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Pellet Grills

Barrel House vs. Pellet Grills

Wood pellet grills have revolutionized the barbecue game. Companies like Traeger and Green Mountain have made barbecue a breeze with the "set it and forget it" simplicity of automated smokers. With pellet smokers, checking meat, flare-ups and fussing over temperature are all a thing of the past.

The Barrel House Cooker took the "set it and forget it" concept that originated with Traeger and fit the same turnkey simplicity into an affordable, compact, vertical platform. Minimal size, maximum capacity, traditional smoky flavor — the Barrel House can do anything a pellet grill can, all at a fraction of the cost.

Head-to-Head Comparison

Green Mountain


Barrel House


To get your hands on a Traeger or Green Mountain pellet smoker, you will have to find a local dealer to purchase it from. With most pellet smokers, there will be some assembly required and you will have to season the grill before it is ready to cook. With the Barrel House, you can order online and have it shipped right to your door free of charge. Within twenty minutes of delivery, you will be ready to cook. Little to no assembly, no seasoning and no hassle, just delicious barbecue.

Start-up is a breeze with both systems. With the Barrel House, simply fill the basket with charcoal, light the coals, close the lid and you're good to go. For pellet grills, start-up is as simple as loading the pellets, turning it on and setting the temperature. Just make sure there is a reliable power source nearby — pellet cookers require a constant stream of electricity to function.

The Barrel House Cooker is $249 with free shipping.

Cooking Method
While both systems function as smokers, they vary greatly in how they approach the concept. Pellet grills are very similar to conventional smokers, using indirect heat to fill the drum with heat and smoke, but the automated fuel system gives them much greater temperature control than conventional smokers. The predictable temperature allows for time based cooking, but comes at the expense of flavor. Traditionally, the smoky flavor in barbecue comes from burning wood and, while the pellets are primarily made from various woods, they are notorious for being light on that ever-sought after smokiness.

The Barrel House, on the other hand, breaks all barbecue conventions. Built vertically, the Barrel House uses hooks to hang meat directly over charcoal, allowing juices from the meat to drip onto the coals, vaporizing them and enhancing the tenderness of the meat. In addition to the light smokiness that the charcoal infuses, an additional smoke profile can be achieved by including wood chips or chunks in the coal basket.

With an elevation based air intake and preset exhaust, the Barrel House creates a sealed environment that traps moisture and moderates temperature. Using just six to eight pounds of charcoal, depending on the model, the Barrel House can maintain a constant temperature for over six hours. Simply adjust the intake to the desired setting, set a timer and let the Barrel House take care of the rest.

Pellet grills and vertical smokers are both guaranteed to produce delicious results, but with several key differences. Like the fuel used in pellet smokers, the charcoal that the Barrel House burns will also produce a light smoke profile. The Barrel House is differentiated by its ability to burn wood along with the charcoal, allowing users to adjust the smokiness based on preference. Simply add wood chunks at any time before or during the cook. The barrel simply lifts off the base to add additional wood as desired.

Adjust smokiness by adding wood to the charcoal.

The Barrel House also takes the edge on moisture. Pellet grills catch the additional juices and drain them into a grease bucket, meaning lost moisture. With the Barrel House, all of the runoff drips directly on the coals, vaporizing and surrounding the meat in a cloud of moisture. The moisture combined with the sealed nature of the Barrel House creates a pit environment that ensures juicy, tender results.

While pellet grills use indirect heat, the Barrel House cooks with an “all around” direct heat through natural convection air movement. By exposing the entire piece of meat to direct heat all at once, the Barrel House is able to produce a more desirable bark and crispier chicken skin.

Portability is another defining feature of the Barrel House. Weighing in at just thirty-three pounds on the 14D Model, and with a diameter of only fourteen inches, the Barrel House is among the most compact smokers on the market. With the ability to easily fit in the back of any truck or sedan, the Barrel House is as comfortable on the patio as it is at a tailgate.

Barrel House Ribs

The Barrel House can easily hold six racks of ribs.

Worried that the Barrel House is too small to feed everyone at the cookout? Don't be. The Barrel House can easily hold six racks of ribs, three whole chickens or even a full packer brisket. This is thanks to the vertical system, which maximizes cooking capacity by hanging rather than laying it horizontally on a grate. You will have to buy at least a medium sized pellet grill to achieve a similar capacity.

As for pellet grills, portability is not much of an option. Even the smallest models weigh nearly twice as much as the Barrel House while larger ones can weigh upwards of one hundred pounds. The electronic system further complicates things by requiring a reliable power source at all times. No plug-in, no cooking on a pellet grill.

A reliable, medium sized pellet smoker that can hold up to five racks of ribs will cost around $700 — a great deal compared to the cost of most traditional smokers, but the Barrel House is not a traditional smoker. At just $249, the BHC 14D can hold at least six racks of ribs, delivering more for less. The BHC 18C can hold at least eight racks of ribs delivering the same outcome as the more slender 14D, because of it’s larger diameter.

At such a low price, the Barrel House must be a flimsy tin can made in China, right? Think again. Designed and assembled in the United States, built from twenty gauge steel and fully coated in porcelain enamel, the Barrel House Cooker is built to last. Highly refined, low maintenance, exceptional flavor. Guaranteed.


Pellet grills and the Barrel House Cooker both make barbecue easy with their "set it and forget it" simplicity. The Barrel House maximizes cooking space, smokiness and moisture while pellet smokers maximize grilling space. Both platforms excel at temperature control, while the higher end pellet grills with thermostat-based regulation take a slight edge. Both platforms allow for time based cooking and produce delicious results with little effort. For those who want a smoker that they can show off at their cookout while they grill enough burgers to feed an army, pellet smokers are an excellent option, while the Barrel House is perfect for those who want traditional smoked barbecue in a portable design that is easy to use and affordable. Lastly, the Barrel House 18C offers a larger grilling space with a diameter of 18 inches vs the 14 inches on the 14D Model.

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Outstanding cooker!... Let me tell you, I own 4 other cookers. A Weber 22 inch kettle, a Rec-Tec pellet smoker, a Primo ceramic and a Masterbuilt vertical. None of them come close to the ease of use of this cooker... I believe anyone looking to up their bbq game should at least consider this purchase.
- Jeremiah C.