The Bottom Line
Describing what The Orion Cooker is may be the most difficult thing about it. Basically this is a charcoal fired roasting oven. The completely enclosed cooking chamber completely separates the flame from the food. This does not mean that you can not add smoke flavor and it does not mean that this is no better than your oven at cooking everything from racks of ribs (8 at a time) to whole turkeys. This is a great "cooker" for large meals, tailgating and for getting foods cooked quickly (a 20 pound turkey in 2 1/2 hours). So while not a grill or a smoker, it is definitely a good cooker.
- Fast Cooking Times
- Amazingly Versatile Cooking Abilities
- Cooks Large Quantities
- Solid 304 Stainless Steel Construction
- Consumes large amounts of fuel
- Limited Smoke Generation
- Complete 304 stainless steel construction
- Large capacity cooking chamber capable of cooking 8 racks of ribs or 3 boston butts
- Comes with poultry stand, three rib racks, three cooking racks and a drip pan
- Stay cool handles on the lid
- Large capacity charcoal pan
Guide Review - The Orion Cooker
The Orion Cooker is one of those truly unique pieces of cooking equipment that is very hard to categorize. On the most basic level this is a charcoal fired, stainless steel, convection oven. The body of the unit is a sealed chamber that holds in heat, moisture and smoke (generated by setting wood chips against the outer edge of the cooking chamber in close proximity to the burning coals outside). You place charcoal (about 15 pounds) around the bottom to generate heat and about a dozen more briquettes in a cup on the top to create convection.
You can get more information on how this works at the Orion Cooker Website. What really makes this stand out as a "cooker" is the speed at which it can cook. The combination of convection, intense heat, and captured moisture (don't remove the lid while cooking!) allows this unit to turn out a good barbecue Boston butt (pulled pork) in a little over four hours, tender, moist and flavorful. You can cook a very good 20-pound turkey in 2 1/2 hours. This, in my opinion, makes the Orion Cooker a very good choice for tailgating.
This unit is designed to give you a wide range of versatility. Included are hooks to hang racks of ribs (you can fit about 8 racks), a poultry stand, and three stacking cooking grates.
There are a couple of points I would like to make about this unit. While an excellent cooker you should be aware that it takes about 15 pounds of charcoal to fire The Orion Cooker up. They recommend self lighting charcoal because there isn't an easy way to light the unit otherwise. This makes it an expensive unit to use if you are not going to cook large quantities of food at a time.
Secondly, I found that the smoke generation is limited. I tried several times and several ways to get a strong smoke flavor into foods. While you could smell and taste the smoke I found it a little weak.
Disclosure: Review samples were provided by the manufacturer. For more information, please see our Ethics Policy.