Cuisinart COS-118 Vertical 18″ Charcoal Smoker Review
Cuisinart might be a relative newcomer in the world of charcoal grills and smokers like the Cuisinart COS-118 Vertical 18″ Charcoal Smoker, but that hasn’t kept them from bringing their reputation for quality and convenience to bear. You get the sense that the designers challenged themselves to bring everything you expect from a classic barrel smoker and then take it up a notch. You see this in things like the enamel-coated water pan, the firm latch on the base, the hinges on the door as well as the dual air vents for accurate heat control.
With the Cuisinart COS-118, you essentially have a barrel smoker that is compact, with a wide temperature range. While it is meant to be which means that the Cuisinart COS-118 could also be a great option for a portable smoker when you want to go camping or tailgating.
Construction & Ease of Assembly
Just like most classic barrel smokers, you don’t have to worry about a lot of assembly when it comes to putting together the Cuisinart COS-118. It should only take you around 5 to 10 minutes to carefully remove everything from the box. Then probably another 10 to 15 minutes to attach the latching legs and get it ready for the first smoking session.
The material build quality, of the Cuisinart COS-118 has the same mid-to-high-end material selection 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 annoying rusting issues that ruin a lot of water pans you find in competitor barrel smokers.
One of the great things about the Cuisinart COS-118 is that the side access door was built with hinges that let you open the door downward. This is somewhat of a rare thing with classic barrel smokers, and it spares you from having to hold onto a door while you reload the hot interior, which is a common foible in a lot of the competitors. At the same time, this kind of door hinge configuration 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.
With the Cuisinart COS-118, you might be able to grill a little on the main grate when you first fire up the coals. You might even be able to improvise it as a grill when you’re tailgating or camping. Though if you are planning to give the Cuisinart COS-118 a long life on your deck, you want to stick to using it as a smoker.
One thing to note about the Cuisinart COS-118 is that it only 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. While this is typical for a barrel smoker this size, it’s still worth noting that some of the closest competitors offer models that include hooks and hanger accessories. So, it feels like a little bit of a missed opportunity that this model doesn’t have any of these extra 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 on the Cuisinart COS-118 provide you with up to 510 square inches of cooking space.
The hinge on the access door of the Cuisinart COS-118 provides a superior seal while also leaving you with both of your hands-free. This is one of those things that can go unappreciated until you deal with a model that doesn’t have them.
Ease to Clean
Cuisinart did its level best to make the COS 118 vertical barrel smoker to be easy to clean. The porcelain enamel coating on the water pan is very easy to pour out. Just make sure to give it time to fully cool down to avoid a dangerously hot accidental spill. If there’s some caramelized sauce, you can soak it in warm soapy water. The enamel coating will protect the underlying metal to keep it from rusting.
When scraping the grill grates try not to use 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 purchase the Cuisinart COS-118.
If you want to use the Cuisinart COS-118 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. This will help suffocate the fire faster, which is very convenient and rare in classic barrel smokers.
The Cuisinart COS-118 is backed by a standard 3-year warranty, which is typical with most of the grills, smokers, and a lot of the kitchen appliances in Cuisinart’s lineup. In the world of barrel smokers, this is on par with a lot of the closest competitors in this niche. Though there are a small number of barrel smokers in this niche that do offer five years of warranty coverage.
The Cuisinart COS-118 is a well-designed classic barrel smoker with a few upgrades in engineering and material build quality. You can appreciate 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 other than the obligatory grill grates and the porcelain-coated water pan.