How to Build a Dehydrator Smoker On Your Own?

how to build a dehydrator smoker

Last Updated on October 2, 2023

Have you ever wanted to make your food taste as it came off the grill at a BBQ restaurant? Well, now you can with a dehydrator smoker!

This type of smoker uses a dehydrator to remove moisture from food, allowing smoke to penetrate deeply and impart an even smoky flavor to the food. The smoke flavor is slowly imparted into the meat as it cooks, giving it a deep, rich flavor that is perfect for any BBQ lover.

Whether you are looking to preserve meats for long-term storage or create unique flavor profiles, a dehydrator smoker is a great option. Best of all, making your own dehydrator smoker is very simple and cost-effective. All you need is a few tools and supplies from the hardware store.

This guide will provide everything you need to know in order to build your own dehydrator smoker, including what materials you will need and how to put it all together.

So, if you are ready to learn how to build a dehydrator smoker on your own, then let’s get started!

How to Build a Dehydrator Smoker- What to Consider Before Starting?

Smoking meats and fish in a dehydrator is an excellent way to preserve them. The process of smoking removes moisture from the food, which prevents bacteria from growing and spoiling the meat.

A dehydrator smoker requires a seal to prevent smoke and moisture from escaping. Once the dehydrator smoker is sealed, wood chips or sawdust can be added to the bottom of the unit, and the food can be placed on racks inside the smoker.

The racks should be placed so that they are not touching the walls of the unit, as this will prevent proper airflow. A fan can be used to circulate air within the dehydrator smoker, or holes can be drilled in the sides of the unit to allow for ventilation.

After several hours, the food will be thoroughly smoked and ready to eat. Building a dehydrator smoker follows this more-or-less usual procedure.

Let’s Make a Dehydrator Smoker!

Building a dehydrator smoker is a fairly simple process and can be done in a matter of hours. The most important part of the process is selecting the right materials for the job.

Some things to keep in mind when selecting materials for your dehydrator smoker include:

  • The material must be able to withstand high temperatures.
  • The material must be able to hold the food you’d like to smoke.
  • The material must have good ventilation to allow the smoking process to occur.

Some of the best materials for dehydrator smokers include:

  • Food-grade barrel or drum
  • Old refrigerators
  • Metal drums
  • Cardboard boxes
  • Existing dehydrator

Several ways can be used to build a dehydrator smoker. Let’s take a look at some of the most popular methods:

Method 1

The first method is to purchase a dehydrator that already has a smoking chamber attached. This type of dehydrator smoker is very easy to use and is ideal for those who are new to smoking food. The only downside to this method is that it can be quite expensive.

If you are looking for a more budget-friendly option, you can build your own dehydrator smoker using a few simple supplies from the hardware store. This method is a bit more involved, but it will save you money in the long run.

  1. The first step is to purchase a food-grade barrel or drum. These can be found at most hardware stores or online. Once you have your barrel or drum, you will need to drill a few holes in the side for ventilation.
  2. Next, you will need to purchase a smoking element. This can be either an electric smoker element or a wood-burning stove. If you choose an electric smoker element, you will need to drill a hole in the barrel or drum for the cord to pass through.
  3. Once you have your smoking element, you will need to build a fire in it. This can be done by using either wood chips or charcoal.
  4. Once the fire is going, you will need to place your food on a rack inside the barrel or drum.
  5. Place the lid on the barrel or drum, and allow the food to smoke for the desired amount of time.
  6. When the food is finished smoking, you can remove it from the barrel or drum and enjoy it!

Method 2

By modifying an existing food dehydrator in your kitchen, you can build a dehydrator smoker. This method is similar to the first, but instead of using a separate smoking chamber, the wood chips or pellets are placed in the bottom of the dehydrator, and the food is smoked on the racks.

In fact, with a few simple modifications, a dehydrator can be turned into an effective smoker that will produce great-tasting results. Dehydrators are relatively inexpensive, and they can be easily adapted to smoking food.

Here’s what you’ll need:

A Food Dehydrator

The most important part of the dehydrator smoker is the food dehydrator itself. Any type of dehydrator will work, but we recommend using one that has temperature control so that you can adjust the heat as needed.

A Smoke Generator

The smoke generator is what will actually generate the smoke that will be used to flavor the food. This can be made from any type of metal container, like a small box, a coffee can, or even an aluminum foil packet.

Wood Chips or Pellets

Wood Chips or Pellets

The wood chips or pellets are placed on the heat source and will smolder, producing the smoke that flavors the food. When choosing wood chips or pellets, it is important to select a type that is suitable for smoking food.

A Pan or Dripping tray

You’ll need a pan or tray to catch the drippings from the smoking process. You can use a foil-lined pan or tray as it will make cleanup easier.

Metal or Aluminum Foil

This will be used to line the inside of the dehydrator, and this will help to reflect the heat and prevent the wood chips from burning.

A Thermometer

A thermometer is essential for monitoring the temperature inside the dehydrator smoker.


Step 1: First, you will need to make some modifications to your dehydrator. Most dehydrators have vents on the sides or on the top that need to be covered in order for them to work as a smoker.
If your dehydrator has side vents, you can cover them with aluminum foil or metal tape. In case your dehydrator has a top vent, you will need to plug it in something so that smoke can’t escape. You can use cork stoppers or plugs as they are easy to remove and won’t damage the dehydrator.

Step 2: Next, you will need to line the inside of the dehydrator with foil. It will help reflect the heat and prevent the wood chips from burning.

Step 3: Put the drip pan or tray under the racks of the dehydrator. This will catch any drippings from the smoking process.

Step 4: Place the smoke generator on the bottom of the dehydrator. Fill the smoke generator with wood chips or pellets. We recommend using about 1 cup of wood chips or pellets for every 5 minutes of smoking time. You should try to use hickory or apple wood chips as they give a nice flavor to meats.

Place the smoke generator on the bottom of the dehydrator.

Step 5: You must wait until the dehydrator starts to emit smoke. This can take anywhere from 10-15 minutes. Once the smoke starts coming out of the dehydrator, you can add your food to the dehydrator racks. Make sure that the food is not touching the foil lining the inside as this can cause it to stick.

Step 6: Cover the dehydrator with the lid and turn it on to the desired temperature. We recommend smoking at a temperature of between 200-225 degrees Fahrenheit. The food will need to be smoked for 1-2 hours or until it reaches the desired level of smokiness.

Step 7: The temperature inside the dehydrator must be monitored to ensure the food doesn’t overcook. Using a thermometer will allow you to keep track of the temperature and adjust accordingly.

Once the food is smoked to your liking, you can turn off the dehydrator and allow the food to cool.

Method 3

If you don’t have a food dehydrator, you can still build your own smoker using a few household items. To build a dehydrator smoker using this method, you will need the following materials:

  • Smoker material (refrigerator, metal drum, cardboard box)
  • High-temperature glue or sealant
  • Screws
  • Nuts and bolts
  • Hinges
  • Latch
  • Smoker wood chips


  1. Prepare the smoker material. It may be necessary to cut a door into the side of an old refrigerator, metal drum, or cardboard box to use as a smoker. This will allow you to access the interior of the smoker to add wood chips and racks.
  2. Apply high-temperature glue or sealant around the edges of the door opening.
  3. Affix hinges to the door opening, making sure that the hinges are able to support the weight of the door.
  4. Affix a latch to the door, making sure that it is secure.
  5. Drill holes in the bottom of the smoker material for ventilation.
  6. To prepare the smoker for smoking, place wood chips at the bottom.
  7. Place racks in the smoker material. These will be used to hold the food you want to smoke.
  8. Preheat the smoker by lighting a fire in the bottom. Allow the smoker to preheat for at least 30 minutes before adding food.
  9. Stack the racks with the food you’d like to smoke, then shut the smoker’s door.
  10. Depending on your preference, let the food smoke for some time.
  11. Once the smoking process is complete, remove the food from the racks and allow it to cool.
  12. Enjoy your delicious, home-smoked food!

And that’s it!

You have successfully built a dehydrator smoker and are ready to start smoking your food. The food will sometimes take several hours to smoke, so be patient.

When it’s done, you’ll have delicious smoked food that was cooked with minimal effort. We hope you enjoy the great-tasting results.

Tips for Smoking Food in a Dehydrator Smoker

Now that you’ve built your dehydrator smoker, it’s time to start smoking your food. Here are some tips on how to use it:

Clean Racks and Smoker

Every great barbecue starts with clean racks and a clean smoker. This may seem like a small detail, but it’s actually very important.

If your racks are dirty, your food will pick up unwanted flavors from the smokehouse. The same is true for a dirty smoker – it can impart off-flavors to your food, regardless of how well you season it.

That’s why it’s always important to start with clean racks and smokers. This will help ensure that your food comes out tasting great.

Cook Slowly at a Low Temperature

When smoking foods in a dehydrator smoker, it’s important to cook them slowly at a low temperature to prevent toughening. This is because low temperatures allow the food to retain its natural moisture, which helps to keep it tender.

Also, slow cooking allows the flavors of the smoke and other seasonings to penetrate the food more deeply, giving it a richer flavor. As a result, taking the time to cook slowly at a low temperature will result in tastier, more tender smoked foods.

Choose the Right Wood Chips

When choosing wood chips for your smoker, it’s important to select a high-quality variety. Regular wood chips will produce a lot of smoke and can make the food taste unpleasant.

Instead, opt for a brand that is specifically designed for smoking. These chips will produce less smoke and impart a more subtle flavor to the food.

They are often made from aromatic woods like hickory or apple, which can further enhance the flavor of the food.

Soak the Wood Chips

Soaking the chips for 30 minutes helps to produce less smoke and prevents them from burning. This allows the smoke to better penetrate the food, giving it a more intense flavor.

The chips can also be soaked in wine or beer for additional flavor. Be sure to drain the liquid before adding the chips to the smoker. Otherwise, they may flare up and cause the food to burn.

Preheat the Dehydrator

To ensure that your food cooks evenly in a dehydrator smoker, it is important to preheat the dehydrator to 150 degrees Fahrenheit before adding the food. By doing this, you will help the food to cook more evenly, which will result in better-tasting and more nutritious food.

Preheating the dehydrator will help to kill any bacteria that may be present in the food, making it safer to eat.

Smoke Smaller Things with Sheets

For smoking smaller foods, it’s helpful to use sheets. It also allows for better air circulation around the food, which helps ensure it cooks evenly without falling through the racks.

Make Sure the Temperature’s Right

Dehydrator temperatures must be monitored to prevent overcooking. An accurate thermometer is necessary for maintaining and adjusting the temperature.

Don’t Over-smoke the Food

Food can become bitter if over-smoked, so do not overdo it. Smoking the food for a shorter period of time and then taste-testing it to see if it needs more smoke.

Let the Food Cool

Once the food is cooked, let it cool for a few minutes before serving. This will help to lock in the flavor.

Smoke Management

If you find that your food is becoming too smoky, there are a few things that you can do.

First, try opening the vents on the dehydrator. Or open the lid for a minute to let some of the smoke escape. This will allow some of the smoke to escape and should help to reduce the smokiness of the food.

Another thing you can do is soak the wood chips in water for 30 minutes before using them. This will help to produce less smoke.

Also, make sure that you are using the right type of wood chips. Some brands of wood chips are more likely to produce a lot of smoke than others.

What are the Benefits of a Dehydrator Smoker?

The benefits of a dehydrator smoker include:

  • Inexpensive – Dehydrator smokers cost a fraction of what traditional smokers do.
  • Easy to assemble – The dehydrator smoker is easy to put together, and even novice smokers will be able to build it without any trouble.
  • Versatile – A dehydrator smoker can be used to smoke a wide variety of foods, including meat, fish, vegetables, and fruit.
  • Produces great-tasting food – The dehydrator smoker produces food that is smoked with the perfect amount of flavor and heat.
  • Portable – Dehydrator smokers are much smaller and more portable than their traditional counterparts, making them perfect for tailgating or camping trips.
  • Safe – A dehydrator smoker is a safe way to smoke food, as there is no risk of the food becoming overcooked or exposure to harmful chemicals.

Recipes for Using Your New Dehydrator Smoker

If you’re the proud owner of a dehydrator smoker, you might be wondering what sorts of recipes you can use it for. The answer is: just about anything!

Dehydrator smokers are perfect for adding flavor to meats, fish, vegetables, and even fruits. Here are a few ideas to get you started:

Smoked Salmon

Dehydrator smokers add a subtle smoky flavor to salmon that is simply delicious. Try smoking salmon fillets for an easy and impressive appetizer or main course.

Place the marinated fish on the smoker racks; a temperature of 150 degrees Fahrenheit should be set, and smoke for 2-3 hours or until the internal temperature of the fish reaches 145 degrees Fahrenheit.

The drip tray of the dehydrator will catch any juices that drip from the fish, so there’s no need to worry about making a mess.

Smoked Chicken

Try smoking whole chicken breasts in your dehydrator smoker for juicy, flavorful chicken. The slow cooking process infuses the meat with flavor and keeps it moist and tender.

For best results, use bone-in chicken breasts or thighs. Place the chicken on the smoker racks after marinating it in your favorite BBQ sauce or dry rub.

The temperature should be set at 150 degrees Fahrenheit. And smoke for 2-3 hours or until the internal temperature of the chicken reaches 165 degrees Fahrenheit.

Smoked Ribs

Tired of dry, overcooked ribs? Try smoking them in your dehydrator smoker for unbeatable flavor and texture. To prevent hardening, cook them slowly at a low temperature.

Start by coating the ribs with your favorite BBQ sauce or dry rub. Then, smoke them at 150°F on the smoker racks.

Smoke for 3-4 hours or until the ribs are cooked through. This method of cooking ribs produces tender and juicy meat that is full of flavor.

Smoked Veggies

Dehydrator smokers aren’t just for meats! Vegetables like eggplant, zucchini, and peppers also take well to smoked flavor. Try smoking veggies as an interesting and flavorful side dish.

Smoked Cheese

Cut the cheese into small blocks and smoke for two hours at a low temperature. This will give the cheese a nice smoky flavor that is perfect for entertaining or snacking.


Yes, you can even smoke fruit! Try smoking thin slices of apples or pears for a unique and delicious treat.

Smoked fruit is also a great topping for ice cream or yogurt.

Smoked Nuts

Nuts are a great snack, and they’re even better when they’re smoked. Try smoking a variety of nuts, like almonds, pecans, or walnuts.

The key to success is to start with raw, unsalted nuts. Marinate them in your favorite BBQ sauce or dry rub, then place them on the smoker racks. Smoke at a low temperature for 2-3 hours or until the nuts are nicely toasted.

With a little imagination and experimentation, you can create so many mouthwatering dishes that will tantalize your taste buds.


What is the best wood to use for a dehydrator smoker?

A variety of woods can be used to impart flavor to food when it is smoked. While each type of wood will give food a unique taste, some are better suited for use in a dehydrator smoker than others. 
For example, fruitwoods like apple and cherry are popular choices for smoking because they lend a sweet flavor to food. Hardwoods like hickory and oak are also commonly used, as they produce a robust smoked flavor.
However, mesquite wood is one of the best choices for dehydrators. This type of wood provides a deep, rich flavor that pairs well with many different types of food. 

How do I monitor the temperature in my dehydrator smoker?

The best way to monitor the temperature in your dehydrator smoker is to use a digital thermometer. You can find these at most hardware or home improvement stores.
Simply insert the thermometer into the smoker chamber and set it to the desired temperature. The digital display will show you the current temperature inside the smoker, making it easy to monitor the cooking process.
You can also use an oven thermometer to monitor the temperature inside the dehydrator smoker. These are typically less accurate than digital thermometers, but they can still give you a general idea of how hot it is inside the smoker.
Place the oven thermometer on one of the racks inside the dehydrator and check it periodically throughout the smoking process.

What is the maximum temperature that I can smoke food in my dehydrator smoker?

Most dehydrator smokers have a maximum temperature of 200 degrees Fahrenheit. But, for optimal results, it’s best to smoke food at a lower temperature. This will prevent the food from drying out and ensure that it picks up maximum flavor from the wood chips.
Ideally, you should smoke food at a temperature between 150 and 180 degrees Fahrenheit. This range will allow the food to cook slowly and evenly, resulting in tender, juicy, and flavorful meats and veggies.
If you try to smoke food at a higher temperature, you run the risk of drying out the meat and causing it to become tough. For this reason, it is best to stick to a temperature of 150 degrees Fahrenheit or lower when smoking food in your dehydrator smoker.

Final Thoughts

Smoked foods are a delicious way to add flavor to your favorite recipes. And with a dehydrator smoker, you can easily create mouth-watering dishes right in your own kitchen.

For the BBQ enthusiast on a budget, a dehydrator smoker is an excellent option. These smokers can be built for a fraction of the cost of a traditional smoker, and they are just as effective at producing delicious smoked foods.

So, if you’re looking for a new way to spice up your cooking, consider smoking your foods with a dehydrator smoker. With a little practice, you’ll be an expert in no time.

How to Build a Dehydrator Smoker On Your Own?

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