The Best Drum Smoker? Top 9 Awesome Barrel Smoker Reviews

Do you want to upgrade your cooking skills and break into the world of grilling and smoking? Then let us introduce you to one of the most popular types of grilling equipment AKA the drum smoker.

This funny looking smoker will soon become your best friend, thanks to how quick they are to set up and easy they are to use. But the thing about them? How they slowly cook your meat with a gentle heat, producing the softest and juiciest grilled dishes to ever grace your taste buds.

Tempted? You’re in luck because in this review we’ll help you pick the best drum smoker for your needs. We’ve shortlisted 9 of the best drum smokers available and we’ll talk about how they work and why we like them so much.

This review also features a buying guide so you can decide which smoker will work best for you. Also, there’s a FAQ section for all your smoker-related queries. Spoiler alert: we even talk about how you can make your own DIY drum smoker!

If that sounds like something you’re interested in, sit back and keep reading!

9 Best Drum Smokers Comparison Chart

ImageName and FeaturesPrice
Barrel House Cooker Smoker BHC 18C

  • Includes: (1) Barrel House Cooker BHC18C, (1) Manual & Instructions Booklet, (1) Built-in Thermometer, (1) H-Frame, (1) Full Grate, (8) Meat Hooks, and (1) Accessory Wand
Weber 14-inch Smokey Mountain Cooker, Charcoal Smoker

  • Your purchase includes: One Weber 14-inch Smokey Mountain Cooker, Charcoal Smoker + Cover
Char-Broil 19202089 Barrel Drum Smoker, Black
  • Unique airflow control system and sealed lid allows for precise temperature management
EasyGoProducts Big Bad Barrel Pit Charcoal Barbeque 5 in 1 Can be Used as a Smoker...
  • 🔥🥩🍗 multi-function - our 5 in 1 barrel gives much more than meets the eye! It can be used as a Table to set down any item, an independent fire pit for winter, a BBQ pit with an adjustable cooking rack to manage the desired cooking temperature for meat or pizza, adjustable barrel Height for child safety, and the option to hang your meat as the perfect grill smoker.
Realcook Charcoal BBQ Smoker Grill - 20 Inch Vertical Smoker for Outdoor Cooking...
  • [MULTI-LAYERED DESIGN] - Thanks to the latch locking system,Realcook water smoker can be used as a fire pit for cold weather, an adjustable barrel grill for grilling, steaming, baking, braising, roasting, two different heights of bbq charcoal grills for meats and as a smoker for smoking.
Char-Broil Bullet Charcoal Smoker, 16'
  • 370 sq in cooking surface across 2 porcelain-coated cooking grates
Dyna-Glo Signature Series DGSS1382VCS-D Heavy-Duty Vertical Offset Charcoal Smoker &...
  • Features five chrome-plated cooking grates and a total cooking space of 1382 square inches
Cuisinart COS-118 Vertical 18' Charcoal Smoker
  • Two 18" stainless steel racks provide 510 square inches of cooking space
Gateway 55 Gallon Drum Smoker

Why Choose a Drum Smoker?

There are loads of reasons why you should get a drum or a barrel smoker. For starters, they are much easier to use, so they’re a good choice for someone just beginning to grapple with smoking and grilling. They are also easy to assemble and the temperature control is off the charts.

These are just a few more reasons why we love drum smokers.


These smokers are just used for grilling meat. You can also use them to cook on with regular pots. They can also be used for making pizzas and other flatbreads. Moreover, you can easily use a drum smoker for steamed fish and vegetables.

Convenient Storage:

If you don’t have a lot of extra storage space, it is worth looking into a drum smoker. First of all, vertical drum smoker design means it uses up much less space than other grilling equipment.

However, that isn’t all. Compared to other smokers, drum smokers have very few additional attachments and accessories. Also, these smokers usually come with all the other accessories you need, so there’s no need to buy them separately.

Reliable and Fast:

These smokers are designed to be heavy and won’t break down easily.  This means you can use one for ages without needing repairs or some kind of replacement.

Also, they work reasonably quickly and retain heat very well. This means the temperature won’t fluctuate often and you won’t need to babysit your smoker. All you need to do is set the temperature and let the smoker work its magic!

The Best Drum Smokers: Our Favorites

In a hurry? These drum smokers have been shortlisted as our absolute favorites from the list.

  1. Editor’s Pick: Barrel House 18C Cooker Smoker
  2. Runner Up: Weber Smokey Mountain 14-inch Cooker & Charcoal Smoker
  3. Best Multipurpose Drum Smoker: Big Bad Barrel Pit Charcoal Barbeque
  4. Best Heavy-Duty Drum Smoker: RealCook Vertical Steel Charcoal Smoker

Top 9 Best Drum Smokers in 2020

Without beating around the bush anymore, here are the top picks for the best drum smokers available right now. With these smokers, your summer will be one long weekend full of fun grilling and delicious cookouts!

01. Barrel House 18C Cooker Smoker (Editor’s Pick)

Barrel House Cooker Smoker BHC 18C
  • Includes: (1) Barrel House Cooker BHC18C, (1) Manual & Instructions Booklet, (1) Built-in Thermometer, (1) H-Frame, (1) Full Grate, (8) Meat Hooks, and (1) Accessory Wand
  • Fast Results: Cooks at 275˚- 310˚F, a competition proven alternative to “Low & Slow" for faster cooking with incredible results.The detachable base makes lighting and clean-up a breeze, increases portability, and provides the option to use it as a hibachi grill. Small Footprint, Lightweight: The cooker is patio friendly as it maximizes cooking space with the vertical hanging method. It only weights 45 pounds which makes it easy to strap into the back of a truck.
  • 8 lbs. of Charcoal, 6+ Hours of Burn Time: This cooker uses 8 lbs. of charcoal briquettes, which can burn for 6+ hours without fussing over it. Wood chunks and chips can be added to the charcoal for additional flavor, and lump can be used understanding that it burns hotter and faster.
  • 40% Shorter Cook Times than Most Smokers: Shorter cook times than most smokers means that you won’t have to wait as long to enjoy the fruits of your effort.
  • High-Quality Materials: The Barrel House Cooker is built to last with a 20 gauge metal barrel that is porcelain enameled inside and out, has stainless steel components, traditional wire type handles, and a non-abrasive stand. USA Jobs: Barrel House barrel cookers are assembled at a USA manufacturing company with over 60 years with outstanding products and service.

If speed is your priority, this is the drum smoker you want. It is a great alternative to the ‘low and slow’ method and works at 275˚- 310˚F, cooking your meat more quickly but making sure it stays nice and tender. Moreover, it has a 40% shorter cook time compared to other drum smokers.

This is an amazing smoker and comes with meat hooks, a cooking grate and H-frame, a built-in thermometer, and an accessory wand. Also, it is pretty compact and lightweight and will fit perfectly in a smaller patio.

But there’s more! It can burn 8lbs of charcoal at a time and can burn for up to 6 hours without needing human intervention. You can also add wood chips to add flavor or kick the temperature up a notch.

The design is also flawless, making this smoker extremely durable. The inside and outside are made from porcelain enamel, while the other components are made from stainless steel and the stand is non-abrasive.

Product Information:

  • Dimensions: 18 x 24.5 x 35.5 inches
  • Weight: 44 pounds
  • Manufacturer: Barrel House Cooker


  • Easy to put together.
  • 40% faster cooking time.
  • Excellent heat retention and temperature control.
  • Easy to use and clean up.
  • Solid and long-lasting design.
  • A detachable base lets you use it like a Hibachi grill.


  • The lid doesn’t fit tightly but you can seal it shut with vise grips.

Why We Recommend It:

This is perhaps the best drum smoker for sale right now. It is very durable and the porcelain-enameled surface is resistant to rusting and scratches. You won’t have to check up on the smoker every few minutes, giving you more time to do other things. And your meat will be cooked much faster, so you can serve your hungry guests faster.

02. Weber Smokey Mountain 14-inch Cooker & Charcoal Smoker (Runner Up)

Weber 14-inch Smokey Mountain Cooker, Charcoal Smoker
  • Your purchase includes: One Weber 14-inch Smokey Mountain Cooker, Charcoal Smoker + Cover
  • Item overall dimensions: 14.7" W x 14.7" D x 31.4" H. Item weight: 24 lbs
  • Cooking Grid Dimensions 13 1/2 X 13 1/2". Main Grilling Area 143 Sq. Inches. Total Grilling Area 286 Sq. Inches
  • Easy assembly required, instructions avaialable in User Guide attachment.
  • Weber Smokey Mountain Cooker reaches approximadetely 190°F inside temperature

Weber smokers don’t need any introduction. This capsule-sized smoker is perfect if you want to feed a small crowd. It is very light and you can still fit a medium-sized turkey in it.

This upright barrel smoker is great for slow cooking as it reaches a temperature of 190F. It is also easy to assemble and the cooker comes with an instruction manual. Also, there is an in-built thermometer on the lid, so you can easily keep track of the temperature.

Moreover, it has plated-steel cooking grates that are sturdy and long-lasting. The rust-resistant metal rungs support the body of the smoker and won’t sink into soft ground. It cooks extremely well and your meat will be soft and flavorful, no matter what.

Product Information:

  • Dimensions: 31.4 x 14.75 x 14.75 inches
  • Weight: 23 pounds
  • Manufacturer: Weber


  • Easy to assemble and use.
  • Solid heat retention and the vents provide great temperature control.
  • Versatile and can be used for grilling and barbecuing.
  • Size if perfect for smaller families.


  • The extra parts can rust when not maintained.

Why We Recommend It:

The Smokey Mountain cooker is more than your run-of-the-mill drum smoker. It has vents that can be opened or closed to control the temperatures. The compact size makes storage and transport easy, and it is perfect for people with smaller backyards.

It is also very easy to use and you can convert it to a grill with just a few minor tweaks. The slow cooking and low temperature ensure your grilled ribs and steaks are fork-tender and falling off the bone!

03. Char-Broil Barrel Drum Smoker

Char-Broil 19202089 Barrel Drum Smoker, Black
  • Unique airflow control system and sealed lid allows for precise temperature management
  • Cooking grate and meat hangers enable a custom smoking setup
  • Oversized charcoal basket holds enough fuel for all-day smoking
  • Removable ash pan and porcelain-coated components make clean-up easy
  • Heavy-gauge steel construction ensures durability you can trust

If you’ve seen one too many Oklahoma Joe’s Bronco Drum Smoker reviews, you know this smoker is worth every penny you spend.

It controls the temperature in a pretty unique way–through a special airflow system and a sealed lid. Also, it has a cooking grate and meat hangers that help you customize your smoking set up. Our favorite part is the oversized charcoal basket; which holds enough to keep this smoker going the whole day.

Cleanup is easy too, in part because of the porcelain-coated components, but mainly due to the removable ash pan.  

This smoker will last you for years as the design and construction are made from high quality and long-lasting materials. The heavy-gauge steel frame is a guarantee that the smoker won’t need replacing any time soon.

Product Information:

  • Dimensions: 30.28 x 25.35 x 43.3 inches
  • Weight: 136.6 pounds
  • Manufacturer: CHAR-BROIL


  • Maintaining temperature is easy.
  • Cleanup is simple and convenient.
  • Customized smoking set up is possible.
  • Oversized charcoal basket lets your smoker burn for hours.
  • Heavy-duty rubber handle grips keep your hands from burning.


  • The temperature gauge isn’t always exactly accurate.

Why We Recommend It:

Grilling equipment that looks like the Bronco Drum Smoker is always a crowd-pleaser because of the attractive design and sturdy construction. This one is no different and is especially popular because you can decide exactly what the setup will look like.

Unlike many other smokers, you won’t have to deal with a mess afterward, as cleanup is made nice and simple. Since it needs very little supervision, you can relax and enjoy yourself while the smoker works its magic. With this smoker, your cookouts will be the talk of the town!

04. Big Bad Barrel Pit Charcoal Barbeque (Best Multipurpose Drum Smoker)

EasyGoProducts Big Bad Barrel Pit Charcoal Barbeque 5 in 1 Can be Used as a Smoker...
  • 🔥🥩🍗 multi-function - our 5 in 1 barrel gives much more than meets the eye! It can be used as a Table to set down any item, an independent fire pit for winter, a BBQ pit with an adjustable cooking rack to manage the desired cooking temperature for meat or pizza, adjustable barrel Height for child safety, and the option to hang your meat as the perfect grill smoker.
  • 🔥🥩 Portable – unlike solid barrels our 2 piece barrel can be dismantled to make easy for transport. A large barrel cannot fit into cars and a truck is necessary. Ours can be transported in most cars and all SUV; s along with trucks. This makes it very convenient for use at parties, Tailgating, beaches and parks. Quick and easy assembly and storage. Plan on 1-1. 5 hours of assemble to set-up the big bad barrel. Packaged for better shipping with extra padding there will not be any damage in ship
  • 🔥🥩🍗 beginner or Pro - Whether you’re a Pro with smokers and grills or just getting started, the Big bad barrel comes equipped with 6 stainless Steel hooks, 3 utensils, an independent charcoal pit, and standard stainless steel grilling rack. Enjoy cooking with pork ribs, hamburgers, fish and specialty meats.
  • 🔥🥩🍗 cooking time – the Big bad barrel heats consistently to 225 degrees which is the optimum temperature for smoking. Temperature Can be Adjusted with the top vent on the lid. The consistent temperature throughout the barrel creates wonderfully evenly cooked meats. Meats are usually smoked from 2-6 hours depending on the thickness and style of meat.

If you’re like half the population, you hate buying equipment with just one job. This gigantic barrel smoker grill does a whole host of things besides smoking meat. It has a 5-in1 function where you can use it as a smoker, BBQ, pizza oven, an independent pit fire for warming yourself, and even as a table to serve food on!

But that’s not all. Although it looks hefty and intimidating, this smoker can be dismantled completely, making transport simple. Furthermore, it is easy to use and anyone can have a go at it, beginner or pro.

It comes with lots of accessories that come in handy. These include a separate charcoal pit, stainless steel hooks, 3 utensils, and a grilling rack. Last but not least, this smoker heats to 225 degrees which is the optimum temperature for smoking and grilling.

Product Information:

  • Dimensions: 20.25 x 18.25 x 20.25 inches
  • Weight: 45.3 pounds
  • Manufacturer: EasyGo Products


  • Infuses meat with a wonderful flavor.
  • Versatile and multipurpose.
  • Easy to assemble and use.
  • Includes lots of useful accessories.
  • Convenient to transport and carry.


  • Directions aren’t very clear.

Why We Recommend It:

This smoker is amazing because of its versatility. It lets you have a huge and fabulous spread–you can have a BBQ, steaks, ribs, and pizzas all for the same meal. Besides that, this smoker is very easy to take apart, clean, and store once you’re done with it.

The extra accessories are extremely useful and make food preparation much simpler. Also, the sturdy design means you can use the smoker for decades to come. All in all, you can’t really go wrong with this one.

05. RealCook Vertical Steel Charcoal Smoker (Best Heavy-Duty Drum Smoker)

Realcook Charcoal BBQ Smoker Grill - 20 Inch Vertical Smoker for Outdoor Cooking...
  • [MULTI-LAYERED DESIGN] - Thanks to the latch locking system,Realcook water smoker can be used as a fire pit for cold weather, an adjustable barrel grill for grilling, steaming, baking, braising, roasting, two different heights of bbq charcoal grills for meats and as a smoker for smoking.
  • [SPECIAL BOTTOM VENT DESIGN] - Built-in thermometer, Realcook charcoal smoker with special bottom damper and ash collector, which is easy to control the bottom air flow to maintain a steady temperature inside the smoker,easily removes the ash cup and dumps ashes in seconds.
  • [PROTABLE & EASY ASSEMBLY] - Unlike integral barrel smoker, Realcook portable smoker can be easily disassemble to 4 parts that merely take a small cube in most of the car trunk. It only takes 30-45 minutes to install and is suitable for party,park,beach,backyard.
  • [LARGE CAPACITY] - Featured 969 square inches cooking surface with 2 cooking racks, Realcook vertical smoker accommodates large cuts of meat or slab of ribs for smoking and tall enough for hanging large turkeys, chickens and other food with 4 hangers inside the lid.
  • [2 ACCESS DOOR DESIGN] - Realcook wood smoker featured 2 access doors is more flexible to check the status of foods and add charcoal or wood without removing the whole layer to avoid losing heat.The porcelain-enameled water pan captures smoker and moisture for infusing smokey flavor into your meat.

Need a heavy-duty vertical drum smoker that will possibly last until the end of time? You’ve come to the right place! It has a latch-locking system so you can use this water smoker as a fire pit, a regular barrel grill, a BBQ grill, and a smoker.

Also, this steel drum smoker can easily be disassembled in 4 parts and also takes up a small space in storage. It is very easy to use and maintain the temperature because of the special bottom damper which keeps the heat levels steady.

There are 2 access doors, which makes it easier to check up on the food or add more coal to the fire without losing heat. The water pan also helps add an intense smokey flavor to your meat.

Product Information:

  • Dimension: 24.8 x 20.67 x 41.34 inches
  • Weight: 35.2 pounds
  • Manufacturer: RealCook


  • The Latch-locking system makes the smoker versatile.
  • Easy to assemble and store.
  • Two access doors making cooking more convenient.
  • Food will have an amazing smokey flavor.
  • Large cooking capacity.
  • The bottom damper makes temperature control easy.
  • Ash collector means cleanup is pretty simple.


  • Not as sturdy as some would like it to be.
  • Temperature can be lower than ideal.

Why We Recommend It:

The water pan in this smoker adds a new dimension to the cooking process. It keeps the temperature stable and imparts a lovely flavor to the meat. Besides this, we liked how easy this smoker is to put together and take apart.

The large surface means you can cook bigger cuts of meat on the smoker. Cleanup is also simple, thanks to the ash collector at the bottom. While it isn’t much to look at, this is the best ugly drum smoker design in terms of performance and function.

06. Char-Broil Bullet Charcoal Smoker

Char-Broil Bullet Charcoal Smoker, 16"
  • 370 sq in cooking surface across 2 porcelain-coated cooking grates
  • Innovative airflow control system simplifies temperature regulation, featuring numbered damper settings
  • Porcelain-coated body for lasting durability, and removable ash pan for quick and easy cleanup
  • Two chamber-lift handles and lid-mounted temperature gauge
  • Formed fire access door seals the smoke chamber and steel tube legs offer a conveniently accessible height

This charcoal smoker uses an innovative airflow system that makes temperature control simple. It also has numbered damper settings to keep the temperature steady. The 370 square feet size makes it medium-sized and enough to feed a small crowd.

Moreover, the smoker’s body is coated with porcelain, making it sturdy and long-lasting. It also has a removable ash pan for quick cleaning. There are two chamber-lift handles and a lid-mounted temperature gauge for your convenience.

There’s also a nice little feature you don’t always see in smokers–the steel tube legs give the smoker doors an accessible height so you won’t have to stoop or bend to access them. This is particularly useful if you have back or joint issues and can’t keep bending down to check on the grill every couple of minutes.

Product Information:

  • Dimensions: 21.2 x 23 x 37.6 inches
  • Weight: 16.5 pounds
  • Manufacturer: Char-Broil


  • Sturdy design and long-lasting performance.
  • Great temperature control.
  • Easy cleanup and assembly.
  • Gives your meat a flavor boost.


  • The water pan is too close to the grate.

Why We Recommend It:

If you like your smokers simple and don’t care about extra features or accessories, you might like this Char-Broil drum. It is very easy to use and people new to smoking will find it easy to handle.

Moreover, the smoker has great construction and will work for a long time. The easy to manage temperature control, access to the coals, and lower heat ensure your meat will be soft and flavorful. You certainly won’t regret bringing this smoker home!

07. Dyna-Glo Signature Vertical Offset Charcoal Smoker & Grill

Dyna-Glo Signature Series DGSS1382VCS-D Heavy-Duty Vertical Offset Charcoal Smoker &...
  • Features five chrome-plated cooking grates and a total cooking space of 1382 square inches
  • Heavy-Gauge Steel Body Construction. The temperature gauge features a smoke zone which indicates the ideal temperatures for infusing the perfect amount for smoking flavor. Also, the cool to touch handles, allow you to access fuel and food safely.
  • Cool-touch spring lid grip provides safer access to food
  • Stainless temperature gauge with "Smoke Zone" indicates the ideal temperature for infusing smoke flavor
  • Oversized steel wheels for mobility before and after use

Some people really like their grilling equipment fancy and expensive-looking. If you’re one of those folks, this glossy black smoker will be a beauty to you.

But it’s more than just a pretty face. It has a huge cooking surface (1382 square inches to be exact) and includes five chrome-plated cooking grates. Furthermore, the overall construction of this smoker is heavy and durable.

More importantly, the temperature gauge includes a smoke zone which lets you know the perfect temperatures for infusing the perfect level of smoking flavor.

Besides that, it has hooks, cool to touch handles and a spring lid that gives you safer access to your food. They make cooking easy and fuss-free. There are also oversized wheels that make movement effortless. All in all, this smoker is worth every penny!

Product Information:

  • Dimensions: 45.5 x 24.9 x 58.8 inches
  • Weight: 124.3 pounds
  • Manufacturer: Dyna-Glo


  • Sturdy packaging and design.
  • Easy to move because of the wheels.
  • Easy to use and put together.
  • Attractive design and appearance.
  • Smoke zones give the food the perfect temperature for smokiness.


  • Rather expensive.

Why We Recommend It:

This smoker is perfect for people who are always chasing that classic steakhouse flavor in their meat. Also, it is very safe to use, thanks to the cool to touch spring handles. The ash pan makes cleanup less of a mess. But the smoke zone on the temperature gauge is perhaps the best thing about this smoker. It works as both a smoker and a grill, so you’ll have the best of both worlds. In short, it is one of the best drum grills for sale.

08. Cuisinart Vertical 18″ Charcoal Smoker

Cuisinart COS-118 Vertical 18" Charcoal Smoker
  • Two 18" stainless steel racks provide 510 square inches of cooking space
  • Porcelain enamel water bowl. Dimensions- 22 L x 24 W x 43 H inches
  • Top and bottom vents provide a dual air vent system
  • Latching base
  • Vertically hinged door.MC Cubic Feet: 5.54

Cuisinart kitchen and cooking equipment are bound to be hit everywhere. This smoker is no different; it has a sort of ingenious simplicity. It has a reasonably large surface for cooking and 2 18-inch stainless steel racks for grilling.

It also includes a porcelain water pan that keeps the temperature of the smoker constant and on the lower side. This lets the food cook slowly at an even temperature, resulting in perfectly tender meat. There are 2 sets of vents, one on the top and one on the bottom, giving you better control of the temperature.

Furthermore, assembly is made easy because of the latching base so you can easily take it apart. This smoker is vertical and won’t take up much space, either in your backyard when grilling, or when you need to store it in your garage.

Product Information:

  • Dimensions: 25 x 25 x 45 inches
  • Weight: 25 pounds
  • Manufacturer: Cuisinart


  • Two air vents give you better temperature control.
  • Two tiers of racks give you more cooking space.
  • Produces less smoke than other smokers.
  • Easy to use.


  • Not very sturdily designed.

Why We Recommend It:

If you don’t find yourself smoking often, this Cuisinart smoker should fit all your periodic grilling needs. It is quite petite so it’s convenient to store in the long run. The double sets of air vents make temperature control rather easy and overall make your grilling experience pleasant and straightforward. As long as you don’t need a heavy-duty smoker, this one will have your bases covered.

09. Gateway 55 Gallon Drum Smoker

This drum smoker is the grandmaster of all pit barrels in terms of size. These smokers have a no-nonsense design with no added frills. It looks like it means business, and that’s exactly what it does in every sense of the word.

It is huge and comes with two cooking racks that can hold an unbelievable amount of meat. However, don’t let the size intimidate you–it is perfectly fine as a home smoker. In fact, your guests will be unable to look away.

Moreover, you can smoke lots of sausages and store them for the rest of the year. It is also perfect for hosting the next neighborhood cookout or family reunion.

It is pretty versatile and you can use it for smoking different kinds of meats, as well as BBQing ribs, or even roasting turkeys and an entire pig. Maintaining the temperature is a breeze since all you need to do is open the vents a quarter of an inch to keep the heat at 275F and about ½-inch for 300F.

Another interesting thing to note is that a basket of charcoal burns long enough to cook a gigantic brisket completely. This means you won’t need to fuss with the fire while the smoker does its thing.

Product Details:

  • Dimensions: 49 x 48 x 40 inches
  • Weight: 144 pounds
  • Manufacturer: Gateway


  • Easy to maintain the perfect temperature.
  • Versatile and can handle most meats.
  • Huge cooking capacity.
  • Simple and straightforward design.


  • Rather expensive.
  • Not easy to store or move because of the sheer size.

Why We Recommend It:

This smoker was meant for people who like their grilling equipment huge and functional. It has a very simple design because it has one function and focuses wholly on that. You will find it handy if you have to grill often and for very large crowds of people.

This smoker is particularly popular among people who are very comfortable with using any kind of smoker. If you’re a pro or approaching professional-level smoking skills, you’ll have a good time with the Gateway smoker!

Choosing the Best Drum Smoker

After seeing all these wonderful pit barrel smoker reviews, there’s a good chance you’re feeling rattled and unsure which one to buy. Remember, just because a smoker sounds cool on paper, doesn’t mean it will be the right fit for you in real life.

But no need to worry! We’re here with this buying guide that will point you in the right direction. When buying a barrel smoker, keep this factor in mind before making a final decision.

Ease of Use:

This is perhaps the most important factor when choosing a drum smoker. You don’t want a smoker that looks good but is a nightmare to use. If you haven’t smoked or grilled much in the past, make sure you something that won’t overwhelm you.

For beginners, the Big Bad Barrel Pit Charcoal Barbeque is always a good choice because it is both versatile and easy to use. You can also consider the Cuisinart Vertical 18″ Charcoal Smoker which is pretty simple to get used to.

On the other hand, if you’re more of a grilling old-timer, Gateway 55 Gallon Drum Smoker or the Weber Smokey Mountain Charcoal Smoker are solid options.


Not all smokers function the same way. Many can be used to baste, fry, and even bake food.

Want a multipurpose drum smoker that you can use for things besides grilling? Try the Big Bad Barrel Pit Charcoal Barbeque as it has 5 functions rolled into one sturdy device. The Weber Smokey Mountain Cooker also works as both a water smoker and a grill.

On the other hand, if you prefer keeping things simple and want your smoker to just smoke your meat, the Gateway Smoker will be a better fit for you.


This will depend on where you want to get your smoking done and how much storage space you have. If you have a huge backyard or plan on using your drum smoker at an outdoor campsite, you go for the bigger ones. For instance, the Barrel House 18C Cooker Smoker and the Gateway Smoker are perfect for people with lots of space.

But if you have a small backyard and not much storage space, the Cuisinart Vertical 18″ Charcoal Smoker is a much better choice as it is a little smaller.

Temperature Control:

Different smokers have different ways of managing the temperature the inside of the grill will reach. Some can reach very high temperatures, while others stay on the lower side. Also, water smokers release the heat very slowly, cooking the meat at a slightly lower temperature for a long time.

If you want a shorter cook time, you can get the Barrel House 18C Cooker Smoker. On the other hand, if you want a water smoker, this Weber Smokey Mountain Cooker is great for slow-cooked and ultra-tender meat.

Airflow is also important when it comes to managing the temperatures of your smoker. The Char-Broil Bullet Charcoal Smoker has great airflow design that helps keep the heat levels and the internal temperature of your meat steady.

Using a Drum Smoker:

In case you’ve never had any hands-on experience running a smoker, you might be feeling pretty spooked by them. But we’re here to show you the ropes and how using a drum smoker is simple. You’ll become a grilling pro in no time at all!

  • Set up your smoker in a well-ventilated spot outdoors and assemble it.
  • Place your charcoal in the charcoal basket and light them up. How much you need depends on the size of the meal you’re cooking.
  • Once your charcoal briquettes are blazing, open the top vent of the smoker. While the meat cooks, you can open or close them to adjust the temperature.
  • Start cooking your meat. For a more pronounced sear, keep the charcoal grate closer to the meat. Keep it further away if you want some mild browning. Wait 10-15 minutes for the grilling rack to reach the target temperature before putting your meat on it.
  • Close the lid and let the smoker slowly cook your meat through. If you think the temperature is getting too high or low, adjust the vents. You can also add charcoal to your fire while cooking if necessary.

FAQ (Frequently Asked Questions)

If you’ve still fit questions about your smoker, keep reading because we’ll answer them here.

01. How Do Drum Smokers Work?

The science behind drum smokers is pretty simple. The heat from the burning charcoals heats the air inside the smoker. This hot air rises and slowly cooks the meat before escaping through the vent on top. As this hot air rises, it draws in more air through the bottom vent, continuing the cooking process.

02. Can I Make a Drum Smoker at Home?

Yes, DIY drum smokers are totally a thing and you can make them right at home.

  • Start with a 55-gallon barrel or drum. You can use these with a 22-inch grill rack easily.
  • Divide the circumference of the drum into 3 sections. Mark these spots for the locations of your holes for your rack bolts.
  • Drill holes into these sections, install bolts and nuts on the inside, weld the nuts and paint over them to prevent rusting. Then, remove the bolts and re-tap the nuts.
  • Next drill holes into the lid. Fashion a handle and attach it to the holes securely.
  • Make a charcoal basket. You can easily fashion one by drilling 1/2-inch diameter holes into a steel pan. Or just use a charcoal pan from another smoker that will fit in your barrel.
  • Separate the cooking area from the charcoal basket by getting a terracotta bottom from a planter. Wrap it in foil and place it on the grill rack.
  • To control the temperature, you can drill in the vent holes at the top and bottom of your barrel. For more precise temperature management, you can use an ATC device that will have a heat probe and will turn on an internal fan when things get too hot.
  • Customize your smoker. You can paint flames or whatever you want on the barrel to add your own personal touch to it.

03. How Can I Clean My Smoker?

It is best to clean your smoker after every use. Regular cleaning and maintenance will keep your smoker working for a lot longer. Remove the ashes as soon as your smoker has cooled. Wipe spilled marinade with a damp, warm cloth.

Use a bristle brush and grill cleaner to clean the cooking rack. You should also use a spatula or scraper to buff off bits of burnt food from the grates.

04. Do I Need to Season My Smoker?

Seasoning your smoker is the best way to get satisfactory cooking results every time.

Coat the entire inside of the smoker with a neutral oil that has a high smoke point. You can use vegetable, canola, or grapeseed oil.

Fill the charcoal basket and light it up. Make sure all the vents are fully open.

Allow the heat to reach 275-300F for 2-3 hours. This will season your smoker completely and cure the paint.

Let your smoker cool down completely after seasoning before you use it for cooking.

05. Which is The Best Beginner’s Smoker?

For beginners, the Weber Smokey Mountain is perhaps the best bet. It is small in size, easy to use, and perfect for someone looking to experiment with smokers. As you get comfortable with your smoker, you can move onto bigger and more complicated designs.

Wrapping Up

Anyone can tell you that biting into a tender brisket can be an almost life-altering moment. And what better way can you make perfectly delicate meats than a smoker?

The best drum smoker can be a major game-changer in the way you cook and prep meat. With the smokers mentioned on this list, you can roast, grill, and smoke everything under the sun to your heart’s content.

With summer here, get yourself a smoker and host your very own weekend cookout. Your friends and family will love you and your taste buds will thank you for it! Have you picked the drum smoker you want to try out?

We will be happy to hear your thoughts

Leave a reply