Cuisinart COS-118 Vertical 18″ Charcoal Smoker Review
Twenty years ago smokers were mostly limited to the South, barbecue joints, and the occasional barrel drum improvised in the backyard. Today the demand for a quality backyard smoker is higher than it has ever been. This prompts a lot of manufacturers like Cuisinart to offer their own variations.
The Cuisinart COS-118 Vertical 18″ Charcoal Smoker is designed in the mold of other competitor vertical smokers. Yet it also has a few minor differences.
The body section features an access door. It can be separated from the lower smoking chamber, which is intended to hold the charcoal and wood chips. The Cuisinart COS-118 Charcoal Smoker has a thermometer on the lid. It also features two adjustable racks, which allows you to prepare a large volume of food at the same time.
Construction & Ease of Assembly
The Cuisinart COS-118 Charcoal Smoker is made from modest gauge thick steel, that has been porcelain enameled to help preserve it from the elements and extends its lifespan. The two 18-inch internal grill grates are made from stainless steel, which can be a little bit sticky. Yet there are replacement grates available for a reasonable price.
The front access door feels a little bit flimsy. However, this is a common complaint with competitor smokers that use the same design. It doesn’t come with a dedicated drip tray, which isn’t necessarily a big deal. You can always buy a small heavy-duty aluminum foil baking pan at a dollar store and just throw it away instead of clean it.
The two section seals on the Cuisinart COS-118 Charcoal Smoker are a little bit on the leaky side. Which isn’t a big deal when it’s brand new. If it gets excessively leaky a year or two down the road, you can get aftermarket gaskets that will fit it, or you can jam some heavy duty aluminum foil into the ring when you insert the body section.
When it comes to assembly the Cuisinart COS-118 Charcoal Smoker is relatively simple and the instructions are easy to read. You can expect to put it together in 45 minutes to an hour.
Technically the Cuisinart COS-118 Charcoal Smoker is designed to be used as a smoker. Yet, you could build a hot enough fire in the bottom to use it as a grill on the lower rack.
There is a little bit of art and science involved in making just the right kind of fire. To start with you want to remove the body and lid sections. With a vertical charcoal smoker, you don’t want to use lighter fluid. The lingering odor will likely influence the flavor of the meat. It’s better to start a modest amount of charcoal in a charcoal chimney.
Once the coals are burning nicely, you can dump them into the lower firebox. Then scatter them, and place fresh pieces of charcoal and wood chunks. Then set the lower damper to the kind of heat you want. It’s better to use wood chunks that have been soaked overnight in water, rather than wood chips. They will smoke longer and are less likely to flare up.
Set up this way the smoker should reach and be able to hold around 250-degrees in about 15 to 20 minutes. If you prefer a lower fire it can be dialed down to as low as 120-degrees. This allows you to do things like smoke fish fillets and even fresh sausages. If you have links of sausage, you can remove the lower rack and tie them to hang from the rungs of the upper rack.
The side access door is large enough to allow you to extract most things from the lower grate. One exception would be something large like say a whole smoked turkey or a flat brisket. If you do need to lift the top grate to take something out, you can easily lift the top grate. Depending on how hot the chamber is, you might want to pick up a pair of quality welding gloves.
The Cuisinart COS-118 Charcoal Smoker also comes with a user guide with some nice tips and a few sample recipes that feature some of its versatility.
Each of the stainless steel racks offers you a little over 254 square inches. For a grand total of 508 square inches of cooking surface. This is more than enough to make up to six racks of ribs, or two large butterflied chickens. You could even make a modest-sized flat brisket on each rack.
The side access door and dual top-bottom dampers aren’t necessarily special features. Still, if they weren’t there it would have a massive effect on the way the Cuisinart COS-118 Charcoal Smoker performs.
Cuisinart also sells mats, drip trays, barbecue kit tools, and a sauce pot with an integrated basting brush. Each of these accessory units has been designed to work with the Cuisinart COS-118 Charcoal Smoker.
Ease to Clean
The Cuisinart COS-118 Charcoal Smoker is a little more work to clean up than say a barrel grill with an offset smoker box. Yet it’s not that bad. The grates can be easily scraped down. Once the fire is completely exhausted, you simply remove the body section of the smoker. The ash and spent coals can then be dumped into a metal bucket and sprayed with a little water.
The Cuisinart COS-118 Charcoal Smoker comes with a three-year warranty from the date of purchase. Just make sure that you register it within 30-days of making the purchase to be able to activate the warranty! This warranty is slightly better than some of its direct competitors.
Vertical smokers have become incredibly popular. While Cuisinart isn’t necessarily the first name you might think of for grills and smokers, they do still have a long-standing reputation for providing quality cooking appliances. The Cuisinart COS-118 Charcoal Smoker meets up with its competitors. It’s definitely worth consideration.
- Able to smoke a large amount of food
- Side access door for easy use
- Wide temperature range
- Above average warranty
- It can be a little leaky
- Grates can be a little sticky
- Access door feels a little flimsy