Cooking on an UDS

20 Oct
Cooking on an UDS

One of the things I receive as part of my stats package for my blog is search terms that led to my blog. I’ve been seeing a lot of terms looking for how to cook on an UDS, that and somewhere in my blog on how to build an UDS I remember mentioning I would post on how to cook on one in the near future. Well I kind of missed the boat on the NEAR part, but here it is.

So you went and build yourself an UDS, now what? You have yourself one fine 55 gallon barrel smoker and now you’re trying to figure out how to make it turn out those fine smokey pieces of meat that you were dreaming of as you were working along. Well there’s no real mystery here, if you follow a few simple things.

1) Think of your UDS as an oven or slow cooker crock pot, with one very big difference….. YOU CAN SMOKE ON IT!!!!

Any recipe that says cook for X number of hours for anywhere between 200-400f can and probably should be done on your UDS.


You’re looking for long and slow cooks at low temps here, not hot and fast. However I will tell you they can make pretty mean smoked hamburger.

3) Plan ahead

This isn’t something you can come home from work 5:00, and the wife say “Honey, can you smoke us some pulled pork for dinner” and be eating by 6:00. Unlike grilling which we often time in minutes, we’re talking HOURS here.

How to go about it

First begin with good fuel. I have no ties with Kingsford, they probably don’t even know I exist. What I will tell you is that Kingsford has NEVER let me down. It lights first time every time, it burns consistent, and I know exactly how much heat and consumption I’m going to get from it.

200lbs of Kingsford

Begin by placing a metal coffee can that you have cut both ends off of in the center of your firebox.

Then drop a little wood into your firebox. By placing some on the bottom you are going to get those final hits of smoke down the home stretch. This will come in handy when you place your sauce on the meat in the final 15-30 minutes by giving you a nice little hint of smoke on the sauce.

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Next lay down a layer of charcoal. I good rule of thumb is you can figure about 90 minutes per chimney starter (depending on the temperature your cooking at).

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Then a final layer of wood. By layering like this you will receive a constant, steady smoke.

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Once you have your fire box ready light a chimney start or get some charcoal burning in some other fashion. For tips on how to get it lit see:

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After the smoke has subsided on your lit charcoal and they have began to ash over, pour them into the coffee can you placed in the middle of your firebox, and remove the can with either a pair of pliers, or while wearing welding gloves. Either way it’s wise to not wait too long before removing the coffee can, it will only get hotter.

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Once you have the fire in your firebox, it’s time to put your UDS “back together”.

Place your heat shield down. This is what keeps your UDS from becoming a 55 gallon grill.

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Next if you choose to, add a liquid filled drip pan. The liquid can be anything from water to a mix of apple juice, to beer. If I use liquid I prefer 1/3 apple juice and 2/3 water. Generally speaking we cook pretty much dry.

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Now with a nice barrier between your meat and heat, place your well oiled grill grate on, and your meat.

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With that done, set back with a beverage of your choice and let the UDS do the rest of the work, from now until the slicing.

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I hope this is what you were searching for and that you found it helpful.


Posted by on October 20, 2013 in Uncategorized


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2 responses to “Cooking on an UDS

  1. red1951

    January 5, 2014 at 7:13 pm

    I always have liked “Do it Your Self” projects. Your UDS looks like a pretty good cooker.


    • mrdodd

      January 6, 2014 at 12:37 pm

      Thanks! It’s a sweet little cooker. Ran 125lbs of shoulder through it in two days, it never moved from 250f the whole time unless fuel ran low/out.



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