×

Help us help you

If we have helped you become a better cook, please become a Pitmaster Club member and help us become a better website. Benefits for members include:

(1) Seminars with famous Pitmaster Professors
(2) Access to The Pit forum
(3) An all new expanded Temperature Guide Magnet
(4) Gold Medal Giveaways of free grills and smokers
(5) Support for Operation BBQ Relief
(6) Support for AmazingRibs.com!

Learn more about the Pitmaster Club

Not ready to subscribe yet? Return to AmazingRibs.com

bbq grill and accessories ad
Amazing Ribs Logo

message from meathead

Meathead the Barbecue & Grilling Lover Cartoon

Get Smoke Signals,
our FREE e-letter.
No spam. Guaranteed. Enter your email:

bbq ad

http://tinyurl.com/amazingribs

If you like AmazingRibs.com, please save this link and use it every time you go to Amazon. Amazon and many other websites pay us a small referral fee when you click our links and purchase from them. It works on everything from grills to diapers, Amazon never tells us what you bought, it has zero impact on the price you pay, but has a major impact on our ability to improve this site!

Digital Thermometers:
Stop Guessing!

thermopop bbq thermometer

Gold BBQ AwardA good digital thermometer keeps me from serving dry overcooked food or dangerously undercooked food. You can get a professional grade, fast and precise splashproof thermometer like the Thermopop (above) for about $24. The Thermapen (below), the Ferrari of instant reads, is about $96. It's the one you see all the TV chefs and all the top competition pitmasters using. Click here to read more about types of thermometer and our ratings and reviews.

bbq thermapen

GrillGrates Take You To
The Infrared Zone

BBQ_grill_grates

Gold BBQ AwardGrillGrates(TM) amplify heat, prevent flareups, make flipping foods easier, produce great grill marks, keep small foods from committing suicide, kill hotspots, are easier to clean, flip over to make a fine griddle, smolder wood right below the meat, and can be easily removed and moved from one grill to another. You can even throw wood chips or pellets or sawdust between the rails and deliver a quick burst of smoke to whatever is above. Every gas grill and pellet smoker needs them.

Click here to read more about what makes these grates so special and how they compare to other cooking surfaces.

The Smokenator:
A Necessity For All Weber Kettles

smokenator bbq system

Gold BBQ Award If you have a Weber Kettle, you need the amazing Smokenator and Hovergrill. The Smokenator turns your grill into a first class smoker, and the Hovergrill can add capacity or be used to create steakhouse steaks.

Click here to read more.

The Pit Barrel Cooker

pit barrel c ooker bbqAbsolutely positively without a doubt the best bargain on a smoker in the world.

This baby will cook circles around the cheap offset sideways barrel smokers in the hardware stores because temperature control is so much easier (and that's because smoke and heat go up, not sideways).

Gold BBQ AwardBest of all, it is only $299 delivered to your door!

Click here to read our detailed review and the raves from people who own them.

scissor tongs

Best. Tongs. Ever.

Gold BBQ AwardMade of rugged 1/8" thick aluminum, 20" long, with four serious rivets, mine show zero signs of weakness after years of abuse. I use them on meats, hot charcoal, burning logs, and with the mechanical advantage that the scissor design creates, I can easily pick up a whole packer brisket. Click here to read more.

Amp Up The Smoke

mo's smoking pouch

Gold BBQ AwardMo's Smoking Pouch is essential for gas grills. It is an envelope of mesh 304 stainless steel that holds wood chips or pellets. The airspaces in the mesh are small enough that they limit the amount of oxygen that gets in so the wood smokes and never bursts into flame. Put it on top of the cooking grate, on the burners, on the coals, or stand it on edge at the back of your grill. It holds enough wood for about 15 minutes for short cooks, so you need to refill it or buy a second pouch for long cooks like pork shoulder and brisket. Mine has survived more than 50 cooks. Click for more info.

steak knives for bbq

The Best Steakhouse Knives

Gold BBQ AwardThe same knives used at Peter Luger, Smith & Wollensky, and Morton's. Machine washable, high-carbon stainless steel, hardwood handle. And now they have the AmazingRibs.com imprimatur. Click for more info.

tailgater magazine

Search Our Reviews and Ratings

Click Search to see all our Reviews and Ratings. Use the filters below to refine your search.

*Based on 4" raw burger with 1/2" space on all sides

Read before you buy

These articles give you important info about different cookers, things to look for, things to avoid, and checklists.

What fuel is right for you?
About stainless steel

Grills

Charcoal grills vs. gas grills
How to buy a grill
How to buy a smoker
Charcoal grills
Gas grills
Electric grills

Smokers

Charcoal, wood smokers
Egg, ceramic, kamado grill/smokers
Pellet grill/smokers
Gas smokers
Electric smokers
Stovetop smokers
Small portable grills
Pig, lamb, goat roasters
Trailers, commercial smokers

Other stuff

Pizza ovens
Designing an outdoor kitchen
Extension cords
Parts
Grills gone wild
Thermometers
Best BBQ accessories

Big Poppa's Drum Smoker Kit

By Meathead Goldwyn

Manufacturer: Big Poppa Smokers

BigPoppaSmokers.com is a great internet barbecue store with a superb collection of charcoal, pellet, and wood burning grills and smokers including some of the fanciest and best devices money can buy. Owner, Sterling Ball, is a fine cook and competes on the circuit. Not satisfied to sell $2,000 pellet smokers and $2,300 Jambo pits, he found a need at the low end of the market and met it by designing a 55 Gallon Drum Smoker Kit for under $200.

Big Poppa's Drum Smoker Kit

Sterling Ball, owner of Big Poppa Smokers, saw the need for a really good smoker for very little money. He knew that many pitmasters love using 55 gallon drums that they have turned into smoker/grill combos with a little ingenuity. The internet has many pages devoted for designs and photos of homemade Ugly Drum Smokers (UDS). But the UDS requires welding and metalworking skills. And time. Here is a link to a discussion, complete with photos, of how to build your own UDS on the BBQ-Brethren.com. You'll see, it's a project.

So Ball and his team have created a kit that you can buy from him for $140. You supply the drum. We are told that food grade drums can easily be found for as little as $20, so for well under $200 you can have a fine smoker. This kit significantly reduces the cost, time required, and probability of error. And the results can cook competition worthy meat. Really. Much better than a cheap offset smoker, and just as cool looking.

To assemble it you will need an electric drill, an adjustable wrench or a 7/8" and a 7/16" wrench, a tape measure, and a straight edge.

There are several features that you just can't get on a homemade UDS. Most important, the sliding bottom vents make it easy to manage air intake which is crucial for temperature control, far better than the homemade kluges that people use all time. The top vent is easy to use, too. The charcoal basket is stainless steel, and, when empty, it can be raised to grilling height or lowered with a hook tool. Sure wish there was an easy way to raise it when it is full of glowing coals.

The grill grate is also stainless. There are two handles on the side with wood grips, and the lid handle also has a wood grip (but it can still get hot). There is a hook to hang the lid, three tool hooks, and a decent quality temperature indicator. Options include a second cooking grate which can also hold a water pan or a pizza stone as a heat shield.

photo of weber gourmet grateMeathead took the Weber Gourmet BBQ System Sear Grate Set (right), which he did not find necessary or desirable on his kettle, and dropped it on the bottom shelf. Then he dropped a bowl into the hole and voila, a water pan, something he really likes in a smoker.

You will also want to buy a cover because water will get in through the top vent in the rain. The diameter is close to a Weber kettle, so he just bought a Weber Kettle Cover and it fits great.

Cooking with it is almost as easy with the venerable Weber Smokey Mountain Charcoal Smoker, although adding coals is a bit trickier. You have to remove the food and the grates to access the charcoal basket. On the WSM, there is a door in the side. If you are handy, you might want to cut a door yourself.

The charcoal basket will probably last a while, but, and now we're quibbling, it would be nice if the wire from which it was made was a bit heavier. Regardless, Ball has sized it properly. Meathead found that a chimney of cold coals topped by a chimney of hot coals, can be easily dialed down to his favorite smoking temp of 225°F, and it will hold that number steadily for hours. If you just use hot coals and raise the basket, you can easily sear a steak.

For more ideas on cooking with a drum, check out DrumSmoking.com. If you are handy, this is absolutely the best bargain on the market. Oh yeah, there's a bottle opener included. Ball didn't miss anything.

Finding a drum           

I asked BigPoppaSmokers.com for tips on buying an open top 55 gallon food grade drum for their kit. There are numerous suppliers across the country and there's a good chance one is near you. if not, Lexington Container Company is one that a reader told me about. Brian Spoeneman gave me these tips for selecting a drum:

New drums. New open top 55 gallon drums can be found for as little as $80.

Reconditioned drum. Open top 55 gallon reconditioned drums can be found for as little as $50, not including delivery. The supplier needs to be a state licensed re-conditioner and you must require that the drum has not held chemicals. Believe it or not, metal is porous and chemical residue is hard to remove. State employees will visit licensed reconditioners on a regular basis to ensure that the company is following proper cleaning procedures and that the equipment being used is operating within state regulations, which vary from state to state.

The usual procedure requires that barrels are burned out, blasted with steel shot, and washed out with a water based rust inhibitor. The rust inhibitor is important, without it the barrels will rust quickly, although they will rust eventually.

A new plain lid with no bung holes. Get a new lid if you can to make sure it is flat.

No gasket for the lid. You don't need a gasket, it could melt, and it is also an added expense.

No ring and bolt. The ring and bolt normally keep the lid tightened to the drum itself. This is not required for cooking and is also an added expense. If you are obsessed with precision air control, go for it. But the kit does a great job of controlling oxygen to the fire.

Unpainted. Since you don't know how their paint will react to high heat, get the barrel unpainted. Then paint the exterior only with Rust-Oleum High Heat Enamel Bar-B-Que Black.

It's good up to 1,000 degrees. Many people paint the interior, but I'm wary of fumes, so I recommend leaving it unpainted. Yes, it will rust, but it won't rust through for many years. Get over it.

Dollies. Ball says that dollies with wheels are available from the barrel supplier. If you can't find a dollie set, he can tell you where to get them when you place your order.

For those who don't want the hassel of tracking down a food grade drum and drilling it out, Big Poppa teamed up with Bubba Barrels to offer the complete smoker, ready for assembly.

Initial burn-in. Regardless of whether you buy new or used, it is important that the customer does a high temperature pre-burn prior to the first cook.

Price: 

$140 Manufacturer's suggested retail price (MSRP), actual price may vary.

Where To Buy (Buying from these suppliers supports this website): 

Big Poppa Smokers

Primary Function: 

Grill

Smoker

Combination Grill & Smoker

Fuel: 

Charcoal

Primary Capacity: 

362 square inches ( about 17 burgers )

Manufacturer claims that all or practically all of this device is made in the USA

No

Review Method: 

Cooked On It

We have hands-on experience testing this product. We have also gathered info from the manufacturer, owners and other reliable sources.


Please read this before posting a comment or question

grouchy?1) Please use the table of contents or the search box at the top of every page before you ask for help, then please post your question on the appropriate page.

2) Please tell us everything we need to know to answer your question such as the type of cooker and thermometer you are using. Dial thermometers are often off by as much as 50°F so if you are not using a good digital thermometer we probably can't help you. Please read this article about thermometers.

3) If you post a photo, wait a minute for a thumbnail to appear. It will happen even if you don't see it happen.

4) Click here to learn more about our comment system and our privacy promise. Remember, your login info for comments is probably different from your Pitmaster Club login info if you are a member.

Moderators

LeaderDog.org Ad on BBQ site

About this website. AmazingRibs.com is all about the science of barbecue, grilling, and outdoor cooking, with great BBQ recipes, tips on technique, and unbiased equipment reviews. Learn how to set up your grills and smokers properly, the thermodynamics of what happens when heat hits meat, as well as hundreds of excellent tested recipes including all the classics: Baby back ribs, spareribs, pulled pork, beef brisket, burgers, chicken, smoked turkey, lamb, steaks, barbecue sauces, spice rubs, and side dishes, with the world's best buying guide to barbecue smokers, grills, accessories, and thermometers, edited by Meathead.

This site is brought to you by readers like you who support us with their membership in our Pitmaster Club. Click here to learn more about benefits to membership.

Advertising on this site. AmazingRibs.com is by far the most popular barbecue website in the world and one of the 50 most popular food websites in the US according to comScore, Quantcast, Compete, and Alexa. Visitors and pageviews increase rapidly every year. Click here for analytics and advertising info.

© Copyright 2014 by AmazingRibs, Inc. AmazingRibs.com is published by AmazingRibs, Inc., a Florida Corporation. Unless otherwise noted, all text, recipes, photos, and computer code are owned by AmazingRibs, Inc. and fully protected by US copyright law. This means that unless you have written permission to publish or distribute anything on this website you have committed a Federal crime. But we're easy. To get reprint rights, just click here. You do not need permission to link to this website. Note. Some photos of commercial products such as grills were provided by the manufacturers and are under their copyright.