The drum smoker is deceptively simple. Indeed it is one of the best pieces of equipment on the market for smoking your meats, but because of the simple design concept, there are also a bunch of things that can go wrong. I want to make sure that you get something really effective and affordable while choosing a barrel smoker.

To fulfill that goal, I have taken a close look at many of the best drum smokers on the market. To help you master the art of drum smoking, I have included a list of ten best barrel smokers to buy. All you need to do is read on to find the drum/barrel smoker of your dreams.

The 9 Best Drum Smokers Reviewed In 2021


1. Classic Pit Barrel Smoker Package

Material: Steel
Power Source: Charcoal
Cooking Area: 30 Gallon drum base

The Classic Pit Barel is a complete package that cooks food evenly. The porcelain-coated grates are both resistant to rust and degradation. They are perfect for heat retention and dispersal, ensuring a consistently even cooking. The most featured thing is that it serves as a grill and smoker simultaneously- the perfect combo, which is still unbeaten.

  • Brand: Pit Barrel
  • Color: Black
  • Item Weight: 57.00 lbs
  • Dimensions: 21.00 x 21.00 x 31.10 inches
  • Temperature range: On average 275 to 310 degrees F.

Pros

  • Steel and porcelain for optimal heat dispersal and retention
  • Very easy to use interface makes assembly straightforward
  • 30-gallon drum allows you to use lots of coal

Cons

  • No front access makes it difficult to clean

Our Thoughts

It features a large smoking surface that will be more than suited to preparing large quantities of food for your entire family. The steel ensures it will last for a long time. At the same time, the 30-gallon reservoir allows you to fill it with enough cooking materials to go the distance on bigger items like turkeys.

The package is also robust, featuring a lid, tongs, and all the necessary hardware made for reliable cooking.

The only thing I didn’t love is that it can be somewhat difficult to clean. The deep reservoir means you have to really get in there to give the unit a thorough scrub down. Through regular upkeep, however, you can help ensure that the process goes smoothly.


2. EasyGoProducts Big Bad Barrel Smoker (5 in 1)

Material: Stainless Steel
Power Source: Charcoal
Cooking Area: 830 square inches

  • Brand: EasyGo
  • Color: Black
  • Item Weight: 45.30 lbs
  • Dimensions: 20.25 x 18.25 x 20.25 inches
  • Temperature range: On average 225 to 275 degrees F.

Pros

  • Temperature is consistently perfect for smoking
  • Durable stainless steel build designed to last for a long time
  • Versatile enough to perform a wide range of different smoker duties

Cons

  • Assembly can easily take close to two hours

Our Thoughts

The EasyGoProducts has much to offer the person looking for a simple but effective smoker. The unit is naturally designed to keep an optimal temperature of 225 degrees, which you can then monitor via the onboard thermostat. This is good because 225 is the optimal temperature for smoking most meats.

The unit is also constructed of durable gauge steel that will do well to last for a long time. And, like most barrel-style smokers it is also very durable. The unit can be used to effectively grill, smoke and sear, giving you a perfect one-stop-shop for all your grilling needs.

Indeed, as far as I am concreted all of the features lend themselves well to most potential buyers. The only thing you’ll want to be on the lookout for is the assembly. As the manufacturer themselves note, it takes almost two hours to put together. Though unusually long, the assembly does ultimately pay dividends in the long run!


3. Barrel House Drum Smoker Cooker

Material: Porcelain & Stainless steel
Power Source: Charcoal
Cooking Area: 18-inch drum

  • Brand: Barrel House
  • Color: Black
  • Item Weight: 44 lbs
  • Dimensions: 18 x 24.5 x 35.5 inches
  • Temperature range: 275 to 310 degrees F.

Pros

  • Extremely durable build will last indefinitely
  • Cook time is shorter than most units helping you get food quickly
  • Temperature is optimized to stay at the ideal range

Cons

  • A little bit pricier than some of the other options on our list

Our Thoughts

The BHC is a great product for the buyer that wants something simple but extremely durable. The 20 gauge steel is designed to last for a very long time, making it good for the buyer that wants something that can go the distance. I was also interested in the fact that the unit is optimized to burn at a slightly higher temperature than average.

While most stay at around 275, this unit consistently keeps to 310 degrees, making it a bit faster than usual. You still get perfectly juicy and flavorful meat, but it will be ready slightly sooner.

The only concern I have is that this higher temperature will come with a learning curve. As you get used to this new smoker, you may find yourself occasionally overcooking your food. Of course, this isn’t exactly the smoker’s fault. Follow the instructions, and you shouldn’t have any problems.


4. Old Smokey Electric Drum Smoker

Material: Steel
Power Source: Corded Electric
Cooking Area: Upper grill 14.5″ and the lower 12.5″ diameter

  • Brand: Old Smokey
  • Color: Grey
  • Item Weight: 24 lbs
  • Dimensions: 15.5 x 15.5 x 29 inches
  • Heating Element: 1250watt
  • Temperature range: Up-to 250 degrees F.

Pros

  • Electric interface makes it very easy to use
  • Built-in thermostat helps to monitor the temperature
  • Domed top designed to keep the meat flavorful
  • Very affordable price tag great for the buyer on the budget

Cons

  • May not be as big as some prefer

Our Thoughts

If you need something a little bit easier to manage, you’re sure to appreciate an electric smoker’s utility. While you can still use wood chips to create a unique flavor profile, the electrically driven heating unit is easy to manage, requiring only that you plug the smoker in to get it going.

[If you love the electric option’s simplicity and features, you may be curious to know that we’ve reviewed leading electric smokers under only 200 bucks.]

I also appreciated that the temperature can still be monitored and adjusted via the built-in thermostat. My favorite component though, was the overall design concept. The domed build is specifically optimized to direct all fo the juices back onto the meat itself, keeping it miraculously moist and flavorful.

The only real issue I had with the smoker was the size. While it’s big enough for a family, it may not be the perfect tool for hosting a party—which is especially problematic given that smokers take roughly six hours to cook food. It’s still a great product, but some buyers may favor something bigger.


5. Oklahoma Joe’s Bronco Pro Drum Smoker

Material: Steel
Grate Material: Porcelain Coated Wire (21.5-inch cooking surface)
Power Source: Charcoal
Cooking Area: 284 square inches primary and extendable by 9 meat hooks & 3 meat hangers.

  • Brand: Oklahoma Joe’s
  • Color: Orange
  • Item Weight: 177.6 lbs
  • Dimensions: 40 x 28.8 x 48 inches

Pros

  • Sizable cooking surface for large quantities of food
  • Durable design great for heat retention and dispersal
  • Built-in temperature gauge optimal for accurate cooking

Cons

  • Assembly may take hours to complete

Our Thoughts

The Bronco Pro Drum Smoker is an affordable unit with a sizable 284 square inch cooking surface. With this amount of surface, you shouldn’t have much trouble preparing food for both your family and your neighbors should you feel the desire.  

It also features a compact build for people with a limited backyard and durable construction that should guarantee it lasts for a long time. The porcelain-coated gauge steel should do well to distribute heat evenly while still lasting for a long time. Last, it also benefits from an onboard temperature gauge that makes it easy to monitor your cooking.

Unfortunately, though, the assembly can take hours to complete—something that some people may not be up for. Personally, though, I feel that the lengthy assembly more than justifies itself.


6. Weber-711001 Smokey Mountain Cooker

Material: Steel
Power Source: Charcoal
Cooking Area: 286 square inches

  • Manufacturer Specification
  • Brand: Weber
  • Color: Black
  • Item Weight: 23 lbs
  • Dimensions: 31.4 x 14.75 x 14.75 inches
  • Temperature range: Up-to 190 degrees F.

Pros

  • Very compact design great for people with limited space
  • Durable steel optimal for people that need durability
  • Perfect temperature for smoking

Cons

  • Surface area is relatively small

Our Thoughts

The Weber is a charcoal style grill that uses charcoal to provide your food with an outstanding flavor profile. The low profile build makes it easy to store, while the ventilation profile tends to create an outstanding and enviable flavor profile.

The compact unit is able to provide you with 286 square inches of cooking surface, which will make it great for the average family. I also really loved that the design is optimized for slow cooking. It operates at 190 degrees, which is perfect for preparing delicious meat.

Unfortunately, though, I did find that it’s not particularly easy to clean. In fact, when it is cleaned improperly, it may start to flake in the interior, which can ruin your food, and eventually, the smoker itself. The solution is to follow the user instructions carefully, and regularly clean so that gunk doesn’t accumulate.


7. Cuisinart COS-118 Vertical Drum Smoker

Material: Steel
Power Source: Charcoal
Cooking Area: 510 square inches

  • Manufacturer Specification
  • Brand: Cuisinart
  • Color: Black
  • Item Weight: 25 lbs
  • Dimensions: 25 x 25 x 45 inches
  • Temperature range: Not specified

Pros

  • Enormous cooking surface great for large quantities of food
  • Porcelain quoted for heat dispersal
  • Interface designed for easy and effective food preparation

Cons

  • A little bit pricier than most of the other options on our list

Our Thoughts

The Cuisinart is a massively sized product that is powered by charcoal. The cooking surface’s 510 inches makes it one of the largest products on our list, perfect for preparing food for parties.

It features an outstanding flavor profile thanks to a design that directs all of the juices back to the meat itself. And, personally, I also loved the very basic interface that makes it easy to moderate the temperature. Thanks to easy to use venting mechanisms and an onboard thermostat, you shouldn’t have any trouble at all maintaining optimal temperatures.

This is one of the more expensive options on our list, but that is mostly due to the larger size. If you’re interested in preparing large quantities of food, the extra money will be well worth it.


8. Masterbuilt 20060416 Charcoal Bullet Smoker

Material: Steel & Porcelain
Power Source: Charcoal
Cooking Area: 395.4 square inches

  • Manufacturer Specification
  • Brand: Masterbuilt
  • Color: Black
  • Item Weight: 15.26 lbs
  • Dimensions: 19.13 x 21.65 x 31.49 inches
  • Temperature range: Not specified

Pros

  • Sizable cooking surface makes it good for large quantities of food
  • Porcelain-coated for durability and heat dispersal
  • Front access makes it very easy to clean and control

Cons

  • Proper installation can be difficult

Our Thoughts

If you are truly looking to save money, it doesn’t get any better than this next unit. The Masterbuilt is truly the most affordable product on our list, making it a great option for buyers that want something cheap.

The great thing, though, is that your money buys you a very sizable cooking surface. With 395 inches, this will be a great product for people that need the option to make lots of food in one sitting.

The grates are also porcelain-coated, making it optimal for perfect heat retention and dispersal. Do note that some users have mentioned having a hard time properly assembling this smoker. You can avoid problems by very carefully following the user instructions.

It is sturdy, compact, and very easy to transport. However, it also has its limitations. I found the unit to be almost impractically small. While it will be fine for smoking smaller food items, there is only so much you will be able to accomplish.


9. Realcook Vertical Mini Barrel Smoker

Material: Steel
Power Source: Charcoal
Cooking Area: 453 square inches

  • Manufacturer Specification
  • Brand: Realcook
  • Color: Black
  • Item Weight: 19.80 lbs
  • Dimensions: 22.00 x 17.00 x 35.00 inches
  • Temperature range: Not specified

Pros

  • Huge cooking surface for large quantities of food
  • Materials are durable and perfect for heat retention
  • Front access for easy coal placement

Cons

  • Can be a little bit difficult to clean

Our Thoughts

The Realcook closes out our list. It is a massive unit that benefits from 453 inches of cooking surface. With this amount of cooking real-estate, you shouldn’t have any trouble at all preparing a ten-pound pork shoulder, or even a full-sized turkey.

The grates are coated with porcelain providing optimal heat dispersal, while the front access interface makes it easy to add coals.

Users have mentioned that the unit can be difficult to clean. However, if you engage in regular maintenance, you shouldn’t have any trouble at all keeping it nice and tidy!


Buyer’s Guide

You’ve seen ten best drum smoker, but have you made up your mind? Deciding on the drum smokers for you is always the hardest part. That That is why I’ve taken the liberty of assembling this handy buyer’s guide. The purpose is to help connect you with the perfect product for your needs, so read on.

Choose based on fuel type

Believe it or not, there is a variety of different styles to choose from, even when you are dealing with an extremely simple product.

The best barrel smoker will come in several different variations.

Electric Pit Barrel Smokers: The electric pit barrel cooker is going to be a great product for the beginner. It is easy to use and will heat up quickly, making it a pretty straightforward piece of gear to use.

There are a couple of setbacks, though. For one thing, electric pit barrel cookers don’t provide the same flavor profile as charcoal or wood units.

They also need to be located near a power source, which is no guarantee when you are outdoors. Still, for the average user, they will be a great, dependable piece of equipment.

Gas: Gas-powered units tend to be the next easiest. You don’t need to monitor the burning of charcoals or wood chips because as long as you have the fuel, you will have heat.

Gas units tend to be on the pricier side, and they also suffer from the fact that they don’t always produce the same profile flavor as a charcoal or wood chip unit.

It’s not a terrible piece of equipment, but people looking for a true smoker will probably pass this option up.

Charcoal/Wood-chip: Then we have the traditional smoker. The charcoal or wood chip barrel smoker is what most people think of when they look into a smoker.

These require the most maintenance and upkeep, but they are absolutely perfect for providing your meat with a reach and enjoyable flavor.

You may need to monitor these units more carefully, but the work is always rewarded when it comes time to eat.

Size:

Drum smokers tend to be a little bit more compact than the traditional alternative. However, they are still sizable pieces of equipment that have their limitations. If you don’t have an enormous backyard, you are going to want to look into something that is a little bit more compact. Electric smokers have the benefit of a low profile power source. This helps keep the entire size of the unit relatively manageable.

However, there are also benefits to going with larger smokers. For one thing, larger pit smokers are great at whipping up a ton of food.

Even if you don’t have a big family, you may want to take advantage of your smoker to prepare a ton of food. Why? Well, for one thing, smoking meat tends to take a good deal of time. You might as well maximize the effectiveness of your efforts, right?

Larger surface areas also tend to provide a more even cooking experience, which can actually enhance the overall taste of your food. Ultimately though, you will simply need to favor the smoker that suits your lifestyle needs.

Build Style:

Smokers can come in a variety of different materials. However, my favorite build is definitely stainless steel. Stainless steel tends to be extremely resistant to wear and tear. It is durable and effective, making it the perfect smoker material for long term use.

It also tends to heat evenly, which will improve the quality of your cooking. This means that even larger pieces of meat will cook evenly no matter what. Naturally, this is a pretty great guarantee if you can get it.

Temperature Control:

Temperature control and BBQ don’t often go hand in hand, but there are certainly ways you can be precise even when cooking outside.

Electric and gas-powered grills tend to make it very easy to control how hot the interior of the unit gets. For example, the gas-powered BBQ will allow you to adjust the temperature with the turn of a nob. The same is true of an electric BBQ.

With charcoal burning smokers, things quickly become less precise. They may feature a thermometer, but you will need to manipulate the coals in order to change the cooking pattern. If you aren’t experienced, this can be very difficult.

Lid:

A drum smoker is only as good as the lid. You want a solid lid that features enough ventilation to keep your food from becoming tough and disgusting but not so much ventilation that the food cooks unevenly.

Fortunately, most products will feature a good lid. However, it is also possible to find the occasional dud lid.

In any case, you may want to look into how easy it is to get replacement parts regardless of the smoker that you decide on.

Your lid or even the handles may go bad eventually. At that point, it may have to replace the unit entirely. However, if you have access to easy replacement parts, you can keep the grill going indefinitely.

Price:

The price of the unit can vary pretty substantially. In the world of smokers, drum style units tend to be the most affordable. However, this isn’t to say that they are necessarily cheap. Indeed, it is very possible to spend close to one thousand dollars on a high-end unit.

Fortunately, most of the products on our list never come close to being that expensive. In general, you can expect to spend several hundred dollars on a really good smoker.

However, there are certainly some budget-friendly options available for the person that would prefer to remain frugal. For example, you can find some units that are under $100. They may not be well suited for going the distance, but they are still going to be good enough to suit the needs of the frugal amateur.

Wrap up

You’ve seen what is out there, but have you made up your mind? All of the smokers on this list are ready to bring the heat, but only one of them will be right for your needs.

Suppose you are aching to start cooking delicious meat, but you don’t quite know which smoker you will be doing it with. In that case, it may help to reconsider a couple of my personal favorite picks.

If you want the best product, you can get your hands on regardless of the price you may be well served by the Classic Pit Barrel Smoker Package.

However, that isn’t to say that it is the only valuable option. If you want to save money on a decent product, think about the Masterbuilt 20060416 Charcoal Bullet Smoker that makes smoking simple for backyard grilling, camping, or tailgate parties.

The truth of the matter, though? All ten of the products on this list are pretty solid. It’s a pretty low-risk situation.

FAQs

Q1. Is the pit barrel cooker a smoker?

It is! It’s a simple smoker, but a smoker all the same. Indeed, this will be a good product for the buyer who wants a traditional smoker’s utility without breaking the bank.

Q2. Are vertical smokers viable for even heating(grilling) and smoking?

Absolutely! With a high-quality build, you can get optimal heat dispersal.

Q3. What kind of venting is ideal for moderating smoking temperatures?

A slotted venting interface that is easily adjusted will help you to optimize temperature control.

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