Wouldn’t it be great if there were a drum smoker that came with a ton of innovative design features – like a unique airflow control system for even heat distribution – with a super high quality and durable build, and was actually affordable? We discovered in our Oklahoma Joe’s Bronco Drum Smoker review, that you get that and more.
You get the same high-quality product we have come to expect from Oklahoma Joe’s, but with the innovation and design you would expect from a more expensive smoker.
In this Oklahoma Joe’s Bronco Drum Smoker Review, I’ll detail exactly why this is going to be one of the hottest drum smokers of the year, so you can decide if it’s the right choice for you.
I’ll give you the pros, the cons, and the facts and we will find out of this is another win for Oklahoma Joe’s.
*Disclaimer: “Oklahoma Joe’s provided me with their New Bronco Drum Smoker for testing at no charge in return for my honest review and feedback. All thoughts and opinions expressed herein are my own and are not influenced by the developing company and/or its affiliates in any way.”
In This Article, We’ll Explore:
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Oklahoma Joe’s Bronco Quick Facts Quick Facts
Product Name: Oklahoma Joe’s® Bronco Drum Smoker
Made By: Oklahoma Joe’s®
Top 3 Features:
- Unique Airflow Control System
- Gasket-Sealed, Hinged Lid with Extra Dome Clearance
- Movable Grate and Additional Meat Hangers
The Bronco Drum Smoker Description & Features
The Bronco has a lot to bring to the table, with one of the coolest features being a hinged lid that provides enough extra clearance for a whole turkey. This is not something you would normally find on a traditional drum smoker.
The Oklahoma Joe’s Bronco Drum Smoker features a quality build that is made with heavy-duty steel that looks and feels solid and durable.
On top of its modern and useful features, it’s a good-looking piece of equipment that is built to withstand the wear and tear of heavy use.
Let’s take a closer look at the Bronco’s features.
The Bronco Smoker at a Glance
- Drum or Barrel Style Design
- Heavy-Gauge Steel Construction
- Hinged Lid With Gasket And Extra Clearance Space
- Unique, Snorkel Airflow Control System Design
- 2 Adjustable Vents
- 18-Inch Adjustable Cooking Grate
- 3 Meat Hangers For A Custom Smoking Set Up
- Removable Perforated Heat Deflector Plate
- 8-Pound Charcoal Basket
- Removable Ash Pan
- Rubber, Stay Cool handle
- Metal Side Table
- Professional glow-in-the-dark temperature gauge
- Large, wagon-style wheels
- Easily converts to a charcoal grill
The Bronco is constructed from thick, heavy-gauge steel but unlike a traditional drum that is made from a single barrel, the Bronco is actually two drum sections bolted together.
Like all Oklahoma products, the Bronco is really a good-looking cooker that would fit in well on anyone’s back patio.
The Bronco weighs in around 136.60 lbs. and yet with its oversized wheels, it is easy to move around.
Hinged Lid With Gasket & Extra Clearance Space
Another way the Bronco improves upon a traditional drum smoker is that instead of a flat lid that lifts on and off, the Bronco features a heavy-duty hinged lid with extra dome space for additional clearance.
It locks in the heat nicely with a gasket that fits into a small groove on the body of the smoker. I can tell you from experience that the extra room from the domed lid provides a ton of more cooking options.
Simply lifting the lid back on its hinges instead of having to take it off and setting it down somewhere is also convenient.
Unique, Snorkel Airflow Control System With Adjustable Vents
Here is where the Bronco really shines in my opinion.
Instead of the traditional vent cut out on the body of most drum smokers for controlling air intake, the team at Oklahoma Joe’s designed a unique, snorkel airflow control system that pulls the air in from the bottom.
I spoke at length about this feature with Dan Corso, the product manager at Oklahoma Joe’s because I wanted to understand why this bottom flow design made a difference.
Well, it turns out that the air coming in from the bottom, under the coals, does a much better job of evenly distributing the smoke and heat throughout the cooking chamber as opposed to being pulled in from the side.
And trust me, this gives you a nice even cook.
Both the upper and lower air dampers have a rotating cover that features settings that range from zero to four to help dial in the temperature you are aiming for.
Having a visual dial was helpful and makes it easy to document what you did to perfect your next cook.
Adjustable Cooking Grate and 3 Meat Hangers
The adjustable porcelain-coated steel cooking grate gives you added versatility when grilling or smoking.
The upper grate setting which sits close to the lid is perfect for smoking meats low and slow, while the lower grate setting lets you get closer to the coals for grilling and barbecuing.
Oh, did I forget to mention that the Bronco also doubles as a barbecue? The charcoal basket can be placed on top of the heat deflector, so it is closer to the grate. Talk about versatility.
The 18-inch grate gives you 284 square inches of cooking space. While not huge, I was able to squeeze 3 racks of ribs flat on the grate. Two racks fit nicely.
There are three meat hangers that mount easily onto the grate holders and nine hooks for hanging meats like ribs. These hangers can accommodate up to nine slabs of ribs at once. You can easily get your block party cracking with that much food.
There are holders for adding a second grate below the top one that doubles your cooking area.
The second grate can be purchased separately here.
Removable Perforated Heat Deflector Plate
The heavy-duty perforated heat deflector can be removed for cooking over live coals.
Leave it in place for smoking larger slabs of meat like briskets or pork shoulder for a more even heat distribution.
It can easily be removed while hanging thinner meats like ribs or for cooking barbecue style over the coals.
Charcoal Basket & Ash Pan for Easy Cleanup
The porcelain-coated steel charcoal basket can hold up to 8-pounds of fuel for low and slow cooking for 10-hours at a time without having to refill.
The ash pan is also made from porcelain-coated steel, so you can count on it lasting for years.
I was initially skeptical about getting that much cooking time out of an 8-pound fuel load so I put the Bronco to the test. Smoking at 225° – 275° F, I was able to pass the 10-hour mark easily.
But don’t take my word for it. Check out the below video where David at bbqdryrubs.com documents his burn time test.
You might be surprised at the results.
Metal Side Table & Stay Cool Handles
The Bronco comes with a sturdy metal side table that gives you plenty of room for prep work or for holding your tools of the trade.
As you can see from the picture above, the side table provides plenty of room to hold all the essentials.
The lid features a thick, stay cool handle that is easy to grab and gives you the peace of mind knowing you won’t get burned when lifting the lid.
A Professional Glow-In-The-Dark Temperature Gauge
The large and easy to read pro quality lid mounted temperature gauge has a handy feature that I really liked.
In low light conditions, the dial and temperature numbers glow so you won’t have to search through your junk drawer for a flashlight.
In my temperature tests using the ThermoWorks Signals 4-Channel Wi-Fi/Bluetooth BBQ Alarm Thermometer, the lid mounted temperature gauge was accurate to +/- 10° F, which is pretty good compared to most lid mounted gauges that can be off by as much as 50° F or more.
In many cases, the accuracy was +/- 5° F or better which I will gladly take.
Large, Wagon-Style Wheels for Easy Mobility
In true Oklahoma Joe fashion, the Bronco comes with two large steel wagon style wheels.
These heavy-duty wheels make moving the Bronco super easy which is surprising when you consider the solid build of this drum smoker.
They also look cool!
My Personal Experience Testing the Bronco Drum Smoker
Rarely have I been this excited to test out a new product as I was to test the Bronco drum smoker.
So I jumped right in to see what the Bronco could do… many times.
I have smoked several briskets, several racks of ribs and chicken wings. I have grilled chicken breast, tri-tip, and salmon just to name a few.
I must say, I have been very happy with the results.
My biggest take away is by far the ease of use and versatility of the Bronco.
Controlling and maintaining the heat for long cooks was stress-free and simple compared to most other smokers.
Anyone that has ever had to hover over a smoker fiddling with the vents or struggling to maintain charcoal levels will appreciate this.
The design and build are top notch and make for a fantastic cooking experience.
While I originally had some concerns about the lack of an easy way to refill the charcoal, i.e. no access door, they were quickly put to rest with how well the Bronco maintained it’s heat for optimal fuel usage as the video above can attest too.
The Bronco easily converted into a basic grill making this multi-functional cooker even more valuable.
I appreciated everything that was included with the Bronco, including the hanging racks and hooks and a handy tool for picking up the charcoal basket and meat hooks without having to touch them when they are hot.
Another thing I liked was how easy the cooker shut down. When you finish your cook and shut down the vents, the fire goes out quickly, saving any unused charcoal for your next cook.
The Oklahoma Joe’s Bronco Pros & Cons
Things I Really Liked About the Bronco Drum Smoker
The heavy-duty construction will ensure the Bronco will last for years if treated properly.
So many smokers and grills today seem to be made thinner and with sub-par materials, while still costing an arm and a leg. Not the Bronco.
The ease of use was appreciated and gave me a lot of time back to do other things while still producing great results.
The Bronco came with a very detailed Owner’s Manual / Grilling Guide that was incredibly detailed. It included things like “Getting to know your smoker”, in-depth product features and a maintenance guide, tips for building the fire and using the smoker and several other helpful topics.
It was all very detailed with big color pictures and a ton of helpful advice. It was practically an entire magazine. This is just not done nowadays by most manufacturers.
This last bit may seem like a small thing, but it is so rare to see the attention to the little things anymore that it really made a big impression with me.
Although you must purchase it separately, I really liked the custom-tailored, made-to-measure Bronco Drum Smoker Cover which was heavy-duty and looked really nice.
Oklahoma Joe’s Bronco Price & Warranties
The Oklahoma Joe’s Bronco Drum Smoker is priced at $ $349.00 currently.
The Bronco comes with a two-year warranty.
Final Thoughts on Our Oklahoma Joe’s Bronco Drum Smoker Review
If you’re looking for an easy to use, quality made and durable smoker that offers great value, then the Bronco is for you.
This smoker would be great for first timers looking to jump into the smoking meat realm, but don’t let the ease of use fool you. The Bronco can turn out competition worthy meats that even the experts would approve of.
Speaking of experts, Oklahoma Joe’s also offers a competition model. The Bronco Pro is a larger version of the Bronco. It features a 21.5-inch cooking grate and can hold up to 17 pounds of charcoal.
All in all, the value you get with the Bronco is well worth the investment in my opinion.
I just received the Bronco Add On Triple Grate. It is designed to cook veggies and softer foods like fish.
I will update this review once I have had a chance to test it out.
Now It’s Your Turn
I want to hear from you:
Which drum smoker have you used before?
Do you have any cooking or modification tips to share?
What features do you typically like to see in a drum smoker?
Are you going to be purchasing a smoker in the future? Or do you plan on looking at a pellet grill, built-in gas grill or standalone gas grill, or charcoal grill?
Let me know by leaving a quick comment below.
If you still have questions, please feel free to send me a message.
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A backyard warrior, certified carnivore, lover of good whiskey, self-proclaimed grill master and I’m Living The Grilling Life!
I have a passion for cooking with live fire and smoke, no matter the weather. I’m a real person just like you, who loves outdoor cooking and BBQ. Food, fun, and time spent with family and friends are what it’s all about! It is my mission to take my passion and knowledge for outdoor cooking and all things BBQ and share this expertise in techniques and grilling equipment with you. In other words, Living The Grilling Life!
Thank you for reviewing the bronco. I have been thinking about adding one to my ensemble as if I don’t have enough. I am hoping that the price comes down since it is getting close to the end of summer. It seems as if there were earlier quality problems but they do seem to be getting better. Thank you for all that you do.
I have a Weber premium kettle…is the Bronco going to be better?
I am not sure if better is the right word. Both are great cookers and can produce excellent results.
It really depends on what type of cooking you prefer top do mainly. The Bronco is excellent for smoking meats (especially large amounts) and is decent for BBQ and grilling. It is a more versatile smoker and gives you several options with which to cook.
The Weber Kettle is a great grill and BBQ and also makes for a good smoker, but it takes a little more work when smoking.
If smoking meats is your main goal, go with the Bronco.
I was planning on a RecTec, but am now considering a Bronco
Hello, my name is Bill Blank and I had just purchased an Oklahoma Joe’s Bronco and I have never used a drum type smoker. My last smoker was a side by side Char Broiler and it was made of some cheap thin material that rusted through after a few years.
this Bronco is very heavy and feels like quality but I am not familiar with drum smoking but I can not imagine it to be too much different but I can see it to be a little bit more convenient. I have used it so far one time as a grill and was very pleased with the out come. I may have some questions as I learn this smoker and how to use it more efficiently.
Do I leave the bottom open with the drip pan when smoking or do I put the cap on and close the Bronco Smoker?
Leave the drip pan cap on and close the smoker lid when smoking.