Pit Barrel Cooker Review – Do NOT Buy Until You Read This!

For those who want to have a perfect homemade BBQ with top-shelf smoked ribs of restaurant-grade quality or just want to enjoy a delightful meat treat at a reasonable cost, Pit Barrel Cooker is a should-have tool.

This cooker has gained its place amongst the best charcoal smokers on the market right now thanks to numerous desirable features which will be specified in details in our Pit Barrel Cooker reviews. Renowned TV host and writer, Steven Raichlen, has placed it in the category of his best hand-picked smokers.

18-1/2 in. Classic Pit Barrel Cooker Package

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    Manufacturer: Pit Barrel Cooker Co.
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    Dimensions: 21 x 21 x 31.1 inches
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    Weight: 57 pounds
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    Material: Stainless steel
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    Color: Black
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    Items Included in Package: 30-gallon steel drum, 8 Stainless Steel Hooks, 2 Hanging Rods, Charcoal Basket, Standard Grill Grate, Wooden Hook Remover, 1-3 Point Barrel stand
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    Replacements: Available on the manufacturer’s website

Great Features

Ease of Use

For normal cookers, there is a lot of mopping, foiling, attending to the temperatures, which is quite an annoyance. For Pit Barrel Cooker, there is always a steady temperature range of about 250 to 300 degrees F which is perfect enough for most smoking dishes.

Photo credit: jasonsargo

This and some other features make it an ideal design for newbies or those who do not have time to be BBQ nerds. In particular, here are what you can do easily with this cooker:

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    Set it and forget it: The temperature range is maintained by the cooker itself for about 8-12 hours without the need of additional charcoal. Depending on what kind of food you’re cooking, you simply set the watch, do something else and come back to get a delicious meal.
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    Adjust the airflow effortlessly: There is only one air intake used to adjust the airflow according to your altitude. The company has calculated how much of the air hole should be left open based on where you stand compared to the sea level. Just follow their calculations and adjust the steel plate over the air vent with a touch of a finger.
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    Set it up easily: There is actually no setup at all. There is also no need for any kind of tool. Your cooker will come to your door already assembled, and what you will do is simply taking it out of the box and starting cooking your favorite foods.
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    No constant refilling of water pans: Users of other smokers often have to fill and refill a water pan multiple times to avoid humidity’s deficiency. With Pit Barrel Cooker, the barrel itself creates moisture, so there is no hassle of watching out for the water level.

Versatile Cooking

Photo credit: James Fauset

Different kinds of meat require different methods of cooking to yield the best tastes. The steel grill grate that accompanies the Pit Barrel Cooker not only functions as a normal grill but also makes use of the added temperature control and depth of the cooker. If you wish to sear a piece of steak, remove the lid for a higher heat. If not, just leave the lid on so that the smoke can bring more depth to fish, burgers or pizza.

Hook-N-Hang Method

Photo credit: James Fauset

Normal cookers expose meat to direct heat, which requires constant turning of the meat to make the best taste. The results of this manual adjustment are not consistent. However, the Pit Barrel Cooker offers the effective method of vertical cooking. When you hang meat in the center of the drum, your meat is exposed to convection heat, which cooks the meat evenly to produce consistently satisfying tastes.

Moreover, when the juice from the meat falls directly onto coals, a smoke fog is created and infuses the meat with an unrivalled natural flavor.

Large Cooking Capacity

Photo credit: adamjholmes14620

Normal cookers have grates for horizontal cooking, but those are usually too small for handling more than 2 rib racks at the same time. With Pit Barrel Cooker, however, you can definitely hang 8 racks of ribs simultaneously for fast cooking and 2-3 briskets or pork shoulders/butts.

The company also sells Turkey Hangers that can handle two birds, each weighing about 13-16 pounds, at the same time. Another option is the Hinged Grate that allows grill space for burgers, fishes, vegetables while hanging 4 rib racks simultaneously.

 In terms of cooking capacity, Pit Barrel Cooker is on top of the race!

Sturdy Construction

Photo credit: James Fauset

The Pit Barrel Cooker is made of durable steel coated with porcelain enamel. This coating enables it to function well in extreme weather conditions. The steel has been upgraded from 20 gauge to 18 gauge. High altitude is no problem at all, and you can still carry out your enjoyable cooking when the temperature is minus 15.

 However, it is recommended that you buy the custom-fit cover made by the company or others to protect your cooker from unforgiving conditions.


You can bring the Pit Barrel Cooker with you in the back of an SUV. That’s because it is very lightweight and compact. The manufacturers ensure that their design can accompany you on every camping, fishing or hunting trip you make.


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    Easy to use: Each Pit Barrel Cooker is shipped in an already assembled state. You take it out, put in some coals, light it up, do something else and come back to get your restaurant-quality meal.
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    Vertical cooking: It allows meat to be cooked evenly and infused with natural flavor of smoke.
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    Versatile cooking: The steel grill grate allows multiple grilling options from hot and quick cooking to slower cooking.
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    Best cooking capacity: It accommodates at least 8 rib racks at the same time. There are also tools for hanging big turkeys.
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    Durability: It is made of high-quality steel coated with porcelain enamel that resists harsh weather conditions very well.
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    Portability: Its design is light and compact so that users can load it onto the back of a SUV for convenient transportation.


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    Little room for temperature control: Since Pit Barrel Cooker is specifically designed to operate at a steady temperature of about 300 degrees F, you won’t have more control over the cooker
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    •Require good-consistent charcoal coal: To maintain a specific temperature for a long time without the need for more coal, the Pit Barrel Cooker requires kinds of coal that have the good consistency, such as the Weber 7417 FireStarters Lighter Cubes.

Using and Maintenance

Photo credit: Mike Barish

The manufacturer strongly specifies that customers should adhere to their instructions thoroughly. For examples, they should not place their cooker on flammable surfaces (such as wood or dry grass), add any lighter fluid on the hot coals, leave flammable objects near the cooker, and so on.

 Besides, customers who have had first-hand experience with the Pit Barrel Cooker are highly recommended spending a little extra for the ash pan sold by the company because it will ease the task of cleaning and help the barrel last longer. The custom-fit covers are also good value for money because they shield the barrel from the ravages of the elements.

Safety Issues

Pit Barrel Cooker is a newcomer to the scene compared to other long-standing cookers. Therefore, its cooking mechanism is quite different from anything most customers have been accustomed with. There are lots of issues to watch out for when using it.

For example, the fixed temperature range might be too high for cooking some foods. Moreover, it is not recommended to block air vents for lower temperatures because the original design does not accommodate that solution. That’s why the manufacturer has stated specifically that users should not try to change the temperature or anything else.

 It is true that the Pit Barrel Cooker is simple to use but only when customers follow safety guides strictly!


It is not an exaggeration to say that Pit Barrel Cooker is a great deal for its price. Advanced technology, functionality, durability, portability and excellent customer service are packed in this best-selling companion of all kinds of users.

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.

 We hope our Pit Barrel Cooker reviews give you everything you need to give it a go and experience the joy of grilling. Have a nice day!

Last update on 2018-09-28 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API

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