Pit Barrel Cooker: The Story Behind The Brand

by Joost Nusselder | Last Updated:  June 5, 2022

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Pit Barrel Cooker: truly amazing and traditional BBQ smokers. The design isn’t anything new but this brand stands out due to their affordability and ease of use.

When you think of a traditional smoker, you probably think of a barrel smoker. And when you think of a barrel smoker, you probably think of a Pit Barrel Cooker.

But how did it all start? Let’s dive into the history of this amazing smoker.

Pit Barrel Cooker logo

The Pit Barrel Cooker: A Smoker for Novices and Pitmasters Alike

The Pit Barrel Cooker Company is a family-run business based in Louisville, KY. Founded by Navy Corpsman Noah Glanville and his wife Amber in late 2010, the Pit Barrel Cooker is more than a smoker, it’s their passion project.

What Comes Packaged

The Pit Barrel Cooker comes in four different packages:

  • Just the PBC
  • PBC Select
  • PBC Choice
  • PBC Prime

The standard PBC package or the “Just the PBC” includes:

  • 30 Gallon Steel Drum and Lid
  • 8 Stainless Steel hooks
  • Wooden Hook Remover
  • Steel Hanging Rods
  • Charcoal Basket
  • Standard Grill Grate
  • Three-point Barrel Stand
  • All-Purpose Pit Rub 5 oz.
  • Beef & Game Pit rub

The PBC Select Package adds:

  • Pit Grips
  • 18.5″ PBC Custom Fit Cover
  • 18.5″ PBC Ash Pan
  • 18.5″ Hinged Grate
  • Custom Pit Barrel Chimney Starter

The PBC Choice Package includes everything from the standard PBC package as well as the PBC Select, plus:

  • Stainless Steel Turkey Hanger
  • Sausage, Hot Dog & Brat Hanger
  • Corn Hanger
  • All-Purpose Basket Hanger
  • Stainless Steel Ultimate Hook Tool
  • Pit Barrel Bottle Opener
  • 4 PBC 10″ Stainless Steel Vertical Skewers

The PBC Prime Package includes everything from the Just the PBC package, PBC Select and Choice, plus:

  • 2 PBC 15″ Stainless Steel Vertical Skewers
  • Custom Pit Barrel GrillGrate
  • 4 Additional Original Stainless Steel Meat Hooks
  • PBC Stainless Steel Shaker Set
  • Ultimate Tong
  • Ultimate Spatula

Which Package Do You Recommend?

It all depends on what you like to cook/smoke and which add-ons you’ll actually use. If you don’t own a charcoal chimney, oven mitts, or any of the aforementioned add-ons, it’s best to go for the PBC Select. It comes with a charcoal chimney, ash pan, custom fit cover, and Pit Grips. Plus, you get to save a few bucks.

If you already have some of the add-ons, you can just buy the ones you need. But, it’s still a good idea to get the ash pan and custom fit cover for storage and usability.

So, if you’re looking for a smoker that both novices and pitmasters can enjoy, the Pit Barrel Cooker is the way to go. With four different packages to choose from, you’re sure to find one that fits your needs. Just make sure to get the PBC Select at the very least.

Cooking with a PBC: Quality You Can Count On

Built to Last

When you’re cooking with a PBC, you can rest assured that you’re getting top-notch quality. We’re talking 20-gauge steel, upgraded to an even sturdier 18-gauge. Plus, it’s coated in porcelain enamel, making it super resistant to the elements. Whether you’re cooking in the heat of summer or the chill of winter, your PBC will keep your meat cooking like a pro.

Protecting Your Investment

Your PBC is a serious investment, so why not make sure it lasts? While it’s built to withstand the toughest conditions, you can always give it an extra layer of protection with a custom-fit cover. For just $29.95, you can keep your PBC looking like new for years to come.

The Bottom Line

When it comes to cooking with a PBC, you can trust that you’re getting quality you can count on. It’s built to last, no matter the weather, and you can give it an extra layer of protection with a custom-fit cover. So fire up the grill and get cooking!

Pit Barrel Cooker

Featuring a Hook-N-Hang Method, versatile grilling, durability and style, and portability, it’s only natural for this veteran-owned business to be one of the best smoker brands out there.

With durable steel and porcelain enameled coating and enough accessories to cook up large amounts of food, it doesn’t get any better than the Pit Barrel Cooker.

This smoker is so good that it won the Best Value Gold Medal Award from AmazingRibs.com and has even been endorsed by celebrity chefs.

If you want a high-quality smoker that is very hands-on, this is the best value for your money.

However, it’s important to note that heat control can be a bit tricky, and to make sure it lasts for a couple of years, you will need to keep it in a safe, dry place when not in use.

But that’s a small price to pay for the portability benefits of this smoker.

Understanding the Pit Barrel Cooker

What is Beyond Convection?

The Pit Barrel Cooker (PBC) uses a unique form of convection heat transfer called “Beyond Convection”. This is because the meat is hung vertically, which reduces the radiative heat and creates an even cooking experience. PBC refers to this as the “Hook-and-Hang” method, as it places the meat in the center of the convection, allowing all parts of the meat to be cooked at the same time.

How to Avoid Burning the Meat?

When smoking with the PBC, it’s important to keep in mind that the meat can and will burn. To avoid this, try to keep at least 8-12 inches of clearance between the charcoal basket and the meat. Another tip is to push the charcoal basket back towards the back of the smoker and have the meat hang between the gap of the barrel and the basket. This way the meat isn’t directly over the fire.

Cooking Tips

When using the PBC, it’s important to note that it cooks faster than most traditional grills. To make sure the meat doesn’t burn, try these tips:

  • Trim the ribs or make them into two half racks instead.
  • Increase the meat volume. More meat juices/water will drip on the coals which cools the fire.
  • Keep at least 8-12 inches of clearance between the charcoal basket and the meat.
  • Push the charcoal basket back towards the back of the smoker and have the meat hang between the gap of the barrel and the basket.

Cooking with the Pit Barrel Cooker (PBC): A Beginner’s Guide

Adjusting the Intake Vent

The Pit Barrel Cooker is a dream come true for those of us who want to get the same smoky, delicious flavor of a traditional smoker without all the hassle. But before you get cooking, you’ll need to adjust the intake vent at the bottom of the smoker to match your elevation. Here’s how:

  • If you live between sea level and 2,000’ elevation, slide the cap to leave it ¼ open.
  • Between 2,000’ and 5,000, it should be half open.
  • At 5,000’-8,000’, ¾ of the way open.
  • At 8,000’+, go ahead and open it all the way.

It’s important to get this right, otherwise your coals could burn too hot or too cool.

Lighting the Coals

Once you’ve got the vent adjusted, it’s time to get the coals going. Here’s what you’ll need to do:

  • Fill up the charcoal basket with charcoal till it’s flush and level on top.
  • Remove a few handfuls of the charcoal, put it into a charcoal chimney with some fire starter, and light it up.
  • Once the charcoal is burning well, 12 minutes, dump them back on top of the charcoal in the basket.
  • Make sure you get the lit coals spread evenly across the unlit coals in the basket.

Getting Cooking

Now that you’ve got your coals lit, it’s time to get cooking! Here’s what you’ll need to do:

  • Load the charcoal basket completely, mixing in wood chips throughout.
  • Hang your meat and get cooking.
  • The burning charcoal will provide enough heat, igniting more charcoal as they burn through, and keeping a consistent temp the whole time.

PBC says that a full basket of charcoal can last up to 12 hours of continuous burning. But usually you’ll get about 9 hours on average per basket.

Temperature and Control

The Pit Barrel Cooker is known for its consistency. If you’ve done everything right, it should be able to hold temps between 240°F to 265°F for hours on end.

But sometimes it can run a bit hot, sitting closer to 250°F to 265°F. This could be from not filling up the basket entirely, or from running the smoker at higher temperatures than the standard 225°F.

When you first light a fire in the Pit Barrel Cooker, you might notice it spikes of 350°F or even hotter before dropping and settling down to around 245°F. This spike is short-lived and it’s actually beneficial to creating the perfect bark. So don’t worry if it happens!

No smoker is perfect, so you’ll need to adjust your smoker and practice with it in order to find the exact temp you’re looking for. The number of coals you light in the chimney, the moisture content of the meat, ambient temperature, elevation, humidity, and high winds; all will affect the smoker’s chamber temperature.

So don’t be afraid to experiment and have fun with it!


In conclusion, the Pit Barrel Cooker is an innovative and unique way to cook that will leave your taste buds wanting more. With its high-quality steel and porcelain enamel coating, it’s sure to last for years to come. Plus, with the various packages available, you can find the perfect one to fit your needs.

We’ve got some more thoughts on barrel smokers you can read right here.

Joost Nusselder, the founder of Lakeside Smokers is a content marketer, dad and loves trying out new food with BBQ Smoking (& Japanese food!) at the heart of his passion, and together with his team he's been creating in-depth blog articles since 2016 to help loyal readers with recipes and cooking tips.