Barrel House Cooker vs Pit Barrel Cooker: Same Same?

Barrel House Cooker vs Pit Barrel Cooker

From the outside, they look like they’re essentially the same thing… A steel drum you hang food, promising easier charcoal smoking in your backyard.

But, you’re probably here because you realize they’re not the same inside.

No, the Pit Barrel Cooker and Barrel House Cooker have a few distinctive differences that’s going to edge you in the direction of buying one over the other.

So, to make your choice easy, we’ve laid out the similarities and differences between these two drum smokers right here. In this comparison of the Barrel House Cooker vs Pit Barrel Cooker, you’ll find information on their build quality, size, temperature range, cook time, versatility and ease of use.

Yes, we’ll also tell you which one we’d buy. But, what you choose will depend on what you’re planning on doing it it. Both are really popular smokers for a reason and you can’t actually go wrong with either.

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The Quick Version: BHC vs PBC

Both the Barrel House Cooker and the Pit Barrel Cooker are well-built vertical charcoal smokers.

They’re designed to maximize space and efficiency by smoking foods at a fixed temperature, sealing in the moisture for an even 360° and effortless cook that really is set and forget. Ideal for beginners, but, equally as suitable for the experienced pitmaster who just can’t be bothered, they’re durable and great value for money.

While both smokers can be used for grilling as well, the main difference between the two is that the Barrel House Cooker gives you more high-heat options. You can raise the height of the bottom charcoal grate so you can use the top level for grilling, while on the PBC, you’re bending down into the drum to place and turn your steaks.

The BHC can also be set up as a hibachi grill for reverse searing or using on it’s own.

Advantages of the PBC over the BHC are that you can get the smaller Junior version if the larger is too big or too awkward for portability. Plus, they sell a lot of useful add-ons and you can choose customized plates with the US flag or services on them as well (because it’s a Veteran-owned business).

So, while we can’t deny that the Barrel House Cooker’s got some definite advantages going for it and they’re about the same in terms of build and performance, we do just love the Pit Barrel Cooker.

Either way you really can’t go wrong. But, if it’s just smoking you’re after, we don’t mind paying the little bit extra that the PBC costs.

A Bit About the Pit Barrel Cooker

The Pit Barrel Cooker (also known as the PBC) is the top-rated and best-selling drum smoker in the world.

Manufactured by a US Veteran and family-owned business that specializes in just this design, it’s really solid, lets you hang a lot of meat, and, because of it’s vertical design, makes charcoal smoking a set and forget experience.

Available in two different sizes; the the Classic 18.5″ and 14″ Pit Barrel Junior, all Pit Barrel Cooker’s come with everything you need to make some of the best barbecue you’ve ever tasted (yep, it’s really really good!). There’s also upgraded packages that include useful add-on’s like the PBC branded cover, ash pan and turkey hangers.

A Bit About the Barrel House Cooker

The Barrel House Cooker is a competing brand of drum smoker that also uses the same vertical setup where you hang the meat inside for increased capacity with 360° heat dynamics that charcoal smokes quickly and easily.

Yes, it looks really similar to the PBC. In fact, the PBC Company actually took the BHC Company to court back in 2018, settling the lawsuit on the basis that the BHC Company would make royalty payments to PBC under a licensing agreement.

But, the Barrel House Cooker is actually slightly different to the Pit Barrel Cooker because of it’s more modular design.

While the PBC is pretty much a dedicated smoker, on the Barrel House Cooker you can move the charcoal up for grilling as well, and, you can remove the barrel from the base to create a hibachi grill.

Note: The Barrel House Cooker is exclusively sold through Amazon.

A Quick Comparison of the BHC vs PBC

For a quick summary of their similarities and differences, the table below shows how the Barrel House Cooker and Pit Barrel Cooker compare.

What's Different?

  • BHC has removable base to add coals mid-cook, clean, or, use as a hibachi
  • BHC has a 3 position grate making grilling easier as you can adjust the height
  • BHC has a built-in thermometer
  • PBC is available in Junior size as well
  • BHC is a little cheaper
  • More accessories available for the PBC
  • Customizable services logo plate on the PBC

What's The Same?

  • Durable, porcelain-coated steel drum body
  • Shorter cook time than most smokers
  • Very similar temperature range
  • Both come with 8 hooks for hanging
  • Similar physical size
  • Similar cooking capacity
  • 1 year warranties

An In-Depth Look at the Barrel House Cooker vs Pit Barrel Cooker

Build Quality

Both the Pit Barrel Cooker and the House Barrel Cooker are made from a porcelain-coated steel. This gives it strength and durability and means you won’t ever have to worry about paint peeling off if you run it too hot.

The House Barrel Cooker body is an 20-gauge steel while the Pit Barrel Cooker is an 18-gauge.

If you’re not familiar with gauge levels, smaller numbers indicate a thicker steel. So, the PBC is slightly thicker and heavier than the HBC. But, in saying that, there’s not a lot of difference here.

Both are also made with some stainless steel components including stainless steel hooks for hanging so that rust isn’t a problem long-term.

The bottom line – The PBC and BHC are practically the same in terms of build quality. Both are strong, sturdy and durable smokers – BARREL HOUSE COOKER and PIT BARREL COOKER.

Capacity

The Barrel House Cooker and Pit Barrel Cooker are virtually the same size. The BHC measures about 18″ across while the PBC comes in at a slightly larger 18.5″.

And, with the 8 hanging hooks that both of them come with, there’s no noticeable difference in what these two smokers will fit. To smoke in a hanging configuration which is the norm, you’re looking at 8 racks of ribs, 4 whole chickens, a 15 pound brisket, or, a whole turkey.

For grilling, the grate sizes are almost identical and you should be able to get about 10 burger patties per cook.

But, if you’re keen on these smokers because of how well they work instead of how much food they can hold, the Pit Barrel Cooker does offer a smaller 14″ model, the Junior PBC.

On the PBC Junior, you can expect to fit 6 racks of ribs, 3 chickens, still a whole brisket, or, a smaller whole turkey.

Because it’s not so big, the PBC Junior is also more portable if you’re thinking tailgating or camping as well…

The bottom line – The original capacity of both the PBC and BHC are virtually the same. But, because Pit Barrel makes a smaller model as well that’s more portable and suits couples and smaller families, we’re giving this one to them – PIT BARREL COOKER.

Temperature Range and Control

If you’re not familiar with how the Pit Barrel Cooker and Barrel House Cookers work, there’s one distinctive thing about them both – they’re both fixed temperature smokers.

So, once you’ve set the intake/exhaust based on your elevation and load up the charcoal, it’ll maintain a steady temperature throughout the cook without you having to do a thing.

The Barrel House Cooker advertises it’s temperature range as 275˚- 310˚F, which we’ve found to be pretty accurate. And, the Pit Barrel Cooker’s run at somewhere between 250˚- 300˚F.

Once they’re going you don’t need to do a thing. A full load of charcoal should last you an entire smoke. That’s one of the best things about these two smokers compared to other charcoal options, they’re actually set and forget. It’s not just easy for beginners, it’s convenient for anyone who’s got better things to do than mess around with heat levels all day long.

The Barrel House Cooker has a temperature gauge into the lid while the Pit Barrel Cooker doesn’t. Some people would say that puts the BHC ahead. But, when the temperature is meant to stay steady (and BHC even say the gauge is there so you can monitor how steady it is), is it really an advantage?

We’re of the opinion that not having the temperature gauge in the PBC actually reduces your stress-levels by eliminating another thing to ‘check’ throughout your cook. After all, it’s set and forget and it was made to be that way.

The bottom line – Both the PBC and BHC run at very similar temperatures and don’t require anything in the way of temperature control once they’re set up correctly based on your altitude – BARREL HOUSE COOKER and PIT BARREL COOKER.

Cook Time

The slightly higher than your ‘normal’ 225˚F low and slow smoking temperature, plus the vertical 360˚ cooking dynamics makes both the PBC and the HBC cook faster than you’d expect on other types of smokers.

The Barrel House Cooker Company estimates that most meats cook about 40% faster than a traditional smoker. And, while the Pit Barrel Cooker don’t state an actual statistic, you can expect the same kind of time savings.

So, if 14+ hour smoked brisket is your thing, you might want to look at another type of smoker altogether (check out the Weber Smokey Mountain for something similar). But, if you want to be able to do a brisket in a day without an early wake-up, either of these smokers will get the job done.

The bottom line – Because they’re essentially the same setup, you’re looking at the same shorter cook times on both the PBC and BHC – BARREL HOUSE COOKER and PIT BARREL COOKER.

Smoking Performance

The results you can get on both the Barrel House Cooker and Pit Barrel Cooker are incredible!

Until you’ve tried one of these set-ups, you won’t believe how juicy and smoky your able to get the meat.

Because it’s a fixed temperature and you shouldn’t have to add any extra charcoal mid-cook, you don’t need to babysit either model. They’re actually set and forget. It’s a bit like a charcoal-based version of a pellet smoker. And, it doesn’t need electricity to run either.

On either of these smokers, you can use the included grill grate, or, hang the meat for smoking. But, hanging is what they’re designed to do.

If you’re afraid of the bottom edge being overdone compared and dried out compared to the other end, don’t be! The way the heat and moisture circulates in these, it literally cooks evenly top to bottom while the drippings vaporize, basting the food in extra flavor. It’s freaking delicious! And, oh so easy…two massive ticks in our boxes.

The bottom line – They’re essentially the same smoking setup and both work just as well as each other in turning out incredibly moist, evenly cooked meat with hardly any effort at all – BARREL HOUSE COOKER and PIT BARREL COOKER.

Grilling and Versatility

So, grilling is the area where the biggest differences come into play with the House Barrel Cooker and Pit Barrel Cooker.

While you can grill on both, the House Barrel Cooker is better setup for it.

So, why the difference?

Well… Inside the Pit Barrel Cooker you’ve got a charcoal grate that’s set at the base of the drum. Above that sits the grilling grate that can be used for smoking as well. And, at the top is the setup for hanging meats.

So, when you’re grilling on a Pit Barrel Cooker, you’re bending down to the middle grate to flip your meat. It’s really not ideal and long-sleeved heat-resistant gloves are pretty much a must.

The House Barrel Cooker gives you a bit more flexibility. You can do the same setup as the Pit Barrel Cooker. But, you can also raise the bottom charcoal tray to the middle so that you can use the cooking grate at the top of the drum for grilling. It’s much easier access-wise and is like using a regular charcoal grill.

But, you can also set the BHC as a hibachi grill as well. It’s perfect for reverse searing, or, using as a portable grill.

You just lift the barrel off the base and move the cooking grate and away you go.

The bottom line – When it comes to grilling, the BHC is definitely better set up for high-heat cooking – BARREL HOUSE COOKER.

Portability

Because these smokers are just one piece, they’re really easy to pick up and move. Yes, they do take up a lot of space. But, if you’re just loading them onto the back of your truck tray, they’re easy to take with you.

But, if size does matter, the Pit Barrel Cooker does do the Junior version that’s not as wide or as tall so fits into a smaller vehicle.

The bottom line – The PBC does a smaller version which is more portable than the larger models – PIT BARREL COOKER.

Price

For what’s a very similar product, the 18″ Barrel House Cooker retails for about $20 USD less than the 18.5″ Pit Barrel Cooker (click the links to check the current prices). Both include similar accessories and come with all the basics you need to grill and smoke.

If you’re on an even tighter budget, the PBC Junior is even cheaper than the BHC. It is smaller. But, it’s still got a good capacity for the price.

There are also add-on packages you can get with the Pit Barrel Cooker. They’re even better value than the basic package, and, you’re getting quite a few accessories that while aren’t essential, are very useful.

The bottom line – There’s no denying that both the PBC and BHC are great value for money. You’re getting a top rated smoker for a great price. But, the full-sized BHC’s are cheaper than the PBC so they take this one – BARREL HOUSE COOKER.

Cleaning

Drum smokers are really easy to clean.

You need to scrape the grates down or clean the hanging hooks after each use. Both the PBC and BHC’s hooks are stainless steel so they’re easy to wash and can even go in the dishwasher.

You’ll also need to empty the ash that collects at the bottom once it’s cold.

Because the BHC has a detachable base, it’s a bit easier to get in there to empty the ash. But, the Pit Barrel Cooker do sell an ash pan that connects to the bottom of the charcoal grate and collects all the ash. It makes emptying it easy as. And, it’s included in the PBC Select Package and up.

The bottom line – Without any extras, the BHC is slightly easier to clean – BARREL HOUSE COOKER.

Warranty

Both the Pit Barrel Cooker and the Barrel House Cooker come with 1 year warranties.

It’s really pretty surprising that it’s not longer seeing as it’s a porcelain-coated steel drum with basic components and no electrical parts. Either way you go, you’re getting the same warranty offering.

We’d really expect both smokers to well outlast the warranty periods if they’re looked after properly. But, it is what it is.

The bottom line – Both brands offer the same length 1 year warranty – BARREL HOUSE COOKER and PIT BARREL COOKER.

Specs for the 18" Barrel House Cooker

Barbecue type: Charcoal drum cooker

Barbecue material: Porcelain-enameled, 20-gauge steel

Grate material: Stainless steel or regular steel depending on accessory

Cooking capacity: Varies depending on accessories used

Heat Range: 275 – 310°F

Fuel type: Charcoal

Price guide: $

Model: Barrel House Cooker 18C

Assembled size (in): 24.5″ W x 35.5″ H x 18″ D

Weight: 44 lbs

Warranty: 1 year

Specs for the Pit Barrel Cooker Classic 18.5"

Barbecue type: Charcoal drum cooker

Barbecue material: Porcelain-enameled, 18-gauge steel

Grate material: Stainless steel or regular steel depending on accessory

Cooking capacity: Varies depending on accessories used

Heat Range: 250 – 300°F

Fuel type: Charcoal

Price guide: $$

Model: Pit Barrel Cooker Classic

Assembled size (in): 21″ W x 31.1″ H x 21″ D

Weight: 57 lbs

Warranty: 1 year

Our Verdict on the Pit Barrel Cooker vs Weber Smokey Mountain

When it comes to the question of should I buy the Pit Barrel Cooker or the Barrel House Cooker, our answer is it depends on what you’re using it for.

The Barrel House Cooker does have the advantage of being more flexible with grate positioning for more optimal grilling. And, it’s price point is slightly lower than that of the PBC.

But, we’ve also just got to say that we love the Pit Barrel Cooker. It’s solid, still great value for money, and, it’s nice to know you’re supporting a US Veteran and family-owned business.

If you’re mainly going to be using it for smoking anyway, the fact that the BHC is a little better suited to grilling doesn’t really factor into your decision. And, the value-add upgraded packages, services logo plates and choice of sizes are nice options to have as well.

So, in summary, if you want a more versatile choice or need to save the extra money, go for the Barrel House Cooker. But, both are great smokers that should last for years to come and are couldn’t be easier to use.

Read our full review of the Pit Barrel Cooker.