Drum smokers are more efficient than other forms of charcoal smokers, resulting in better results with less work.
Drum smokers are ideal for smoking ribs, brisket, or chicken since they have a large capacity and a quicker cooking period than most other types of smokers. Cooking a complete packer brisket in a fraction of the time is possible for certain people when using a drum to cook hot and quickly.
The Classic Pit Barrel Cooker is our go-to drum smoker if you’re short on time. The Oklahoma Joe’s Bronco Pro is bigger, has greater temperature control, and comes with a side table and wheels if you’re willing to pay a little extra.
The Best Drum Smokers of 2023
A look at some of the greatest drum smokers currently available. Whether you’re looking for DIY drum smoker kits or custom-made drum smokers, we’ve got plenty of options.
1. Best Overall – 18.5″ Classic Pit Barrel Cooker
The most popular item Our favorite drum smoker is the 18.5″ Classic Pit Barrel. With the Pit Barrel Cooker Company’s “set it and forget it” drum smoker, the veteran-owned US company lays a strong focus on convenience.
Porcelain-enameled interiors and a sturdy 18-gauge stainless steel construction provide consistent quality and ease of cleaning on every use. There’s no need to clean the inside; just dump your ash and call it good.
When you get your Pit Barrel, all you have to do is connect the handles and you’re ready to start smoking.
Follow the directions and fire up your drum smoker without any complicated gauges or controls. You can even smoke up to eight racks of ribs at a once, which is perfect for parties with friends and family.
Many other attachments are available, including turkey hangers, corn holders, and hinged grate options.
This drum smoker’s 360-degree All-Round Heat Dynamics gives you with unequaled flavor, with the fluids from the meat falling over your coals and generating extremely soft meat with that trademark smokey taste.. Among the many reasons why this drum smoker is our top pick is its outstanding simplicity of use, setup, and enormous capacity, all at a very cheap price..
You may also upgrade to the 22.5′′ PBX if you need additional room.
What we like:
- An excellent alternative for both novice and expert users because of its basic design
- Durable 18-gauge stainless steel with a porcelain enamel finish provides a high level of construction quality.
- Getting this unit up and running is a breeze. There are no complicated instructions and it’s ready to use out of the box.
- Large capacity can handle 8 racks of ribs comfortably.
- The ash can be emptied and you’re done with the cleaning process. There is no need to rinse after using this product.
What we don’t like:
- Horseshoe handles look nice, but watch out for the lid handle, which may become rather warm. Before you raise the lid, don’t forget to put on your gloves!
2. Best Small Drum – 14″ Pit Barrel Cooker Junior
Compared to our overall favorite drum smoker, the 14-inch Pit Barrel Cooker Junior is our top small drum selection, delivering the same fantastic results but with a smaller capacity and better portability.
With its sturdy construction, reasonable pricing, and portability (whether to a friend’s house or the beach), the Pit Barrel Junior is the ideal drum smoker for most people.
In terms of performance, the Junior is almost similar to the Classic except for the fact that it is smaller, lighter, and considerably more portable. In comparison to the Classic’s eight-hour runtime, the Junior lasts around six hours at 225 degrees Fahrenheit with a full load.
Even though it’s smaller, the Junior can still cook a large turkey or six racks at a once, making it perfect for gatherings of family or friends.
The Pit Barrel Junior is well-known for its flavorful, tender cooking, making it an excellent alternative if you desire the Classic’s performance but don’t require its big capacity.
It is ready to use right out of the box, so all you have to do is attach the handles and light it to get it going. You can “set it and forget it” for hassle-free, effortless smoking anywhere you want to be after it’s reached the desired temperature.
The greatest tiny drum smoker by far is this high-quality, simple-to-use smoker. In addition, it’s a wonderful value for the money, and you can personalize it with a broad variety of additional add-ons and branded products.
As a bonus, it’s one of the simplest to clean; all you have to do is remove the ash and you’re done. Tailgating, camping, and day trips are all excellent places to use this smoker.
What we like:
- This is an excellent choice for newcomers since it’s so simple to use. “Set it and forget it.”
- Strong, long-lasting structure made from high-quality materials.
- Big enough to hold six ribs at a time with plenty of room to spare.
- No rinsing is needed for easy cleanup. To restart, just remove the ash and replace it.
- This model is ready to cook straight out of the box, so you don’t have to waste any time getting started.
What we don’t like:
- As with the Classic, the horseshoe lid handle becomes quite hot, so make sure to wear gloves whenever you check on your food while it’s cooking.
3. Upgrade Pick – Oklahoma Joe’s Bronco Pro
More cooking capacity, a larger charcoal basket for longer smokes, and a side table make the Oklahoma Joe’s Bronco Pro drum smoker almost twice as expensive as the Pit Barrel Cooker.
The Bronco Pro also comes with wheels, making it a lot easier to transport than the PBC, which has no wheels.
At two different heights, the grill’s 366 square-inch grilling grate may be used to prepare meats and vegetables. You have the option of purchasing a second grate, doubling your grill’s surface area.
Using the grilling grate or the nine provided meat hooks is a choice, much as with the PBC.
This model’s adjustable intake and exhaust pipes let you to fine-tune the temperature in your home. This allows you to cook both slowly and quickly, depending on your preferences and the time you have available.
All-day smoking is possible with the charcoal basket because of its long burn time (up to 16 hours).
The side table, for example, is a terrific feature that really comes in handy when you’re cramming the grill full of meat.
Food hanger brackets with indexed indexes enable you to put your hangers at your optimum height without swaying, which is good for big, heavy meats such as bratwurst and brisket.
The Bronco, on the other hand, gives you more control than other drum smokers, and it’s also a wonderful value for the money.
If you don’t want all of that storage capacity, a non-pro version is available that is somewhat smaller.
What we like:
- In order to cook for an extended period of time, you’ll need a large charcoal basket that can contain 17 pounds of charcoal.
- With the movable intake pipe, you can easily modify your cooking temperature by moving it up and down the side of the drum.
- It’s light enough to move about, and unlike other barrel smokers, it has wheels to help you get it where you want it.
- Expands your prep area for simple loading with this handy side table.
What we don’t like:
- Switching out charcoal mid-cooking is something I’d really want to be able to do! You will need to remove the grate and the heat deflector if you need to add fuel (which is rare due to the enormous fuel capacity).
- For competitive pitmasters, the Bronco Pro was created. Even novice pitmasters may use it, since it’s both tough enough for the competitive circuit and compact enough to fit in a normal-sized backyard.
For what purpose should you purchase a drum smoker?
Drum smokers are an excellent alternative for beginners because of their simplicity of usage.
They’re also a great option for seasoned professionals or anybody who wants to relax with friends and family without always worrying about how their meat is doing.
With their enormous coal baskets, most drum smokers only need to be ignited once so you can concentrate on other aspects of the meal and your guests.
Drum smokers are ideal for those who cook for big gatherings on a regular basis because of their huge capacity. The fact that they cook quicker than many other types means that they might be a smart choice if you don’t have the time to smoke a brisket for the whole weekend anymore.
A drum smoker will still create flavorful and tender meat, but it will do it considerably faster than a regular grill.
In reality, the design of these grills allows for the grilling of moister, more flavorful meats since the liquid from the flesh falls straight onto the coals, creating a flavorful, moistening fog.
Our recommendation is that everyone should purchase a drum smoker because of its simplicity of use, large capacity, and practically assured excellent results every time they use it.
How do drum smokers function?
A water pan isn’t required since the design is comparable to the Weber Smokey Mountain’s “bullet” smokers.
The bottom of most drum smokers has a tiny air vent for supplying oxygen to the burning charcoal.
Oklahoma Joe’s Bronco Pro features a pipe design to make this easier for the pitmaster.
The temperature inside your drum smoker may be controlled by adjusting the size of this vent.
As the air in your smoker warms up, it rises and is expelled out a little vent at the top. As a result of this, additional air is drawn into the drum from the bottom, and the cycle continues.
In order to generate a moisturizing mist for your meat, fluids, fats, and spices from your meat flow down into the coals, where they fuse together to form a humidifying mist.
What to think about before making a purchase
Interested in purchasing a drum smoker? Before you make a decision, think about the following information.
Sturdiness and building materials
It’s crucial to opt for a drum smoker that’s built to last, so look for a model that’s composed of robust materials.
With a weather-resistant coating, most drum smokers can withstand the harsh conditions of the outdoors.
Porcelain enamel is a common option for coating the inside of several models. As a result, your smoker is more durable, its heat retention is improved, and it is simpler to clean.
Check the materials used to make the handles, grates, and hanging rods to make sure they are of the same high quality.
The most common sizes of 55-gallon and 30-gallon drum smokers are due to the fact that these smokers are built on drums. The Pit Barrel Junior, which utilizes a 16-gallon drum, is a smaller model.
In spite of the fact that they are less powerful, smaller versions are more convenient to transport and may be used for tailgating, camping, and visits to the beach and friends’ houses.
Another thing to bear in mind is that bigger versions feature fire baskets that can hold more coals. So, bigger candles will have a more prolonged burn time.
Contrary to common belief, most drum smokers are still within reach of the average consumer.
Despite the fact that pricier versions are available, they don’t provide the same increase in performance as your regular offset smokers. When it comes to smoking a cigarette, it doesn’t matter if a more costly model has more bells and whistles or not.
You may save hundreds of dollars by building your own drum smoker if the cost is a concern. This outdoor cooking device is unique in that it’s built to operate well regardless of how much it costs.