How do you make a stovetop smoker? Step-by-step instructions

by Joost Nusselder | Last Updated:  November 28, 2021

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Sure, getting a stovetop smoker is relatively cheap and it does a fine job. But, if you like getting crafty, you’ve probably thought about DIY stovetop smokers already.

So, how do you make a homemade food smoker?

How do you make a stovetop smoker? Step-by-step instructions

Here’s the best way to create your own stovetop smoker and it’s actually not that hard so anyone can do it. All you need is a large pot, some aluminum foil, and a steamer insert.

Besides, having a small indoor stovetop is very useful when the weather is bad or if you don’t plan on investing in a large outdoor smoker.

How to make stovetop smoker & use it: step-by-step instructions

The advantage of making this basic stovetop steamer is that you don’t need to worry about storing bulky smokers and you can save money.

Supplies you need

  • A large circular pot
  • Metal steamer insert / colander
  • Aluminum foil
  • Smoking wood chips (there are bundles of wood chips made specifically for the stovetop smoker)

Before you start smoking, make sure your colander or steamer insert isn’t larger than the size of your pot and fits inside.

Also, you want to cut your food into smaller pieces that fit on the steamer insert and there is a bit of space left over to ensure the smoke has plenty of space to move around and infuse your foods with that delicious smokey taste.

Should I soak the wood chips?

Some chefs will tell you to soak the wood chips for about 30 minutes prior to use, while others say this step is unnecessary.

When using your outdoor smoker, you don’t really need to soak the wood chips but for an improvised DIY stovetop smoker it can actually help you, and here’s how.

If you soak the wood chips for about half an hour before smoking, they will remain moist and won’t burn when you heat them in the pot.

Since the pot goes straight on the stove, the high heat can cause the chips to start burning, especially if they’re very small.

When you soak the wood chips, they can smoke for a lot longer and you can get better smoke quality. Therefore, I recommend soaking them when you smoke on your stovetop with a pot.


  1. At the bottom of the empty pot, place some aluminum foil.
  2. Add about 3 or 4 tablespoons of smoking wood chips. Use mild fruit woods like apple for poultry and fish and something more flavorful like hickory, maple, or oak for pork and beef.
  3. Now, add a layer of tinfoil on top of the wood chips.
  4. Place the steamer insert or colander on top of the aluminum foil. Press it in as flat as you can.
  5. Now, add your meat but leave some space between the meat cuts so the smoke has enough room to circulate.
  6. Place the lid on and close off your pot with pieces of aluminum foil around all the lid’s edges. This ensures that your smoke stays inside the pot and doesn’t flow out and smoke up your whole kitchen.
  7. Turn on your stovetop and put it on high heat for the first 5 – 7 minutes until it starts to smoke.
  8. Once it starts smoking, turn the heat down to medium-low. Let the food cook for about 15 minutes if you’re cooking fish and small pieces of poultry. For pork, you need about 40 minutes of smoke time. Also, you might have to finish it off in the oven still.
  9. After you’ve smoked the meat, turn the heat off. Let the food rest and cool a bit inside the smoker for approximately 10 minutes.
  10. Remove the foil and check your food. If it’s well cooked through, you can start serving it. Alternatively, you can put it on your sheet pan to continue cooking in the oven.
  11. Now, remove any remaining foil and the wood chips and throw them away. Wash your pot and you’re ready for the next time you want to smoke food on your stove.

As you can tell, there’s nothing complicated involved in making this type of smoker at home.

The only potential problem is that you might get some of the smoke in your kitchen and house, so be prepared in case the smoke detector goes off.

Rather take your DIY smoker outside? Here’s How To Build A BBQ Smoker: 2 ideas you can make in under 8 steps

Joost Nusselder, the founder of Lakeside Smokers is a content marketer, dad and loves trying out new food with BBQ Smoking (& Japanese food!) at the heart of his passion, and together with his team he's been creating in-depth blog articles since 2016 to help loyal readers with recipes and cooking tips.