How To Use A Barrel Smoker to Cook Delicious meat?

A barrel smoker creates outstanding meals, and one of the best things about this smoker is that it does not require much time. Time is money to most people. You can develop mouth-watering meals without spending hours or days preparing them.

There is enough space in this barrel smoker to accommodate your family’s needs, even if your family is extended beyond what they used to be before getting the smoker. In this post, I will guide you on how to use a barrel smoker professionally.

What Is A Barrel Smoker?

A barrel smoker is a barbecue grill that uses a large cooking chamber to cook food. The design is typically used for cooking large quantities of meat and can be made from steel, stainless steel, or even aluminum. Many people use them for grilling ribs or whole chickens.

Barrel smokers are available in different sizes and shapes, with some having larger cooking chambers than others. They usually have a lid on top of the cooking chamber, and some models also have doors that open up to allow access to the inner chamber when your food is done.

Depending on the size of the smoker, you can fit different amounts of food in it at once. For example, if you want to cook a whole chicken on your barrel smoker, you may need to buy one that has a large cooking space inside it. So, you can cook several chickens at once without crowding them out or having hot spots where they are too close together. 


There are several different types of barrel smokers available today, including vertical and horizontal models, but all share several similar characteristics:

  • A fire pit that creates hot coals, which then produce heat for cooking food placed inside the smoker’s chambers.
  • A large chamber to hold up to 8 pounds of meat at one time.
  • The temperature gauge enables you to monitor your food while smoking it.

Types Of Barrel Smokers

A barrel smoker can be categorized into the following types:

  • Side barrel smoker 
  • Horizontal barrel smoker

Side Barrel Smoker 

A side-barrel smoker is similar to a horizontal barrel smoker, except that its design makes it more difficult to clean. For side-barrel smokers, the doors must be opened individually instead of as a whole, as with horizontal barrel smokers.

Cleaning up after using one of these models takes longer than cleaning up after using a horizontal model. However, since they are designed so differently from other smokers, they are also difficult to maintain.

The main advantage of using a side-barrel smoker is that its design makes it much easier for you to cook on multiple levels. It allows you to cook food on the bottom level while leaving the top level available for smoking meats or fish if you would like.

Horizontal Barrel Smoker

Horizontal barrel smokers are the easiest to use because you must place your meat in the smoker and leave it. For this reason, they are also great for beginners and those with limited cooking experience.

One of the best things about horizontal barrel smokers is that you can use them for any meat or fish. If you want something different than what you typically use for vegetables, these work great.

How To Use A Barrel Smoker to Cook Delicious meat

The only downside to a horizontal barrel smoker is that it is not as easy to clean other types of smokers, like electrical ones. You will need to ensure that all of your smoker’s ash has been cleaned out before you start using it again.

What Are The Advantages Of A Barrel Smoker?

For people looking for a versatile and easy-to-use smoker, the barrel smoker is an ideal choice. Currently, you can choose from many types of barrel smokers. In any case, it is imperative that you pick the suitable one based on your needs.

These are the benefits of using a barrel smoker: 


Barrel smokers are affordable compared to other types of smokers that you can find in the market today. With all the necessary accessories and at an affordable price, they are a great choice. Consequently, you can spend money on something other than buying everything separately to use them right away.

Small Footprint (Height Advantage)

Barrel smokers have small footprints, which makes them easy to store and transport. When not in use, you will have a place to store them. It is because they can easily fit into any space available in your home or garage.

Fuel Efficient

Barrel smokers do not require much fuel compared to other types of smokers. Thus, saving on costs while still ensuring that food is cooked perfectly every time you use it. In addition, these types of smokers are also very fuel efficient compared to other smokers in the market. You can also use liquid smoke in barrel smoker to make taste more flavourable.

Easy To Transport

They are easier to transport than pit smokers because they do not require a casing around the smoker to maintain its temperature. A barrel smoker can be placed directly on top of the ground and then covered with a tarp or other coverings to keep it warm. It allows you to cook anywhere with ease.

What Are The Disadvantages Of Using A Barrel Smoker?

Smoking meat in a drum smoker is a great option for anyone who has a small space to work with. You can store a lot of meat in it and it is easy to use. However, the drum smoker has a different capacity than other smokers, so it is important to check the size before purchasing one. The drum smoker also has many disadvantages, including:

Do Not Hold Temperature Well (Thin Body)

The thin-bodied drum smokers do not hold temperature well. So, you must constantly monitor your drum smoker’s internal temperature to ensure that it remains at a constant temperature. If you leave the drum open for some time, it may cool down, and if you cook something like ribs or pork tenderloin inside this kind of smoker, it will be burnt easily.

Steep Learning Curve

Getting your hands on a good drum smoker is not easy because these smokers are not easily available. You need to go through several options before getting one from them. The steep learning curve makes it tough for newbies who are just starting with smoking food at home.

Limited Capacity

Many people prefer drum smokers because they are compact and effortless to store away when not in use, but this comes at a cost when it comes time to cook on them again after being stored away for a few months. So, you may have to plan more carefully when cooking in bulk.

Hard To Clean & Maintain

Cleaning and maintaining barrel smokers are significant drawbacks. The wood chips and ashes make it extremely difficult to clean the inside of your smoker, so you will have to do this at least once or twice per year. The temperature inside your smoker could be more consistent.

How To Use A Barrel Smoker?

Follow these steps to properly use a barrel smoker if you have not used a drum smoker to date:

1- Light the charcoal or briquettes

You can use charcoal, briquettes, or lump. If you are using charcoal, find a good place to light it. I like to light my charcoal in my chimney starter, which makes it easy and safe to use on my grill. Once your coals are lit, spread them out evenly over the grate so they can cool down before they burn. If you fail to light your grill, you should not have to clean it up.


2- Fill The Charcoal Rack With Charcoal


Next, add your coals to the charcoal rack. It will allow them to heat up, cook more evenly, and keep them off your food. A good rule of thumb is to be about 4-5 inches from the bottom of your smoker for the best results when cooking on a smoker. A charcoal ashtray can also be used if you are going slow or want a more flavorful burn (coals produce a lot of smoke).

3- Adjust Airflow And Temperature

The top vent allows you to control the airflow inside your barrel smoker. Remove any remnants of smoke and ash from inside, then open it up to let some air in while you prepare to cook. You may also need to adjust your cooking temperature depending on what type of meat you are smoking or how long you intend to cook with the lid closed.

4- Start Cooking

Place the meat in the smoker, close it, and set your temperature too high. Do not worry if it takes a while to start smoking because it is normal with charcoal smokers. Once you have got some smoke from the chimney, you can open up the top vent a little bit to keep it from burning.

Final Words 

The barrel smoker is an excellent choice for pitmasters. It is large enough to feed a family, even if there are many members. Controlling the temperature is an important aspect of using this smoker. As a side activity, you can smoke something here.

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