If you are one for smoked meats or other foods, buying a barrel smoker may be something to consider! There are nearly endless options on the market when it comes to smokers and it can be difficult to discern which model is the best drum smokers.
We have used our expertise and knowledge in the field to analyze features such as the number of smoke racks, temperature stability and capacity, and ventilation design, among other things. In doing so, we are able to provide you with a detailed guide to navigating the smoker market.
Best Drum Smokers:
Cuisinart COS-118 Vertical 18″ Charcoal SmokerView at Amazon
Taking us into the second half of the list is a smoker from the kitchenware brand Cuisinart. The Cuisinart COS-118 Vertical 18″ Charcoal Smoker is very similar in design to the Weber barrel smoker in form, although the bottom ventilation is placed directly under the bottom of the smoker.
Consumers’ reviews of this model from Cuisinart span the entire range of satisfaction to dissatisfaction. Some find it an affordable alternative to high-quality smokers but others find it junky and say their foods taste of paint (definitely not good).
In conclusion, if you are looking to save some money and you are not the most impassioned of smokers, the Cuisinart COS-118 Vertical 18″ Charcoal Smoker could certainly fit your needs.
- Two rack system allows for added smoking space
- The dual air vents system allows for more precise temperature moderation and control
- According to consumers, the door has no closing mechanism and therefore does not always stay closed
Weber 711001 Smokey Mountain Cooker 14 Charcoal SmokerView at Amazon
The next smoker in review is from the trusted grill brand Weber. The Weber 711001 Smokey Mountain Cooker 14″ Charcoal Smoker is a vertical drum smoker, as most models on this list are. It sports a thermometer on the top of the barrel and proper, adjustable dampers on the bottom of the barrel.
As with the first model reviewed, consumers love this smoker. While consumers do note that the smoker is small (although that is kind of the point), they still find that it does a great smoking job.
In conclusion, the Weber 711001 Smokey Mountain Cooker 14″ Charcoal Smoker is a high-quality smoker and is perfect for anyone looking for a compact, smaller model.
- Temperature grommet allows you to know the exact temperature of the smoker as it works
- Adjustable dampers allow you to control the temperature and adjust your needs through the smoking process
- A small, 14″ diameter is not viable for very large meal smoking
Dyna-Glo Signature Series DGSS1382VCS-D Heavy-Duty Vertical Offset Charcoal Smoker & GrillView at Amazon
This next model in review is fairly unique to the list. The Dyna-Glo Signature Series DGSS1382VCS-D Heavy-Duty Vertical Offset Charcoal Smoker & Grill is, as its terribly lengthy title suggests, a grill and smoker combination. The smoker itself has five racks for extensive smoking and the grill sits low to the grow.
As is seeming to the trend, consumers are much more satisfied than not with this smoker (and grill). Consumers most notably appreciate the quality of the multi-purpose aspect of the smoker at such an affordable price.
The Dyna-Glo Signature Series DGSS1382VCS-D Heavy-Duty Vertical Offset Charcoal Smoker & Grill is ultimately a fantastic smoker thanks to the high-quality smoker itself and the added grill it sports.
- Five level system lets you smoke many things simultaneously
- Two legs and a two-wheel system create stability and mobility for this smoker, grill combination
- There is a non-ignorable number of consumer reports stating the item arrives damaged
Pit Barrel Cooker Co Classic Pit Barrel Cooker PackageView at Amazon
This first model in review is a drum smoker for sale, the Pit Barrel Cooker Co. 18.5″ Classic Pit Barrel Cooker Package. The Classic Pit Barrel Cooker is essentially designed as a smaller version of a 50-gallon steel drum with a lid. Of course, there are ventilation holes around the rim of the drum and handles to lift the smoker.
Consumers are overwhelmingly satisfied with this drum barrel smoker. It is known for giving quality and repeatable results without a decline in quality over time.
In conclusion, the Pit Barrel Cooker Co. 18.5″ Classic Pit Barrel Cooker Package is the best drum barrel smoker on the market for its size. The value of the package here is hard to beat.
- Comes with hook-n-hang hooks to hang your food so you do not have to get your own
- Large, 1-30 gallon capacity is ideal for a wide variety of foods
- Lacks air valves for temperature adjustment and even heating
Oklahoma Joe’s 19202089 Bronco Charcoal SmokerView at Amazon
This next smoker in review is another vertical barrel model. The Oklahoma Joe’s 19202089 Bronco Charcoal Smoker is a great, compact smoker that is also relatively portable thanks to its two-wheel, one-leg design. This smoker features a large charcoal basket despite its size, allowing for all-day smokes.
Consumers are very happy with the Bronco from Oklahoma Joe’s. While the thermometer may read higher than the actual temps, consumers note phenomenal smokes time after time.
So, if you are looking for a semi-portable smoker with a quality build and even an attractive aesthetic, the Oklahoma Joe’s 19202089 Bronco Charcoal Smoker is a very viable option to consider.
- Temperature gauge allows you to stay on top of your smoking temperature throughout the process
- The smoker is designed to be easily cleaned and has a removable ash pan for simple ash disposal
- The temperature gauge may not report temperature accurately for the life of the smoker
EasyGoProducts Big Bad Barrel Pit Charcoal Barbeque 5 in 1View at Amazon
This seventh model in review is the most unique product on the entire list as it functions as both a barrel grill and a smoker. The EasyGoProducts Big Bad Barrel Pit Charcoal Barbeque 5 in 1 is just as the name suggests, a five-tool device packed into one. In addition to grilling and smoking, the barrel can be used as a fire pit, a pizza oven, or a tabletop.
Consumers are blown away by this 5-in-1 unit. Consumers note the smoker being completely useful in every offered iteration, from pizza oven to fire pit.
In conclusion, the EasyGoProducts Big Bad Barrel Pit Charcoal Barbeque 5 in 1 is a lot of bang for little buck. It is massively versatile and comes with grill tools too, to buff the value it boasts.
- The 5-in-1 function makes this smoker highly versatile and useful in many situations (and not just in cooking)
- The barrel is two-pieced and is dismantle-able for easy transport
- Only has air vents on the top, which makes temperature moderating slightly more difficult
Best Choice Products 43″ 3-Piece Outdoor BBQ Charcoal Vertical Design SmokerView at Amazon
This next model in review is similar to the Weber and Cuisinart models, meaning that it is a vertical barrel smoker with bottom ventilation and a door for accessing the charcoal.
The Best Choice Products 43″ 3-Piece Outdoor BBQ Charcoal Vertical Design Smoker sports an additional temperature damper on its top though, to go a step further than the aforementioned models.
Consumers find that this smoker functions just fine, although many do not have to make some modifications to the unit due to leaky construction.
In conclusion, the Best Choice Products 43″ 3-Piece Outdoor BBQ Charcoal Vertical Design Smoker is an option to consider if you like this style vertical drum smoker but are looking to spend less than the higher priced models.
- Dual cooking racks allow for the smoking of multiple foods or excess of one food
- A dual vent system allows for more precise temperature and heat control
- Assembly is not the easiest for some consumers
Dyna-Glo Signature Series DGSS681VCS-D Heavy-Duty Vertical Charcoal SmokerView at Amazon
The next vertical drum smoker in review is another Dyna-Glo model. The Dyna-Glo Signature Series DGSS681VCS-D Heavy-Duty Vertical Charcoal Smoker is similar to the previously reviewed Dyna-Glo model except that it does not sport an accompanying grill and has two fewer smoke racks.
Consumers have surprisingly mixed things to say about this smoker. While many do claim that it is a viable, reliable smoker, others claim that it is not sufficient for long-term smoking such as turkey or brisket smoking.
In conclusion, the Dyna-Glo Signature Series DGSS681VCS-D Heavy-Duty Vertical Charcoal Smoker is a great smoker and a fantastic option for those who are interested in the other Dyna-Glo model reviewed but do not need the grill feature.
- Three cooking grates allow for the smoking of multiple foods simultaneously
- The spring door handle is cool to the touch and allows for safe access to food and charcoal mid-smoking
- Consumers note this is not the best smoker for long-term smoking of foods like turkey and brisket
Masterbuilt 20060416 Charcoal Bullet SmokerView at Amazon
The final model in review, the Masterbuilt 20060416 Charcoal Bullet Smoker, is the most compact smoker on the list. This model is formed almost like a tabletop grill in that it has small, stubby legs and short stature. It does still qualify as a vertical barrel smoker as it sports a similar, although compacted, design to the Weber model previously discussed.
As has been the standard with many of these smokers, consumers are satisfied across the board with this smoker. One such consumer calls it a perfect option for the occasional smoker enthusiast.
In conclusion, the Masterbuilt 20060416 Charcoal Bullet Smoker is an awesome little smoker for any non-frequent smoker looking for a good deal. Its compact size makes it ideal for storing away when not in use.
- Compact design is ideal for transporting and portability (take it to tailgates, parties, etc.)
- Easy access door for managing the charcoal easily during the smoking process
- Consumers state that the cooking space is falsely advertised and that heat constantly leaks
Factors to Consider When Buying the Best Drum Smokers
The following is a list of factors to consider when buying the best UDS smoker:
Total cooking space:
The first factor to consider when buying a drum barrel smoker is the total cooking space. Many of the models reviewed here have only one smoking rack; however, there are also models available with more than one rack and even the grill accompanied model.
Depending on how much you plan to smoke at one time, the total cooking space is likely going to be your main buying focus. Larger-diameter models also sport a larger cooking space in terms of square inches.
Charcoal management design:
The next factor to consider is the charcoal access point of the smoker. Most of the models on the list sport a hinged door providing direct access to the charcoals for managing while smoking is occurring. Although, not all models do provide such easy access to charcoals during smoking.
Being aware of the charcoal management method for each unit is going to be an important aspect of your decision, particularly if you are an experienced smoker.
The included accessories are never going to make or break your purchase decision, or they at least should not. However, extra accessories can definitely bolster the value of any smoker you are considering.
For instance, the smokers with hanging hooks provide extra value by giving you the option of hanging smoking foods. There are also models that come with grill tools, which are always useful.
Again, they should not make or break your decision, but they can help separate similar models from one another.
The final factor to consider when buying a barrel smoker is consumer reports. While anecdotal reviews should always be taken with a grain of salt, consumer reports can help deliver great insight into the experienced pros and cons.
Best Drum Smokers FAQ
What is the advantage of buying a vertical drum smoker?The main advantage that comes from vertical drum smokers is the compact nature of their build. Typically speaking, vertical barrels are built smaller and take up much less space than horizontal barrel smokers. This allows people, especially non-frequent smoker users, to store them away easily. In comparison to horizontal barrel smokers, many vertical barrels (smaller often in height/length and diameter) have less cooking space, which can be seen as the main disadvantage of vertical drum barrels.
Are vertical smokers viable for even heating and smoking?Most smokers sold on the market do provide even heating and smoking. The models that sport dampers, especially the dual damper models, are more capable of even heating and smoking by means of more control over the airflow and thus the temperature. However, some models are constructed a bit leakier than others. Consumer reviews often will expose this issue in any model that has it though, so be sure to double-check those consumer reviews for each model.
What kind of venting is ideal for moderating smoking temperatures?Bouncing off of the previous point, dual damper venting is the most ideal venting system for your smoker. One damper is certainly capable of handling the task but dual dampers allow for an added level of control and moderation of temperature and airflow. Be careful if you are considering a model without normal dampers and be sure that consumers have not provided negative feedback regarding temperature moderation.
In conclusion, the best ugly drum smoker is the Pit Barrel Cooker Co. 18.5″ Classic Pit Barrel Cooker Package. It falls on the pricier end of the spectrum but you are definitely getting what you pay for.
If you are looking for more affordable options, consider the Weber Smokey Mountain model or one of the models from the Dyna-Glo collection. However, there are plenty of options to choose from on the market if these models do not suit your taste.
Now that you have reviewed these models in detail, you can make a conscious buying decision to make sure you are getting the best smoker for your particular needs. Get your smoker now before the holiday season kicks off