I was working on an Ugly Drum Smoker and the only problem I had was the charcoal basket. I did not want to spend a lot of time trying to build one and then I ran into the Hunsaker Vortex Basket.
The problem I had was that with my UDS is that on every charcoal basket you had to put a deflector shield above it keep the temperature even on the grill grate. After all, hot and cold spots are not good in a smoker.
The Hunsaker Vortex basket is built in a way that the cover of the basket creates a vortex in the drum smoker and in this way keeps the temperature very even at the grill grate.
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Hunsaker Vortex Plate
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As you can see the shape will rotate the air and will prevent hot and cold spots. Hunsaker claims that works extremely well.
Hunsaker Vortex Basket Review
I am not too fast convinced by a claim made by a company so I did my own testing with this charcoal basket. My expectation was high after writing about the Hunsaker smoker in an earlier post.
I placed two temperature probes on the grill grate to find out how accurate that claim was.
- First probe in the middle of the grate
- Second probe on the outer-side of the grate
I filled the basket about 1/2 way with unlit charcoal and added about 1/2 a chimney with lit charcoal. After that, I placed the vortex plate on the charcoal basket and put the lid on the UDS. I set the air in and out in a way that I would normally do.
How I Set Up My Test
First, the temperature in the middle was about 50 degrees higher than on the outside of the grill grate and I was really disappointed.
After about 20 minutes, however, the temperature started to stabilize and both readings became very close to each other. I guess that the colder wall of the UDS needed to heat up to catch up with the middle.
To make sure I opened the lid and switched the probes by placing the one that was on the outer side in the middle and the other one on the outer side.
Again the temperature in the middle was higher at first, probably caused by the air that got into the barrel when I opened the lid. After a while, the temperature stabilized again with the same 5 – 10 degrees difference.
My Opinion of the Hunsaker Vortex Basket.
I am very happy with the way this Vortex charcoal basket works. I have now used it a dozen times and the result is really good every time. I have used it for Boston buts, Ribs, and smoked chicken recipes.
Overall I can recommend this Hunsaker Charcoal basket with vortex lid as a great buy.
3 Models Vortex Baskets
The Hunsaker company offers three variations of the vortex basket
- Regular model for 55 and 80-gallon drums
- Vortex charcoal basket for Weber smokey mountain
- Charcoal basket with vortex and heat shield
Maybe the one with the heat shield performs even better than the regular model since it protects the walls from heating up and radiating heat, but I am pleased with my regular one.
You can find all three model Hunsaker Vortex baskets on their website here: https://www.hunsakersmokers.com/collections/vortex-charcoal-baskets
Eddie van Aken
Eddie van Aken has run his own full-service restaurant for many years. Before that, he worked as a grill and buffet cook in some of the mainstream restaurants. With his experience using professional kitchen equipment, he is able to write expert reviews. You can read more about Eddie van Aken here.