Saturday, 14 December 2013

Pit Barrel Cooker Review

Some of you kept asking me about The Pit Barrel Cooker to see how good of a BBQ it was. Well a few weeks back I got the opportunity from the Pit Barrel Cooker Company to do a review on their Pit Barrel Cooker which I accepted.  Yesterday I received the Pit Barrel Cooker via FedEx which I was quite impress on how well it was packaged to ensure no damaged incurred during shipping.  

Before we get into this review I would like to provide a little biography of the company.

“The Pit Barrel Cooker Co. is a family-owned business that was established in 2010 in Strasburg, Colorado by an Iraq war veteran. All of our products are proudly made in the USA. Our flagship product is the Pit Barrel Cooker which combines the best qualities of smokers, slow cookers and BBQs (into one product). While barrel cooking is nothing new, it has never before been brought to the mass market in a form that is affordable, simple to use, producing perfectly cooked meat (meals) every time. As part of our mission of letting people spend less time preparing food and more time enjoying the company of their guests, we have launched our own line of Pit Barrel Cooker Rubs that make it even easier to achieve great tasting results with little to no hassle. We believe that everyone that enjoys outdoor cooking will want a Pit Barrel Cooker because everyone who tries one is simply amazed by the flavor it produces.

Our products are sold through our website, in retail stores Nationwide and at our catering events. They also sell and ship to Canada. We believe that everyone that enjoys outdoor cooking will want a Pit Barrel Cooker because everyone who tries one is simply amazed by the flavor it produces.”

Ok let’s get started with some key features:

  •        It’s made out of high quality 30 gallon steel drum

  •             DuPont high temperature black powder coat finish that can withstand temperatures of up to 1000       degrees Fahrenheit;

  •            You only have to adjust one vent to the recommended sea level elevation and ounce adjusted you       never have to set again. This makes it extremely easy to use; (which we will discuss a little bit later       in this review)

  •            You can cook by hanging your food using hooks or you can cook close to the hot coals on the             grill grate;

  •       Another key point is that you don’t have to season this PBC.

When you start to unpack your Pit Barrel cooker you will find your instructions located on the top of the box. Then you will notice two long sleeve on the sides which contains 8 stainless steel hooks, wooden hook remover and two 4.7 oz. bottle of their famous rubs (All-Purpose Pit Rub and Beef & Game Pit Rub). Underneath the first section of the cardboard you will find the Pit Barrel Cooker lid with half Horse shoe handle, nice horse shoe stand for the cooker, 17.5 inch chrome plated wire grate, your 2 steel rods, heavy duty charcoal basket with handle and a 30 gallon Pit Barrel Drum with two horse shoe handle.

Unpacking the Pit Barrel Cooker Video

 Instruction, Business Card & Coupon

 8 stainless steel hooks, wooden hook remover

Two 4.7 OZ bottle of there rubs

 Close Up view of Tub Bottles

 Instructions, Business Card and Coupon

Wooden hook remover

One of the Bars and the 8 stainless steel hooks

 Lid with the half horse hoe handle

 17.5 inch chrome plated wire grate and 2 steel rod

17.5 inch chrome plated wire grate

 Inside view of 30 Gallon Drum

 Outside view of 30 Gallon drum

Better View of 30 Gallon Barrel

Horse Shoe Handle

 Horse Shoe Stand

Heavy duty charcoal basket with handle

As you can see they took time to ensure this cooker was pack extremely well so it doesn't incur any damages during transportation. I was quite impress in the fact that this Pit Barrel Cooker is pretty much ready to go right out of the box. It can be assembled within 60 seconds which is quite impressive.

Pit Barrel Cooker Assembly Video

Step 1 place stand on the ground

Step 2 place Barrel on stand and adjust vent

Step 3 place heavy duty charcoal basket with handle inside drum

 Step 4A Place cooking grate if you want to use grate to cook if not jump to Step 4B.

 Step 4B Place two steel rod in drum holes

 Step 4C hang the meet with the hooks

Step 5 Place cover

Has you can see the Horse Shoe handles are useful in holding the Lid and Grate for you!

I tested the Pit Barrel Cooker in sub Zero temp and it maintain internal temp of 245 to 275 degrees Fahrenheit pretty steady the entire cook! I monitor the PBC for another two hours after cooking the chicken and it still maintained the above temp steady without a hitch! It was also pretty windy outside which is typical for Nova Scotia and the wind add no ill effect to the PBC. This was quite impressive and totally impressed me and my wife. This actually prove that this grill is pretty efficient in maintaining a steady cooking temp.

PBC internal temp

 Outside temp

Lots of us are used to seeing the old Ugly Drum Smoker (UDS) which takes time to build and is a lot bigger making it not to portable. The usual UDS is made out of a 57 gallon Steele drum and is usually ugly to look at and can be tricky in controlling the temperature.

The Pit Barrel Cooker is a 30 gallon UDS version sort of and it’s a lot easier to use. The PBC is a lot smaller in size making easier to transport and looks a lot sharper on your patio or in your cooking pit! It also take a lot less space when storing it in your garage!

The reason they went with a 30 gallon size drum is that they found during their research and testing this size provides a more even convection heat inside the cooker. Remember heat rises and do to the size and design of this cooker it actually keeps even heat distribution throughout the drum which is quite impressive!

An important note is that this PBC has been design to use Kingsford Original Briquettes that come in the familiar blue and white bag which readily available at any BBQ store or Walmart’s. According the Pit Barrel Cooker company president you can also use lump charcoal but you will have to experiment on the amount to use since lump burns at higher temp. He also recommends to cook with the Kingsford Original Briquettes till you get used to the cooker which I also recommend.

Here’s how easy it is to use:

First step is to adjust the bottom vent to your sea level elevation:
        ·      0 to 200 feet above sea level ¼ open;

              ·        2000 to 5000 feet above sea level ½ open;
              ·        5000 to 8000 feet above sea level ¾ open;
              ·        Above 8000 feet wide open;

                  This step is extremely important! Ounce set          you never have to adjust it again.

Pit Barrel Cooker Vent

If you plan to use your Pit Barrel Cooker on a wooden deck it’s extremely important that you place a BBQ heat resistance mat on the deck then on top of it a patio stone. If you don’t do this the heat from the cooker can cause your deck to ketch fire.

The best way to light this PBC is to fill your basket with Kingsford Original Briquettes approximately 145 briquettes then empty 25%  of the charcoal briquettes into your chimney lighter approximately 36 briquettes;

Lighting and cooking on the PBC Video

(You can use lighter fluid to light your full charcoal baskets but I highly recommend using the chimney lighter method.)

Lighting with fluid Video
Source: YouTube user Pit Barrel Cooker Co.

It is very important to use good BBQ gloves when handling the chimney lighter and hot handles of the PBC. I highly recommend the BBQ Bravo gloves since they are well insulated and covers most of your arm.

BBQ Bravo Gloves Video
Source: YouTube Uploader Freds Music and BBQ

Once the charcoal chimney newspaper is lit let it light up the coals for 15 minutes at sea level, or 20 minutes for all other elevations. Then pour the lit charcoal on top of the rest of the briquettes in the baskets inside the PBC; (now you’re ready to place your food inside the cooker)

If hanging meat remove grill grate and place metal rods in pre-cut holes. Hang meat on the stainless steel hooks and hang meat from metal rods inside the Pit Barrel Cooker or if grilling- remove metal rods and insert grill grate, place meat on grill grate and grill as you would on a barbecue;

Don't forget to use there handy wooden tool to remove the hot hooks

Chicken Cooking Using two hooks


PBC cooking in sub zero temps!

Ounce your done placing your meat inside the cooker put the lid back on and let it cook to perfection!
You can even cook pizzas in this cooker by using a 14” to 15” pizza stone. I prep the pizza on my pizza stone then place the stone on the grill grate then I use the grates handle to place it in the cooker. It’s that simple!

Pizza Stone inside PBC

Lots of friends have been asking me if you add to flip the ribs when cooking them by the hanging method to ensure that they are cooking evenly. Well I can tell you from experience that you just have to hang your slabs on the hooks and that you don’t have to flip them at all during the cook. The smoke flavor and color came out evenly and they actually cook quite evenly which totally impressed me! I was more than 100% sure that it wouldn't cook them evenly! I was also afraid that the slab would fall off the hooks as they cooked to completion but they stayed on the hooks perfectly!!

Ribs Cooking Away!

Cold Outside Temp!

 Ribs Going in the cooker!

 Ready at 2h 30m!


When placing the hooks on ribs you want to ensure you put your hook after the second bones. It takes 3 to 4 hours to cook pending on your elevation. I would check on them at the 2 ½ hour mark. The lower elevation you’re at the quicker they cook. I check my ribs by pulling on one of the bones and should want to separate from the meat. At this point it’s now time to sauce them and cook them for another 20 minutes hanging so the sauce can caramelize.  I found that I got better results in caramelizing the ribs straight on the grill grates.

The Pit Barrels are manufacture in the United States. Here's a few pictures provided by Pit Barrel Cooker Co. of the manufacturing process:

Barrels Getting ready for the Powder Coating

 Barrels after being coated with DuPont high temperature black powder coat finish

Well everything I cook on the PBC came out with amazing results which I am quite impressed with. This cooker was well design and it shows that lots of testing and research went into its design. I especially love the fact that you can reach them via phone 24h/7days a week if you have any question or issues! Noah the president is very helpful and loves helping everyone in achieving the best cooking experience with the Pit Barrel Cooker. Another huge bonus is that you don’t need a water pan like other smoker and UDS. The food actually comes out nice and moist each and every time. If you plan to leave the PBS outside in the weather its best to get a cover to protect it from the elements. The Pit Barrel Cooker is also excellent for the novice griller since it works on the leave it and forget concept. I owned and used ceramic Kamado style cookers for years and the PBC actually as just as good of a result each and every-time. 

Chicken 1 hour 20 minutes cook time

If you’re looking for a good versatile and easy to use outside BBQ/Smoker the PBC is a very strong contender. This one is definitely the easiest to use and by far the best BBQ/smoker you can get under $500. 

You can order your Pit Barrel Cooker here:Pit Barrel Cooker

US customer they are selling them for $289 with free Fedex shipping.

Canadian customer please contact Noah at or 303-249-9069 for pricing and info. .

International Customer please contact them for pricing at

Pit Barrel Cooker Co Contact Info:

Pit Barrel Cooker Co. Office: 303-249-9096

President: Noah Glanville

Vice President: Amber Glanville

For BBQ Bravo Gloves you can order them here: Fred's Music and BBQ

Happy Grilling!