Drum smokers a new and popular trend that provides a unique flavor to your food and thick smoke that drowns out the competition.
They are easy to use and inexpensive, so you don’t have to worry about breaking the bank on something that isn’t last forever like most other grills today.
Drum smokers combine the best features of other charcoal smokers with a cool-looking appearance.
They go by many names, such as Ugly Drum Smokers, Barrel Smokers, UDS, Barrel Cookers,…
When you think of drum smokers, you might think of something that doesn’t meet your standards. You might think it’s ugly and not something you would want in your backyard or outdoor kitchen.
But this is not true! Drum smokers are incredibly useful in the backyard and can help you cook some tasty food even when you’re on your own.
Today, I have taken the time to review the 6 best drum smokers on the market to help you find the best option that meets your needs.
Let’s dive in!
This post may contain affiliate links, which means we’ll receive a commission if you purchase through our link, at no extra cost to you.
What is the best drum smoker?
The best drum smoker is versatile, simple, and easy to use, making them ideal for anyone ranging from a BBQ novice to a competition BBQ pro.
Here are my top 6 picks of the best drum smokers to buy this year:
1. Best Overall: 18.5″ Classic Pit Barrel Cooker
2. Oklahoma Joe’s Bronco Drum Charcoal Smoker
3. Gateway 55 Gallon Drum Smoker
4. Best for pit competition: Oklahoma Joe’s Bronco Pro Drum Smoker
5. Barrel House BHC 18C
6. Best Affordable: Big Bad Barrel Pit Drum Smoker
1. 18.5″ Classic Pit Barrel Cooker
The 18.5″ Classic Pit Barrel Cooker is a great way to grill and smoke all of your food. It comes with a stainless steel charcoal basket and an aluminum grill pan.
The oval shape provides consistent heat distribution and helps quickly break down tough foods into tender perfection!
This 3-in-1 cooker has plenty of room, allowing a whole pig, brisket, or big roasts to be cooked. It can cook twice as much as a regular horizontal cooker for a small fraction of the price.
With the 3 optional accessory packages, you can make any dish.
This classic pit-barrel cooker includes:
- 30 Gallon Steel Drum
- 8 Stainless Steel Hooks
- 2 Steel Hanging Rods
- Charcoal Basket
- Standard Grill Grate
- A Wooden Hook Remover
- 3-Point Barrel Stand
- 5 oz. All-Purpose Pit Rub
- 5oz Beef & Game Pit Rub
The Pit Barrel Cooker is made with a finish made of high-quality porcelain enamel, which means it’s a durable and versatile piece of cookware designed to withstand the rigors of outdoor grilling.
This is a great feature when you’re out grilling for hours on end and need the equipment to last through hundreds of uses.
It also comes with handles on the side that make it easy to lift and transport—a big bonus when you’re trying to move between parties in different parts of the city.
2. Oklahoma Joe’s Bronco Drum Charcoal Smoker
With a movable cooking grate and additional meat hangers, you can easily create your ideal smoking setup with the Oklahoma Joe’s Bronco Drum Smoker.
The sealed lid ensures consistent heat throughout the smoky process, while the airflow control system works with the removable ash pan to lock in tasty flavor for hours.
If you want to grill or smoke more than one thing at a time, this smoker is versatile enough to do it without additional parts.
Its large charcoal basket holds enough charcoal for all-day smoking, and once you’re done, clean-up is easy with the removable ash pan and porcelain-coated components.
The unique airflow control system and sealed lid allow for precise temperature management. This means you can always get the perfect amount of smoke flavor on your food, no matter what time of day or night you’re cooking.
The porcelain-coated steel cooking grates and meat hangers enable a custom smoking setup, so you can ensure that every piece of meat is cooked perfectly—even if it’s just for one person!
The oversized, eight-pound charcoal basket holds enough fuel for over 10 hours of smoking time, so there’s no need to refill it every few hours.
The removable ash pan and porcelain-coated components make clean-up easy, while heavy-gauge steel construction ensures durability you can trust.
With its large wheels and wagon-style design, this smoker is easy to move around your backyard or patio, so you can barbecue whenever you want—even if it’s not raining outside!
Plus, the rubber handle grip is easy to grab and stays cool to the touch, making this smoker portable and easy to carry around.
Finally, this smoker also easily converts into a charcoal grill for added versatility, so you can use it as a smoker grill combo anytime and anywhere.
3. Gateway 55 Gallon Drum Smoker
Gateway Drum Smoker sets the bar for charcoal smokers, offering quality at an unbeatable price. This efficient design is easy to use and delivers flavor you’ll love with every cook.
The smoker’s unique design creates more space for smoke and heat to circulate, so smoke rises directly to the food, which ensures that all sides of your meat or vegetables get a nice smoked brown color.
Plus, you can cook at temperatures between 250 – 325 degrees to get the most vaporization, which, combined with smoke, has a strong tenderizing effect.
This affordable BBQ grill and drum smoker is perfect for any backyard chef!
The Gateway Drum Smoker has three cooking levels to accommodate your needs.
The plated steel cooking grate (22″) makes it easy to cook various foods.
The removable high-capacity fire basket allows you to easily add wood chips, charcoal briquettes, or wood chunks.
The lid hook inside the grill lid makes it simple to lock in food while enjoying the aroma of a delicious meal wafting through your backyard.
The fixed center-mounted 3″ Custom Dial Thermometer 50°–500°F helps you monitor the internal temperature accurately without having to open the lid.
Two welded air-adjustable intake pipes make it easy to adjust airflow as needed.
The removable Caster Wheel Kit allows easy mobility. An air-adjusting exhaust pipe provides great smoke flavor by allowing hot gases to escape from beneath your smoker so that nothing burns up in flames!
Two welded steel handles make moving this smoker from place to place easy—especially if it’s raining outside!
This smoker is ready for use when fully assembled, with all accessories included!
4. Oklahoma Joe’s Bronco Pro Drum Smoker
The Oklahoma Joe’s Bronco Pro Smoker has everything you need to take the pit to the next level. With a durable stainless steel design, the capacity to cook up to 40 lbs of meat at once, precision temperature control, and customization options, this is the ultimate BBQ drum smoker for professionals.
This smoker has an oversized charcoal basket that can hold enough fuel for over 15 hours of smoking time. This means you can get a delicious rack of ribs ready in no time.
The unique airflow control system provides consistent and precise control over smoking temps. With a barrel-mounted temperature gauge with glow-in-the-dark accents, you can know exactly what’s happening when it comes to your smoker, keeping your food at the right temperature and preventing flare-ups.
The hinged lid with gasket for a tight seal and rubber handle grip is easy-to-grab and stays cool to the touch, while the large wheels make it easy to move around your campsite or garage without hassle.
It also has a hinged lid with a gasket for a tight seal, a cool-to-the-touch rubber handle grip, and a nameplate for custom team graphics.
Plus, its large wheels make it easy to move around while you’re preparing your food.
Finally, this smoker includes a large ash pan, porcelain-coated components, and a drain cap so you can easily clean up at competitions without worrying about damaging anything inside or outside of the unit itself (which could lead to unnecessary damage in your case).
5. Barrel House BHC 18C
If you’re looking for a small, convenient smoker for the backyard, look no further than the Barrel House Cooker 18C. Its high-quality construction and simple design make it the ideal companion for outdoor cooking adventures, and it only takes up 18-inches of space. Since this barrel smoker cooks hot and fast, you’ll get a lot of juicy, flavorful barbecue in 40% less time than traditional smokers.
The barrel cooker has a cooking capacity of up to 8 racks of ribs, 4 chickens, 15 lbs brisket, or a 30-pound turkey! And if you’ve ever wanted to smoke your own meats on an open fire pit in your backyard, well, now you can!
It has an open grate that lets you quickly cook food on the grilling grates for a more traditional cooking experience while still getting simple and tasty results. The grate holds large cuts of meat with ease, such as a 15-pound pork shoulder.
This drum smoker also comes with all the tools you need to get started:
A charcoal basket that can be moved around for different cooking options.
A hibachi grill base that converts into a searing grill
An ash disposal system that lets you dump out ashes quickly and easily every time you need it.
It’s got an elevation-based setting that allows you to “hang it & forget it” for 6+ hours—all you have to do is set it and forget it!
The Barrel House Cooker 18C cooks at 275–310 degrees, making it perfect for “Low & Slow” smoking for faster results.
6. Big Bad Barrel Pit Drum Smoker
This Big Bad Barrel Pit can be used in 5 different ways, making it a unique drum smoker on the market compared to other smokers.
You can use it as:
- A table to place ingredients or utensils,
- a regular fire pit to operate independently for winter
- a BBQ smoker to cook meat pizza on its adjustable rack
- an adjustable height barrel for child safety,
- and hang the meat like any other vertical smoker.
The smoker comes with 6 hooks that allow you to hang your meats easily; utensils (for direct grilling of your meats); a cooking grate; an independent charcoal bag; and a stainless steel hook for centering food for proper cooking.
With its convenient 2-piece design and collapsible storage, you can use it at parties, tailgating, beaches, and parks. You’ll only need to spend 1-1.5 hours assembling it, so it’s perfect for any time of year.
The included 6 stainless Steel hooks, 3 utensils, an independent charcoal pit, and a standard stainless steel grilling rack, making this smoker/grill easy to use. At the same time, the independent charcoal pit also allows you to cook pork ribs or hamburgers without having to handle the food.
The high-quality stainless steel grilling rack will allow you to cook fish and other specialty meats.
The Big Bad Barrel heats consistently to 225 degrees, the optimum temperature for smoking food without burning it. This means that your meats will come out perfectly cooked no matter how long you leave them inside the smoker.
What Is A Drum Smoker?
A drum smoker is a type of barbecue smoker that is designed to smoke food using the direct heat method. This type of smoker is a great choice for anyone who likes to cook outdoors and wants to do a large amount of cooking at once.
A drum smoker is made from a steel drum, which has a hole cut so that the meat can be placed on its rack and then smoked. The rack and hooks hold the meat using gravity, providing airflow through the holes in the drum’s lid. The smoke produced by this method permeates within the barrel and into the meat being smoked.
The smoker is built in a drum shape so that it doesn’t require additional space or other equipment. The smoker is also portable, so you can move it from one location to another if you need to.
Drum Smoker Vs. Barrel Smoker: What are the differences?
Drum smokers and barrel smokers (like the Weber Smokey Mountain Cooker) are both vertical smokers, but they have a few key differences.
A barrel smoker uses a water pan (or “water bath”) to catch the drippings as they fall through the meat. The water pan is usually stainless steel and sits directly on the firebox.
A drum smoker doesn’t have a water pan because it doesn’t need one—it’s designed to smoke your food with solid and direct heat from the bottom. Barrel smokers are typically used indirect heat for smoking ribs or pork shoulders.
Drum smokers produce a stronger flavor as the meat juices drip onto your coals and are steamed back up to flavor your meat.
But barrel smokers have water pans that cover the coals, which means the juice drops can’t directly reach the flame during the cooking process.
Drum smokers have more cooking space, which is great if you plan to cook for a crowd. Barrel smokers have more limited space due to the water pan and small-size designs.
Drum smokers are more mobile and easier to move than barrel smokers. Because a barrel smoker has several assembly parts; otherwise, a drum smoker is simply a large drum that can be easily moved around.
Drum smokers work well for fast smoking thanks to the strong direct flame heat under the cooking grate or firebox.
So if you want to cook quickly and don’t have a lot of time to prepare food, drum smokers are ideal for you, it allows you to get right to work.
How Do Drum Smokers Work?
A drum smoker uses a drum-based frame and a charcoal pan placed right below it. The drum smoker can be used to smoke food, such as meats and vegetables.
The food is placed over the fire pit and filled with smoke from the charcoal pan. As the food cooks, smoke rises through the hole in the lid of the drum smoker and into the enclosure above it. This creates a smokehouse environment for cooking food.
The temperature inside a smoker can be controlled by adjusting how much air passes through each air vent to maximize heat transfer from the fire to the meat being smoked.
After cooking, you can pull out your cooked food by opening up the lid of your drum smoker.
Best Drum Smoker – Final Thoughts
The best drum smoker offers a better price than offset smokers and even grills, along with superior functionality and performance.
With their unique design, affordability, and advanced features, drum smokers present an awesome choice for many people.
There are many options out there, but these 7 options come with dependable quality, durability, and efficient cooking and have a good reputation.
It is up to you to decide which one you like best based on our reviews, top picks, pros and cons, and the best drum smokers’ reviews.