Timothy Woods
Published by Timothy Woods
Last Updated On: March 27, 2023

Barring vegetarians, of course, who doesn't love the delicious taste of smoked meats? But when foul weather hits and that backyard grill isn't going to happen, we either have to cancel our plans or improvise.

Indoor smokers can be costly to buy, so if you're penny-wise and looking for a hack, you can make a stovetop smoker from items that you are likely to have in your home already.

Quick Summary

  • How to make a DIY stovetop smoker with a part, foil, wood chips, and metal rack.
  • The process that you choose will determine the time it takes to finish cooking the meat.
  • The pros and cons of a DIY stovetop smoker.
  • Different wood types are suitable for different meats.
  • Smokers can pose health risks in terms of respiratory illnesses and can contain carcinogenic material.

If you live in an area with a cold climate or don't have an outdoor area where you can put a grill, using a homemade stovetop smoker is the ideal way to enjoy your smoked meat without the traditional equipment.

And you won't be bound by the weather either. It is also always so satisfying to make equipment yourself.

Cooking On A DIY Stovetop Smoker

Stove top on fire

To get your smoking process started, make sure that you have enough aluminum foil at hand because a DIY smoker needs a lot of it to contain the smoke.

Find a large pot and cover the bottom of the pot with foil. This forms the base for the wood chips.

Press the next layer of foil as flat as possible, and put a metal rack or steamer insert on top [1].

The smoker is now ready for the meat, chicken, or fish. Place it on top of the metal rack, making sure to leave enough space for the smoke to flow inside the pot.

Put the lid on and secure the edges with a sizable piece of tinfoil to ensure that all the smoke stays inside the smoker. If not, you could end up with a very smoky kitchen!

To get the wood chipssmoking, you need to heat the pot quickly, so place the pot at a high temperature for approximately 5 minutes or until you notice wisps of smoke beginning to circulate.

Now turn down the heat to medium-low for 10-40 minutes depending on what you're cooking and the size of the cut. Allow the meat to rest for 10 minutes before removing the foil.

How Long To Cook Meat On A Stovetop Smoker?

The length of time in the smoker also depends on the type of smoking you prefer.

Some cooks choose to smoke the meat until it is completely cooked.

This is suitable for smaller foods, like salmon filets or small chicken portions.

Another method is to partially smoke the meat on the stovetop to infuse it with flavor and then cook it normally.

This method works well for steaks, burgers, and bacon. Once removed from the smoker, they can be grilled or fried.

A third smoking method is to smoke the meat on the smoker and transfer it to the oven to complete the cooking process.

This is a great way to cook large cuts. To prevent the meat from drying out, add a cup of liquid to the oven pan.

The Pros And Cons Of Stovetop Smokers

Close up of cooking on stove

When considering whether to use a DIY stovetop smoker, one can consider the following pros and cons [2]. Reasons to use them are:

  • Small quantities work brilliantly in a stovetop cooker.
  • Your plans for smoking the meat are not dependent on the weather.
  • Using a DIY smoker costs you nothing.
  • It works well for camping trips on the open fire or a gas burner.
  • The finished product is moist and tasty.
  • The cooking time and temperature are easy to control.

Some reasons that might be slightly off-putting are: If the smoker does not have a decent exhaust system, your kitchen could soon be smoke-filled.

  • It takes practice to cook successfully in a homemade smoker.
  • It does not work well on stoves with completely flat tops such as glass tops [3].
  • The texture and flavor can be slightly different from meat cooked on other types of smokers.

The Type Of Wood Chips To Use In A Stovetop Smoker

Wood chunks

There are many types of wood chips available for use in smokers, but each kind of wood is suited to specific meats [4]:

  • Alder is great for seafood, especially salmon.
  • Allspice is suited to chicken and jerk pork.
  • Apple works for most types of meat and poultry.
  • Beech is good for all cuts of pork.
  • Cherry is a great fit for pork, seafood, and poultry.
  • Hickory can be used for any meat, vegetables, and seafood.
  • Mesquite works well with beef and fish.
  • Oak goes well with all kinds of seafood, vegetables, and meat.
Chef doing an X with his hands

Stovetop smokers have some downsides when it comes to possible health issues [5]. Since they use wood chips to smoke the food, it will quickly fill the kitchen if the smoke is not completely contained.

The smoke can be harmful to people with asthma and other respiratory illnesses. When using a stovetop smoker, it is paramount to make sure that there is good ventilation.

Research has shown that smoked food sometimes contains carcinogenic material that may increase the risk of certain kinds of cancer [6].

To decrease the number of carcinogens in smoked food, one can limit its time in the smoker.

It can then be transferred to an oven or a pan to finish the cooking. However, one doesn't eat smoked meat continuously, which also lessens the risk.

Related Article:


Who knew that aluminum foil and a few wood chips could be your best kitchen friend when you are in the mood for some tasty smoked food?

In this case, the pot is simply a container, but the foil is the star of the show, facilitating the smoking, sealing the stovetop smoker, and rendering a mouth-watering feast that will tempt the snootiest of palates.

Head out to our top portable smokers round-up and see the stovetops that made it to the list.


  1. https://www.saveur.com/article/Video/VIDEO-How-to-Make-a-Stovetop-Smoker/
  2. https://amazingribs.com/ratings-reviews/how-buy-smoker/best-stovetop-smokers/
  3. https://www.washingtonpost.com/archive/lifestyle/food/2002/06/12/how-to-handle-your-stovetop-smoker/44dac5fc-ed7c-4867-be1e-5e578cd7b150/
  4. https://www.delish.com/cooking/a36869381/best-wood-chips-for-smoking/
  5. https://en.hesperian.org/hhg/A_Community_Guide_to_Environmental_Health:Indoor_Air_Pollution
  6. https://foodandnutrition.org/march-april-2014/stovetop-smokers/
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