Hunsaker Smoker

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Eddie van Aken inspecting a Hunsaker smoker

I started reading more about Ugly Drum Smokers and ran into the Hunsaker smoker.

At first, I thought it was just another company that builds UDS’s but I had to change my mind fast.

Here is how I compare the Hunsaker vortex smoker (1) to all the other brands.

If you have a regular oven in your kitchen and you upgrade to a convection oven you have the difference between a regular and a Hunsaker vortex smoker.

The Vortex system will provide you with a total even temperature all through your drum smoker. No hot or cold spots.

How the Hunsaker UDS works

A picture can paint a thousand words is a well-known saying so I will start with that.

Parts of the Hunsaker vortex UDS

Since the goal of the Hunsaker is to provide a smoker that has even heat-reducing hot spots I looked at all the parts they use to reach that goal.

Exhaust Dampers

it is very important to be able to control the airflow to maintain a constant temperature in your smoker. Hunsaker had two options and both can be purchased as individual parts.

This UDS chimney is part of my homemade 55-gallon drum smoker.

Air Intake

The air intake damper must work flawlessly to be able to control the airflow that, in combination with the exhaust damper, regulates the temperature.

Compared to other brands that have, in most cases 3 air intakes the Hunsaker comes with one central air intake at the bottom.

This will ensure that the air goes straight to the bottom of the charcoal basket. Later I will write how to use 3 steps to use the air inlet.

Vortex Charcoal Basket

This is the part that turns the Hunsaker into what I would call the best UDS smoker. First, a picture again to make it easier to understand what I mean.

Do you see the difference with all the other charcoal baskets? It is the vortex lid at the top. This will rotate the air (and smoke) in a way that there are no hot spots and a perfect temperature in the smoker. You can read my Hunsaker vortex basket review here on this page.

If you look at the pictures you see how the Vortex charcoal basket is build

  • Ash catcher
  • Grate
  • Axel in the middle
  • Vortex plate

Hunsaker Vortex on a WSM

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The vortex plate also functions as a diffuser and the drippings of the meat will fall on it and the flavor will get back up in the smoker.

Lid Handle

The lid on the handle needs to be built in a way that is cool to touch. The Hunsaker spring handle is made of high quality and welded perfectly.

For many other brands, this is where it ends and if you need more you have to add them as extras. Hunsaker takes it a step further and adds a lot more to their Vortex smokers.

Floating Hinges For Lid

The lid needs to fit perfectly to avoid air leaks and with the help of the floating hinges, this is no problem at all. In general, you do not need any extra bracket to keep the lid closed.

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In combination with the lid handle it is very easy to open the lid. There is also a combo available that combines the air exhaust and the lid hinges in one.

Adjustable Rack System

It is always great to have the option to move your grill grate up and down depending on what you cook. The Hunsaker comes with 5 heights and is very easy to adjust.

As you can see there is no part sticking out. This makes it easier to lift the charcoal basket without banging into bolts that stick out.

Hunsaker Smokers 5 Level Rack System


I don’t know about you, but I like wheels under all my grills and smokers to move them around. The Hunsaker comes with an axle that extends out of the grill. Attached are two large 8-inch wheels.

There is a swivel wheel in the front that can be locked. All together this makes it very easy to move the UDS even over bumpy and uneven surfaces.


A thermometer is a part that you can not leave out in any grill or smoker. To avoid hitting the probe Hunsaker opted to place the thermometer in the exhaust.

Many people write that they like the thermometer at grate level and I agree with that. To overcome the “false” reading in the chimney you can adjust the thermometer.

List of all Hunsaker Parts

To make it easy I will give you a list of all you get when you purchase a Hunsaker Vortex smoker.

  • Drum
  • Vortex charcoal basket
  • Floating hinged
  • Floor air intake
  • 5 step adjustable grate system
  • Expanded food grate
  • 8 inch rear wheels
  • Locking swivel wheel
  • Thermometer in exhaust

The Hunsaker vortex drum smokers are available in 5 color options

  • Gloss black
  • Gloss Red
  • Gloss Blue
  • Metallic Silver
  • Flat Black

2 other options for the Hunsaker

  • Unpainted drum
  • Stainless steel

All kits will be delivered straight to your door completely assembled on a pallet.

Hunsaker Shipping

The Hunsaker company ships free to the continent and the 48 lower states. International shipping is available and you can contact them to find out their prices.

My opinion about the Hunsaker smoker

I found that this smoker is becoming very popular in BBQ competitions and that is already a sign on the wall in my opinion. On the website, I read that some of them even have 3 Hunsakers to work with.

On they mentioned that it is hard to keep the temperature steady, but they opened the lid to move their thermometer around all the time.

There is no grill or smoker that does not have temperature fluctuations after opening the lid in my opinion.

I read a ton of posts on websites and forums that claim they kept the temperature steady for many hours without touching their air-in or outlet.

At first glance, you might think it is just a fancy drum smoker but when you look better and compare it with other brands you can see why the vortex system is a big improvement.

The price might scare you at first, but the quality of the parts that are all made on a top-of-the-line CDN machine assures a perfect fit for them.

I am working on making a UDS myself and if I add up all the parts I am not sure if it’s worth it. I know that if I add up my hours and miles to get parts in the equation, I can almost certainly say that the Hunsaker vortex drum smoker is cheaper.

The bottom air intake can be controlled with your foot. there are three settings.

  • Open to start
  • Run to start smoking
  • Off to turn it off

After that, you control the temperature with the exhaust by opening or closing it more.

All together I can say that the Hunsaker vortex smoker is worth every dime you pay for it.

DIY Hunsaker Vortex Smoker

If you are more into making your own ugly drum smoker or like to add features or replace some parts with better quality the Hunsaker parts are great for that.

All parts can be bought on their website and shipped as fast as possible.

I am ordering myself one of the Hunsaker Vortex charcoal baskets soon to finish my DIY drum smoker. I am happy that I did not get started yet at trying to build a charcoal basket myself.

Where To Buy Hunsaker Smokers

If you are looking for some parts to upgrade your existing smoker or need parts to upgrade you can find them here on their website:

I hope you enjoyed my article about the Hunsaker vortex smoker and if you are in the market for an ugly drum smoker I recommend you to have a look at their website here:

Eddie van Aken

Eddie van Aken has years of experience in running his full-service restaurant and with this came working with using and dealing with all types of kitchen equipment. With his experience, he can find all the pros and cons of grills and add them to the grill reviews he is doing. You can read more on the about page for Eddie van Aken

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