The best pit barrel cooker mods

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The pit barrel cooker (PBC) is an innovative Ugly Drum Smoker version (UDS). The UDS design was quite popular among DIY enthusiasts, and in recent times, the pit barrel cooker uses a similar design and style of cooking. 

The pit barrel cooker incorporates the “hook and hang” method, where we can use steel hooks to hang the meat inside the chamber with the help of typically two rebars. The meat is then cooked with even heat produced from the bottom of the cooker. 

It also comes with a cooking grate, stand, and charcoal basket.

Generally, these cookers are among the easiest to work with and thus serve as an excellent start for BBQ beginners.

How to pick the best pit barrel cooker mods

Mods for pit barrels often depend on preference and what one wishes to change or alter in their own PBC.

The “best” mods will vary from person to person. For example, if I like to have double or triple cooking grates as a mod, someone else may prefer a half grate.

In such ways, to choose what’s best for your PBC, you must first list out what you wish to achieve with the mods. 

If you want to have space for a hook and hang along with the cooking grate, you could modify your grate to precisely fit that idea, or you could go ahead and purchase a half grate.

Best pit barrel cooker mods

As said before, pit barrel mods almost always boil down to preference. Thus, one should first figure out their own needs and then only find a mod or even invent one of their own.

But apart from that, here are some of the best pit barrel cooker mods popular among many PBC owners.

  1. Extra Grates: This is a popular modification where we add additional grates below the main one; it helps when you want to make many BBQs but have only one cooker to work with. Apart from increasing space, we can also use the grates at the bottom area to keep water pans or drip trays.

This hinged grate from Amazon is an excellent option to start with.

  1. Temperature Gauge: We often wish to know the level of heat that’s going on in the cooking chambers for a lot of us. Since pit barrel cookers don’t usually come with in-built gauges, modding one onto the PBC may be a good option. You can check out this simple meat thermometer for starters.
  2. Damper: Not everyone might do this, but adding a damper to the lid of your PBC is an excellent way to have better control over the temperature.  You can simply get a regular dampener from a good store and add it yourself, or you could check out this damper from Amazon.
  3. Ash Tray: Cleaning the bottom of the PBC is often tedious work for most of us. Thus, we can make the cleaning session easier by adding a suitable ashtray right below the charcoal/fire basket. This method is simple yet effective.
  4. A taller stand: If you want to have better ease while adding the charcoal basket or want an overall height increase of your PBC, replacing the basic stand with a longer one is also a viable option.

What are pit barrel cooker mods?

Pit barrel cookers are great on their own, but many PBC owners love to add modifications to them. 

Pit barrel cooker mods are simply modifications that we can add manually to its primary body. And all of these mods help fix, enhance or change features of the pit barrel cooker.

Premade mods are often used but for many others like me, making DIY mods is also an excellent way to go. 

Adding mods help to either improve or control different aspects of the cooker. It could also be a simple mod to fix something faulty.

Advantages of using mods in pit barrel cookers

Pit barrel cookers are great as it is, but adding modifications may be an excellent idea for some tweaks here and there.

If you want to have better airflow or temperature control, you could opt for a dampener mod. 

If multiple BBQs at one go is your thing, you can opt for grate modification to put one or two additional cooking grates.

If you want a temperature gauge, you could mod that in too.

There are multiple types of preferences for everyone, and for almost all of them, there are different modifications that can make those choices work.

Precautions while making or using mods

Even if pit barrel cookers are relatively easy to handle, some even call it a “set it and forget it” smoker. But there’s always a good number of precautions that we need to follow, especially when adding mods.

  • While adding mods like a temperature gauge or dampener, make sure not to drill rough holes. Always have a certain level of precision so that you don’t end up making too big of a hole and struggle to fix it.
  • If you plan to add extra grates, or include a half grate, be aware of the inner dimensions of your PBC so that you may avoid getting one that’s too big or too small.
  • Always double-check your tools, sources, and methods before starting your modification on the cooker to prevent unwanted mistakes.


Pit barrel cookers are one of the most fun and simple cookers for a great barbeque. They’re easier to use, making them a good start for beginners in BBQ.

While being famous for being great at high temperatures and portability, pit barrel cookers are also relatively simple for modifications. This makes it a favorite for many barbeque enthusiasts.

You can add different types of modifications like temperature gauges, grate mods, stand improvement, dampener, etc. 

All of these mods are helpful in their way, and we can add them into our own PBC, depending on the type of change we want.

About The Author

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James is a writer who is a self-confessed kitchenware and coffee nerd and a strong advocate of Sundays, good butter, and warm sourdough.