Pit Barrel Cooker Review

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With the Pit Barrel Cooker, the Weber Smokey Mountain now has a competitor after years of dominating the charcoal smoker industry.

This 18.5-inch steel cooker is a twist on the traditional Ugly Drum Smoker style. Until Noah Glanville (Iraq war veteran and Colorado firm founder) came up with the unique design, this sort of smoker was more widespread among DIY enthusiasts.

The hook and hang technique suspends your meat in the middle with 8 stainless steel hooks, allowing for constant temperatures ideal for low and slow cooking.

The Pit Barrel Cooker works similarly to a convection oven in that it cooks with an even heat from top to bottom, while the vertically hung meat smokes itself with its own juices.

While it hasn’t been around as long as some other popular alternatives, the Pit Barrel Cooker has just been added to our list of the finest charcoal smokers.

Pit Barrel Cooker Review Overview

Pit Barrel Cooker Review

Drum and lid are made of 18-gauge steel. It is strong and uninsulated, so it can withstand high temperatures, and the exterior cooling causes condensation in the barrel, which adds moisture. Its cylindrical design enables convection heat to be dispersed evenly across the chamber for consistently excellent results.The Pit Barrel Cooker’s main body is a 30 gallon tank.

The PBC’s 8 stainless steel hooks and 2 steel bars for hanging them are what truly set it apart.

Cooking vertically saves space and enables gravity to help by basting the meat with its own juices and generating a smoke cloud that eliminates the need for a water pan. Hanging the meat also eliminates the possibility of hot conduction spots generated by grilling.

If you wish to use the PBC as a grill for direct grilling your poultry, steaks, fish, or vegetables, it comes with a detachable grill grate.

The wire charcoal basket is placed slightly above the bottom edge of the barrel to allow for airflow, which aids in maintaining constant set-it-and-forget temperatures.


Fuel type Charcoal
Primary capacity 240 square inches
Weight 60 lbs
Dimensions 30 x 20 x 20 in
Warranty 1 year on defective merchandise
Purchase link Check Latest Price

What we like about the Pit Barrel Cooker

  • The hook system expands your cooking capabilities. Because the meat is hung vertically rather than horizontally, it can easily hold eight racks of ribs or two pig butts.
  • For novices, this is an extremely forgiving smoker that won’t take much babysitting after you’ve grasped the fundamentals.
  • The airtight structure allows you to maintain fairly consistent temperatures during an extended smoking session.

What we dont like:

  • You have various limitations in terms of temperature management. The temperature on the changeable plate may be modified by 50 degrees or so to accommodate for ambient air temperature and wind, but it is not readily modifiable on the go. Read the directions carefully and have a high quality wireless thermometer on available that can easily be put into a hole in the barrel.
  • While it may be used as a grill, it is best as a specialized smoker. When it comes to flipping, using the grill grate might be problematic since you have to reach a little too deep in. To be safe, we suggest obtaining long barbeque tongs, or just sticking with a Weber Kettle for your grilling requirements.

If you like the sound of the Pit Barrel Cooker but believe you’ll need more room, there’s a new 22.5 PBX variant with the same design but much more cooking area.

How easy is it to use?

Pit Barrel Cooker Review

If you’ve battled with a cheap offset smoker or even used the snake technique on an old Weber kettle, you’ll appreciate how simple this smoker is to operate. It was just included to our list of the best smokes for beginners.

The Pit Barrel cooker is based on the well-known minion technique. The minion technique includes adding a few light coals to a bigger pile of unlit charcoal rather than dumping a chimney full of hot coals in at once and then having to replenish every few hours.

The unlit coals below begin to ignite as the glowing coals burn down. This enables you to use a single load of charcoal for several hours.

This video shows how simple it is to set up and begin smoking on the pit barrel cooker.

You may control airflow by moving the rotatable steel plate over the air opening towards the drum’s bottom. The makers also suggest that you adjust the air vent based on your elevation:

  • 0-2000 Ft the vent should be 1/4 open
  • 2000-5000 Ft the vent should be 1/2 open
  • 5000-8000 Ft the vent should be 3/4 open
  • And above 8000 Ft leave the vent fully open.

This smoker is not intended to provide precise temperature control. We would advise avoiding tinkering with the vents, and expect the odd burst when fat drips from the hanging meat.

This is a “set it and forget it” smoker. The air flow helps you to keep temps pretty stable for 8-12 hour cooking without adding charcoal. You may also add an automated temperature controller if you truly want to fine-tune your settings.

The stainless steel hooks simply hang on the top of the barrel’s steel lateral bars, and the detachable grill grate provides no resistance at all. The PBC offers outstanding results with minimum work, whether it’s half chickens and racks of ribs or a tray of fish. Its small size and low weight make it simple to take your barbecue on the road.

To maintain a high level of cooking quality, this device must be cleaned on a regular basis. For added convenience, you may install a detachable ash pan for $29.95, which is advised if you have the funds.

Build quality

The PBC is composed of high-quality, long-lasting steel. It was originally 20-gauge but has now been modified to a sturdier 18-gauge. Its porcelain enamel finish makes it exceptionally weather resistant. It works effectively at high altitudes and can keep your meat cooking even when it’s -15 degrees outdoors.

If you want to leave it outdoors in tough weather, it is still advisable to cover it if you want to preserve it in excellent condition. For $29.95, you may get their own custom-fit cover.

Pit Barrel Cooker VS Weber Smokey Mountain

If you’re looking for a charcoal smoker for less than $500 (and you’re not obstinate or stupid enough to purchase a cheap offset smoker), you’re probably stuck choosing between these two smokers.

On the one hand, the Weber Smokey Mountain (WSM) is a classic water smoker that has been around for decades and is revered by legions of pit masters.

The Pit Barrel Cooker is newest to the market, and its hanging hooks and convection design make it stand out.

With a comparable price, size, and set it and forget it approach, deciding which route to go might be difficult. It will come down to personal choice, but the following elements should help you decide:

  • The WSM provides more temperature control and versatility.
  • Lower temperatures are simpler to reach on the WSM, while the PBC has been known to run hot (270 320 degrees). Sure, you can reduce the temperature by covering the air holes with foil, but it is an extra step that the WSM does not need.

Despite the fact that it runs a bit hot and has less temperature control, food cooked in the PBC nearly always tastes fantastic. Many people have discovered that a pig butt may be cooked in 6-7 hours rather than the typical 9-10 hours and still taste delicious.

Final verdict:

While the WSM provides a bit more versatility, the PBC is a fail-safe alternative that can make excellent barbecue.

We suggest the Smokey Mountain if you like more control, and the Pit Barrel Cooker if you just want to enjoy smoking and get on with it.

No Hippie BBQ & Cooking has conducted a thorough comparison of the Weber Smokey Mountain and the Pit Barrel cooker, which is quite beneficial if you want to examine how both smokers compare side by side.

Optional Add-on Packages

When you purchase your new Pit Barrel Cooker, you will have the option of selecting one of three add-on packages. Here’s what each of the bundles includes:

  • Package 1: add $80 (savings of $44.95) Add our most popular basic accessories for increased functionality: Hinged Grate, Ash Pan, Custom Fit Cover, Custom Chimney Starter, and Pit Grips. For $99, you get a $126.75 value.
  • Package 2: $180 (saving $72.88) This is when things start to get interesting! Add Turkey Hanger, Ultimate Hook Tool, Sausage Hanger, Corn Hanger, All-Purpose Basket, 10 Skewers, a Koozie, Stein, and Coffee Mug to the $99 set. Save more than $60 over ordering separately.
  • Package 3: $280 (a savings of $138.82) Save more than $100! Everything in the lower packages is included, as well as 15 Skewers, Extra Stainless Steel Hooks, a Custom Grill Grate, and a Pit Barrel Hat.

Package 1 seems to be a nice buy, particularly if you don’t already own a chimney starter. There’s also nothing wrong with just purchasing the basic model.

Should you buy the Pit Barrel Cooker?

This is an excellent choice for a first-time smoker. At its present asking price, it is dependable, durable, consistent, and excellent value for money. That, along with the fact that it is brought to your home ready to use, is a huge help to the newbie. The Pit Barrel Cooker will quickly transform you into a BBQ expert.

What is a benefit for the novice may be deemed a curse for the more serious enthusiast. With the PBC, there is no possibility for customisation.

Tips for using your Pit Barrel Cooker

There are several excellent resources available to novice smokers who want to learn how to make the most of their new purchase.

  • Pit Barrel Cooker offers a fantastic YouTube channel with a wide selection of films covering anything from recipes (try the leg of lamb for something unusual!) to getting started, cleaning, and maintenance.
  • A comprehensive post devoted to pit barrel cooker advice and technique can be found at amazingribs.com (be sure to check out the comments at the bottom for even more debate).


What size Pit Barrel Cooker is best?

Unappealing Drum Traditionally, smokers were fashioned from 55-gallon drums, but the Pit Barrel Cooker uses a 30-gallon capacity. 30-gallon barrels turn out to be the ideal size and shape for smoking. Downsizing from the bigger 55-gallon barrel to the smaller 30-gallon capacity results in consistently better and speedier barbecuing.

How long will a Pit Barrel Cooker last?

The secret to a long-lasting grill or smoker is to buy a high-quality model like Pit Barrel Cooker and to maintain it on a regular basis. Your Pit Barrel Cooker is built to last a lifetime.

Can you use a Pit Barrel Cooker as a smoker?

A barrel cooker is a multi-purpose cooking device. You can smoke, barbecue, or bake if you choose. Smoke your brisket, ribs, or pig butt for some fantastic barbecue.

Are Pit Barrel cookers made in USA?

The Pit Barrel Cooker is American-made and shipped from Louisville, Kentucky.

How long does it take to cook a turkey in a Pit Barrel Cooker?

Secure the lid and hang the turkey(s) in the middle of the Pit Barrel® such that the T-bar spans the center of the rods. Please keep in mind that depending on the size of the turkey, you may need to lower it(them) into the cooker before inserting the second rod. Cook for 3.5-7 hours, depending on the size of the bird.

Can you use wood chunks in a Pit Barrel Cooker?

Chunks are ideal for use in barrel smokers, pit smokers, and charcoal grills that need the accumulation of hot coals and embers. Smoking pieces also burn longer, so you don’t have to refill as often.

Can you use a Pit Barrel Cooker on a wood deck?

Pit Barrel® should never be put directly on a combustible surface, such as a wood deck or dry grass.

How many briskets fit in a Pit Barrel Cooker?

Pit Barrel says it can hold 16-20 racks of ribs, four hog butts or shoulders, four full packer briskets, 12-16 chicken halves, 60 party wings, or four turkeys. PBX is a porcelain-coated upright barrel smoker that is 30′′ wide with side handles and 36′′ tall with lid and stand.

What is the best meat to cook in a barrel smoker?

19 of our favorite smoked meats (in no particular order)
Brisket of beef. Brisket is a beef cut from the animal’s lower chest.
Butt of pork. Butt is a flavorful cut of pork that is ideal for smoking in your smoker.
Shoulder of pork.
Ribs de Boeuf.
Ribs, spare.
Ribs de Boeuf.
Shoulder of lamb.
Leg of lamb.

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