The Karubecue C-60 Pit is a new, very innovative, wood burning smoker designed to help the greenest novice smoke meats like a wizened Texas pit boss. At its crux is a patented Inverted Flame Firebox (IFF) which sucks heat and smoke from underneath a wood fire, not the top. Heavy smoke, laden with gases and microscopic particles is pulled through a red hot fire where it burns up, sending clean, light blue smoke and heat into a thermostatically controlled oven. The entire system has a simplicity which belies years of relentless research and development.
-Max Good, AmazingRibs.com
I was very impressed by this amazing technology – it has great possibilities. The design is straightforward, and it uses real logs like a stickburner. But proof is in the pudding, and the product was awesome.
–Mike Mills, 3-Time Grand World Champion, Memphis In May; Author, Peace, Love, and Barbecue
Pellet-style smokers were devised to make it easy to keep a firebox supplied with a small amount of fuel; an auger keeps a cup’s worth of tiny, log-like pellets topped up and smoldering. Many smokers of this kind are available with a simple bang-bang (or in some cases a P-I-D) controller that turns a fan on and off to supply or deny oxygen to the smoking wood, which in turn increases or decreases its temperature. This is a reasonably effective way to control the temperature in the smoker, but it has the disadvantage that while the fire is starved of air (when the fan is off), the quality of the smoke can suffer.
Inventor Bill Karau has devised a clever, and patented, approach that overcomes this limitation. The Karubecue smoker maintains a set cooking temperature by using a thermostatically controlled fan to periodically draw hot, high-quality smoke into a sealed smoking chamber from an external firebox. The smoke is sucked in from the bottom of a fire built from chunks of burning wood. When hot smoke isn’t needed, the smoke and flames heat nothing but the outdoors. This approach turns conventional open pit-style barbecue on its head, which is why Karau calls his invention the Inverted Flame Firebox.
–Nathan Myhrvold, Chris Young, et al., Modernist Cuisine, Volume 3, p 208
Wanted to drop you a line to let you know I still love the C-60 I purchased in June of 2012! The last two weekends I have churned out 12 pork butts in three separate cooks (doing the last 4 today) for my sons’ high school freshman, sophomore, JV, and varsity football teams’ weekly team dinners. Hope sales are doing well!
–Roger C., Richardson, TX
For years I’ve been frustrated with my pellet smoker’s weak smoke density, so when I read Modernist Cuisine’s sidebar praise of the Karubecue, my order was made within minutes. I knew I needed to have the ability to independently control smoke density and temperature. The Karubecue’s unique design promised that capability.
I am pleased to say, now that I been using my unit for a period of time, my observations are in complete agreement with all the ecstatic reviews. It is clear that producing this unit is a labor of love by Bill Karau. The unit arrived promptly and the packaging was a superb engineering feat in and of itself. Then as I liberated every component from its wrappings and paddings, I had to admire the exquisite engineering and artistic design in each piece of the unit. I was a Navy pilot for many years, and the Karubecue is more thoughtfully designed and better built than some of the various jet aircraft I flew.
This is the holy grail of smokers for serious cooks. I’m now a baptized disciple of the Church of Karubecue.
–Steve K., Salem, OR
I spent a lot of time reading about this smoker online before purchasing it, and I had very high expectations. In no way was I disappointed. I have several other smokers including a stick burner, an ugly drum smoker, an insulated box smoker (charcoal), and a Kamado. This leaves all the others in the dust. The flavor produced is unmatched, mostly because of the ability to adjust “heavy” or “light” smoke to achieve the perfect blend for a given meat. And, being someone who likes to mess with fire, I find this smoker very gratifying because it allows me to tinker throughout the process. I have used it for brisket, pork butts, salmon, ribs, sausage, whole chickens, chicken pieces, and baked breads.
A few observations that you may not have seen in other reviews:
- I was concerned that the firebox would distort, given the constant high temperatures to which is is exposed. Nope. It is made from really heavy stainless steel and after dozens of long smokes it doesn’t seem affected, other than a little discoloration to the metal. The ash tray is easily removed to allow the box to be emptied and cleaned. I have used it for up to 18 hours at a time without completely filling the lower box with ashes, so as long as you clean it out after each use this doesn’t seem to be a problem.
- The smoker box itself is made out of lighter stainless steel, built exceptionally well with very tight tolerances. When you close the door everything comes together perfectly with no “play” or “wiggle” to anything. The box is designed to “leak” smoke and it has several small strategic holes to accomplish this (also handy for snaking in temperature probes). The smoke box is also separate from the burn firebox and the fan unit so that cleaning becomes much easier. I simply take off the two and then scrub out the inside of the smoke box with soapy water and then hose down the entire smoke box.
- On the Karubecue website, it suggests that you shouldn’t exceed 60 lbs of meat at a time. I haven’t found that to be true. I purchased extra shelves for the unit, and last week smoked 12 racks of ribs (St. Louis style) with two racks to a shelf. This seemed to still allow adequate airflow throughout the unit. True, I did rotate the racks every hour to ensure that everything cooked evenly, but at the end (6 hours at 225 degrees) everyone agreed that they were the best ribs they had eaten. This weekend I will be smoking about 75 lbs of pork butts (3 butts of about 8 lbs each, to each of 3 racks) and I expect that it will do just fine.
- I was amazed when I received this smoker how small it seemed (about 1/4 the size of my insulated box charcoal smoker). Hence it seems as if it wouldn’t have much capacity. However, as I mentioned above, it is amazing how much you can smoke in such a small footprint. Need more capacity? Buy two!
- Hopefully anyone buying a unit like this will already have a high-quality temperature probe (in my opinion critical for good BBQ), but you really need it here. The temperature on the Karubecue is set using a dial on the fan unit, but there is no reference mark to tell what you are setting it to. Hence with a temperature probe in place you just tweak it until you achieve the desired temperature. I have run mine as low as 200 degrees and as high as 400 (using it in the summer). I expect that you might not reach those higher temperatures in the winter, but this unit is designed much more for long, low smoking rather than high-temperature baking so that probably isn’t an issue. So suck it up and buy a high-quality temperature probe (two actually, one for your meat and one for your smoker). Interestingly with the temperature probe in place I learned that there is very little difference between the bottom and the top of the smoke box (about 10-15 degrees depending on your meat load and how it is arranged) and no differential right to left (the internal convection fan takes care of evenly distributing air within the box). I also learned that the unit cycles up and down around a mid-set-point with a total fluctuation of about 10 degrees above and then below whatever temp you set (hence at 225 degrees it may cycle from 215 to 235). The box heats very quickly when you start (10 minutes or less once your fire is going) and if you open the door it will restabilize the temperature in the smoke box within minutes. This is very useful if you can’t resist the urge to peak, or if you like to baste.
- As other people have mentioned, don’t add wood or stir the firebox while the fan is actively drawing air, or you will end up with a few ashes inside your smoke box. If you follow this one rule, the unit is pretty much foolproof.
- I was very concerned that because there is no real way to place a water pan that my meats would turn out dry. This hasn’t seemed to be a problem. In theory, you could put a water pan on the very bottom of the unit (any higher and it might interfere with airflow) but I just haven’t found it to be necessary.
–Craig M., Meridian, ID
I am in love with your smoker. I am toying with just keeping it on the line and smoking things as they are ordered. It’s unreal. My whole staff wants to use it every day. Great balance of smoke and flavor. As long as you make them I will never buy another smoker and only recommend the KBQ. Make a bigger one so I can fit a whole pig in it! Happy holidays. Thanks for a beautiful machine.
–Nathan S., Chicago, IL
I tried [my C-60/SS] out today on a pork shoulder. It works extremely well! I like that it reduces the number of variables a novice like me has to deal with.
–B. Curry, Houston, TX
Your design is revolutionary and pure genius. Just cooked the most amazing ribs I’ve ever had and have a top notch looking brisket about to be pulled off. The convection fan sure does accelerate the cooking process. I’ve done a dry run each of the last 3 evenings and have learned with a solid bed of coals your design keeps consistent temps and produces the perfect thin blue smoke just as advertised.
You’ve done excellent work. Expect more orders from Colorado – I’ll be telling everyone.
–B. Bates, Littleton, CO
Assembled the pit yesterday. Results were great. Thank you for making such a durable product!
Packaging was immaculate, too. I wish more people put this kind of care and attention to detail into their products – the world would be a better place.
–Brad P., Lexington, MA
As I pulled each piece of the C60/SS out of the box for assembly, I was amazed at how each component was so well engineered. Tight tolerances, efficient use of space, easy assembly, and a very solid complete product. This is the type of American manufacturing that was bragged about in our nation’s past. I am so happy to see it back and better than ever. The biggest question is not how long it will last, it is who I will gift it to when I pass from this earth in 50-60 years.
Again, thank you for the fast delivery, great customer service, and most of all an OUTSTANDING product.
–T. Simmons, Conroe, TX
Thank you for designing and building an outstanding pit. Since purchasing my pit a month ago, I’ve decided to dive into the world of competition BBQ armed with my KBQ and a team of championship winners. Together, we hope to be ready for Memphis in May next year. My chicken, ribs, pork shoulder and brisket are all coming out amazing. I’m happy with my purchase and hoping you’ll be making a bigger pit in the future as my team grows.
–William M., Madison, WI
You have the best setup of all! Thanks for devoting your time to it! I have done perfect briskets, pork loins, salmon and these beef ribs are great! I may wear this out, so please keep on making them!
–Kent A., Garland, TX
I am absolutely blown away by your product … [my kamado-style cooker] is about to be retired for a Karubecue. I found your wonderful smoker while visiting a relative in Burleson, TX. He’s been smoking for large church outings for two generations now, so he knows how to run the big pits. He showed me his brand spanking new backyard unit, the Karubecue, and as I set about preparing our ribs for smoke, he told me how the thing works. We loaded up the firebox with glowing charcoal and peach wood, loaded the oven and set up our first round of drinks.
I kept an eye on the remote unit of the Maverick thermometer. I’ve never had such an easy time maintaining precise temp. By the time the second load of fuel went in, it had become quite obvious I was dealing with what is in my opinion the greatest tool for turning out consistent results I had ever seen. Constant airflow results in a hot fire and clean smoke, with just enough humidity in the cookbox and real automatic temp control. The the whole process just makes you look like a barbecue genius even if you’re a shlub like me.
–Steve G., Harrisburg, PA
Just wanted to let you know I’ve had about 3 smoking sessions since my Karubecue came in. So far I’ve focused on only using the clean underfire smoke, and it produces a lighter flavor but the same mahogany color. It also runs about 25% faster cooking time, no matter whether I’ve put an 8 pound butt in it or 27 pounds of butt, chicken and brisket. Very easy to use, VERY easy to clean after cooking: it’s about time to start experimenting with the upper draw for overfire smoke. Thanks again for a wonderful product.
–B. Williams, Littleton, CO
Did a short smoke with two Prime tri tip roasts last night Santa Maria style. Fired up the KBQ with Red Oak at 325 (full throttle). Left them for about ten minutes and dropped the temp back to 235. Pulled the roasts at 110 and seared on my infrared grill for a couple of minutes. Finished back in the KBQ until 131 internal. Came out unreal! Have done these plenty of other times using chips in my grill and there was no comparison. KBQ worked like a charm and total cook time was 1:45 so I kept both vents open all the way on the firebox. Making home made hot links, Hungarian paprika sausage along with ribs, brined chicken and more tri tips for a party Sunday. Also have about 20 pounds of salmon I am brining tonight and will hot smoke on Monday.
–Brian L., Ladera Ranch, CA
Smoked a 14.4 lb brisket with some lean beef ribs and pork sausages yesterday. Everything came out perfectly. I smoked the brisket for 8 hours over hickory and apple. Kept the temperature around 260, upping it to 285 to push through the stall. The color wasn’t as dark as other briskets I’ve smoked, more brown, less black. Maybe that was due to the fact that I smoked almost entirely from the bottom chamber of the firebox. Amazing engineering Bill. Love the machine!
–Jack T., Seattle, WA
I’ve done chicken and baby back ribs in the C-60 since picking it up several weeks ago and I have to say the thing is amazing! Both meals were delicious. One of the great things about it is the small amount of wood needed to maintain a constant temperature compared to my huge stick smoker. Several friends and coworkers have heard me rave about it so more business may be coming your way!
–Roger C., North Richland Hills, TX
I did my first cooking this evening. Two racks of pork ribs using a mix of pecan and cherry wood. They turned out to be the best ribs I’ve ever done. Thanks again for the great product.
–J. Anderson, Fort Worth, TX
Finally had time to fire up the smoker. Cooked a brisket for 10 hrs. It was probably the best thing I have ever cooked. Can’t wait to try some baby back ribs.
–J. McFarland, Fort Worth, TX
Love the smoker … have been practicing with it and getting great results … you really can tell the difference, particularly when eating leftovers … my old smoker left that soot on the meat that was pretty nasty a couple of days later.
–C. Turner, Dallas, TX
The Karubecue C-60/SS Pit arrived and the first thing I notice is how well packaged and protected it was. All parts were in perfect shape. After 5 minutes of assembly, the pit was complete and ready to fire. I did a 30 min. burn-in as suggested and then placed two racks of St. Louis Ribs with a KC dry rub. I set the temp to 225 and during the BBQ the temp only fluctuated by about 5 degrees during the fan cycling process. I used hickory and cooked the ribs for about 5 hours total time. They were a beautiful mahogany color and the smoke ring was perfectly distributed about 1/4″ from all sides. They were sweet and smoky with no taste of bitterness or ash. As it’s said in Italy about ‘al dente’ pasta, the meat was to the tooth, a nice bite off the bone.
The second BBQ was two days later. I loaded the pit with four racks of ribs and four quartered chickens. As Bill explains in the instructions, the bottom of the pit will be hotter than the top so I placed the chicken on the bottom two racks and the ribs on the top two racks, rotating the shelves twice. The result of both the ribs and chicken was exceptional.
It’s been 7 months since the pit arrived and the BBQ has been awesome! The pit has been performing perfectly and regardless of the outdoor temperature or humidity the chamber temperature has been within 5 degrees of the set temperature. The only variable that affects the food is me, and so far according to many guests it has been award winning. There might be bigger, more expensive units for sale in the market, but for the back yard pit master or the consummate competitor this is the perfect pit! Thanks again for an excellently engineered pit!
–Greg D., Hampstead, NC
I am so completely satisfied and so totally stoked about my Pit, I want to cook every weekend. Having only 2 mouths to feed will limit me to once or twice a month. I may start cooking for neighbors as an excuse to use it … or perhaps get into competition cooking as I get more proficient. By the way, the C-60 is really easy to clean.
I have to add, the brisket turned out excellent. EXCELLENT. I really didn’t think it would turn out THAT good. So, it can only get better as I didn’t inject it with all the accoutrements. I got some brisket injection for my next one. I’ll also have a ThermoWorks dual-probe for the next cook so I’ll have the temp dialed in much more accurately. Even without all that, the brisket was a HUGE hit.
–Tony R., Happy Valley, OR
I absolutely love the pit and have made some awesome ribs and chicken on it. Still honing in on my timing, it cooks much faster than what I am used to which is a huge plus. I keep a detailed log when I cook and with the easy temperature control it makes repeatability much easier, as long as the adult beverages don’t kick in too fast. My buddies tell me they are the best ribs they have ever had, but I think I still have quite a bit of room for improvement.
–Troy T., Victoria, TX
After leading tours of over 230 commercial barbecue establishments across the country, I can say that the Karubecue: 1) Meets our rigorous standard of a traditional, wood-fired barbecue pit; and 2) Eliminates the barriers to making consistently great finished product. From our standpoint, that’s a WIN-WIN situation.
–Steve Sweeney, Founder, Barbecue Tours
I wanted to send a note of praise for the C-60/SS. I especially enjoy the zero learning curve required to make exceptional BBQ the first time and the ease of tending the fire. The information presented on your website and in the owner’s manual eliminated all guesswork.
I cooked chicken on the first day of owning the Karubecue using the rub recipe from your website. The chicken was superb. It was moist and flavorful; a true crowd pleaser. The second day, I cooked brisket and ribs. Both meats cooked perfectly and were enjoyed by all. Several commented it was the best barbecue they had ever eaten!
I’ve tried other types of smokers over the years and could never create a consistent outcome. I think I hit the jackpot with this one!
–Robert C., Rowlett, TX
The Karubecue is the BBQ of choice in my household. I do ribs once a month for my 4 kids and they know it’s rib day when the Karubecue gets fired up. We live in Washington state so the fuel of choice is applewood; the clean creosote-free taste of BBQ’d pork ribs is truly to die for.
–Scott R., Seattle, WA
I waited quite a while for my Karubecue – it was worth it. I have cooked on kettles, gassers and an offset. While I’ve had some success with each of these, there were inconsistencies I could not always overcome. Even with gauges, thermometers and the most attention I could afford, they were demanding of time and unforgiving on results.
We got our pit in October of 2008 and by December I had cooked a brisket, pork butts (up to 4 at a time) chickens, ribs and even a turkey. By my second cook I was no longer watching the thermometers I had in place. The pit’s only demand is to keep the firebox loaded. My longest run was 14+ hours for 4 butts and they were succulent. The Karubecue now has center stage on my patio.
–Doug H., Richardson, TX
We often smoke for guests, and my friends all think I am a culinary genius. I have very little cooking talent, but the Karubecue makes it easy. Thanks for making the smoker that makes me look like I know what I’m doing!
–B. Olson, Frisco, TX
The Karubecue has been a rib machine since I purchased it last summer. We have thoroughly enjoyed everything we have smoked on it including our Thanksgiving turkey. I plan on using it for competition in the Bixby BBQ and Art of BBQ in Tulsa this year and expect great results.
–David G., Tulsa, OK
Just a quick note to say thanks for a great smoker. I’ve had my pit for over a year now and fire it up at least once a month. As a BBQ novice, my wife thought I was crazy when I first purchased it. She was sold after my first cook! We load it up everytime we cook and vacuum bag and freeze the extra meat. Given our busy lives, it makes for a quick and easy meal in the weeks between cooks.
The technology makes it easy for beginners to smoke better than most restaurants. Temp control requires minimal effort other than keeping a good bed of coals in the firebox. The Karubecue takes care of the rest. The portability is very nice as well. We take it to the lake and to family gatherings. Everyone loves the authentic “clean” smoke flavor – even those who normally won’t eat smoked meats. There’s a difference and you can taste it!
We’ve smoked almost everything imaginable on our Karubecue from ribeye steaks, briskets, pork loins, pork ribs, pork roasts, chickens, turkeys and recently salmon. It has all been wonderful. Many thanks!
–Kyle N., Gainesville, TX
The Karubecue guarantees that I get great tasting Q every time. No stress. No bad surprises.
–Chris F., Austin, TX
The Karubecue has made me look like I know what I’m doing when it comes to smoking. You can count on clean smoke and great tasting meat when the Karubecue is on your side.
–Doug B., Fairfax, VA