Cuisinart COS-116 Vertical Smoker Review
If I told you ten years ago that Cuisinart would be one of the fastest-growing names in the grill and smoker industry, you probably would have laughed in my face. At that time, they’d made a name for themselves with high-quality home kitchen appliances and accessories, though they hadn’t really made a wave in the grill industry.
At some point along the way they realized there was a great opportunity out there, and they had the access to manufacturing technology to throw their hat into the ring. One of their newest ventures has been into the realm of classic barrel smokers like the Cuisinart COS-116.
This is a classic barrel smoker that is taken up a notch with Cuisinart’s thoughtful engineering. This shows up in things like the enamel-coated water pan, the firm latch on the base, the hinges on the door and the dual air vents for accurate heat control.
The end result is a barrel smoker that is compact, yet also very capable of a wide temperature range. While it is meant to be used primarily as a smoker, you potentially use it as a grill as well. Since it only weighs 29 pounds, the Cuisinart COS-116 is also a great option for a portable tailgating or camping smoker.
Construction & Ease of Assembly
Like a lot of barrel smokers, there isn’t a lot of assembly when it comes to putting together the Cuisinart COS-116. It takes all of 10 minutes to carefully remove everything from the box and perhaps another 10 to 15 minutes to attach the legs and get it ready for the first smoking session.
When it comes to material build quality, you get a lot of the mid-to-high end material selection out of the COS-116 that you see with a lot of Cuisinart’s lineup. It has quality where you want to see it, especially with the enamel-coated water pan, which prevents the catastrophic rusting issues that kill most water pans early in the life of a smoker.
One thing you can quietly appreciate about the Cuisinart COS-116 is that the side access door comes with hinges. This might not seem like a big deal, but it’s actually a rare thing with classic barrel smokers. This spares you from having to hold onto a door like a Spartan’s shield while using one hand to fiddle around with the hot interior. It also helps the door to seal better than a lot of other classic barrel smokers, which translates into fewer flareups and better overall heat control.
Like a lot of barrel smokers, you might be able to do some grilling on the main grate when you are starting up the coals. You might even be able to use it as a traditional tailgating grill in a pinch. Though if you are planning to give the Cuisinart COS-116 a long life on your deck, you want to stick to using it as a smoker.
It’s important to note that the Cuisinart COS-116 comes with two stainless steel grates. Though there aren’t any sort of hangers and hooks. This means you can do things like smoke whole chickens, pork shoulders, and even a medium-size brisket flat with precision. Though you won’t be able to do things like hand-fresh sausage links. This is about on par for a 16-inch barrel smoker, though some of the competitors in this range do offer hook and hanger accessories.
The air control is very accurate, as well as sensitive for a 16-inch barrel smoker. You should also bear in mind that the bottom grate is a little close to the heat, so you might need to switch the grates around in the middle of a long smoking session.
The dual stainless steel grates provide you with up to 402 square inches of cooking space.
It might not sound all that “Special” on paper, but the hinge on the side access door of the Cuisinart COS-116 solves a serious problem that you find in a lot of classic barrel smokers with a removable door plate. The superior seal and having two truly free hands is one of those things that can go unappreciated until you deal with a model that doesn’t have them.
Ease to Clean
Like a lot of their products, Cuisinart was mindful about designing the COS-116 to be easy to clean. The enamel coating on the water pan means you can just wait for everything to cool down and pour it out. If there’s some caramelized sauce, you can soak it in warm soapy water. The enamel coating will prevent it from rusting.
When it comes to scraping down the grill grates, you should avoid using steel bristled grill brushes or steel wool. This can scrape the surface making it easier for food to stick to the grates in the future. It’s best to add a pair of nylon grill brushes to your purchase when you first buy the Cuisinart COS-116.
If you are planning to use the Cuisinart COS-116 as a portable smoker for tailgating or trips to the beach, then you will need to plan enough time for it to cool down before loading it back in your vehicle. The tight seals on the door and lid make it easy to shut down the airflow, which helps suffocate the fire faster. This might sound like a small thing, but it’s actually very convenient and rare in classic barrel smokers.
Like a lot of cooking appliances in their line, the Cuisinart COS-116 comes with a standard 3-year warranty. In the world of barrel smokers, this is a head taller than a lot of the closest competitors who tend to offer one to two years. Though there are a small number of barrel smokers in this niche that do offer five years of warranty coverage.
The Cuisinart COS-116 is a well-designed classic barrel smoker with a few upgrades you’ll appreciate over the rest of the field. The enamel coating on the water pan and the hinge on the side access door are nice feathers in this barrel smoker’s cap. Just don’t plan on hanging any sausages or suspending racks of ribs as you don’t get any other accessories with it beyond the grates and water pan.