Best Barrel Charcoal Smokers

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Top Barrel Charcoal Smokers

If you are looking for that singular smokey tastes, you just won’t get it with anything other than a charcoal smoker. While electric and gas smokers may get the job done, you need the charcoal to get that robust BBQ flavor.

Since the 1950s, backyard grilling has been a staple of American culture. It combined food with relaxation and recreation paving the way for the grill culture of today!

Explore our picks for the best barrel charcoal smokers, and you will be ready to start your own recreation traditions by the time summer arrives. Your family and friends will be lining up with their plates ready to dive into the juicy ribs, chicken, and pork you will be pulling off the grill racks.

Product Ranking - 1

Our choice for the best barrel charcoal smoker goes to Dyna-Glo’s offset smoker. With five cooking racks and over-sized wheels, you can get the BBQ started for the whole block!

The pre-installed sausage hooks give you the smoking flexibility that you need. The spring handles stay cool to the touch giving you safer access to the goods you are grilling.

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Product Ranking - 2

There is nothing like the aroma of barbecue on the air! It will bring your friends, neighbors, and probably even the stray dogs into your yard!

With the Weber Smokey Mountain Cooker, you won’t have to worry about disappointing anyone because your ribs, pork, and chicken will come out smoked to perfection.

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Product Ranking - 3

If you want bang for your buck, Royal Gourmet is sure to please. You get a professional quality grill at a budget-friendly price you can afford.

The manufacturer is known for making reliable products that offer an excellent grilling experience. This stainless steel grill and smoker is no exception.

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Product Ranking - 4

Realcook offers you flexibility with its charcoal BBQ smoker grill. The chrome-plated racks are perfectly sized for cooking BBQ meat and chicken, but they can also be used to whip up a pizza or your other favorite foods.

The adjustable air vents and built-in thermometer make controlling the cooking temperature a breeze.

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Product Ranking - 5

The compact design of the Royal Gourmet grill with offset smoker makes it a good choice for those with smaller backyard spaces. It fits quite easily on balconies, decks, and patios.

While it may be compact, it doesn’t skimp on cooking space. You still get 800 square inches for your delectable dishes.

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Product Ranking - 6

The Cuisinart COS-118 has a vertical barrel that helps distribute the heat in an even manner. Using the air vents, you can adjust the temperature in the cooking chamber meaning your foods will come out exactly as you desire.

Designed with chefs in mind, the COS-118 is portable enough to take tail-gating but durable enough to keep you BBQing for years to come.

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Product Ranking - 7

The Char-Griller calls itself a Texas-style smoker. The heavy-duty steel is definitely up to the challenge, and it offers 830 square inches of cooking space.

You can add that smokey flavor to your meat using the side firebox, and the adjustable grates will keep your temperature on point. Plus, the ash pan keeps clean up quick and easy.

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Product Ranking - 8

Oklahoma Joe has been helping BBQ masters perfect their meats since 1987. The Highland Offset Smoker is heavy-duty and durable living up to the “built to last” motto.

The multiple dampers give you tight control over your smoking temperatures. Plus, the firebox door allows you to stoke the flames without opening your large chamber lid.

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Product Ranking - 9

Whether you want to grill, roast, smoke, bake, or braise, the Z Grills Wood Pellet Grill Smoker is ready to accommodate.

The convection cooking gives this grill its versatility allowing you to cook at temperatures ranging from 180°F to 450°F.

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Product Ranking - 10

You can get 15 hours of smoke time with the oversized charcoal basket on the Oklahoma Joe’s Bronco Pro Drum Smoker. Plus, the heavy-duty construction means you will be using your smoker for years to come.

Plan on grilling after the sun goes down? The glow-in-the-dark temperature gauge will make that a breeze.

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What is a Barrel Smoker?

A simple machine, the barrel smoker is basically a steel drum that has been retrofitted into a smoker. This type of cooking mechanism has been around for a long time in one form or another.

In its basic design, a barrel smoker consists of a few key parts: the barrel, the charcoal basket, the cooking racks, and the meat hooks. (The hooks allow you to use the vertical space inside the drum giving you more cooking capacity!)

A barrel smoker holds heat really well which is why it works so well for the long cook times. For instance, a rack of baby back ribs needs roughly four hours to cook.

Low heat and slow cooking give you that distinct smoky BBQ flavor. And since red meat is full of iron, zinc, and vitamin B, having it on the menu all summer could be just what the doctor ordered!

Plus, since cooking meat at high heat has caught a little flack for being unhealthy, the slow and low approach is the perfect way to keep everyone happy.

Barrel Smokers vs. Offset Smokers vs. Horizontal and Vertical Smokers

A barrel smoker isn’t the only kind of smoker you can add to your patio. There are also offset smokers, horizontal smokers, and vertical smokers.

We’ve already discussed what a barrel smoker is, let’s take a look at the other types of smokers.

Offset smoker: A very popular option, the offset smoker is the more classic design. It consists of a horizontal chamber where the food smokes and a firebox that is attached to one side.

The firebox is where the charcoal or wood burns to create the heat that cooks the food. Inside the horizontal chamber, there are usually multiple shelves to hold the various items that are being smoked.

Horizontal smoker: While an offset smoker is technically a horizontal smoker, that isn’t the only type in this category. Pellet grills can also belong to the horizontal smoker group.

Years ago, people would roast meat over split logs which gave the food a unique flavor. To achieve a similar taste without the hassle of burning hardwoods, the pellet grill was born.

This horizontal smoker burns .25-inch wood pellets that are made from the compacted sawdust of hardwood trees. These pellets are stored in the hopper until the auger feeds them to the firebox.

The food goes in the large horizontal chamber. Some high-tech pellet smokers have a computer to control the temperature inside the chamber.

Vertical smoker: If the chamber on a smoker is vertically oriented, it is considered a vertical smoker. This means that some offset and barrel smokers are considered vertical smokers.

If the vertical smoker uses charcoal as its fuel source, then it will either go at the bottom of the vertical chamber or in a firebox that is attached to the main chamber.

The heat and smoke will be drawn upwards through the chamber where the food is cooking on the racks. The smoke will then exit through the smoker at the top of the vertical chamber.

One of the big pluses for a vertical design is flexibility. These types of smokers generally take up less space on your deck or patio.

What Makes Barrel Smokers so Great?

Barrel smokers are a favorite among backyard enthusiasts because they are so easy to use while still producing amazingly delicious results. Whether you are a first-time griller or a master chef, getting delicious flavor from your barrel smoker is an easy feat.

The ease of use comes from the simplicity of the design. You have a drum, the charcoal, and the food. That’s all you need to get mouth-watering flavor.

Texas BBQ platters overflowing with ribs, pulled pork, and smoky chicken is probably what comes to mind when you think about a smoker. While they are perfectly suited to produce high-quality meats, a barrel smoker offers more versatility than that!

You can find barrel smoker recipes for things like smoked buttered pecans, whole seabass, and shepherd’s pie. If you keep thinking outside the box, you can also make pizza, smoky deviled eggs, or a big plate of nachos.

How Do Barrel Smokers Work?

While you may not truly understand how the majority of your cooking appliances work, it is a good idea to know the ins and outs of your barrel smoker. Knowing how it works means you can make the proper adjustments to get the results you desire.

While things like the humidity and the weather will cause a little variation in your cooking, a little bit of practice should give you flavor consistency.

The key to your barrel smoker is the correlation between oxygen and heat. The heat produced by the charcoal is directly related to the oxygen entering through the vents.

Charcoal needs oxygen to burn. This means the more oxygen you let in, the more heat you will get. When you open up the vents on your smoker, you will raise the temperature in your smoker.

Likewise, if you want to lower the temperature in your smoker, you can close the vents and lower the amount of oxygen getting in. With a little practice, you will know exactly how wide to open the vent to get the temperature you want for cooking.

Can You Grill On A Barrel Smoker?

Grilling and smoking are not the same things. As we said before, smoking is low and slow. Grilling is fast and hot.

However, you may be able to use smoker as a grill with a little bit of effort.

In most cases, the charcoal in your smoker is much further away from the cooking rack than it would be in a grill. So, in order to get the high heat needed to sear a piece of meat, you will need to fill up the bottom of your smoker with more charcoal than you would typically use.

Once the charcoal is burning, you will need to keep the vents open wider than you normally would for smoking to ensure that the temperature inside the chamber is hot enough for grilling.

If you have multiple racks inside your smoker or your racks are adjustable, get the food closer to the charcoal than is typical with smoking so you get that flame-kissed grilling flavor.