ThisCookoutLife.com is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to Amazon.com. As an affiliate, this website earns from qualifying purchases.
Pit Barrels and Pellet grills are versatile outdoor cooking appliances that any cooking enthusiast should consider purchasing.
They differ in many things, including their mode of function, fuel type, and the meat they can cook best, but both have unique advantages that make them special appliances to have in your household.
When you are looking to buy a cooker for your Sunday afternoon barbecues, you should consider a few things;
- The fuel of the cooker
- The capacity of meat that the cooker can cook at once
Here is a detailed comparison between pit barrel cooker vs. pellet grill, some of the most popular outdoor cookers in the market.
Pit Barrel Cookers
What are pit barrel cookers?
Pit Barrel Smokers are upright top-loading steel barrels designed to cook foods in a closed, restricted space that limits the airflow to keep the temperature constant.
The food is kept directly above the lame in the steel barrel to cook or smoke the meat.
These cookers are big enough to grill or roast a substantial amount of meat.
The barrels have holes that fit up to eight metal bars that hang briskets racks of ribs or other pieces of meat over the charcoal fueled flame underneath.
The metal rods adjust the meat position for adequate and efficient cooking.
How do pit barrels work?
The pit barrel cooker comes with eight stainless steel hooks, two meat-hanging rods, a charcoal basket, a grill grate, and a barrel stand.
It is quite simple to assemble the pit barrel cooker when you follow the instruction manual.
You can choose to use the grill grate or hang and smoke your meat using the cooker’s stainless-steel hooks.
Hanging the meat allows it to cook evenly due to the convection heat and airflow inside the barrel.
The pit barrel cooker allows the meat to drip juices to the charcoal, which adds flavor to the smoke allowing it to cook with better aroma and flavor.
To light up the pit barrel cooker, you need to adjust the air vent at the bottom side according to your geographical elevation.
You should then fill up the charcoal basket with charcoal and ignite it. You can now cook your meat using a grill grate or hang it using the metal rods.
What type of meat and food can you prepare with the pit barrel cooker?
The pit barrel cooker is great for cooking whole turkeys’ chicken, ducks, and other birds by hanging using the steel rods.
You can also use the hooks to prepare corn. The grill grate is ideal for cooking ribs and meat briskets.
When comparing the pit barrel cooker vs. pellet grills, the pit barrel cooker is better suited to cook large chunks of meat, like whole turkeys, ducks, and chicken because of its large capacity and even distribution of heat.
The pit barrel cooker is also better suited to cook whole beef tenderloins planked salmons, and vegetables on the grill grate.
Precautions when using the pit barrel cooker
The first precaution is to use heavy-duty gloves when stuffing and removing charcoal from the grill.
You may injure yourself if you don’t use protective gear when trying to ignite the grill.
Ensure you configure the vent correctly according to your elevation above sea level.
The correct adjustments are the vent should be ¼ way open if you are less than 2000 feet above sea level, half-way open when you are between 2000 and 5000 feet above sea level, ¾ way open if you are within 5000 and 8000 feet above sea level and all the way open if you are 8000 feet above sea level.
Take caution not to stand close to the vent when placing your meat in the pit barrel cooker as flames sometimes shoot out of the vent and can burn and injure your leg.
Pros of the Pit Barrel Cooker:
- The pit barrel cooker has a simple design and is easy to use
- It has a solid construction and is sufficiently durable
- It is a versatile cooker, and you can use it as a smoker by hanging chunks of meat or whole poultry using the steel rods with hooks and using the grill grate
- It conveniently cooks meat evenly because of the heat convection within the barrel
Cons of the Pit Barrel Cooker:
- They are only designed to use charcoal as the source of fuel
- It is challenging to control the temperature in a pit barrel cooker
Pellet Grill Cookers
What are pellet grill cookers?
Pellet grill cookers are advanced cookers that use compressed wood pellets as fuel instead of wood chunks and charcoal, like traditional cookers.
These grills use timers or temperature readings by electrical thermostats to regulate the cooker’s cooking heat temperature.
They are extremely versatile and allow you to roast, grill, bake, barbecue, and smoke the food you are cooking.
Most pellet grill cookers have a high capacity to prepare food enough for groups of people.
How do pellet grill cookers work?
Pellet grill cookers use augers that move chunks of wood from a hopper to a combustion chamber underneath the grill.
The number of pellets dispersed to the combustion chamber depends on the cooking temperature that you set.
A hot rod ignites the pellets in the combustion chamber, and a fan blows the heat generated to create convection that evenly cooks your food on the grill.
Pellet grill cookers have digital electronic controls that make it easy for you to control your food’s cooking temperature.
What type of meats and food can you prepare using pellet grill cookers?
Pellet grill cookers are incredibly versatile and can prepare meals in several ways.
The best foods to cook using a pellet grill cooker include pork, beef, chicken, lamb, seafood, bread, and vegetables.
The pellet grill allows the mentioned foods to be baked, roasted, smoked, or grilled using various recipes because the cooker has easy temperature control.
Food cooked with pellet grill cookers has a natural taste with an exotic hardwood flavor that you cannot easily achieve using a charcoal, gas, or electric grill.
When comparing pit barrel cooker vs. pellet grill cookers, pellet grill cookers can prepare a wider variety of meat and food because of its temperature control and versatility.
It is better suited to make baked poultry, bread, and vegetables. It is favored to prepare tender meat portions that need to cook with limited heat.
Although it may not have as much capacity as a pit barrel cooker, a pellet grill makes a better barbecue because of the efficient cooking temperature control.
Precautions when using pellet grill cookers.
The following are precautions to take when using a pellet grill cooker:
- Ensure the control knobs and switches are in the off position before you plug your cooker to an electricity source
- Avoid using your grill in the rain and always keep your wood pellets dry to avoid electrical malfunction
- Ensure no power cords are exposed to water before you start using the grill
- Always use the grill in an adequately ventilated environment
Pros of pellet grill cookers:
- Pellet grill cookers have spectacular heat control making them ideal for cooking food in a variety of ways
- They have excellent smoke circulation and require minimal monitoring when cooking
- They have drip pans that drain excess fat from the meat while cooking
- They are simple to use because of their automatic controls
Cons of pellet grill cookers:
- Unlike pit barrel cookers, pellet grill cookers use a lot of electricity to maintain the recommended cooking temperature
- Most pellet grill cookers have a low cooking capacity and cannot prepare as much food as a pit barrel cooker
- Pellet grill cookers cannot work in rainy weather conditions
In conclusion, both pit barrel cookers and pellet grill cookers are incredible additions to any household that enjoys outdoor meals.
Pit Barrels and Pellet grills both provide adequate versatility for preparing food.
Featured image credit: Shutterstock.com Image ID: 1383087341