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How to Make an Indoor Smoker

People are amazed that I smoke foods in my tiny Brooklyn apartment.  Yes, it definitely smells like smoke afterwards.  However, if I do it on a warm evening and leave my windows ajar overnight, the smell is gone by the time I wake up (mostly).  But who cares?! It’s so delicious, let’s smoke something!

Making an indoor smoker has many benefits.  First, obviously, it’s a different way to cook food so it gives some variety.  Second, people are impressed.  If you want to impress someone and you’re a novice cook, this is a good way to do it!

Smoking foods at home is a healthy way to preserve the nutritional value – it’s not too high temperature, its dry heat (so it doesn’t leech nutrients), and it doesn’t require additional fats for cooking.  By choosing different types of wood chips and brines, the possibilities are endless.

Here’s what you need (at minimum):

  1. Cast iron pot (or something without any coating) with a tight fitting lid
  2. Aluminum Foil
  3. Flavored wood chips (not pellets, slabs, logs or chunks)
  4. Some food to smoke; I vote starting with fish or vegetables

Experiment with the type of wood chips you use because they all produce different flavors.   Generally, wood for smoking comes from hardwood fruit or nut bearing trees.  You can start with my favorite recipe (below) but here are some suggestions:

  • Alder – mild flavor.  Use with seafood and vegetables.
  • Apple – mild, sweet flavor.  Use with poultry, ham and fish.
  • Ash – light olive-y flavor.  Use with any meat or seafood.
  • Cherry - bold, sweet flavor.  Use with poultry and vegetables.
  • Grape - mild, sweet flavor.  Use with poultry, ham and fish.
  • Hickory – cured, bold, bacon like flavor.  Great with anything BBQ’ed.  Use with: pork, chicken, game, and trout.
  • Maple – mild flavor.  Use with poultry and ham.
  • Mesquite – medium to bold spicy flavor; the chips burn hot.  Use with: beef, pork, poultry or vegetables and larger cuts of meat.
  • Oak – mild flavor, goes particularly well with earthy, old world red wines or beef, pork, poultry and vegetables.
  • Peach - mild, sweet flavor.  Use with poultry, ham and fish.
  • Pear - mild, sweet flavor.  Use with poultry, ham and fish.
  • Pecan – nutty, milder flavor.  Use with: game, lamb, poultry, fish and pork.
  • Persimmon - mild, sweet flavor.  Use with poultry, ham and fish.

Or, try mixing wood! Here are a few suggestions that are great compliments to each other:

  • Apple + Cherry
  • Apple + Hickory
  • Cherry + Maple
  • Cherry + Oak
  • Oak + Hickory + Apple
  • Oak + Pecan


Soak flavored wood chips in water for at least 30 minutes prior to using.  Place your pot on your stove. Next, spread the chips around the bottom of the pot.  Pierce your tin foil a few times so the smoke can get through.  If you have a pan and wire rack that fit inside your pot, you can use those too!  Lastly, place your food on the aluminum or rack and you’re ready to smoke.

Turn the stove on to medium and once you see smoke escaping from the pot, cover it with the lid and leave it according to the recipe directions.  Most foods that I’ve smoked take less than 20 minutes.

Try this basic brine with any fish!

Hickory Smoked Trout

Serves 4

  • 4 trout fillets
  • 1 handful hickory chips
  • 4 cups cold water
  • ½ cup salt
  • ½ cup honey

Dissolve the salt and honey in the cold water in a shallow bowl or pan.  Submerge fillets and let sit for at least 30 minutes, ideally 2 hours.  During that time, soak the hickory chips.  Set up the smoker (as instructed above).  Pat the fillets dry and smoke for about 8-10 minutes, or until they flake with a fork.

NUTRITION INFORMATION (1 trout fillet, about 5-6oz.): 215 calories, 8g fat, 0g carbohydrate, 0g fiber, 33g protein.  There is no trans fat, only 2g saturated fat, and 99mg of cholesterol.  Trout is a great source of lean protein and B vitamins.

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2 Comments to "How to Make an Indoor Smoker"

  1. Sonia Cinnamon says:

    This is such a fun and interesting idea. I can’t wait to try it! But where do I find the wood chips?

    • Kate Gardner says:

      Thanks Sonia! Good question: for the greatest selection of flavors, you can shop online for wood chips. Amazon has 5 great flavors. Or, they can be found in stores like Target or many hardware stores that retail grilling/smoking equipment! Let me know how it works!

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