When you’re out there looking for a good cooker that will make the ultimate BBQ, choosing the right one isn’t exactly easy. This is because there are so many different ones for you to choose from. The other day, I came across two really good ones – the Pit Barrel Cooker and the Weber Smokey Mountain – looking at these two, I can see why it would be hard for someone to choose one over the other for smoking their meat.
If you’re looking for a good smoker, continue reading this review: Pit Barrel Cooker vs Weber Smokey Mountain because chances are, one of these smokers will be suitable for you.
Pit Barrel Cooker
I’m going to start out by introducing you to the pit barrel cooker, which is the first one I read about. What many like about this cooker is the fact that it is easy to use – some have even said that it’s the easiest smoker they’ve ever owned, and that’s understandable. After my research, I concluded that this one deserves it’s spot on the list of the best smokers for beginners because it’s really that easy to cook on.
- Unique design
- Comes with a total of 8 stainless steel hooks that you can hang your food on
- Comes with one standard grate for searing and grilling
- Includes a charcoal basket that is just the right size
- Doesn’t require much assembly
Included in the package:
- 2 hanging rods
- 1 Standard grill grate
- 1 charcoal basket
- 8 stainless steel hooks
- 1 Hook remover tool
Using the Minion Method
Have you ever heard of what’s referred to as the minion method? Well, that’s the theory behind the Pit Barrel here. With the minion method, you’d be placing a couple of pieces of light charcoal into a large pile of charcoal that is unlit – some people prefer the minion method rather than taking a large number of hot coals and using them all at once, causing them to have to refuel every couple of hours. As those light coals start to burn down, it moves to the unlit coals that are below them – this offers hours on end of cooking without having to refuel the charcoal.
With the pit barrel cooker, I like how you can regulate the airflow, and most of all, it’s pretty easy to do. At the bottom of the drum, there’s a rotatable steel plate – all you have to do is adjust that and you will be regulating the airflow. It’s also worth mentioning that the manufacturer has suggested setting the air vent according to your elevation:
- 8000+ feet – You should leave the air vent open
- 500-8000 feet – The air vent should be open to 3/4
- 2000-5000 feet – The air vent should be open to 1/2
- 0-2000 feet – The air vent should be 1/3 open
Once the fire is going, don’t mess around too much with the vents, because when the fat drips from the meat, there will be occasional bursts.
As far as temperature control goes, the pit barrel cooker doesn’t give a whole lot of temperature control. This is the type of smoker that you put your food on and forget about it. With the airflow controls, you should be able to maintain steady temperatures for up to 8 hours of cooking without having to add any additional charcoal.
Stainless Steel Hooks and Grill Grate
With this cooker, you will have 8 stainless steel hooks – these are easy to hang on the steel bars that are at the top of the barrel. As far as the grate goes, it is removable, so you won’t have any problems there.
Looking at the Pit Barrel Cooker, it’s obvious that the manufacturers put quite a bit of thought into designing it. The Pit Barrel Cooker is made of top of the line durable steel. back in the day, it was a 20-gauge, but it’s now an 18-gauge, which is much sturdier. Since it’s made of porcelain enamel, you won’t have to worry about the cooker being outside too much, because it is resistant to weather. However, if you do plan on keeping it outside and the weather is harsh, I would recommend covering it up in order to keep it in good shape – you can purchase a custom fit cover separately.
The Weber Smokey Mountain
Now, it’s time to talk about the Weber Smokey Mountain. Does the Weber Smokey Mountain own up to the Pit Barrel Cooker, or is it better than the Pit Barrel Cooker? Well, it’s time to find out …
- Retains heat and isn’t going to rust or peel due to the porcelain-enamelled lid, bowl and center section
- A total of two cooking grates, which offer just the right amount of roof to smoke two large-sized pieces of meat at one time
- Monitor the internal temperature of the meat your smoking with the silicone temperature grommet
- By adjusting the dampers, it is easy to control the temperature on the Weber Smokey Mountain cooker
- The fuel door can be removed so that it is easy for you to add wood and charcoal while cooking
Smoking and maintaining the temperature while cooking on the Weber Smokey Mountain isn’t hard at all. Just like the Pit Barrel Cooker, the Weber Smokey Mountain cooker has vents that you can use in order to control the airflow and in return, the temperature.
While you can use the airflow control in order to control the temperatures while cooking, this one right here has a nice little trick up its sleeve. Basically, there is a large pan that holds water – this pan goes right above the coals. The water acts as if it is a heat sink as it takes in the heat and slowly releases it – this is what will keep the temperature stable for you.
While the water pain is great to use for maintaining the temperature, it can also be used to create your very own moist cooking environment and can be used as a tray that catches juices and fats that would normally cause flare-ups. You can even use it to flavor the food you’re cooking. For example, if you’re cooking pork, you can add apple cider to it.
The only downside I can see to using this bowl is the fact that it is difficult to see how much water is in it while you’re cooking. However, by filling the bowl to capacity, you should get at least 10 hours of smoking.
Looking at the design with this one, it is also obvious that the manufacturers put some thought into it. Located under the smoker, there’s a neat looking aluminum bowl-shaped attachment – this acts as a heat shield and is responsible for protecting the deck under the cooker from getting damaged from the heat.
There’s a thermometer port that protects the probe wires from directly contacting the hot metal. The heat isn’t going to escape and all of the probe wires have their own space. The port has a tiny hole that holds a probe that monitors the inside temperature, while the long hole has various probe wires that monitor the temperature of the food.
On the lid, there’s an adjustable vent as well as an integrated thermometer. I also cannot forget to mention how they handle stays cool – this way, when you open up the cooker, you don’t have to worry about burning your hands from the handle.
The middle section of the Pit is where the water bowl is, along with two cooking grates and a door that you can use in order to add wood, charcoal, water, and check your food that is on the lower grate.
At the base of the Pit, there are three vents that can be adjustable, along with three legs – this is where the ring and fire grate is.
Those three sections don’t lock together. Instead of locking them together, they stack on top of each other, which is pretty good design. When you need to move the PBC, you can take each section and separately carry them, making it light in weight.
There’s a smoker cover that is included with the PBC, which is a great feature. The cover that comes with the smoker raps around it just right, and even during the windy times, it doesn’t fly around. There’s a hook-and-loop faster strap, which will allow you to secure the cover to the smoker’s legs, making for an additional touch of security.
A smoker that Converts to a Grill
While the PBC can be used as a smoker, it can also be converted to a grill. With this feature, gone are the days when you had to choose between a smoker and a grill – some like smoked food, while others can’t escape the taste of grilled food. As for converting it to a standard grill, that isn’t hard to do at all.
Yes, there is no doubt that it is designed to be a smoker, but it is easy to change it into the standard grill. The ring and fire grate fit nicely where the water bowl would normally be, then you take the top grate and put it in the normal place where you would grill.
This smoker is taller than it is wide, so I can’t see taking a whole pig and smoking it. However, if a whole turkey is the name of your game, then you’re not going to have a problem with this. You can even cook a nice sized salmon or a rack of ribs across the center grates. When you cook a slab of ribs, I suggest cutting them in half so that they are easier to handle while you’re smoking.
The body of the smoker is made out of powder-coated steel that is capable of withstanding weather and heat. The legs, internal brackets that hold the grates, and vents are aluminum. The top handle, as well as the access door handle, are plastic so that they stay cool while you’re using the cooker. The cooking grates are chrome-plated and I must say, they are easy to clean when it’s all said and done.
Pit Barrel Cooker vs Weber Smokey Mountain
Now that you learned a little bit about the Weber Smokey Mountain and the Pit Barrel Cooker, it’s time to take them and compare them side by side. Both the Pit Barrel Cooker and the Weber Smokey Mountain are in great shape and would be a good option for smoking, but each one has its uniqueness. Both are priced reasonably, so I understand that it is hard to choose between these two.
For decades now, Weber has been leading the market and is the one that many professionals turn to. On another note, the Pit Barrel Cooker, which was recently manufactured, has been gaining a large amount of popularity by both professionals and amateurs.
Starting out, the Weber Smokey Mountain uses a water pan, making for better temperature control, which is something that is unique. While Pit Barrel has a hanging system that makes for even heating and the ability to cook a larger capacity.
With the Weber, you get lower temperatures, while you get higher temperatures with the Pit Barrel Cooker. However, the Pit Barrel Cooker is also capable of offering lower temperatures simply by taking aluminum foil and placing it over the vents. This is a feature that the Weber Smokey already offers, making it better than the Pit Barrel when it comes to lowering those temperatures.
Along with all of this, the Pit Barrel is capable of slicing that cooking time. For example, while it would normally take 9-10 hours to cook pork butt, with the Barrel, it will only take 6-7 hours. So, if the cooking time is important to you, the Barrel will help you save some time.
Ease of Use
Looking at both of the cookers, both of the cookers are easy to use and both will cook meat in an amazing way. They may differ in the way they cook meat, but both of them are great for beginners. PBC makes low and slow cooking possible, which means that the second you reach the right temperature, you won’t have to do anything in order to maintain that temperature, so in this regard, I would say that PBC has a one-up over the Weber Smokey Mountain.
The Weber vs the PBC, there is a lot of space, but each has its own limitations. On one side, you have the WSM, which you won’t be able to take long pieces of meat like a slab of ribs and fit it on the grates. On the other hand, you have the PBC, which isn’t going to have any problems with meat due to the hook system.
When it comes to both of these grills, the start-up time isn’t slow at all, which is a good thing. When it comes to the PBC, the start time is simple- all you have to do is fill the bowl with charcoal and get the burning out of the way.
In both smokers, it’s easy, but the PBC makes controlling temperatures super convenient. The PBC was designed so that it can achieve a fixed temperature that will range between 250-300 degrees F, which means you won’t have to do anything once you get the cooker warmed up. The WSM will require adjusting the air vents.
Fast and Hot or Slow and Low
WSM makes for fast and hot or slow and low, whichever you prefer. While the PBC creates conditions for slow and low.
Pit Barrel Cooker Vs Weber Smokey Mountain – which one will you choose? The Smokey Mountain or the PBC? Both of them cook delicious meat such as ribs and chicken, and both are great smokers. After reading this review, I feel that you now have the knowledge to figure out which one is suitable for you. Regardless of the one you choose, I know you’re going to have a fun time cooking your meat.
.....With a love of the great outdoors be it in the backyard, hiking or fishing
Steve loves to share his tips on how to get the best from your patio, yard or
garden, rain or shine. Researching the best products from garden furniture to smokers and Generators. Steve will keep you up to date with the latest gear to make your outdoor space the best it can be.