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An Honest Review of The Orion Cooker

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I love to cook outside. Whether that be grilling, cooking a stew over an open fire, or doing a little smoking. I have to admit though, that I do not have much experience with smoking.

Mostly what I have done in the past has been on a Weber kettle grill. I came across the Orion Cooker and instantly was intrigued by it. After looking it over, I felt compelled to do an honest review of The Orion cooker.

A Honest Review of The Orion Cooker.
The Orion Cooker Just after Lighting The Charcoal

After reading up on it, I found it was perfect for someone like me with the little smoking experience I have. This cooker is as close to a set-and-forget-it method as there is. All you have to do is load it, light it, and eat it. So simple to do.

When it arrived, I was instantly impressed with the build quality

I reached out to The Orion Cooker company and they sent me a unit to test out for my honest review. When it arrived, I was instantly impressed with the build. There are three sizes that you can choose from in the Orion lineup. You have the small cooker, the original Orion cooker, and the Large cooker. I have the original myself and find it to be a perfect size.

picture of the orion cooker with charcoal lit.

I quickly got it all put together and was chomping at the bits to test it out. The unit is made of 100% stainless steel so you never have to worry about it rusting.

This thing should outlast me. Even the hardware is stainless steel.

What Does The Orion Cooker Come With?

The Orion comes with two cooking grates, 3 rib hangers, a poultry stand, and a lifting handle. It also comes with a drip tray to catch all of the drippings or you can add water or juice to the drip tray to help with moisture retention.

There is also a cookbook and manual that comes with the cooker. The cookbook is important with the Orion cooker, you cook with time and not temperature. The cookbook has all the cook times listed in it so be sure to save it.

Once you get the box open, it is simple to put together. There are a few pieces that will have to be assembled which you can see in the video that I provide below. You can watch our Unboxing and assembly video below. Once the assembly is done, you are ready to cook.

How does The Orion Cooker Work?

The Orion cooker cooks with four basic methods. The first is indirect heat. The main principle it works on is convection cooking. The chamber is completely sealed to the outside. No air gets in or out.

The charcoal is on the outside of the cooker and the chamber that the food is in is sealed. The indirect heat causes a convection current to swirl around the inside of the chamber as it builds up pressure. This indirect heat and convection cook the meat. It also seals in moisture and steam which helps the meat retain moisture and helps to cook as well.

Double Smoked Ham cooked on the orion cooker.
Double Smoke Ham Cooked on The Orion Cooker

You can also add wood chips on the inside of the cooker to add a little smoke. So to recap, indirect heat, convection, steam, and also smoke are what make this cooker work. It is essentially a convection cooker. This creates flavorful and tender meat.

You add charcoal to the outer lower ring and the top. The company recommends self-lighting charcoal or using lighter fluid for this.

All of these cooking processes cause fast cooking times and great results.

Charcoal never Touches The Food

Once you have placed your food on the inside and closed the lid, you are ready to light it. Light it, set your timer, and then walk away. It is really that simple. 

Make sure to leave the lid on for the entire time that the book recommends. Opening the lid drastically drops the temperature and the pressure inside. That will affect the cooking times.

picture of the orion cooker with charcoal lit.
Charcoal is on the outside of the cooker, it never touches the food

Since the charcoal does not touch the inside, there is no worry about any aftertaste from the fluid. If you want to smoke your food, you simply add some wood chips on the inside next to the drip pan around the outer edge of the cooking chamber. This will give you a great smoke flavor.

Light it, set your timer, and then walk away. It is really that simple.

Some of my favorite wood chips to add are Hickory and apple wood chips.

What Can You Cook In The Orion Cooker?

The Orion cooker is very versatile. The Orion can hold a whole turkey that weighs up to a 16 to 18-pound turkey. It will hold three racks of ribs. Pork butt is a very ideal type of meat to cook in the Orion cooker. Some other ideas to cook in the Orion cooker:

  • Whole Chicken
  • Pork Tenderloin
  • Spatchcock Chicken
  • Turkey Breast
  • Steak
  • Pork Chop
  • Chicken wings
  • Slabs of Ribs
  • Boston Butts
  • Baby Back Ribs
  • Beef Roast

Cooking Chicken and Ribs on The Orion Cooker

I choose to do a chicken and one rack of ribs. Both had a cooking time of 1 hour and 10 mins. I let it go for that amount of time then opened the lid to check the temperature with an instant-read thermometer.

If you are thinking of cooking a chicken or turkey on the Orion Cooker, you may want to try this simple chicken brine before cooking. Brining your meat, especially poultry is a game changer and will leave you with a tender, moist, chicken or turkey.

Making a quick chicken brine
Brining Chicken

Right before you cook the chicken, I like to use this Homemade Cajun Seasoning. It has a very robust taste and infuses lots of flavor into your poultry. You can use this Cajun seasoning on any type of meat and it is very simple to make.

They were both spot on. My chicken came out moist, and tender, with a nice smokey flavor. The ribs were tender but did not completely fall off the bone.

Whole chicken cooked on the Orion cooker.
Whole Smoke Chicken Cooked on The Orion Cooker
Smoked Chicken Cooked on the Orion Cooker

They did seem like they steamed a bit but I attribute that to having the chicken in the cooking chamber at the same time. I brined the chicken and imagine it gave off a lot of steam. Next time I will cook them separately and see how they turn out.

Me eating ribs that was cooked on the orion cooker.
Ribs that were cooked on the Orion Cooker

We would like to hear from you! Have you ever tried The Orion Cooker before? If so what did you think of it? If you have not tried it does it look like something you would like? Please leave us a comment below. Also, Check out our Part 2 video review below where we show you how to use the Orion Cooker.

-Ronnie | Let’s Get Food Junked
honest review of the orion cooker picture for pintrest.


Why do you use lighter fluid?

Using lighter fluid is a quick way to light the charcoal. Don’t worry though, the charcoal nor the lighter fluid comes in contact with the food.

How do you light the Orion Cooker?

Fill the ring up with charcoal. Fill the top part with charcoal as well. Soak both with lighter fluid. Let it soak in for a few minutes then light it. Once you light it, start your cooking time.

How long does it take to cook a turkey on the Orion cooker?

The general rule of thumb is 7 minutes per pound. A 20 lb turkey will take approximately 2 hours and 15 mins. Always check the internal temperature before consuming.

How long does it take to cook a whole chicken on the Orion cooker?

A 3 to 4-pound chicken will take approximately 1 hour and 10 minutes. Always make sure to check the internal temperature before consuming.

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Todd Looper

Sunday 18th of February 2024

I've had mine since launch. It's absolutely a no brainer and other than one time cooking a turkey too long (lost track of time) it's perfect. Clean up is a little bit of a hassle but you have to clean it after each use or you wont use it again. I believe this forced cleaning is what makes the unit last so long. Boston Butt, Turkey and Brisket are my go to items and they all dazzle the party. Every time.

Ronnie Williams

Monday 19th of February 2024

Hey Todd, I completely agree with you on all aspects you mentioned. It is so easy to use, but the cleaning is a hassle and needs to be done as soon as it cools enough to do it. Thanks so much for your comment. Have a great day. Ronnie


Saturday 30th of December 2023

Just cooked an 18 lb turkey last night. Did what i said i wouldnt do again. Always open up a new 12lb bag of charcoal to get a good quick light for recommended cooking times to work, don't do what i have done too many time and try to use the partial charcoal bags you may have around. Save those the the weber with a chimney starter. Turkey was still great and juicy.

Ronnie Williams

Tuesday 2nd of January 2024

Hey DRH, So what you are saying you used a older bag and it didn't light or start as quick? That is interesting but I can see how that happens. Thanks for sharing that information. -Ronnie


Sunday 20th of August 2023

I have had an Orion Cooker for at least 15 years. Got it when ACE Hardware started selling them.

I have cooked Boston Butt, Brisket, Chicken and Turkey. Have never had a bad experience. Everyone always comments on how moist/smoked/tender the meat is.

I just cooked a 13 lb brisket (cut into halves) and a 8.8 lb Boston Butt at the same time. Brisket on top 2 racks, Boston Butt on bottom. Packet it full of Hickory and Mesquite chips, 3hr 30min later, done.

I fully endorse this product. It has lived outside for about 15 years and is still in solid shape.

Ronnie Williams

Monday 21st of August 2023

Hey Charles, I totally agree with you. I have had mine now going on 6 years I think and I love it too. It is so easy to cook by time and just set it and forget it. It is a good quality unit for sure. Thanks for your comment. I appreciate it. -Ronnie

ed richard

Monday 3rd of July 2023

can hamburgers be cooked on the orion cooker?


Saturday 30th of December 2023

@ed richard, no. By design it would be a waste of charcoal.

Ronnie Williams

Wednesday 5th of July 2023

To answer your question, yes you can but I wouldn't recommend it unless you did it after you cooked something else like a ham or turkey. Thanks Ed, -Ronnie

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