View Full Version : Pit Barrel Cooker Start Up

08-22-2014, 06:58 PM
Question for all you pit barrel cookers out there. I am trying the PBC for the first time. I looked on the website and followed the startup using the charcoal chimney. I used a weber charcoal chimney and had trouble dumping the light coals down to the catch basket. The chimney was too wide.
I put the rebar in and immediately closed the lid. The grill temp read 475f and 14 minutes later is at 375. Is this normal? Should I wait until I hit around 310f to put the meat in? I am at sea level and have the intake one quarter open.

08-22-2014, 07:12 PM
For me a whole chimney of lit charcoal was way too hot, especially the regular size weber chimney.

I've switched to filling the basket with unlit charcoal and lighting only 12-15 with a weed burner. Then crack the lid for 15-20 minutes where it'll reach 250-300. Works great and it's set it and forget it.

08-22-2014, 07:17 PM
Thanks KornD4WGX, I might have to try something like that next time.

08-22-2014, 07:21 PM
This thread really helped me, then I modified slightly for me. :-D


Once you dial in what works for you you'll love it.

Bob C Cue
08-22-2014, 07:55 PM
The PBC site recently updated their website with these instructions, which differ a bit from their earlier videos:

Fill your charcoal basket level, remove 1/4 of them (40 briquets) and place in your chimney, light the coals with the lid off and let burn for 12-15 minutes for elevations between sea level and 2000 ft, all other elevations will let your coals burn for 20 minutes.

If hanging meat- remove grill grate and place metal rods in pre-cut holes. Insert stainless steel hooks through the meat (refer to video demonstrations on our website for more info) and hang meat from metal rods inside the Pit Barrel Cooker, put the lid on and let the meat cook to perfection.

It seems that the people who have the most trouble with lighting the PBC are experience cookers who tend to over think things and use a thermometer to check the smoker temps.Try following the instructions above and forget the thermometer until you are ready to check the meat temperature.

I have used several methods to light and have never had any issues. Food is always great. Good luck.

08-22-2014, 08:03 PM
Here is what I do.

I use this chimney starter. Small enough to hold the right amount of coals and empty without lifting out of the PBC.

Amazon.com : Weber 7416 Rapidfire Chimney Starter : Charcoal Starters : Patio, Lawn & Garden@@AMEPARAM@@http://ecx.images-amazon.com/images/I/41op98ZacWL.@@AMEPARAM@@41op98ZacWL

I fill the basket with briquettes and remove enough from the center to fill the chimney.

I then light one of these on the grates and place the chimney on grates on the lit starter

Amazon.com : Weber 7417 FireStarters Lighter Cubes, 24 Count : Charcoal Starters : Patio, Lawn & Garden@@AMEPARAM@@http://ecx.images-amazon.com/images/I/31J0T9O%2BnVL.@@AMEPARAM@@31J0T9O%2BnVL

After ~15 minutes pick up the chimney and remove the grate, I dump the coals into the basket. I cover and place the rebar.

After about 5 minutes or the white smoke dissipates, I hang my meat.

Mike Twangzer
08-22-2014, 09:56 PM
Weber also makes a mini chimney, Had the same problem... no mo

08-23-2014, 09:34 AM
Thanks everyone. I am going to try and pick up a mini chimney and use some techniques you guys recommended. The bigger weber chimney is way to big.

08-23-2014, 12:32 PM
The Weber mini chimney is exactly what I use for my UDS. There is a trick to using the mini, versus the full size. Make sure you drizzle some cooking oil on the newspaper, otherwise it'll go out before the coals are lit.


08-23-2014, 01:30 PM
I use the large Chimney and fill it a little less than half halfway full. I put two layers of charcoal in the whole basket leaving a empty spot on one side bigg enough for the chimney of Coles. I position that whole on the opposite side of the inlet. Then pour the lit chimney of Cole's in the whole. My barrel temps usually settle out at 275 to 300.

08-24-2014, 06:04 PM
Thanks for your help everyone. I am using it right now. After not being able to find a smaller chimney, I utilized 15 briquettes in the larger one. I was able to dump them into the full charcoal grate (one missed and I picked it up with a bqq tong and put it in the grate). I made the mistake (I think) of immediately putting the rebar and lid on. It was stuck at 203F for a while so I cracked the lid and after 30 minutes it got up to 300F.
I put a chicken on and the PBC is at currently at 270F. After only a half hour (one split whole chicken) is already up to 111F. I am at sea level and the chicken seems to be cooking much faster at a lower temp at sea level.

08-24-2014, 06:14 PM
The last time I used mine (at the Chicago area gethering) I filled the basket and put a Weber starter cube in the middle and lit the cube. I let it go about 15 minutes with the lid off and then put it in place. another 15-20 minutes later it was at 275 and we put the chickens in. It went down a little once the cold meat when in but came back up to 275 and held around 275 after that.

08-24-2014, 10:27 PM
Thanks for the reply Ron. The PBC is still running strong even though I pulled the chicken off a few hours ago. Towards the very end of the cook the temp of the chicken hovered around 158F and the temp of the PBC started to drop. I cracked the lid and the temp of the chicken went up to 160F several minutes later. I will say that was the best chicken that I ever tasted!
I think next time I will light 15 briquettes drip and after they are lit drop them into the PBC with the lid off till the temp reaches 300F.

08-25-2014, 05:33 PM
I use 1/2 of the weber chimney and let them light. Pour on a shallow amount of unlit in the basket of the PBC - just enough to cover the bottom. I put about 4-8 chunks of hickory (depending on how large) and pour the 1/2 chimney on top of that.

I dump the lit coals in and lower the basket into the bottom with a flat stock crowbar and welding glove and it's pretty darn hot.

I'm not sure about the temperature, as i've never bothered to put a probe in, but my cook times are pretty close to the PBC site's recommendations : 2hrs for chicken, 3-4 for ribs, 6-7 for a 12lb brisket, 3.5-4 hours for a 13lb turkey etc. I've gotten plenty of calls in contests with this setup, and have no reason to alter the plans.

I've never used anything remotely close to an entire basket of charcoal and i've had this thing burn for 10-11 hours on the little amount that I describe above. Such a great investment.

08-25-2014, 05:49 PM
Turn your chimney upside down and light the coals in the shallow side. It should hold plenty of coals for getting you started and you don't have to tilt the chimney as far to dump the coals (which may or may not help your situation).