Can you grill on an ugly drum smoker?

Looking to up your grilling game and break free from the same old routine? Enter the world of the ugly drum smoker (UDS) – a beastly contraption that not only smokes but also grills your favorite meats and veggies to absolute perfection.

But wait, can you really grill on an ugly drum smoker? Absolutely. With a few tweaks and some insider know-how, your UDS can become the ultimate grilling machine.

Here’s the lowdown: an ugly drum smoker is basically a repurposed metal barrel that excels in insulation and heat retention. By adding a grill grate close to the charcoal basket, you harness the intense heat from those fiery coals for direct grilling action.

Grilling on a UDS brings heaps of advantages. The high heat and even distribution mean faster cooking times, resulting in beautifully seared exteriors while keeping all those precious juices locked inside. Plus, with its adjustable vent system, you have total control over temperatures – whether it’s low and slow or cranked up for a quick sizzle.

To truly master UDS grilling, there are a few essential techniques you’ll want to nail down. First up is the two-zone fire setup – charcoal on one side, food on the other. This creates a hot direct heat zone for searing and a cooler indirect zone for gentle cooking.

Another trick is preheating your charcoal using a chimney starter before loading it into your UDS. This ensures consistent heat throughout your grilling session without any unwanted surprises.

And let’s not forget about flavor. UDS makes it easy-peasy to infuse your grilled goodies with mouthwatering smokiness. Just toss in some chunks of your favorite hardwood into the charcoal and let that heavenly aroma work its magic.

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So whether you’re craving perfectly charred steaks, juicy burgers, or tender veggies, grilling on an ugly drum smoker will take your backyard cookouts to a whole new level. With its versatility, precise heat control, and flavor-boosting capabilities, the UDS will turn any grilling enthusiast into a true barbecue champion. So fire up those coals, get creative with your seasonings, and let your UDS work its magic on your next grilling adventure. Get ready for some seriously epic eats.


What is an Ugly Drum Smoker?

This unassuming yet powerful cooking device, crafted from a 55-gallon steel drum, has gained a loyal following for its exceptional smoking capabilities. However, what many may not realize is that the UDS can also be used for grilling. In this article, we will delve into the versatility of an Ugly Drum Smoker, exploring its ability to create mouthwatering smoked delicacies and sizzling grilled masterpieces.

Smoking with an Ugly Drum Smoker

The UDS has become renowned for its ability to infuse meats and other foods with unparalleled smoky flavors. Its ingenious design ensures efficient heat retention and even distribution throughout the cooking chamber. At the heart of the UDS lies the charcoal basket or firebox, which provides a steady source of heat. As charcoal or wood chunks burn, their smoke envelops the food, imparting rich smokiness. Perfect for low and slow cooking, the UDS is ideal for smoked ribs, brisket, pulled pork, and other substantial cuts of meat.

Grilling on an Ugly Drum Smoker

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Surprisingly, the UDS can be modified to accommodate grilling as well. There are two primary options for grilling on an Ugly Drum Smoker:

Option 1: Installing a Grate Above the Charcoal Basket

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By placing a grate directly above the charcoal basket or firebox, you can create a dedicated grilling area. This arrangement allows you to cook food directly over the heat source, achieving those coveted grill marks and caramelization. However, it’s essential to adapt your cooking techniques to account for potential variations in heat distribution compared to traditional grills.

Option 2: Using a Grill Grate on Top of the Drum

Another option is to place a grill grate on top of the barrel or drum. This ingenious method enables you to utilize the vertical space of the UDS for smoking while providing a dedicated grilling area on top. This flexibility allows for effortless transitions between smoking and grilling without significant modifications to the UDS.

Tips for Grilling on an Ugly Drum Smoker

  • To achieve optimal results when grilling on an UDS, consider the following tips:
  • Utilize lump charcoal or charcoal briquettes for intense heat and rapid temperature rise.
  • Enhance flavors by incorporating hardwood chunks or chips for that distinctive smoky taste.
  • Preheat your UDS before grilling to ensure even heat distribution.
  • Fine-tune temperature control by adjusting the vents to regulate airflow.
  • Monitor the grill’s temperature using a thermometer for precise cooking results.
  • Unleash your culinary creativity by experimenting with different grilling techniques and recipes.

Can You Grill on an Ugly Drum Smoker?

Today, we venture into the realm of the Ugly Drum Smoker (UDS) and explore its hidden potential for grilling. Renowned for its smoking prowess, this unadorned steel drum can also be a remarkable tool for creating tantalizing grilled dishes. Let’s delve into the considerations and techniques necessary to elevate your UDS to new grilling heights.

Harnessing Indirect Heat:

The UDS excels at indirect heat cooking, making it ideal for slow smoking. However, this poses a challenge when it comes to grilling. Fear not. Overcome this limitation by employing a charcoal basket or firebox divider to create a direct heat zone. Position the charcoal directly beneath the cooking grate to achieve scorching temperatures essential for grilling perfection.

Amplifying Heat Distribution:

To maximize heat distribution and achieve those coveted grill marks, incorporate a grill grate or searing plate atop the cooking grate. Elevating your food closer to the heat source ensures superior searing and charring while maintaining the UDS’s smoking capabilities.

Mastering Temperature Control:

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Maintaining consistent temperatures is pivotal for successful grilling on an UDS. Though not as effortless as using a dedicated grill, you can enhance control by utilizing adjustable vents or dampers, if present on your UDS. Meticulously monitor cooking times and invest in a reliable meat thermometer to guarantee impeccable results with every flame-kissed creation.

Cleaning and Maintenance:

Proper cleaning and maintenance are paramount to preserving your UDS’s performance and prolonging its lifespan. While grilling on an UDS, grease and drippings can accumulate. Regular cleaning prevents any negative impact on future smoking endeavors and ensures enduring grilling excellence.

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Fear not, fellow grill masters. With adjustments and mindful technique, you can unlock the grilling potential of your Ugly Drum Smoker. By creating direct heat zones, optimizing heat distribution, and mastering temperature control, you’ll elevate your grilling prowess to new heights. Remember to maintain your UDS, ensuring consistent results for both smoking and grilling adventures. So ignite your UDS, explore its versatility, and let the flavors sizzle.

Modifications Needed for Grilling on an UDS

Transforming your Ugly Drum Smoker (UDS) into a versatile grilling machine is easier than you think. With just a few modifications, you can elevate your grilling game to new heights. Let’s explore the key adjustments needed for grilling on an UDS and unlock a world of smoky, delicious flavors.

First and foremost, the addition of a grilling grate is essential. While the standard racks that come with the UDS are perfect for smoking, they fall short when it comes to direct grilling. To achieve those coveted grill marks and infuse your food with that irresistible smoky flavor, you’ll need to install a separate grate closer to the fire. This simple modification will take your grilling experience to the next level.

Next, let’s talk about airflow. Most UDSs come with fixed air intakes that are optimized for smoking but not grilling. To have more control over the fire and temperature, consider installing adjustable dampers or vents. These additions will allow you to fine-tune the airflow, maintaining those high temperatures required for perfect grilling results.

Temperature control is another crucial factor in successful grilling on a UDS. Unlike smoking, grilling demands higher temperatures. Therefore, having a reliable thermometer installed on your UDS is paramount. This tool will enable you to accurately monitor and adjust the cooking temperature, ensuring that your food is cooked to perfection every time.

When it comes to fuel, charcoal alone may not provide enough heat for direct grilling on a UDS. To ramp up the heat output, consider incorporating hardwood chunks or briquettes into your fuel source. These additions will give you that extra oomph needed for achieving the ideal sear on steaks or burgers.

Last but certainly not least, proper fire management and temperature control are essential to master the art of grilling on a UDS. Adjusting the airflow according to your needs and ensuring a tight seal on the lid are crucial steps in maintaining consistent heat. Regularly monitor the temperature and make adjustments as necessary to achieve those mouthwatering, sizzling results.

Fuel Options for Grilling on an UDS

Unlock the full potential of your Ugly Drum Smoker (UDS) and elevate your grilling game to new heights. With a few modifications and the right fuel options, your UDS can transform into a versatile grilling machine, producing those coveted grill marks and infusing your food with mouthwatering smoky flavors.

When it comes to fuel options for grilling on a UDS, you have several choices available. Let’s dive into each option and explore their unique benefits:

  • Charcoal briquettes: A popular choice among UDS grillers, charcoal briquettes provide consistent and even heat distribution, making it easier to control the temperature. These briquettes also burn for an extended period, allowing for those marathon grilling sessions that make memories.
  • Lump charcoal: Made from charred chunks of real wood, lump charcoal is the go-to option for those seeking intense high-heat grilling. It burns hotter and faster than briquettes, giving your food that authentic barbecue taste infused with a delightful smoky flavor.
  • Wood chunks: For an even more robust smoky flavor, consider using wood chunks as your fuel source. However, be warned that working with wood chunks requires skill and experience to maintain the correct temperature and avoid excessive smoke. But once mastered, the reward is unparalleled flavor.
  • Combination of charcoal and wood: Many UDS grillers opt for a dynamic combination of charcoal and wood chunks. This allows them to benefit from the even heat of charcoal while adding that irresistible smoky essence to their grilled creations.
  • Wood chips or pellets: For the adventurous grillers out there, experimenting with different types of wood chips or pellets can add unique flavors to your dishes. These can be added directly to the charcoal or placed in a smoker box or foil packet to infuse your food with tantalizing aromas.

Regardless of your chosen fuel option, proper airflow control is crucial for achieving optimal grilling results on a UDS. Adjusting the intake and exhaust vents on your drum smoker will help you maintain the right temperature and ensure even cooking.

Adding Smoke Flavor to the Grilling Experience

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There’s something truly magical about the combination of fire, smoke, and food on a grill. It’s a sensory experience that takes your taste buds on a journey to flavor town. And if you’re looking to take your grilling to the next level, then adding smoke flavor with an Ugly Drum Smoker (UDS) is the way to go. In this guide, we’ll dive into the art of infusing mouthwatering smoke flavor into your grilled dishes using an UDS. So, let’s fire up those grills and get smokin’.

Choosing the Right Wood:

To add that perfect smoky flavor, selecting the right type of wood for smoking is crucial. Different woods impart different flavors, so it’s important to pair them wisely with your choice of meat. Hickory provides a strong, bacon-like flavor that pairs well with pork and beef. Mesquite delivers a bold and robust flavor that works wonders with red meats. Applewood adds a slightly sweet and fruity aroma, perfect for poultry and pork. Cherry wood offers a delicate and mildly sweet flavor that complements a variety of meats.

Preparing the Wood:

To ensure a steady release of smoke, soak your wood chips or chunks in water for at least 30 minutes before use. This prevents them from burning too quickly and helps create that beautiful smoky aroma.

Controlling Temperature and Airflow:

Temperature control is crucial when smoking on an UDS. Aim for a temperature range of around 225-250 degrees Fahrenheit. Adjusting the air vents on your smoker will regulate airflow, maintaining the desired temperature for optimal smoke penetration.

Hot and Fast vs. Low and Slow:

Depending on what you’re grilling, you can choose between two methods: hot and fast or low and slow.

  • Hot and Fast: Ideal for shorter cooking times like grilling burgers or steaks. Add a few chunks or chips of soaked wood directly on top of the charcoal for a burst of quick smoke flavor.
  • Low and Slow: Perfect for longer cooking times like smoking a brisket or pork shoulder. Cook at a lower temperature for an extended period, allowing the meat to become tender and absorb more smoky goodness. Remember to replenish the charcoal and wood as needed to maintain consistent temperature and smoke production.

Enhancing Smoke Flavor:

If you want to take the smoke flavor up a notch, consider using a smoke box or smoking pouch. These accessories can be filled with wood chips or pellets and placed directly on the grill grates next to your food, providing a controlled release of smoke.

Popular Foods to Grill on an UDS

In this article, we will explore the popular foods that can be grilled on a UDS, unlocking the secrets to achieving delicious and flavorful results. Get ready to ignite your passion for grilling as we dive into the sizzling world of UDS cooking.

Steak – The King of the Grill:

  • Let’s start with the holy grail of grilling – steak. The UDS, with its intense heat and smoky flavor, elevates steak to new heights. Picture a juicy ribeye or a tender filet mignon, perfectly charred on the outside and irresistibly pink on the inside. The UDS ensures that every bite is a melt-in-your-mouth experience.
  • Chicken – Tender and Juicy:

    Next on our list is chicken, a versatile protein that shines on the UDS. From boneless skinless breasts to succulent thighs or even a whole chicken, the UDS ensures consistent heat that cooks chicken to perfection. Marinating or brining beforehand adds moisture and flavor, transforming your grilled chicken into a culinary masterpiece. Imagine sinking your teeth into a piece of chicken that is tender, juicy, and infused with smoky goodness.

    Burgers – A Classic Favorite:

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    Who can resist sinking their teeth into a juicy burger fresh off the grill? The UDS takes this classic favorite to new heights by infusing it with smoky goodness. Whether you prefer beef, turkey, or veggie burgers, the UDS creates a mouthwatering crust on the outside while keeping the inside juicy and full of flavor. With the right blend of seasonings and toppings, your burgers will turn heads at any backyard gathering.

    Grilled Veggies – Healthy and Flavorful:

    Don’t forget about our vegetarian friends. Grilling vegetables on a UDS brings out their natural sweetness while adding a delightful smoky twist. Bell peppers, zucchini, eggplant, and corn on the cob are just a few examples of veggies that can be elevated to heavenly status on the UDS. The smoky flavor enhances their flavors, creating a perfect balance between charred edges and tender centers.

    Seafood – Dive into Flavor:

    Seafood lovers rejoice. The UDS is not just for land-dwelling meats. Grilled fish fillets or whole fish acquire a delectable smoky flavor, while shrimp skewers become succulent and slightly charred. Whether it’s delicate salmon, flaky white fish, or plump shrimp, the UDS enhances the taste of seafood like no other. The smoky notes mingle with the natural sweetness of the seafood, creating a symphony of flavors.

    Pros and Cons of Grilling on an UDS

    Look no further than an ugly drum smoker (UDS). This versatile cooking equipment not only excels at smoking meats low and slow but also offers the opportunity to grill your favorites with a unique smoky twist. In this article, we’ll explore the pros and cons of grilling on a UDS, helping you decide if it’s the right choice for your backyard cooking adventures.

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    Pros of Grilling on an UDS:

    • Versatility: With a UDS, you can smoke and grill all in one. Say goodbye to juggling multiple cooking equipment and hello to convenience and efficiency. Whether you’re craving tender, smoky ribs or perfectly seared steaks, a UDS has got you covered.
    • Cost-effective: Building your own UDS is a budget-friendly alternative to buying separate grills and smokers. Save money while enjoying the best of both worlds. Invest in quality materials and craftsmanship, and you’ll have a reliable cooking companion that will last for years.
    • Fuel efficiency: UDSs are known for their exceptional fuel efficiency. Get consistent temperatures and mouthwatering results while using minimal fuel. Say goodbye to constantly replenishing charcoal or wood chunks during your grilling sessions.
    • Flavorful results: The combination of smoking and grilling techniques on a UDS creates uniquely flavorful meats that will leave your taste buds craving more. Elevate your grilling experience with a smoky twist. From juicy burgers infused with hickory smoke to succulent chicken wings with a mesquite kick, the possibilities are endless.

    Cons of Grilling on an UDS:

    • Limited grilling space: UDSs may have limited space compared to dedicated grills, making it challenging for large gatherings. Plan accordingly or consider building a larger UDS if needed. However, with some creativity and efficient use of the cooking surface, you can still whip up a mouthwatering feast for your family and friends.
    • Temperature control learning curve: Achieving precise temperature control on a UDS requires practice and experimentation. Embrace the learning process and master the art of airflow dynamics for consistent results. With time and patience, you’ll become a pro at adjusting vents to maintain your desired cooking temperature.
    • Time-consuming setup: Setting up a UDS for grilling takes more time compared to gas or electric grills. However, many enthusiasts argue that the extra effort is well worth the unique flavors and versatility it offers. Treat the setup process as part of the grilling experience, and enjoy the anticipation as your UDS reaches its optimal cooking temperature.

    Tips and Tricks for Grilling on an UDS

    While the UDS is renowned for its smoking capabilities, it also holds immense potential for grilling, providing a unique flavor and experience to your favorite foods. In this comprehensive guide, we will delve into the essential tips and tricks that will help you achieve grilling perfection on your UDS. Get ready to impress your friends and family with mouthwatering grilled dishes that are second to none.

    Mastering Airflow: Fuelling the Fire of Consistent Heat

    The UDS boasts adjustable vents at both the bottom and top, allowing you to control airflow and temperature. Balancing the openness of these vents is crucial in maintaining a steady heat throughout the grilling process. By skillfully manipulating the airflow, you can ensure that every bite of your food is cooked to perfection.

    Preheating: Ignite the Flames of Even Cooking

    Just like any other grill, preheating your UDS is essential for even cooking and preventing those dreaded sticking mishaps. Allow your UDS at least 15-20 minutes to preheat before placing your food on the grill. This step guarantees a consistent cooking temperature, creating those beautiful grill marks that are sure to impress.

    Direct and Indirect Heat Zones: Unleashing the Dual Flames of Versatility

    Harness the power of direct and indirect heat zones on your UDS for unparalleled grilling options. The charcoal basket or grate in your UDS provides direct heat, perfect for achieving those tantalizing sear marks or quick-cooking meats. For larger cuts or more delicate fare, create an indirect heat zone using a water pan or employing a two-zone fire setup. The indirect heat zone allows for slower, more controlled cooking, resulting in tender, juicy perfection.

    Precision Temperature Monitoring: Unveiling the Secrets of Grilling Mastery

    Monitoring the temperature is the holy grail of perfectly grilled food. Invest in a reliable meat thermometer to check the internal temperature of your dishes, ensuring they reach the desired level of doneness. Additionally, equip your UDS with a high-quality smoker thermometer to keep a vigilant eye on the temperature inside throughout the grilling process. With precision temperature monitoring, you can achieve consistent and delectable results every time you fire up your UDS.

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    Absolutely. The versatile ugly drum smoker can do more than just smoke meat. It’s a grilling powerhouse that can handle all your backyard cooking needs.

    Whether you want to sear steaks, grill burgers, or cook up some juicy chicken, the ugly drum smoker has got you covered. With its adjustable vents and precise temperature control, you can achieve those perfect grill marks and delicious charred flavors that make your taste buds sing.

    So, fire up your ugly drum smoker and get ready to impress your friends and family with mouthwatering grilled creations.

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