How to Make an In-Ground Pit Smoker

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Pit smokers cook meat with soil as insulation.

If you want to experience real barbecue, you need to build a smoker. True barbecue comes from long, slow cooking on low heat. The results are succulent, tender eating that you can add to hot sandwiches, thick stews or enjoy all on their own. Plus, there's very little to smoker cooking other than placing the meat in the smoker and letting it roast. Of course, if you have no smoker, you have to build one before roasting your meat. In-ground smokers, however, are budget-friendly and a viable option for anyone with a back yard.


Step 1

Dig a hole 3 feet deep and 3 feet wide. This should be plenty of space to cook enough meat for up to six people. If making a giant feast, make your pit larger or dig several of them to accommodate all of your food.

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Step 2

Stack some small twigs in the bottom of the hole in a teepee formation. Place a few tufts of dryer lint or some twisted newspaper in the center of the pyramid and light it on fire.


Step 3

Wait until the twigs catch and begin adding wood chips to the fire one handful at a time. Wait until one handful catches fire and begins burning steadily before adding another. Fill the hole about two-thirds (2 feet deep) full with wood chips. They should be glowing embers when you're finished.

Step 4

Soak some hardwood branches in water for about two hours. These branches provide the smoke that flavors your meat. Lay the branches in a grid pattern on top of the coals. Lay the first layer vertically and parallel, spacing them about 4 inches apart. Lay down the second layer horizontal and parallel across the first layer.


Step 5

Place each cut of meat down into a brown paper sack. Wrap the sack tightly around the meat. Wet down some newspapers until they're soaking and wrap the brown paper sacks in two or three layers of newspaper. This helps keep the meat tender and prevents it from combusting.

Step 6

Lay a 4-foot square board over the hole and cover it with the dirt from the hole. This keeps in the heat. Allow the meat to cook overnight; about 12 hours should do it.



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