If you’re just starting your BBQ adventure, and you’re looking for your first solid smoker, you’ll probably embark on a fact-finding mission.
You’ll do your research, read the reviews, and identify two brands that are on your list of top options. And then you’ll be stuck!
You’ll be asking yourself: ‘Which is better, the Weber Smokey Mountain or the Pit Barrel Cooker?’
Today, I’ll try to help you make sense of it all.
You can be assured that both models are on my list of the best vertical smokers – I own both of them, and have loved the experience with each one! They are both of excellent quality, and it’s really tough to put one ahead of the other. The Pit Barrel excels in mobility while the Weber is more versatile.
Due to my personal experience with both brands, I decided to put together an honest and objective comparison between them.
Both the Pit Barrel Cooker and Weber Smokey Mountain have upsides and downsides. At the end of the day, I believe that no matter which one you pick, you will be satisfied.
However, take a look at the comparison below to help you decide which product would best suit YOUR needs:
|Pit Barrel Cooker||Weber Smokey Mountain|
|Ease of use||√|
|Brand and marketing||√|
|Slow and low/fast and hot||√|
|Quality of workmanship||√||√|
Comparing Pit Barrel Cooker vs Weber Smokey Mountain
Let’s look at all the factors that are important to consider when buying a smoker and see how each of the brands pan out.
Ease of use
Both smokers are very easy to use. They are simple to set up, and both maintain the right temperature over many hours without requiring a lot of input from you.
They differ in terms of the cooking system (more on that below), but both are very intuitive, and you won’t make any mistakes if you’re careful and think things through.
The Pit Barrel Cooker is only built for slow and low smoking, which means that from the moment you get the right temperature you don’t have to do anything to maintain it. So, in this regard, I believe that the Pit Barrel Cooker is better.
Also read: How Does a BBQ Smoker Work, what is a smoker & what does it do?
In both cases, starting the cooker is incredibly simple, although in the Weber Smokey Mountain there are many ways to do it.
When it comes to the Pit Barrel Cooker, all you need to do is fill the bowl with charcoal, get it burning, and you’re done.
Learn more about how to use a BBQ smoker here in this easy guide to your first smoked meat
The Weber Smokey Mountain and the Pit Barrel Cooker are available at very similar prices and in similar sizes, so in this regard, there is no competition.
There is a slight difference in what they offer for the price. They differ a little in their cooking systems and structures, too, which is why I encourage you to read the whole article so you can learn the details and differences and choose the one that suits your needs the best.
Regardless of how well both models are built and their overall quality, it does give you a good feeling when a product you are buying is covered with a decent warranty. It always makes one feel secure, especially if you’re a beginner.
The Weber Smokey Mountain is covered with 10 years of warranty, whereas the Pit Barrel Cooker only offers 1 year, which is a little disappointing. The Weber wins this round.
With both of these smokers, you will get a lot of space for your money, but there are certain limitations.
The Weber Smokey Mountain is limited by the diameter of the grates and their number (2), which means that long pieces of meat such as ribs don’t fit.
The Pit Barrel Cooker, on the other hand, has no problem with that thanks to a system of hooks and just one grate. The system of hooks is also possible in the Weber Smokey Mountain, but buying separate accessories is required to make that happen.
Brand & marketing
Both brands are renowned in the world of BBQ, although it’s Weber that has a longer and richer history. The Weber Smokey Mountain dates back to 1981, whereas the Pit Barrel Cooker was only launched in 2003.
Due to how great those smokers are, both manufacturers have no problem with their marketing. Pit Barrel Cooker as well as Weber Smokey Mountain always appear at many important events and are very well commented on and rated.
The Weber Smokey Mountain and the Pit Barrel Cooker are high-quality charcoal smokers with non-complicated structures, which makes them unlikely to malfunction.
If any problem does occur, however, both brands provide great support for their customer – some of the best in the industry, in fact.
The Pit Barrel Cooker’s structure was designed to hang your meat up by hooks, but it does also have a grate. This is a handy option if you want to smoke longer pieces of meat.
In the Weber Smokey Mountain, things are a little different with longer pieces of meat being a problem because the structure was designed to smoke meat only on the two grates.
You can adapt the Weber Smokey Mountain to the Pit Barrel Cooker style, but you will have to buy hooks separately.
In both cases, it is very easy to control temperature, but the Pit Barrel Cooker wins here, as it’s slightly easier.
The Pit Barrel Cooker was designed in such a way that it is allowed to achieve a fixed temperature within the range of 250-300 degrees F, which means that from the moment of warming it up you don’t have to worry about anything because it can’t get too hot.
The Weber Smokey Mountain, on the other hand, makes it possible to smoke at different times and temperature ranges, so it requires adjusting the air vents if you want to get your meat done perfectly.
For more control with each of these smokers make sure you get a good wireless meat thermometer
‘Slow & low’ or ‘fast & hot’
The Pit Barrel Cooker can only create the conditions for ‘slow and low’ smoking, whereas Weber Smokey Mountain is versatile in this regard.
The Weber makes it possible to smoke ‘slow and low’ or ‘fast and hot’ – the maximum temperature achieved is up to the cook.
After checking out the online stores of both brands, it is easy to conclude that they both offer a wide selection of accessories.
In my opinion, the Pit Barrel Cooker has more interesting accessories available at the official store. However, there will certainly be a lot of useful gadgets available for the owners of either smoker.
Judging by their general use cases and available accessories, both smokers are versatile units. However, if we take a look at the temperature control and cooking style, it is the Weber that comes out on top.
The Pit Barrel Cooker only allows for ‘slow and low’ smoking, whereas the Weber Smokey Mountain makes it possible to smoke meat ‘hot and fast’ or ‘slow and low’ due to the extra temperature control options.
Quality of workmanship
There is no doubt that both charcoal smokers are very high quality. They have a great design which has been improved year after year.
Today these are the two most popular charcoal smokers available at a reasonable price, and they can certainly survive a lot, but if you need a warranty then Weber offers 10 years for their product, whereas Pit Barrel Cooker only offers 1 year.
The winner here is the Pit Barrel Cooker, which is much less complicated when it comes to cleaning than the Weber Smokey Mountain. My tip when it comes to Pit Barrel Cooker is to put tinfoil right below the charcoal basket to collect all the impurities such as grease.
Once you’re done smoking, just throw the tinfoil away and clean the hooks – this only takes a moment once you get experienced.
Cleaning the Weber is very easy, but sadly takes much more time.
You must clean the grill grates, throw out the ash, clean and empty the water bowl – these seem like simple things, but they take much more time than throwing away some foil and cleaning some hooks.
In terms of mobility, the winner is the Pit Barrel Cooker, thanks to its simple and uniform structure, and its equipment of two convenient handles. These things make it easy to move from one place to the other.
This isn’t so simple when it comes to the Weber, which consists of three parts, making it impossible to move as a whole. In order to change its location, one has to move each of the three parts one by one.
Pit Barrel Cooker vs Weber Smokey Mountain – conclusion
In this comparison, there is no clear winner, as both are high-quality products that won’t disappoint you.
No matter which you pick, you will be satisfied, provided you’ve read this article and chosen the one that works best for your situation. Both make it possible to prepare the same food but in slightly different ways.
I own a Pit Barrel Cooker and a Weber Smokey Mountain and use both regularly, choosing which one based on the situation I’m cooking in.
The Pit Barrel Cooker is more mobile. It was designed to smoke on hooks and is, therefore, better for longer pieces of meat. Cleaning takes less time, and there is no temperature control.
The Weber Smokey Mountain is the most versatile in terms of temperature, good for ‘low and slow’ or ‘fast and hot’ smoking – especially handy if you are a fan of all-night smoking. It comes with a 10-year warranty. I also believe that when it comes to most types of meat it gives slightly better results.
So now it’s up to you. Will you choose the Pit Barrel Cooker or the Weber Smokey Mountain? As I have said, I couldn’t choose, so I have both.
Wondering how charcoal smokers compare to electric or propane/gas smokers?