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Kettle Grills

Barrel House vs. Kettle Grills

For decades, kettles have been the go-to for beginners and barbecue enthusiasts alike. With affordable pricing, compact designs and a quick learning curve, it is no surprise that charcoal kettles like the Weber Original are the grill of choice for many barbecuers around the world.

The Barrel House Cooker is an alternative charcoal cooker that produces unrivaled flavor and moisture in a similarly compact and durable design. In addition to delivering the same traditional flavor, the Barrel House is revolutionizing the charcoal game with its hassle-free simplicity.

Head-to-Head Comparison



Barrel House

How They Work
Barrel smokers and kettle grills both operate on the same principle — cooking meat over charcoal with controlled airflows to regulate their internal temperature. Both platforms are built with thick steel coated in porcelain enamel, making them extremely durable. The Barrel House has an elevation-based intake slider with preset exhaust ports, while kettles like the Weber Classic have adjustable intake and exhaust dampers. On kettles, grates are used to hold meat over the coals while the Barrel House can use hooks in addition to grates.

The bowl-shaped bottom portion of the kettle allows the coals to be spread out over a large area to create a bed for direct grilling or they can be pushed to one side for two-zone cooking. The two-zone method helps prevent flare-ups, gives users more control when grilling and can even be used to convert the kettles into convection cookers. However, because convection cooking requires indirect heat, the total grill space that can be utilized is greatly reduced by this method.

The Barrel House Deluxe is $249 with free shipping.

The Barrel House can also be used for both smoking and grilling without moving the coals around or losing any cooking space. The vertical barrel design allows for smoking when meat is hung from the top level, while grilling can be achieved by placing meat on lower levels, closer to the charcoal. Thanks to a specially engineered airflow, drippings from the meat vaporize rather than causing flare-ups. This creates a pit environment that bathes the meat in a tenderizing cloud of moisture while the airflow also maintains consistent temperatures throughout a cook.

Versatility & Ease of Use
Kettles are excellent grills. The 22” Weber Original Kettle has enough surface area to grill twenty burgers at once while the charcoal is sure to impart much more flavor than any gas grill ever could. The ability to cook indirectly using two zones also gives users a much greater degree of control over their cook and helps ensure that the meat is cooked to perfection. Preparing for the cook will require some trial and error; from finding the right amount of charcoal to adjusting the intake and exhaust, there are a number of variables to adjust for before the kettle is ready to grill.

Tri-tip, asparagus, and potatoes on multi-levels in the Barrel House

Tri-tip, asparagus, and potatoes on multiple levels in the Barrel House.

With a wide variety of accessories, kettles can be converted from grills to convection ovens and even smokers. While setting a kettle up for smoking can be tricky without the right accessories, there is no denying the fact that kettles offer an impressive range of functionality. Adjusting the dampers to achieve the desired temperature takes some practice and maintaining consistent temperatures requires diligence but at a price of just $99 for a 22” Weber Original, kettles are one of the best values on the barbecue market.

The Barrel House also offers a broad range of functionality. Beyond its primary function as a cooker, the Barrel House operates as a smoker, grill, convection oven and the detachable base even doubles as a hibachi. The quality of the meat that the Barrel House produces is also unrivaled. By slow cooking in a moist environment, the Barrel House infuses a traditional, smoky flavor along with a level of moisture that few can match.

Consistently easy with greater versatility.

The elevation-based air intake and preset exhaust guarantees that the Barrel House will always operate in the same temperature range, meaning no guesswork, no fussing with dampers and no need to add charcoal. The premeasured charcoal basket also lets users know the exact amount of charcoal needed before a cook while the detachable base allows for easier ash removal after a cook. With the Barrel House, nothing is left up to chance.

The Barrel House also offers a wide variety of accessories ranging from a cedar plank to a drumstick rack and even a pizza pan. With the ability to smoke, grill, sear, bake and more, the Barrel House is one of the most versatile cookers on the market.

The vertical design of the Barrel House also allows it to do more with less. Because it is capable of hanging meat in addition to using grates, the Barrel House maximizes cooking volume. Despite its compact diameter of only fourteen inches, the Barrel House can hold over six racks of ribs.

Price is also an important factor to consider. The Barrel House retails for $249 while the 22” Weber Original can be purchased for $99. Given the broad functionality and reliability of both platforms as well as the ease of use that the Barrel House offers, both cookers are great values.


Whether you go with a kettle or the Barrel House, you will be making a great investment. For someone who is looking to barbecue on a budget and primarily needs a grill that is capable of two-zone cooking, kettles are an excellent option, while the Barrel House is perfect for anyone who is looking to graduate to the next level and wants something that is affordable, high quality, easy to use and consistent in its results.

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As the owner of over a half dozen cookers from offset to kettles to gas grills the Barrel House Cooker is my favorite. It is easy to use, easy to clean, and is compact. I have cooked beef, pork and chicken with great results... If you are only going to have one cooker this is the one I would recommend.
- J.R. Stockton