I’d like to avoid any welding, if possible. I was thinking an aluminium starter collar might do the job. Does this sound workable? Also the nipples and ball valve, I would think they could just be screwed in and not welded.
Thank you for putting these plans online. I hope I’m not asking stupid questions and thank you in advance for any answers you may have.



cowgirl said...

Thank you Steve, it's nice to meet you! Your questions aren't stupid at all.

You can use wood for a base. I would avoid any particle board or plywood. Solid wood is best.
Also it would be best to use the house for cold smoking. It might not be safe at higher temps.

The idea of cold smoking is to let the smoke cool as it travels down the pipe from the firebox, so the smoke that hits the house is not hot enough to cook food, just cold smoke it. (you probably already knew that :))

The metal I used for the roof was some I had on hand from another project (the front end of a stock trailer).
Any metal is fine. The house has a wooden roof, I just used the metal to protect the wood.

You could probably get by with a flat roof. I see no real problem there either. I placed my exhaust stack on the opposite side of the house as the smoke intake pipe for better flow.

Your aluminum starter collar should be fine too on the fire box. I added the extra piece to avoid high temps on my smoke pipe. The outer wall of the pipe is galvanized and the inside is just metal. I am not fond of using galvanized metal around heat. This was just an extra precaution.

The pipe nipples can just be screwed in. That is the way I have it set up on my drum cooker. Works fine! I build my smokehouse before the drum. I wasn't sure how well the air intake would work but it is fine.
If the pipe nipples slip you can use JB Weld to hold them in place.

Hope I answered your questions Steve. Please feel free to let me know if I didn't.
I would also love to see pics of yours when you get it done.

Thanks for stopping by! :)

Steve said...

Thanks for the answers Cowgirl!

What makes this such an excellent blog is not just the cool things you make but the time you take to respond to comments. Very much appreciated.

So, I'm sure I'm going to have more questions when it comes to connecting the whole thing together and getting the smoke / heat balance right but for now I've built the wee house (just adding the roof). I hope to have the whole thing ready to test run in a couple of weeks so if I don't share pictures with you you'll know I've screwed up!

cowgirl said...

You're welcome Steve and thank you!
:) I try to answer questions but sometimes it takes me a couple of days to find the time.
Hope all goes well for you. I'd love to see pics!
Have a great weekend. :)

Adorable Curmudgeon said...

I only just found this. I've been looking for a good smokehouse design! Thank you for sharing yours. It's awesome.

cowgirl said...

Thank you Curmudgeon! Good luck with your smokehouse and thanks for stopping by. Nice to meet ya. :)

Gordon - Arizona Man said...

Hello Cowgirl,

Very impressive ... and your consistent feedback to all who inquire about your smoker is most admirable!

From the photos of your smoker, I noticed you have some very heavy-duty chrome or stainless steel racks in your smoker. I have been looking online for something like yours, but have yet to see any. Where did you find your racks?

Thanks again for your constant feedback!!


cowgirl said...

Gordon Thank you!
Sometimes it takes a day or two for me to post a reply but I try to post when I get the time.

I purchased the racks at my local Ace Hardware store. They are replacement cooking grates for grills.
They are generic racks I believe...they expand to fit several grill models.
I have not looked for them online but you might try looking at an Ace site...see if they have them.

Hope this helps you Gordon. Thank you again for the kind comments, and thank you for stopping by! :)

Unknown said...

Very cool. I'm feeling inspired. I've started creating plans for a brick version that would do triple duty (cold smoke, pig pit, grill). For the cold smoke portion, I've read that humidity control is very important. Is it important enough to go down the road of creating an automated system to inject steam as needed, or have you found a more simple, mundane method?

cowgirl said...

Thank you Dave,
For cold smoking, no steam or high humidity is needed or wanted. In warm and hot smoking (above 100F)or in smoking certain sausages, humidity is more of an issue. It also depends on the recipes and meats you are using.

Pork fat renders at a temperature of 85F and in cold smoking you want to keep your smoke temperature below that.
All meat must be cured before cold smoking to insure safety. (IMO)

Thanks for stopping by and good luck with your build!

Unknown said...

Hi Cow girl, I just found your blog now and love the cold smoke house you built. You said you also use it for curing, so you can make billtong and jerky in this just by hanging the food stuffs there without the smoke? I am from england and am looking into making one of these.

Is there any chance you could email me a list of materials for this project and a step by step guide on how to build it?

Was the space in between the concrete block foundation just left open?

I look forward to hearing from you



Anonymous said...

Cowgirl-my first post! Enjoyed reading the above-great questions and answers. Wondered how/if you sealed the joint between the rafters and the top wall plate? If so, how?

cowgirl said...

Robin thank you! The house isn't air tight but I did go around the outside top and used a food grade high heat caulk to fill in a few larger gaps.

I received your message via email... am behind on getting them answered but will do that asap. I've been tied up for a couple of weeks.
Thanks so much for stopping by my blog, I appreciate it. :)

Unknown said...

Hi again CG
Do you get a lot of condensation on the inside of your smokehouse? Like on the ceiling? Is it enough to worry about?

cowgirl said...

Hi Marty!
I've not had one bit of condensation in the smokehouse. The inside of the roof looks as new as the day I built it.
I use a cool, thin blue billowing white or dark smoke.
Hope you have great luck with your build. Looking forward to seeing pics! :)

Anonymous said...

Pretty Incredible Blog you got here. Another great find from the bbq-brethren site I will have to take some time and really go though it over the next few weeks.

cowgirl said...

Thanks Mark, I appreciate you stopping by!

Unknown said...

Thanks for the info on your blog! I have just built a similar smoker following your instructions... built it from recycled pallet wood boards. It is a sight to see! In the past I was using smaller smokers and I kept on having to get a bigger one everytime, this one should suffice at 40in/36in.

Just a quick question about getting smoke from the firebox: can I use full/split logs to get smoke out of it or should I use shavings/chunks? I have a few maple logs as well as apple logs, I was wondering if I could just set those on fire? When I tested my firebox, as soon as I got the cover on it the fire died and I ended up with smoldering wood. Would that be good for smoking?


cowgirl said...

Nice to meet you Jean-Francois! I am glad to hear that my smokehouse post was helpful to you.
Would love to see pictures of your smokehouse if you get the time.

I understand what you mean about the size. :) I sometimes wish mine were a bit bigger. When I start loading it with goodies, I run out of room pretty fast. :)

I use whole logs with no problem. I let them burn for about 30 minutes to get the wood burning good and the hot coals started.
When the logs are almost gone I add smaller logs right on top of the hot coals and keep it going.
The smoke doesn't need to be heavy.. just a small amount of smoke is better than billowing white stuff.
I use the air intakes around the bottom of the fire box and the baffle inside of the smoke pipe to control how much smoke I get into the house.
(hope that makes sense)

You should be able to adjust the heat and smoke with no problem, it might take a burn or two to get the feel for it.
Good luck, I hope it works out well for you!

Thanks so much for stopping by Jean-Francois, I appreciate you taking the time to contact me too. :)

cowgirl said...

Jean-Francois, I forgot to mention.. Apple and Maple wood is great for flavoring. I usually use hard wood for my heat and put small chunks of apple or maple on the coals for flavoring. I do not have access to many trees here so I use what I have on hand.
If you have hardwoods like oak or hickory, they are great for smoking too. You could save your apple and maple for flavoring.
Just a suggestion. :)

You probably have a far better selection of trees than I have here. :)

Again... good luck to you! :)

Chet C said...

the whole thing is just awesome and another example of the fine work you do.

cowgirl said...

Chet you're very kind...thank you!! I appreciate you stopping by my blog too. Hope you're having a great day. :)

Anonymous said...

Hello Cowgirl,

I'm just getting started building the little smokehouse and mine will be slightly different in dimension, the roof, and the base configuration. I got to thinking, after you having used yours for a while, is there anything major you would change? Also, do I need your permission to copy most of your design? I promise to give you full credit for the original design.

Btw, I truly do enjoy your blogs.


cowgirl said...

Russ I'm SO sorry I didn't get a reply to you sooner! Your comment was mistakenly placed in the spam folder.
Yes please feel free to use any ideas from my smokehouse build for your build. The only thing I would do different is add more shelf hangers. It's easy to fill the smokehouse up fast.
Other than that it's worked out great for me.
I retreat the outside every year or two. This year I used a darker wood protector that contained a stain. It looks darker but nice for a change.
I painted the firebox again a couple of weeks ago. The thing almost looks brand new! :)

Thanks so much for stopping by Russ. Good luck with your build, I'd love to see pic if you get the time.

Anonymous said...

Cowgirl, your smoke house has inspired me for a while now. I have built my own-a little bigger (6' X 6') but am using your ideas for racks/rack holders. Would love to send you a pic. Thanks for doing this...I will be asking your advice as I begin to use it! ..Southern Man

cowgirl said...

SouthernMan that's great! I would love to see pics of your build.
If you have the time, contact me using the form at the bottom of my blog. Then I will be able to send an email address for you to send the pics.
I'm happy to hear my smokehouse inspired you. :)
Thanks for stopping by, I appreciate it SouthernMan.

Anonymous said...

Hey, Cowgirl!! Long time no see! Got my smoke house smoking and just came out with some great bacon! Guess I'll have to up those blood pressure meds! A little salty but took the hickory smoke well, good color and tastes fantastic!

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