You aren’t really a pitmaster until you have a barrel grill. Why? These types create that authentic flavor by using charcoals and will grill/smoke your food for however long you would want it to. They are usually 2 in 1 making them a very good value for money and why they are getting more popular for the BBQ enthusiasts.
You can choose to use charcoal, wood chips or even wood logs with barrel grills to get the flavor that you are looking for. Want hickory? Just put in the hickory flavored wood chips. Want just regular BBQ taste? Don’t add in wood chips and just use charcoal. Your options are limitless when it comes to barrel grills. Read on to see why you should really consider one and why we’ve chosen some of the best barrel grills on the market.
Top 3 Picks
The Char-Griller Charcoal Grill/Smoker is our top pick because it’s super durable. It’s also massive, making it perfect for large gatherings. We love that it’s easy to add more charcoal in and the fact it’s on wheels, which means you can move it around.
We’ve chosen the GhomeG as our runner up because of its portable size. It’s also big enough to cook large meats anywhere such as the beach, tailgating, camping and more.
We couldn’t leave out the Oklahoma Joe because it’s a high-quality grill that deserved to be in our top picks. It has 540 square inches for you to cook on and has cast iron grates to cook on which really helps with heat retention (barrel grills have an issue retaining higher heat). It’s also portable so you can wheel it anywhere that you would like to grill from.
What is a barrel grill?
A barrel grill is a grill made from a 55-gallon barrel. The vents are usually cut into the top and bottom for ventilation. There is usually a lid to help retain the heat so that you can get the perfect cook on your foods.
Pros and Cons of a Barrel Grill
You can use wood chips, charcoal and pellets if you choose to get the fire/heat going. If you have an even bigger barrel grill, you can even fit wood logs if you should so choose.
They are usually larger due to being longer thanks to their barrel shape. This means that you can put more food on it without the fear of overcrowding.
Perfect for Slow Cooking
Because they use charcoal or wood, you can cook things low and slow, while entering your friends and family.
If you want the really big ones, you’ll have to pay more.
Doesn’t retain heat well
Because of the ventilation on both sides of the barrel, air does go out. So, if you’re trying to grill/smoke in the winter, you’ll have a harder time to keep the same temperature. You’re better off using a barrel grill spring/summer where temperature isn’t normally an issue.
Tips for using a barrel grill
You’ve finally got your barrel grill that you wanted but you may not know how to use it or how to care for it.
Make sure it’s clean before using
Because you’re likely using charcoal, you don’t want to burn leftover ashes as that will go on your food and your food will taste like…ash. So, you’ll want to clean out your barrel grill by dumping the ashes and dust off any other ashes that may be elsewhere. You’ll also want to make sure your grates are clean by using a BBQ brush to brush/scrape any remnants of food off. Now you’re finally ready to use your grill.
Put in charcoal or wood chips
This is the time to put in your charcoal or wood chips so that you can get it started. You can use a chimney starter to get the fire started.
Don’t open the grill often unless you have to
After you have put all your food in, leave it alone and just keep an eye on the temperature (most barrel grills have a temperature gauge). The reason for this is because if you keep opening the lid, you won’t be really cooking your food properly as the barrel grill usually doesn’t retain heat very well. So, it’s super important to leave your food alone until it’s done.
Add more charcoal/wood chips
There will be a time where you will need to change charcoal/wood chips. Most barrel grills have a door where you can open and replace the charcoal/wood chips. If it doesn’t, carefully lift the grates (with heat resistant gloves of course) and add more charcoal/wood chips.
For maintenance, put a cover over it
Some barrel grills can rust very easily if left out in the rain or other extreme weather. So, it’s very important that you can cover your grill or at least bring it inside.
6 Best Barrel Grills
We’re starting off with the ALEKO grill because we like that it’s a 2 in 1. It’s a smoker and grill which we love because you can use charcoal grills as a cheaper alternative to buying a smoker these days. It has 18-inch racks and the grill itself stands at 22.5 inches. It is a small cooking area at 213 square inches so you can probably put a few pieces of small sized meat such as burgers on this or ribs, but they’ll have to be cut in half. The grill is made out of steel so it can handle the high temperatures and there is a removable ash tray that comes with this so you can change the charcoal while grilling, smoking, and more. There is a temperature gauge on the top, as well as an air vent so you can control how much comes out and in.
This is a great small grill/smoker to get that BBQ flavor that you want.
- 2 in, grill/smoker
- May be too small for normal BBQ needs
The GHomeG charcoal grill is definitely worth considering because it stands at 14 inches. It also has 18 inches of rack space and the amount of cooking space you have is about 353 square inches. Because this is a barrel grill, that means the heat will definitely be evening out as it grills and smokes. What’s even better is that this grill is made out of 304 stainless steel, so you know that it’ll handle the high heat and protect your food from the uneven heat. Our favorite feature about this is the temperature control, as there’s a temperature gauge on the hood and air vent. You can smoke up to two large pieces of meat (or other food) if you like on this grill/smoker.
- Big enough to smoke larger meats
- Made out of high-quality steel
- Doesn’t include a removable ash catcher
You’ve seen smaller barrel grills/smokers, but now it’s time to talk about bigger ones. The Oklahoma Joe’s barrel grill is bigger standing at 47.5 inches and is 60 inches wide. There is 540 square inches you can cook on and you get a removable ash tray which is perfect because you’ll probably be using that more. The Oklahoma Joe is made out of high-quality steel and the grates are made from cast iron, so it can retain and distribute heat very well. This grill even has shelves so you can put your utensils down as well as a temperature gauge and air vent. There is storage underneath the grill if you would like to put your bag of charcoal on it.
This is the perfect grill/smoker if you’d like to put larger meats on here and have storage.
- Can accommodate more food
- Has shelves
- Has the tendency to rust
We love this Dyna Glo Barrel Grill because it’s easy to maintain and it’s super portable as it got wheels. You can wheel it to anywhere that you want to grill/smoke at. It stands at 50.5 inches and is 60 inches wide. The grill is made out of steel with a black powder coat finish. The cooking space that you get is 576 square inches, so it’s big enough for all your grilling/smoking needs. You also get the shelves and extra storage underneath to store your BBQ utensils and more. So if you’re looking for authentic BBQ flavor to give to a crowd, the Dyna-Glo got your back.
- Can smoke/grill large amount of food
- Quality is not as good as claimed
Char-Griller is a popular brand and today we’ll be talking about one of their best barrel grills, which is the Char-Griller 2137 Outlaw. It’s a 2 in 1 grill/smoker with 725 square inches to cook on and you also get 338 square inches of another cooking area, so you won’t have to stress about how much room you have. It stands at 50 inches and weighs a whopping 112lbs, but it has wheels so that you can move your grill around if you need to.
This grill is made out of heavy-duty steel and it’s even powder coated for extra durability so you can expect this grill to last you years to come. What’s good about this grill, is that the grates are in pieces so that you can easily take it off to add more charcoal.
This is a great grill if you have a large family or gathering.
- Large grill for grilling/smoking
- Can move the grill around
- Extra Durable
- It tends to rust
Finally, we have the Barrel House Cooker Smoker that we thought was worthy enough to be on this list. Made out of 20-gauge metal and porcelain enamel inside, you can be rest assured that you will still see the quality for years. It stands up to 35.5 inches and has 18 inches of space. This grill/smoker can use 8 pounds of charcoal briquette which means it has 6 hours of burn time which is perfect for smoking most food.
If you’re looking for a grill that’s portable and can burn for a while, this grill should definitely be on your radar.
- Faster cooking time
- Long burn time
- Warranty may or may not be honored
Which is better: a kettle grill or a barrel grill?
A kettle grill can retain heat better but it’s usually not a 2 in 1. A barrel grill has a harder time retaining heat if it’s colder out, but it’s usually 2 in 1 and your food would taste better.
What is a barrel grill?
It’s a type of barbecue grill that’s made out of a 55-gallon barrel. The top and bottom sides of the barrel are cut so that there’s air flow.
How do you make a grill barrel?
Cut the top and bottom of the barrel to allow airflow and include a lid for heat ventilation.
What is the best charcoal grill to buy?
In our opinion, it would be the Char-Griller Charcoal Grill / Smoker because it’s massive, reliable and has wheels for portability.
The Bottom Line
Having a barrel grill can be a great addition to your home. It creates that amazing BBQ flavor that we all know and love. You should choose one that will suit your BBQ needs and go ahead make your favorite grilled/smoked food. If you have any comments or want to tell us you’ve enjoyed reading this guide today, please let us know!
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