Orion Cooker Outdoor Convection Steam Cooker Barbecue Smoker Review
Orion cookers started out as the dream of an entrepreneur who simply wanted to spend more time with guests rather than constantly having to tend to a grill or smoker. Its grassroots trace back to a turkey cooker, but like all home-grown products, it evolved once it hit retail success.
It uses convection heat and steam for indirect cooking, in a way that you don’t really see in other grills, smokers, or barbecues. It was originally intended to cook modest-size turkeys and large chickens, so it comes with a sturdy poultry stand. However, you shouldn’t think that it’s only a poultry cooker. There are also three grates included in the purchase and three rib hangers.
The body has a pre-drilled hole to let a thermometer lead pass through. There’s also a large drippings/water pan and an ash removal tray. It also comes with a heavy-duty nylon cover.
Construction & Ease of Assembly
At first glance, the “Sheet Metal” look of the Orion cooker might give you the impression that it’s cheaply made. While it does speak to its grassroots, you should also note that the way the Orion works, would burn off and corrode any heat resistant paint or powder coat.
With repeated use, and proper protection from the elements this cooker will develop its own patina. Just make sure to let it cool all the way down after cooking, then cover it with the heavy-duty nylon cover.
There isn’t a lot of complicated assembly to the Orion cooker. You simply need to set it up and you are ready to use it.
The convection and steam cooking process of the Orion is where it stands apart from other smokers, grills, and outdoor cooking appliances. You insert the drippings pan and the internal components for what you are cooking. Then start a charcoal fire in the outer fire pan. The heat produces steam from the water/drippings and a light amount of smoke is infused into the meat being cooked.
It does take a few sessions to really dial in the internal temperature you want. The cooking chamber does come with a special pre-drilled port which allows you to run a probe thermometer into the meat.
To cook a turkey or chicken, you set the lower grill grate in place, the load the bird onto the poultry stand. Ideally, you want to keep the wings or thighs from touching the side of the cooking chamber. It was originally designed as a turkey cooker, which it does a good job of, and can free up precious oven real estate during the holidays.
You can use it for small chickens and things like Cornish game hens, but you might need to cut a larger hole in the neck to let it seat deeper.
The Orion cooker can also work for other pieces of meat. There’s just enough room in the cooking chamber to handle a modest-size Boston butt pork shoulder or a trimmed down beef tri-tip.
It also comes with three rib hangers. It is a little tight, but it is possible to get three racks of pork spareribs in the cooking chamber. With larger racks of beef ribs, you might only be able to safely get two in the cooking chamber.
The large Orion cooker comes with three grilling grates. Each one measures in at 398 square inches.
Oddly enough the cooking chamber is perhaps the most “Special Feature” of the Orion cooker. The fire is set in the outer ring, which heats the walls of the chamber while also producing steam from the large water/drippings pan.
The predrilled hole for the probe thermometer might not seem like a big deal, but if it wasn’t there, it would be a common complaint. It’s also threaded which allows you to close to seal the chamber for the times when you don’t want to run a probe thermometer into the meat.
Ease to Clean
The Orion cooker is relatively easy to clean. Once the fire dies down and any lingering embers are cool you can easily pour out the ash. The grill grates just need a through scrape down. The water or drippings pan needs to be poured out and wiped dry as soon as everything cools down.
Once everything is completely cooled down you should cover it with the heavy-duty nylon cover it comes with. If possible, you should try to store it indoors, in the garage or under a roof, just to minimize exposure to the elements.
One possible problem area for the cleanup can happen when you let meat, particularly poultry skin to touch the inner walls of the cooking chamber. When this happens it can stick, leave grease streaks and need excess scraping. A stiff-bristled nylon brush is preferable for this over steel wool or a metal grill brush.
Orion warrants that The Orion Cooker ® to be free of defects in materials and workmanship for 2 years from the date of purchase. There are some stipulations in the fine print that assume responsible, proper use.
This level of warranty is a step better than most of the competition at this price point, who typically offer a one-year warranty.
If you are looking for a barbecue or slow cooker that can handle poultry, as well as classic barbecue like ribs and pork shoulders, then the Orion is worth a closer look. It’s especially nice if you need to make extra room in the oven when cooking the holiday turkey.
It does a great job of keeping the meat moist while applying a light amount of smoke to the cooking chamber. It’s backed by a nice warranty and will last, so long as you protect it from the elements.
- An innovative way to cook with indirect heat
- A sealable hole for a probe thermometer
- Includes poultry stand
- Includes three grill grates and three rib hangers
- Large ash removal tray
- Large water/drippings pan
- Includes heavy-duty nylon cover
- Needs to be protected from elements
- Grates are sticky
- Won’t handle a brisket flat
- Not a direct heat grill