79 of 81 people found the following review helpful
on February 9, 2009
I am an experienced BBQ'er from Kansas City, with my own smoker. I bought the Orion for our vacation house. In my opinion, the Orion makes BBQ 90% as good as the very best, and it's MUCH easier and faster. We have made brisket, spare and back ribs, turkey, and goat, all with great results. You don't get quite the "smoke ring" of the best conventional bbq, but you get more moisture. A lot of my guests liked "Orion bbq" better. And it doesn't smoke up the neighborhood.
1-Follow the instructions exactly, at least to begin with
2-Smoke flavor comes from the wood you put inside; the side of the wood against the outer edge will char.
3-The container is sealed, so the charcoal on the outside is irrelevant to the flavor of what's happening inside. If you use insta-light charcoal for maximum convenience/laziness, the flavor inside will NOT be affected.
4-I don't think you'll ever need extra liquid in the bottom
61 of 65 people found the following review helpful
on February 23, 2008
This thing ROCKS!! We've used it for a 21 lb turkey, tri tip roasts, ribs, Pork roast, Bratwurst, even our 1&1/2 inch thick pork chops! No need to turn/baste the food, Put your meat on any/all of the 3 grates inside, fill the ring and the top hopper using 1 bag of ready-light type charcoal, light it and walk away (for the recommended times in the included cookbook). This makes an awesome smoker by adding a handfull of hickory or mesquite chips to the area around the drip pan. Since the fire itself never touches the wood chips, they burn nicely making the perfect amount of smoke inside the cooker. Our 21 lb turkey was done in 2 hours and 5 minutes, was moist and had a great mesquite smoke flavor to it.
I got mine at Bass pro shop, and we have had 4 of our friends buy one after tasting food from ours. The stainless discolors with use, but doesn't rust and it doesn't affect the unit's cooking or smoking abilities. Well worth the money.
45 of 49 people found the following review helpful
on November 14, 2007
With family holidays approaching and a desire for me to feed them without spending 4 days chained to the oven, I purchased one of these suckers.
It was easy to assemble, thankfully - normally, my assembly processes are fueled by profanity, bruised appendages, and eventually, whiskey. I had this up and running in about 15 minutes, though.
My first attempt was to really put it through it's paces, with one of the mroe difficult cuts of meat to get right - a beef brisket. Worse, it was a cheap beef brisket bought from a grocery, trimmed of fat, a little on the small side, and generally not the kind I normally get before I BBQ things.
I gave it a quick rub, put it on the grate, put the top on, and proceeded to light the charcoal. I adjusted the cooking time by proportionality - the instruction booklet lists 5lb and 12lb briskets, I only had a 3lb - sat back, and waited.
A little over an hour later, it was done.
At first, I was concerned that it lacked the smokiness I had come to love about a good BBQ brisket. I had loaded the thing with hickory chips after all. I realized that the main difference was that with my normal smoker, enough smoke leaks out that the whole neighborhood can smell smouldering wood, whereas with this thing, it's pretty sealed up. Once I got up close and personal with the meat, it did have a fair amount of smoke flavor and aroma, although not as much as when I actually use my smoker (although I didn't smoke my clothes, hair, and nostrils in the process).
The meat was tender. Not quite the falling-apart, oh-my-god tender a good 12 hours in a low smoker can get you, but it was good enough for some brisket sandwiches and I simply can't argue with the fact that it was done in an hour. Didn't quite get the nice crust on the outside that a dry smoke will give either, but even with my smoker I've never quite gotten that right.
I figured that giving it a small, overly lean, underseasoned brisket would be a pretty rough test on the new cooker - a good rub hides a multitude of sins, and a good fatty brisket isn't as apt to dry out - and the Orion performed admirably. As mentioned, it wasn't the best brisket I'd ever had, but for an hour of my evening and no constant checking and flipping, I'm well-impressed.
On the downside, it pretty much requires an entire bag of charcoal per run, which can add up after a while. I don't intend to use this for day-to-day grilling, though, so this won't be as much of a problem.
I'm excited to try it out on poultry, which should be an easier task.
29 of 31 people found the following review helpful
on May 20, 2011
works as advertised, only con is using a large bag of charcoal. i have had many store bought smokers over the years, they have all rusted away from sitting outside, a year later the stainless steel orion smoker is still looking good. if your looking to smoke a decent size batch and have near perfect results every time you can not go wrong with this smoker. holds a 20 lb turkey very well, and six racks of ribs fit with room to spare. search google for the owners manual to check out the recipes and cook times.
i have used mine about forty times now, have never had a bad meal yet.
here are a few tips on operation of the smoker.
-use kingsford charcoal if smoking more than an hour and ten minutes. the generic brands do not burn near as long.
-you will want to find a wind protected area to use the smoker. gusting winds will not distribute the heat evenly.
-try using apple, cherry, or another light smoking wood (can be found at lowes), hickory and mesquite can have a very smoky effect in this unit. i usually use a blend of hickory and apple or cherry.
-when doing ribs, i will throw a chicken or two on after the ribs are done, still plenty of coal life to cook them.
-put foil on the bottom side of the turkey or chicken when using the poultry stand to minimize over cooking of the skin.
-water is not needed in the drip pan for most meats. when you pull the lid off one to four hours later, you will get a blast of steam that is the juices of the meat!
-do not peak, leave the lid on the entire time.
please comply with your local outdoor burning regulations, the coals will stay hot for ten to twelve hours, not hot enough to cook with but enough to potentially start a fire.
12 of 12 people found the following review helpful
on September 2, 2013
First let me preface that I am a pretty experienced griller/smoker, and we have several outdoor cooking products at our house, all used for various tasks. The Weber gas grill, Weber charcoal grill, and Smokey Mountain smoker all get used with regularity, all year long. When I first heard of the Orion, I must honestly say that I thought of it as nothing more than a Harry Homeowner type of product. However, due to the insistence of it's functionality from a friend who is also very grill experienced, I reluctantly purchased it. I couldn't have been more wrong in my initial assessment.
Quite often during the year, we cook chicken, ribs, and Boston Butt on this little guy, and the results are amazing. Chickens are done in about an hour, vs 3 hours on my regular smoker. A 9lb Boston Butt, while taking others I have spoken to as long as 14 hrs to smoke, a quick 4 hours in the Orion and it's time to shred. Actually "shredding" would be a misnomer, as it completely falls apart when pulled from the Orion. Ribs are done in an hour and ten, and though I prefer them a bit more in my regular smoker, low and slow, the results from the Orion are more than adequate, especially when combined with chicken or other fare. We prefer hickory chips, but have also used cherry and apple as well.
Maintenance is easy, as the stainless construction resists corrosion. Mine has been outside for a year and a half, no worse for wear. Once it cools, I hose it out, and bring the grates, rib hangers, and drip pan inside and wash.
A few tips that I discovered that may help:
1. Forget the Matchlight, it's way too expensive. Just use whatever charcoal is on sale, and get lighter fluid. The coals are on the outside, so you won't get any fluid taste to the meat. I just bought a double bag pack of Kingford at Lowes (40 lbs), on sale for $12.99. That's enough for 3 full loads on the Orion, and maybe a little left over towards a fourth. Drench them in fluid, let them set a spell, then fire it up.
2. Get some 10" pie plates, and put them in the drain pan. Much more durable than foil, and makes cleaning up that much easier.
3. Use a meat thermometer to gauge doneness. You can weave the cable carefully around the lid. Just hang the display portion somewhere so it is not too close or directly above the coals.
For the price here on Amazon, and the fact that you get everything you need in one box, in my opinion, you can't go wrong. You may need to experiment a bit to get the hang of it, but for the most part, the Orion is pretty much "set it and forget it".
10 of 10 people found the following review helpful
on May 30, 2013
I purchased my smoker at home depot about 4 years ago. Over that time I have prepared a lot of meat in it. All of it has been juciey and really great. However, over the years I have learned some things inorder to get the best results from the smoker.
First, it will not brown. Wheb doing a turkry, chicken or anything you want to have a nice brown crust on this unit will not fo that.
Second, when I cook ribs in it, and I am doing 6 racks in it this weekend...I cook them for 1 15min then take them out. They are done and tender but not ready to fall off the bone. I suggest that you use a full rack of ribs and hang them on the thickest side to the top. Cut your slit about two to three bones down so that there is a good amount of meat to hold it. It really does get very tender. Stay away fron using any rubs that have citrus in them. The citrus flavor really does not go well with the smoke. One the ribs are done take them out and if you want to add bbq sauce to them I put mine on the grill, add my sauce and brown them. They turn out WONDERFULLY!
Third, after using my smoker a few times I began to notice thaf I was not getting the smoke I wanted with some meats because the juices from the meat would fill up the tray and drawn out the wood chips. Once that happened no more smoke. So I got a metal mixing bowl that was the right size to go down into the smoker amd sit in the tray but not touch the sides of the unit. OMG...what a difference it makes. You get full smoke the entire time (use less wood chips) and your meat is smoked to the bone.
Now, going back... I do not do turkeys in mine cause I do not like it not being brown. And the only time I do chicken in it is if I am going to bbq sauce it on the grill. The best thing to cook in it is Boston Pork Butts or other meats you normally want good amd smokey.
As I said, I have had mine for several years and still love using it!!
27 of 33 people found the following review helpful
on August 3, 2010
This cooker does a great job with most meats, although I would not use it to cook ribs. The people who are saying it does a great job with ribs obviously have never had ribs the way they were meant to be! Case in point, you cook the ribs by hanging them on these metal hangers...ribs that are cooked correctly (SLOWLY) would never actually stay secure on those hangers, they would eventually fall apart and fall off the hangers. In addition to the ribs, I've done chicken wings, whole chickens, a turkey and a pork loin, and they all came out fantastic.
I'm surprised no one commented on the amount of charcoal needed...15 lbs!?!?! I actually use a whole 13.5 lb bag, but even that in my area runs around $10 for the matchlight stuff. So that's $10 alone in just "fuel" every time you want to use it.
Overall, the cooker is very well made, does a great job with meats (just not ribs!), but is not perfect.
7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
on September 29, 2010
I went back-and-forth between this inexpensive cooker and the Big Green Egg. While the egg gets incredible reviews, I simply could not justify spending that kind of money on an outdoor cooker. Several people recommended the Orion, and, for the price, I figured I'd give it a shot. I could not be happier with it.
The first meal we cooked on it was a six pound beef brisket. We marinated it overnight in a mixture of apple cider vinegar, Coca Cola, and various spices. We then pulled the meet out of the marinade, patted it dry with paper towels, brushed with yellow mustard, and liberally applied a homemade dry rub. We used a mixture of mesquite and hickory chips for smoke, and poured some of the remaining marinade into the drip pan. Then, we simply added charcoal, lighter fluid, and fire. We patiently waited the required time and checked the temperature. We had to cook for about 15 minutes more to get the internal temp up, and the we pulled out the beautiful brisket. After letting the meat rest for about an hour, we started carving. The meat was incredibly tasty and tender. I simply could not believe how easy it was.
Since that day, we've cooked a whole pork tenderloin (incredible), a whole turkey (awesome), baby back ribs twice(fantastic), three racks of spare ribs (very good but we should have cooked slightly longer), a nine-pound turkey breast (may be the best piece of meat to come off of the cooker... we used a creole butter injectable and 100% applewood chips... it was done in 60 minutes!), and another brisket (more deliciousness). Something to consider is we've cooked all of these things in the two months since we've owned it. I simply cannot express how much I love this cooker.
For charcoal, we use the cheapest available. Our local supermarket brand is approximately $8 for a 20 pound bag. If I am cooking ribs, turkey, or any other meat which doesn't require a long cooking time, I will use less than the recommended 15 pounds of charcoal.
The only downsides to the unit are:
1. it is difficult to remove the drip pan without spilling the drippings (the handles are worthless). We generally try to remove the drip pan immediately after the meat so they don't cook down into char... that makes it much easier to clean the drip pan)
2. The top of the unit should have some sort of reinforcement to keep the circular shape true. The very edges will curl in slightly, making it slightly difficult to get the unit together. This really becomes a problem when you need to open and re-close the unit.
3. If it starts raining, good luck. The flames are all open, meaning rain very possibly could shut down your cooking day. We've rigged up a cover to use in emergencies, and I am sure my neighbors just love to see that contraption.
Even with the above problems, I cannot recommend this unit enough.
10 of 11 people found the following review helpful
on November 21, 2010
I have had my cooker for 3 years now and use it at least 15 times a year. I have never had anything cook as good as this. I have deep fried a truck load of turkeys any number of ways to shoot them up. This cooks better turkey than anything I have ever seen. Very little longer than deep fried. The white meat is so moist you can squeeze the water out of it. RIBS, Wow, the best ever. If you fail to make good ribs in this cooker you would fail a kindergarden test. I cook 6 racks for 1.5 hours and just shake the bone and it falls out. No more chewing the meat off the bone. It is to simple. I cook 20# of butts at a time and that is a load. I cook them for 4.5 hours and they fall of the bone. If tou don't eat them all place them in quart freezer bags for MRE (meals ready to eat) at a moments notice.
Something really special, at Christmas I did a 13# turkey with a spiral cut ham on the top rack. The time was 1:40 and completly done, the ham took on a bunch of hickory smoke flavor. We had a problem trying to figure out which to eat.
You will not go wrong with this cooker in you backyard. It is the best.
7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
on October 9, 2008
Awesome cooker. I don't typically brag about items I buy, but this one I've told everyone about. I was impressed when I cooked ribs and a turkey both in one night and the turkey leg fell off as I was taking the bird out, it was just that tender. The next weekend I put in a beef brisket, and when it was fall apart tender, that just sealed the deal for me. This is my new favorite toy!!!