If you are a barbeque enthusiast, you must be aware of how delicious recipes, best charcoals, and succulent meat can make all the difference between a successful and a boring party. Similarly, different types of grills and cookers offer you the option to cook your meat the way you want it.
So which cooker is the best for you? Well, we are here to discuss the most sought-after Pit Barrel Cooker that is being raved by everyone in the barbecue committee.
Recently, Pit Barrel Cooker has been declared a worthy competition to the dominating Weber Smokey Mountain cooker. With amazing features at a reasonable price, this cooker is gradually making its way to everyone’s best charcoal smokers’ list. And why shouldn’t it make the list? Pit Barrel Cooker is a modern twist to convection ovens and thus, cooks succulent food with even tenderness top to bottom.
Read this article to find out more about this popular cooker’s features, its usage, and even its pros and cons. We have provided a detailed review of everything you might need to know regarding the Pit Barrel Cooker.
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Pit Barrel Cooker: Review
Pit Barrel Cooker company is a Colorado-based, family-run business which was established in 2010. Even though it has not been running for a longer time, this brand has still managed to gain everyone’s attention. This is mostly due to Noah Glanville’s, the founder’s, effort who built about 29 prototypes just to perfect their chief product, the Pit Barrel Cooker.
To begin with, this cooker is a modern twist to the classic Ugly Drum Smoker design. The UDS has been a favorite of DIY-ers and has been around for decades. Not only are they cheap but they are also easier to build and work well enough for all your outdoor grilling. On the other hand, Pit Barrel Cooker may be a little more expensive but they come assembled and take minimum time to set-up.
Moreover, this cooker integrates the set it and forget it style that you normally find with digitally-operated smokers. With a large capacity, affordable cost, and easy to use features, it is no wonder that this product is gaining popularity quickly.
This cooker package comes with the following parts:
- 30-gallon steel drum coated with porcelain
- 8 stainless steel hooks
- 1 charcoal basket
- 2 steel hanging rods
- 1 grill grate
- 1 wooden hook remover
First of all, this cooker is built with high-quality stainless steel with a porcelain coating all over it. Thus, you get a durable product that will last a long life and will be quite resistant to weather.
Secondly, this steel drum and lid that takes on the classic Ugly Drum Smoker style, gives you the best vertical cooking experience of your life. With a large capacity of 30 gallons, this cooker will save you time by cooking a large quantity of meat more quickly.
Moreover, this 18.5” steel cooker is very strong and insulated to handle very high temperatures. Since they also have an external cooling mechanism, you get added moisture inside the barrel by condensation. This cooker is surely a modern take on the convection ovens that provides stabilized temperature and heats top to bottom.
The most unique feature of this cooker will be its hook and hang your food method. This cooker comes with eight stainless steel hooks and two hanging rods which aid in hanging your meat in this vertical apparatus. Not only does this ensure a large space but gravity helps in cooking the meat in its own juice.
Additionally, the cooker’s distinct design also creates a smoke fog that replaces the use of a water pan. Since the vertical hanging design replaces grills, you will also not have to deal with uneven heating and grill marks in your meat. Thus, the Pit Barrel cooker’s cylindrical shape allows even distribution of heat to get the most balanced tenderness in your food.
Another positive feature of this grill is that it comes with a removable grilling grate which offers the option to cook directly. Furthermore, the wired charcoal baskets are placed above the bottom edge to allow optimum airflow and reach a consistent cooking temperature in your barrel.
- Large cooking capacity due to its vertical hanging system
- Perfect for beginners since it uses a set it and forget it temperature style
- Steady temperatures can be achieved due to its airtight construction
- Offers replaceable grilling grates, making it a multi-purpose tool
- Does not require a water pan
- Durable construction
- Good performance even at high altitudes
- Less control on temperature with a variation of about 50 degrees or so
- Might require wireless thermometer to keep the temperature in check
- Need to reach quite low in the barrel to flip food on the grilling grate
How Do You Use the Pit Barrel Cooker?
Since it comes all assembled and ready to use, Pit Barrel Cooker is easy enough to set-up by even beginners. Follow the given instructions to set-up your cooker in no time.
- Place the barrel on the stand or materials like concrete. Make sure not to place it on any flammable substance like grass or even deck to avoid accidents.
- Pit Barrel cooker requires no seasoning and comes ready-to-use.
- Adjust the air vent cap at the bottom according to your altitude.
- 0-2000 feet requires 1/4th open vents
- 2000-5000 feet requires halfway open vents
- 5000-8000 feet requires 3/4th open vents
- Over 8000 feet requires fully open vents
- With no adjustable exhausts and airflow through the holes near the rebar hangers, you have to insert them for almost all types of cooking.
- Next, fill 3/4th of the charcoal basket with charcoal of your choice. Then, use a chimney to light up the rest of the 1/4th charcoal for about 12 minutes and pour them in the basket. The hot coals will heat up the barrel for a little while after which they will ignite the cold ones to replace them.
- After doing the above, thread your meat onto the hooks and hang them up in the barrel using the two rods. Leave a digital thermometer inside the meat and enjoy the rest of your time without worry.
- Use a thermometer to check if your meat is done. After which, take off the lid slowly and use the given wooden hook remover to safely lift out the hook and meat.
The most important steps to a great barbecue using this cooker are to make sure that the coals are lit properly, food is well-seasoned, and air vent adjusted according to your altitude.
Pit Barrel Cooker VS Weber Smokey Mountain Cooker
Although both the cookers are an excellent option for smoking, both of them are quite unique in their own ways. With both at a reasonably similar price cost, it can be quite difficult to choose between the two.
On one hand, Weber Smokey has been leading the market for decades and is the top choice for many professionals barbecue enthusiasts. On the other hand, recently manufactured Pit Barrel Cooker has been quickly gaining popularity among both amateurs and professionals.
To begin with, the Weber Smokey cooker uses a water pan for smoking and allows better control on the temperature. Compared to this, Pit Barrel has a unique hanging system that provides larger capacity and even heating but reduces control on temperature. Moreover, Weber Smokey offers more flexibility than the other option.
Furthermore, you can get lower temperatures with Weber’s cooker and higher temperatures with the Pit Barrel Cooker. However, the latter can also provide lower temperatures by just using aluminum foil to cover the air vents. Since Weber Smokey provides this feature hassle-free, it triumphs Pit Barrel when it comes to lower temperatures.
Apart from all this, Pit Barrel Cooker is known for greatly cutting down cooking time. This can be seen from the fact that rather than taking the normal 9-10 hours to cook a pork butt, it only takes 6-7 hours with this cooker.
Comparing Pit Barrel and Weber Smokey Cooker
To further help you out, we have also compared the different features of both the cookers in the form of a table. Thus, read the following to choose the best one according to your requirements.
Pit Barrel Cooker
Weber Smokey Cooker
|Water smoker||Hanging system|
|Achieves lower temperature||Achieves higher temperature|
Which is the Best?
With similar price range and set it and forget it temperature style, both the cookers are one of the best smokers in the market.
Although it offers lesser control on temperature, Pit Barrel cooker still provides the most succulent and tender food. If you want a heavy-duty smoker and enjoy smoking, this cooker is a fantastic option to go for. However, if you are looking for more control and flexibility, go for the Weber Smokey cooker.
In the end, both are equally good and you should choose the one that best suits your needs.
Pit Barrel Cooker Junior
To further compete with the versatile Weber Smokey cooker, this brand has also launched a junior version of their original flagship product. Hence, the junior version offers the same 18 gauge style in a 14” barrel.
Not only is this version more portable and easier to take on camping trips but it is also perfect for use with fewer people. This is due to the fact that the original version wastes a lot of coal when cooking a lesser amount of meat.
This model is exactly like the larger one except that it has a smaller capacity. To give an idea, Pit Barrel Junior includes six instead of eight hooks and thus, can hang six ribs instead of eight. Moreover, it has the space to hand 1-2 pork butts rather than three.
Easy Tips to Use the Pit Barrel Cooker
- Make sure to take care of the lid and not let it bend. Since it seals the top of the barrel, damage to the lid can cause problems regarding temperature control. In the case of bending, use a rubber mallet to flatten it again.
- Keep the ribs a little distance above the coals. If they too long, try cutting them in half and then hang them.
- Keep checking the meat while it is smoking also. On rare occasions, the meat might fall off the hook due to either clumsy hooking or being quite tenderized.
- Some cooks prefer lighter fluids to light the coals but we, personally, do not like its smell. Use smoking chimney for better results.
- You have to be careful while placing the lid down since fire may come out of the air vents.
- In the case where the temperature is dropping low, slide off the lid a little to the side to allow air to stoke the coals.
- Pit Barrel Cooker offers a YouTube channel with videos on multiple recipes and for cleaning and maintaining the cooker.
- If you want to keep your cooker shiny and new, purchase an additional cover to keep it safe in different weathers.
- It is also important to clean out the ash properly to maintain airflow to the coals. Therefore, after each use when the barrel is cool, take out all the ash. To further help you out, you can either line the bottom with aluminum foil or use an attachable ash pan to make clean-up easier.
- It is advisable to crack open the lid a little bit to allow more airflow and generate more heat during the winters. However, you have to keep a close eye on the meat since temperature can rise high in no time.
To conclude, the Pit Barrel Cooker is one of the best options for you to purchase, especially if you are a beginner. Since it requires minimal set-up and is quite durable, paying a bit more money for this reliable cooker is a worthy investment.
Overall, this Pit Barrel cooker has given quite a competition to the decades-old Weber Smokey’s cooker as discussed above. Thus, you can see how you get the best possible features in this model at its reasonable cost.
Hopefully, this article has been helpful enough for you to make an informed decision before purchasing a cooker.