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Ugly Drum Smokers

What is an Ugly Drum Smoker (UDS)?

Ugly drum smokers (often abbreviated UDS) are charcoal-based, upright barrel smokers. Drum smokers are at the crossroads of a pit, grill, and smoker and offer a variety of benefits when compared to conventional smokers. The primary benefits are greater ease-of-use and faster cook times, all while delivering some of the best, tender, smoked meat anyone can make.

Ugly drums are typically built at home by a DIYer using a 55 gallon (22-inch diameter) drum, but there are a variety of commercial options available now. In fact, at the California KCBS State BBQ Championship in November 2016, nearly half of the competitors cooked on some version of drum cookers. Barrel House Cookers are the next generation of ugly drum smokers, offering more functionality and a more compact, patio-friendly design to bring the concept to even more people.

KCBS BBQ Championship

Barrel Cookers at KCBS BBQ Championship 11/12/16

Ugly Drum Smoker

Photo Courtesy of Instagram User @texcellentbbq

How Do I Build My Own UDS?

No two ugly drums are ever identical, but all drum smokers consist of a few essential components. 55 gallon drums are most commonly used as the frame for ugly barrel smokers and can be purchased new (highly recommended) for around $90. In addition to the barrel, every UDS requires a ventilation system, which can be as simple as a single hole drilled at the top and bottom of the can or more complex, with adjustable intakes and exhaust ports. The more refined the ventilation system is, the more reliable the smoker will be.

A basic ugly drum smoker also needs a basket system for the charcoal along with cooking grates for the meat. These components can either be homemade (this requires a considerable amount of work) or purchased in pre-made kits such as Big Poppa’s All-in Drum Kit for $199, which simplifies the process and removes the need for welding equipment.

For more information on building your own UDS, you can check out these how-tos from and

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UDS Infographic

How to Build an Ugly Drum Smoker Infographic -

Source: Blog

UDS: The Next Generation

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Barrel House Cookers

For those who are looking to enjoy the simplicity and delicious results of a UDS barrel smoker without building one themselves, Barrel House Cookers are an easy, reliable, high-quality alternative. Built from heavy duty steel, coated with porcelain enamel (NOT paint or powder coat) and requiring little to no assembly upon arrival, Barrel House Cookers take all of the work out of drum smokers. Though both Barrel House Cooker models (14D and 18C) have a smaller diameter than a 55 gallon barrel drum, we utilize the vertical volume of drums by hanging meat over the coals rather than grating most meats. This allows our users to still cook a large volume of meat in a barrel that has a much more compact, portable, and manageable footprint than most ugly drum smokers. We also offer several features such as a detachable base and a preset, elevation-based intake and exhaust for added ease of use.

Try the Barrel House Cooker risk-free for 30 days!

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