Pit Barrel Cooker Review- Tips And Ideas

Better Grills is supported by our readers. I sometimes earn a small fee when you click on the affiliate links.

The pit barrel cooker reviews show that it has become a serious competitor for other types of barrel smokers like the Weber Smokey Mountain and UDS brands.

pit barrel cooker reviews

Pit Barrel Cooker Reviews – Overview

It is a basic 18.5 inches in diameter and a variation of what some people call an Ugly Drum Smoker design.

Noah Glanville is the founder of this company and he came up with this design.

He also introduced the hook-and hang method which uses stainless steel hooks that will help you keep your meat at a stable temperature when you cook it on low and slow.

The PBC (Pit Barrel Cooker) comes with 2 steel bars that are used to hang the 8 stainless steel hooks that hold your meat.

The removable grill grates can be used if you like to grill on the Pit Barrel Cooker and this also answers the question you can grill on a pit barrel cooker that I found several times.

Although I have to mention that with the grill grate being deep in the barrel it might not be easy to flip your meat without the use of some very long tongs.

My opinion is that although you can grill on it I would mainly use it as a smoker and use a separate grill.

Here is a video that explains everything about this product.

The PBC Explained

How does the Pit Barrel Cooker work

You could compare the pit barrel cooker with a convection oven in the way it works.

The smoke created by the charcoal, that moves up will ensure an even heat just like a convection oven. It also adds that smoker flavor we all love soo much.

There is just one air inlet at the bottom and no chimney. That means that all the hot air rotates and some of the moisture will condensate and create a moisture environment in the cooker to prevent the meat from drying out.

This is enough intro and now it is time to get started on the Pit Barrel cooker reviews.

How the pit barrel cooker is built

The size of the barrel is a 30-gallon steel drum that is made of 18-gauge steel with a ceramic coating like on the WMS.

This type of material can withstand high temperatures and since it has the shape of a cylinder the air will rotate evenly throughout the barrel.

Hanging the meat will make the juices fall down and then be vaporized and in that way, the meat will be kind of basted with its own juices.

The charcoal basket made out of wire sits just above the bottom of the barrel and will help with the airflow needed for a consistent temperature throughout the whole cook.

This type of material can withstand high temperatures and since it has the shape of a cylinder the air will rotate evenly throughout the barrel.

What I like about the Pit Barrel Cooker

  • The stainless steel hooks will help you with smoking more meat since you hang it vertically and not on a grate like many other smokers.
  • You can leave the smoker basically alone after you become used to the setting and that means no more babysitting.
  • Since the construction is basically air-tight the temperature will stay steady all the time.
  • The lack of a water pan because of the closed setup makes it very easy to use the PBC.
  • The porcelain coating helps with insulating and keeps the heat inside.
  • The package includes a fully assembled product. No assembly is required.

What is included with the Pit Barrel Cooker

  • 30-gallon porcelain-coated drum (136 Liters) and lid
  • 2 stainless steel hanging rods
  • 8 stainless steel hooks
  • 1 grill grate
  • 1 charcoal basket
  • 3 point stand
  • 1 wooden hook remover

It also comes with an all-purpose rub and a beef and game rub to get started right away. All you have to buy is some meat.

There are 4 ways you can order this cooker.

  • Just the pit barrel cooker
  • Cooker + Select package
  • Cooker + Choice package
  • Cooker + Prime package

It would not add much value to this review to describe all the separate packages and they are just options to buy different accessories depending on what you will use the pit barrel smoker for.

Pit barrel cooker dimensions

The size of the barrel is 36 inches tall and 25 inches wide.

In centimeters, this is 91.5 cm tall and 63.5 cm wide.

The diameter of the grill grate is 17.5 inches

The hooks to hang your meat on are 4 inches long

I always like to know the distance from the grate to where the charcoal basket is and this case is about 22 inches.

The weight is 64 Lbs. and this is not too heavy to even take it with you on a tailgate session or even on a camping trip.

How easy is the pit barrel cooker to use

One of the best benefits of the pit barrel cooker is that anyone can use it almost without any previous experience.

This makes it, in my opinion, one of the best beginner smokers, and even a seasoned pit master will be able to enjoy the ease of use.

The hardest part for using most UDS smokers is to light the charcoal. The Pit barrel cooker is no exception to this rule.

A UDS uses the minion method and this is nothing else than adding charcoal that is not lit yet and then adding lit charcoal that will slowly light the ones at the bottom.

Here is a video that shows the easy way to start the Pit Barrel cooker

How do you clean a pit barrel cooker?

Let’s be honest. We all like to cook on the grill or smoke on our smoker but cleaning is not our (and especially mine) thing to do.

So, how easy is it to clean the Pit Barrel Cooker?

With the handle on the site and the relatively low weight, it is easy to pick it up and hold it upside down to remove the ashes.

Don’t forget to let it cool completely first.

You can also add a layer of aluminum foil at the bottom with a little edge that stands up and remove that after cooking.

The easiest way is to use their ash catcher which can be purchased as one of the many accessories.

pit barrel cooker ash catcher

A video might explain it better than I can describe it.

How to regulate the temperature in the Pit Barrel Smoker

The good thing is that you do not have to regulate anything. The settings are ready to use and do not need any adjustments.

There is an airflow regulator at the side almost at the bottom of the barrel and this is all you need to regulate the temperature in the smoker.

It is set and forget. and you do not have to change the setting unless you live at a higher altitude. Instruction for this is included in the package.

Pit barrel cooker recipes

Finding recipes for the PBC is very easy. Go to Google or their YouTube channel and you can find a ton of them with step-by-step descriptions. 

From burgers to turkey, ribs, and pork buts and I have even seen recipes for Pizza on this smoker.

Pit Barrel Cooker versus Weber Smokey Mountain

It is a fact that the Smokey Mountain from Weber is one of the well-known and most used smokers in this category. That is the reason that most of the other ones will be compared to the WSM.

I decide the same thing and came up with the following pros and cons of both.

The lid. One of the differences is that the PBS is flat at the top and the WSM is round.

There is also a difference in price with the PBS being cheaper.

Opening while cooking. The Pit Barrel smoker cannot be opened anymore to add charcoal after you have started it unless you take out the meat.

The Weber Smokey Mountain can be opened and charcoal can be added easily.

Amount of meat it can hold. The PBS can cook for more people than the WSM with its hanging method for meat.

Dampers. The PBS has only one damper. The WMS has 4 and they can get pretty hot.

Quality. The quality of both is very good and when taken care of they both can be last for many years.

Tip: use a grill cover like this one for the PBS.

PBS grill cover

The main difference between PBS and WSM

Main differences. The main difference between the two is the cooking method.

Weber uses bottom and top grates for cooking. A Pit Barrel cooker is a hanging type of cooker. There are discussions going on online between the two users about what is the best way to smoke.

Weber WMS uses air inlets and outlets at the top and bottom to regulate the temperature and the pit barrel cooker only has one regulator to do that.

WMS or PBS what should you choose

The WMS is more for people who like to be more in control over the temperature and settings. The PBC is more a set-and-forget type of smoker.

I think the best one of the two is the one that is on sale since they both can cook some great food.

Pit Barrel Cooker Reviews – My Opinion

After reading a lot of comments, reviews, tips, and ideas about this smoker it is time to give my personal impression.

I am a fervent user of my UDS and I use it for all my low and slow sessions.

I made my own 55-gallon drum smoker from scratch and some store-bought parts.

A regular 30-gallon drum smoker grill grate cannot hold a lot of meat.

The Pit Barrel Cooker is advised to be used by hanging your meat vertically on hooks. This makes it possible to cook a lot more meat in one session.

The only problem might be the ribs that are a little long and will almost touch the charcoal basket at the bottom. This can be solved by cutting them in half.

On the other hand, you can use the hanging rods and the grill rack at the same time to cook a truckload of meat at the same time.

When I started this Pit Barrel cooker review article I had to realize that with only one way to regulate the temperature you are able to have a very even temperature in the barrel.

The even distribution of heat is one of the problems with many ugly drum smokers in my opinion.

I was not able to find many pit barrel cooker negative reviews and I can see why.

I thought at first that this whole hanging idea was not working too well, but after reading that there is no chimney and all the heat stays and rotates in the barrel I had to adjust my meaning about this.

I read that the handle on the lid, which is shaped like a horseshoe, can become pretty hot. Maybe the company can have a look at that in an upgrade.

It is advised to only use one type of charcoal on the PBC and that is charcoal briquettes. According to some users that is a limitation, but using other types of charcoal made the temperature jump up and down because of their irregular shape.

I always use briquettes for my long sessions because of this same reason. That means that I do not see this as any disadvantage.

When I am recapping everything I read and all the videos I watched I can probably say that the Pit Barrel cooker can be on the list of best smokers under 500 dollars.

I read the question is the pit barrel cooker any good I think I can answer that with a big YES.

My only concern is that the air inlet at the bottom will let drippings through and that is why I suggest using a fireproof mat under the smoker.

You came to the end of my Pit barrel cooker reviews and now you might be curious about finding out more about the price.

Happy grilling! Or in this case smoking!

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

Scroll to Top