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Our Honest Review of 18.5″ Classic Pit Barrel Cooker for 2019

Our Honest Review of 18.5" Classic Pit Barrel Cooker for 2019

A Review of 18 ½ in. Classic Pit Barrel Co. Package

Smoking and grilling are among the earliest ways to cook food. When humans discovered fire and its uses 1.5 million years ago, the discovery of cooking food followed suit. Cooking kills bacteria and prolongs the life of food and it became an integral part of our daily lives.

Cooking by means of coal or wood may seem ancient, but it is through this method that the flavors and juices come out naturally. This is where the best-selling smokers and grills leverage their products, just like the Pit Barrel Co. Cooker. Through this review, we will explain what makes this cooker the best for many users – home cooks and chefs alike.

In-depth with 18½ in. Pit Barrel Cooker

The concept behind this cooker is simple, it shies away from the typical way of grilling. With the traditional grill, you horizontally place the meat on the rack, cook it for some time and flip it over to cook the other side. According to grilling experts, this way of cooking meat results in loss of moisture and unevenness.

Pit Barrel Co. Cooker features a vertical cooking method by hanging the meat on a hook and using convection heat that circulates from down up. The juices that come from the meat will also drip down the water pan and will create a cloud of smoke that will envelop the food, just right to give it a smoky aroma.

Cooking with 18 ½ in. Pit Barrel Co smoker

However, the brand does not discount the fact that a grate is an equally versatile way to cook. It still allows you to use a grate for fish, shellfish, pizza and foil-wrapped ribs if you want it more tender but too afraid to hang it towards the end of its cooking time.

The cooker does not require any tools to set up. Just mount the barrel on the three-legged barrel stand and fill the charcoal basket with briquettes or charcoal and wood for smoke. Mount the hanging hooks on the pre-drilled slots and arrange the hooks as needed. With this type of cooker, you can smoke ribs for 8 to 12 people in one go.

Grilled ribs on a board

The Pit Barrel Co. brand guarantees the durability of its cooker. This 30-gallon barrel is a porcelain steel drum made with 18-gauge steel. It is coated with porcelain enamel for added strength and rust-proofing. Also it weighs 57 pounds and comes complete with accessories. It’s almost fully assembled in the box. The steel can get pretty hot outside but is able to circulate as much as 275 to 310 degrees Fahrenheit of heat inside.

It has a vent at the bottom and can be adjusted to set the temperature lower or higher. Unlike other smokers, you can no longer add coal or briquettes once you have started cooking. It will be best to follow the recipe and instruction manual in case your food will need a longer smoking time.

What’s in the Box?

  • 1 unit 30 Gallon Steel Drum/Lid

  • 8 pieces Stainless Steel Hooks

  • 2 pieces Steel Hanging Rods

  • 1 unit Charcoal Basket

  • 1 unit Standard Grill Grate

  • 1 piece Wooden Hook Remover

  • 1 unit Three-point Barrel Stand

  • 1 pack All-Purpose Pit Rub

  • 1 pack Beef & Game Pit Rub


  • Convection style cooking

  • Two-way cooking method – hanging or grilling

  • Cover hook on the side of the barrel

  • Porcelain enamel coating that will last a lifetime

  • Hanging method will not mix the meat juices unlike two level grates

  • Large charcoal basket


  • The barrel can get really hot outside

  • You cannot add coal once you’ve started cooking

Bottom line:

The cooking method using the Pit Barrel Co. is not rocket science but a smarter and improved way of vertical smoking. The product is durable and is meant to last long with its porcelain coated steel body. It also lives up to its promise to deliver juicy and tender meat, poultry and seafood consistently through convection cooking. It is a must-have for outdoor lovers, newbie cooks and even the experienced ones. The only downside is the unavailability of a charcoal chamber that can be accessed from the outside in case you need to top up for longer cooking time. But this can be quickly resolved by putting in the right amount of coal or briquettes in the coal basket.

Pit Barrel Cooker 18.5 in. Cooker versus Weber Smokey Mountain Series

Pit Barrel vs Weber Smokey Mountain

You’ve probably heard that the Pit Barrel Co. Cooker is head to head against the Weber Smokey Mountain Cooker in the cooker/smoker category. We will compare each of the smokers to help you decide which one to get. For an in-depth review, please refer to the Weber Smokey Mountain Series 18” cooker review here: https://electricsmokers.net/weber-smokey-mountain-review/

First off, let us shorten the terms for easy reference. We will refer to the Pit Barrel Co. as PBC and Weber Smokey Mountain as WSM in this comparison.


Both PBC and WSM measure 18.5 inches in diameter. Both are also barrel type and barrel type smokers. PBC’s cover is flat while WSM’s is dome type. PBC has only 1 vent at the bottom while WSM has 4, 1 of which is on top and remains open. PBC and WSM have the same size of charcoal chamber, the only difference is that WSM has a removable ring.

The significant difference between the two is the cooking method. WSM uses top and bottom grates for cooking. PBC markets theirs as a hanging-type smoker. However, the standard set includes a grate which is still the best way to smoke pizza, seafood, shellfish and vegetables. WSM might have given in the fact that vertical smoking is also effective at one point. The brand once came out with a set of hanging rods which fits right smack at the top grate slot, but they seem to have discontinued it.

Ultimately, both products have strengths and weaknesses. Decision-making will best rely on the type of food you will most likely prepare in your cooker. Either of the two will surely be a great tool to level up your cooking skills and enjoy the outdoors even more.

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