Maintaining an exact temp on your charcoal smoker can be tough
From external factors to the right lighting method and air flow.
I’ve got a few tips and tricks to control the temperature on your PBC.
So you can cook your food like a pro pitmaster.
Table of contents
Pit Barrel Too Hot- How to Achieve a Perfect Ambient Temperature
Temperature spikes will occur when cooking on a Pit Barrel cooker. However, are all know that smoking a brisket we want to go slow and slow.
So getting that sweet spot is down to trial and error.
But that’s the fun!
Below is a guide to help you make those necessary adjustments, should you have a temp spike.
So you can get your desired and consistent temperature.
How a Pit Barrel Cooker Disperses Heat
Before jumping into the flames it is important to understand how a pit barrel disperses heat.
This simple but effective design doesn’t come with electronic parts.
This style of smoker uses airflow and insulation to adjust or maintain heat.
A gallon steel drum sits level on a 3-point stand.
With a removable charcoal basket at the bottom and a standard grill grate on top.
You can add moderations like a stainless steel hook or chimney inside the barrel.
There is an adjustable air vent on the lower side with a sealable lid for the top.
The fuel is then lit and the heat travels up to your food.
How to Lower the Temperature on Your Pit Barrel Cooker
Follow the below instructions to reduce the temperature in your Pit Barrel.
They are official recommendations from Pit Barrel Cooker Co.
Adjusting the Intake Vent on Your Pit Barrel Cooker
The more oxygen the higher the barrel temp.
It can also lead to you burning out your wood chips or hot coals quickly.
Note: Be careful when adjusting the vent bolt when hot.
Use fireproof gloves and a bit of elbow grease!
Too Much or the Wrong Fuel in Your Pit Barrel Cooker
Wood can burn up to 1500˚F.
Charcoal can burn up to 500˚F.
Be aware of the number of unlit coals or wood you have used.
If you are using wood consider switching to charcoal briquettes.
Fill the basket with charcoal only halfway before lighting.
Or remove some if required.
Your Fuel Burned for Too Long Before Closing the Pit Barrel Lid
Getting the lighting process right is key when using a Pit Barrel.
Charcoal smoking and cooking depend on precise timings.
Light the coals or wood 20 minutes before you plan on adding your food.
The unlit coals in your coal basket will have time to get white hot but not burn out.
I reccomend using wood chips to create a smoke fog for a natural flavor.
If you are slow cooking then adding a couple of wood blocks will help extend the cook time.
But don’t add lots of wood as this will increase the internal temp drastically!
The Pit Barrel Cooker Lid Is Not Closed or Completely Sealed
Insulate the heat and prevent oxygenated airflow by sealing the lid of your Pit Barrel.
This will help you get a consistent temp for hours when cooking.
It will also trap that perfect smoke inside.
Smoking meat has never been so easy!
You’d be surprised that even the smallest air gap can make a difference.
Wrong Fuel Arrangement in Your Pit Barrel Cooker
Make sure your load of charcoal or wood is distributed correctly.
This will depend on what you are cooking.
1 layer of evenly distributed fuel for even and direct heat.
This is for grilling meats quickly.
1 layer in 1 half of distributed fuel for indirect heat.
This is for the low and slow pork shoulders or racks of ribs.
The right fuel distribution gives you more control over the temperature.
As you can clearly understand the hot and cooler areas through your cooking process.
This makes for more efficient grilling and smoking!
Add a Charcoal Chimney to Your Pit Barrel Cooker
My last recommendation is to install a charcoal chimney.
From special meat hooks, a hinged grate, or a special wooden hook remover.
All are available to improve your grilling skills.
A charcoal chimney provides an extra layer of insulation.
Coals are put into the cylindrical shape which extends the entire vertical length of the smoker.
This helps re-direct unnecessary light smoke and allows indirect heat all through the gallon drum.
Helping create an even and steady temperature.
How to Monitor the Internal Temperature of a Pit Barrel Cooker
What is the most accurate way to measure the chamber temperature in your Pit Barrel?
Meat probes of course!
Use probes to monitor your meat and the internal temperature of your smoker.
Finding your Pit Barrel cooker is getting too hot?
Worried about your pork butt burning?
Author: Charlie Reeves
Hi, I’m Charlie, I am head taste tester at Simply Meat Smoking! I love it grilling, smoking, and getting out in the yard with the kids! The family also love to test all my recipes (especially my EXTRA CRISPY pulled pork, smoky pork loin, and ANY SEAFOOD I grill)
You will usually find me playing with the kids, perfecting my brisket bark, or sipping beers with boys around the fire. Can’t wait to share all my delicious smoking and grilling adventures with you!
You can read more on our About Us page.
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