11 months ago

Classic Pit Barrel Cooker Review (This Thing Is Seriously Awesome) [Updated Jan. 2019]

Ribs, Salmon and Vegetables Inside The Pit Barrel Cooker

Welcome to one of our favorite smokers! The Pit Barrel Cooker is an inexpensive and simple to use charcoal smoker.

One of my favorite things is that it can cook up to eight racks of ribs at one time!

The family love the “hook and hang” method which uses 8 stainless steel hooks to suspend our meat in the center. This allows for stable temperatures perfect for low and slow cooking (like my famous Christmas brisket!)

The Pit Barrel Cooker also works a little like an oven, so it manages to produce even heat from top to bottom. We love this because as the meat hangs vertically, it manages to baste and smoke itself with its own juices.

Designed to operate consistently at around 300 degrees F, this cooker needs little attention and can be relied upon to turn out some great food in a relatively short period of time.

We know this smoker hasn’t been around for as long as some other popular smokers but this design is so ingenious we have included it in our guide to the best charcoal smokers for 2018.

Lets find out in our Pit Barrel Cooker review if this smoker you have been searching for!!!

The Pit barrel Cooker

The Pit Barrel Cooker In The bckyard

The Pit Barrel Cooker is my favourite smoker of all time. Its such a simple design that delivers amazing flavour with a minimal amount of effort. What more could you want?


Dimensions: 31 x 21 x 21 inches
57 lbs
Capacity: 8 racks of ribs, 3 pork butts, or 2 mid sized turkeys

Key Features of The Pit Barrel

  • Simple Steel Drum Design: The Pit Barrel really stands out from the rest with its simple yet highly effective design. Basically, it is a vertical 35-gallon barrel design using sturdy steel, pretty much built like a tank. Using a horizontal shaped barrel smoker runs you the risk of burning your meat one side and undercooking the other side. This where The Pit Barrel Cooker design excels. It that allows the heat to circulate in a whirlwind manner while evenly cooking all parts of the meat. Hanging the meat in the middle means an even cook as well as strong smoke penetration due to the constant dripping on the coals. The hook system also allows you to cook more. When you hang meat vertically rather than laying it out you can easily fit eight racks of ribs or two pork butts.
  • Versatile Grilling Options: Not only can you hang the meat, the Pit Barrel Cooker comes with a steel grill grate. Using this grate you can lay out salmon, pizza or anything else at your desired level in the barrel. You can control the temperature by positioning this grate higher or lower. You can use the grill to sear a steak as well as cook at higher temperatures by removing the lid. We found the grilling grate really handy for grilling meats that we couldn’t hang with the meat hangers. We have also cooked pizza and smoke some veggies using this part. We just placed it in the middle of the cooker below the meat hangers.
  • Optimal Air Circulation: This unit has been designed so well for air circulation. The unit sits on a stand that keeps it elevated from the ground. As a result, you never have to worry about air ventilation or how damp ground that might affect the cooker.
  • Easier to Get Around Than A Toddler: Well, it is certainly possible to move most smokers, unless you have a few strong friends handy it can be a challenge. This where the Pit Barrel Cooker excels, it is quite light and compact, making it super easy to transport in a van, pick up and even an SUV. 

What I Liked

  • Airtight construction allows you to achieve very steady temperatures over a long smoke.
  • Even cooking from all sides.
  • Simple yet ingenious design.
  • Versatile cooker that allows for grilling
  • Huge capacity, with dimensions of 22 x 22 x 33 inches, can be used to make up to 8 slabs of ribs at one time!
  • A simple smoker for beginners and doesn't require a lot of tending to.

What I Didn't Like

  • Your first placement of meat will be a learning curve. However, after your first cook, you will have it do pat. The rods need to be set in parallel when the cooking grill is being used, else the correct air flow will not be maintained.
  • Due to its depth, some of the food is cooked you need to be careful when reaching in. We suggest you invest in some long barbecue tongs just to be on the safe side.

My Rating

How Does The Pit Barrel Cooker Work?

Essentially the Pit Barrel Cooker is a 30 gallon/18-gauge steel drum and lid​, It can handle high temperatures whilst the external circulation creates condensation in the barrel for added moisture (which means juicy succulent meat).~

The Pit Barrel Cooker works vertically, this allows for more space and has gravity helps by continually basting the meat with its own juices. This also creates a “smoke fog” that reduce any need for a water pan.

​We found that the cylinder like shape means that the heat is evenly distributed around the chamber for top-notch results time and again.

Construction & Design Quality

The Pit Barrel Cooker is made of high-quality durable steel and originally a 20-gauge which has now been upgraded to a sturdier 18-gauge.

It has porcelain enamel coating which makes it extremely resistant to weather. We found that it performs exceptionally well at high altitude, and can keep our meat cooking even if it’s minus 10 outside.

Ease of Use

Sometimes struggling all day with an offset smoker or trying to get the snake method to work on my grill is bloody tiring!

 The ease of this unit is unbelievable, we were told it is practically set and forget and it really was. The meat was bastings its self and the ingenious airflow ensured the charcoal was kept alight the entire time.

The Pit Barrel Cooker uses the minion method. As the light coals burn down, the unlit coals below start to ignite. This allows you to get many hours out of a single load of charcoal.

Cleaning and Maintenance of The
Pit Barrel Cooker

  • Maintenance: Due to it simple yet rock-solid construction the amount of maintenance required was minimal.
  • Cleaning: All it takes is some regular cleaning and we were going back to this cooker to use it twice a week.
    After some time of usage, there will be some buildup of ashes inside of the barrel, which is a sign of  ‘seasoned drum’  This is not harmful at all. In fact, it is quite normal.

Warranty Details of Pit Barrel Cooker

​PBC Co. ​replaces any defective merchandise within one year of the purchase date. Rust-through is covered in-warranty however, surface rust is not.

Any shipping related issues (i.e. – damage caused in shipping) or items missing from ​your order ​has to be be reported within 30 days of receipt ​

PBC Co. ​does accept voluntary returns when a product is unopened and unused for a restocking fee of 20%. Proof-of-purchase is required for any replacements or returns

Note: This warranty is only valid when the Pit Barrel Cooker Package is purchased from the manufacturer’s website or a participating retailer

​For further information on the Pit Barrel Cooker warranty

Do You Get Value For Money?

At the moment the current price the Pit Barrel Cooker Package is a bloody steal. An ingenious design with a wide range of features and accessories, 1-year warranty, and easy cleaning and maintenance. These features make it far better than most grills and cookers available in the market.

On average, similar products cost above one thousand dollars, and the Pit Barrel Cooker Package is a top notch product at less than one-third of that price!

Final Thoughts

It is not an overstatement to say that Pit Barrel Cooker is an outrageously good deal for its price. Advanced technology, durability, portability functionality and wonderful customer service are packed in. We aren’t surprised this best-selling companion of all kinds of BBQers. 

It is most popular among newbies in the BBQ field but also appreciated by grilling experts and chefs who admire its consistent delightful flavors.

There are shortcomings, indeed, but these are the perfect imperfections of a well-built machine that would run flawlessly if customers abide by the rules.

I already out a limb and have declared it one of the best charcoal smokers out there. If it's what you're looking for, simply, top quality results and mid of the pack price. This should be your pick.

Wait for the looks when you carry with one from the car by yourself. They will think your superman then there taste the food and your Chuck Norris.

Frequently Asked Questions - Pit Barrel Cooker

What is the diameter?
18.25 inches

Does this smoker come with a thermostat? 
Unfortunately this model does not include a thermostat.

Is the cover included?
No, the cover is an optional extra.

What's your thoughts on ribs? If your anything like me, you will love these juicy and succulent meat packed delights. I put together some of the best rib rubs you can buy so you can enjoy them just like we do in our house!

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Still Hungry For More?

4.9 (98.18%) 11 votes


You will more often than not find me tinkering around in my backyard. I will have one hand tightly gripped around a can of beer and the other hand tightly gripped around my spatula. Not so long ago (almost 8 years now) I got obsessed with Grilling, smoking and BBQ-ing. I can't get enough of it.. and neither can my family!

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