Karubecue C-60 Pit Review

C-60 Pit

The Karubecue C-60 Pit is a very innovative, wood burning smoker designed to help the greenest novice smoke meats like a wizened Texas pit boss. The smoke quality from this machine is astonishing. I call the aroma Karubouquet. 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.

In 2004 Dallas area engineer, Bill Karau, began his quest to solve the age old problem of temperature control and smoke quality. A hot fire produces relatively clean smoke. A low and slow fire can smolder and baste meat with an overload of black creosote. His solution is the Karubecue C-60: a competition level pit with maximum 60 pound capacity. The C-60 is surprisingly compact, weighs a little over 100 pounds, ships in two cardboard boxes almost fully assembled and consists of three major components:

The Smoke Selector Firebox

Made of 14 gauge 304 stainless steel, it rests on top of the cook box. It burns small firewood no larger than a brick, and holds enough for about 30 minutes. There is a small charcoal tray at the bottom. Karau recommends starting the fire by dumping a chimney of lump charcoal in the firebox then loading in wood. It's best to overfill the firebox so you always have a steady supply of fresh, heated wood primed for the fire.


As wood at the bottom burns, tamp the pile down to keep a solid bed of red hot coal blazing, then throw a few more pieces on top to keep the process moving along. Two manual valves allow you to select the type of smoke that is drawn into the cook box.  The lower valve draws clean smoke from underneath the fire. The upper valve draws thick, "dirty" smoke from above the fire to give meats a more powerful flavor. It has enough ash capacity for very long cooks and easily lifts off the smoke cabinet for ash removal.

The Cook Box

Made of 18 gauge 430 stainless steel, it's a cabinet style, vertical oven with four legs and one single-wall door hinged at the bottom. It comes with four 12" x 20" stainless steel cooking shelves that are interchangeable with standard catering steam pans. Shelf heights are adjustable to twelve positions. At the rear is a diffuser column where heat and smoke from the firebox enter the cook chamber and are immediately met with air from the internal convection fan to prevent hot spots. With the fire and control boxes removed, it fits in most car trunks.

The Control Box

Consists of two high temperature fans for draft and convection, and a dial controlled thermostat. Unlike digital touchpad controllers now found on many pellet smokers, the Karubecue dial control is imprecise and temperature range is limited. C-60 is truly a dedicated smoker and likes to run in the 250° to 300° range, though some owners drop it down to 180 for smoking fish. The control box contains all of the electric components and is easily removed for indoor storage.

The design is brilliant, but presents two significant challenges that will turn many away from Karubecue.

WOOD MUST BE THE RIGHT SIZE. Fireplace logs are way too big, chunks and chips are way too small. So you need Goldie Locks Logs that are just right: no bigger than a brick, no smaller than a can of Red Bull. I found a firewood supplier who let me rummage through his pile of scraps and end pieces. Karau uses a Black and Decker Alligator Lopper shown below.


IT REQUIRES BABYSITTING. When questioned about the need to replenish wood every half hour Karau responds, "If you just want to crank it up and walk away, get a pellet smoker. I designed the C-60 to smoke meat as good as the best stick burning pit boss can make, without the years of experience. In my opinion the Karubecue makes that job easier."

So why be bothered? If I could post a scratch and sniff version of the picture below, all would be explained.


You have to feed the flame, but that's all you have to do. Karau's invention takes care of the rest. The C-60 produces perfect smoke from start to finish every time you fire it up. The results are ambrosia. Those who seek the Holy Grail of Smoke need look no further.

If you're like me, you'll need to learn something about wood fires to understand how the IFF works. Ask yourself how does wood burn? "It doesn't", declares Karau. I found an exchange between Karau and a fellow smoker at The BBQ Brethren Forum where he explains:

Karau: "The key point is that wood is not a fuel, it is a fuel source. When wood is heated, it decomposes into two fuels: charcoal (a solid fuel that burns in a surface oxidation) and smoke (a gaseous fuel that either burns as flame or escapes the firebox unburned to re-condense in the cook box as creosote). I say again, smoke is a fuel. It contains about half of the total caloric content of wood. It burns as a flame with sufficient heat and oxygen present…."

Response: "Dude, you almost made my hillbilly head blow up."

In layman's terms: when wood is subjected to extreme heat the moisture evaporates as steam, then the cellular structure breaks down into smoke which is a gas composed of volatile organic compounds (VOCs) and microscopic particles. The remainder is reduced to charcoal. So wood produces steam, smoke and charcoal. Smoke is a gaseous fuel. Charcoal is a solid fuel. We'll address the role of steam shortly. Our own Dr. Blonder describes this process in "The Zen of Wood and Smoke". This is why just using charcoal on the C-60 doesn't cut it: no VOCs, no steam, no Karubouquet.

In 2001 Karau began traveling around Texas with BBQ buddies methodically seeking small, family owned BBQ "Joints" on a series of annual BBQ Tours. He came to a few conclusions. Even the best joints are inconsistent, with the outcome driven largely by the pit boss' experience and attention. Great pit bosses share many practices; these practices could be designed into one pit. This pit should be affordable and easy to use, thereby enabling anyone to consistently create great backyard Q.

After many epic fails and a parade of returns to the drawing board, he finally came up with the C-60. Here's how it works. Dump a chimney of hot coal in the firebox then load with wood. As the fire builds, heat and smoke naturally rise into the air. Once you have a solid glowing fire, turn on the controller and set the desired temperature. The draft fan and convection fan are activated. The draft fan begins pulling air from the cook box creating a vacuum which draws air from outside through the firebox. This inverts the natural upward flow of the fire and pulls hot air and smoke gas through the red hot bottom of the firebox. You see the inverted flame. VOCs and particulates burn up as they are sucked through the fire into the cook chamber leaving only clean, light blue smoke. Some humidity from the air and steam from the wood go along. This mix of heat, clean smoke and steam enter the cook chamber through the diffuser column at the rear where they are met with an air current from the convection fan to mitigate hot spots. The hot smoky mixture begins circulating throughout the cook box. When the thermostat senses the desired temperature has been reached, the draft fan shuts off, breaking the vacuum. Heat and thick smoke resume a natural upward path into the air while the convection fan continues internal heat circulation. When temperature drops below a set threshold, the draft fan kicks in and the cycle repeats. By design the cook box is not insulated. This promotes controlled heat loss and keeps the draft fan busy.

Because the firebox needs to be replenished every half hour, you can't set and forget the C-60 even though it has thermostatic control. There are no built in heat indicators or internal meat probes, but a small hole in the control box provides a storage place to insert your instant read digital thermometer which can also monitor the average temp inside the cook box. Karau recommends checking internal meat temp by opening the door and using an instant read. Opening the door is no issue with the Karubecue because the system regains temperature within about a minute. Probes can also be threaded through two small holes in the upper front corners of the cook box.

Although the 12" x 20" shelves are sized to hold commercial steam pans, you shouldn't need a water pan. Plenty moisture from the wood typically survives the fiery path into the cook chamber. The trays are more useful for keeping cooked foods warm.

It's so beautiful it almost brings a tear to the eye. Alas, why must things of such beauty be so rare? Karau is still making these smokers in his garage. Which means production is very limited. Karau says this is also by design. He doesn't want to get into the manufacturing business and is much more interested in licensing his patents. Right now they are handmade and sold for $1,440, but Karau took great pains during his grueling R&D to keep cost down. He hopes one day to see them manufactured at higher volume with a lower price. Construction is excellent and Karau is confident he can maintain quality when he outgrows the garage.

2-year limited warranty on parts and workmanship.

There are many lively discussions about Karubecue in our Pitmaster Club Forums. Even if you're not a Pitmaster Club member, you can view up to 12 club pages for FREE! Here are a couple links to check out:

Pitmaster Club. The Karubecue has landed!

Pitmaster Club. Karubecue maiden voyage.

If you're not a Pitmaster Club member, what are you waiting for? Join our community of barbecue lovers. We even offer a free trail membership.  Click here to learn the benefits of membership.

Manufacturer's Suggested Retail Price: 
Primary Function: 
Primary Capacity: 
960 square inches
Made in the USA: 
Review Method:

Cooked On It

We have hands-on experience testing this product. We have also gathered info from the manufacturer, owners and other reliable sources.

Karubecue, LLC


Karubecue is a small, one man operation. Owner/designer Bill Karau is still making these one of a kind smokers in his garage, so availability is limited. But Karau is exploring manufacturing opportunities with large, established BBQ companies and hopes to one day see his brainchild mass produced at a lower price point.

Try the Pitmaster Club for 30-days for free! No Credit Card needed!

We can up your game! The Pitmaster Club is a real barbecue community, a place to learn, make friends, and have fun! Click Here To Learn Why You Want To Be In The Pitmaster Club.

We'll keep you up to date. The best way to keep up with our new articles, new recipes, new product reviews, is to Subscribe To Our Free Email Newsletter, Smoke Signals.

Max Good

As AmazingRibs.com's Vice President of Product Reviews & Keeper of the Flame, Max Good is the man in charge of finding the best products for the AmazingRibs.com Equipment Reviews section. Max loves barbecue so much that he took his barbecue sauce recipes, had them bottled, and now sells them around the country.

Search Our Reviews and Ratings

Click Search to see all our Reviews and Ratings. Use the filters below to refine your search.

*Based on 4" raw burger with 1/2" space on all sides

“The most respected and comprehensive reviewers of grills and smokers in the world”

- Larry Olmsted,
Senior Contributor (Forbes)

What people say about us

"The world’s leading outdoor cooking resource." Larry Olmsted, Forbes.com

"An amazing compendium of barbecue knowledge." Aaron Franklin, Franklin Barbecue, Austin

"I was crowned World Brisket Champion at the Jack Daniels World Championships using your Big Bad Beef Rub. Your site has played a pivotal role in my development." John Lattuca, WeekendWarriorBBQ, Montreal, Canada

"This meal was as memorable as my first sex, only better." Marie Overholt, San Francisco, CA

"The BBQ community is so extremely fortunate to have someone as passionate and articulate as you." Frank Ostini, Chef Winemaker, Hitching Post II Restaurant & Winery, Buellton, CA

"I adapted your brisket rub recipe this summer and my customers love it (8,000 pounds served in 6 months)! My brisket even won 'best beef' in the Sonoma County Harvest Fair." Chef Larry Vito, BBQ Smokehouse, Sebastapol, CA

"Meathead is the best writer covering this part of the culinary world." John Markus, Producer, BBQ Pitmasters TV show

"The Rosetta Stone of BBQ." Bill Lamb

"I got laid last night because of your pastrami" Name withheld for obvious reasons

"Knowledgeable, smart, hilarious, and self-effacing." Laurel Stone

"I have worked as a professional cook in high end French restaurants for several years, so when I hit the internet looking for some BBQ info, I was really pleased to find an in depth and expansive site that had all the tips I was looking for." Aaron Ettlin, Portland, OR

"A Famous Dave's commercial came on claiming the best ribs in the world, and my honey shook his head and said, 'nope, it's right here.' Many, many thanks!" Red Taylor, San Francisco, CA

"We had a fantastic season winning two Grand Championships and five Reserve Grand Championships. I always appreciate referring to your site. Thanks." Steve, Grills Gone Wild, IA

"I have always loved cooking ribs but with our new gas grill they were never as good as charcoal. Well that all changed last night when I made the greatest ribs I have ever tasted. My wife wanted to know if I bought them somewhere and then claimed I cooked them myself." Allen Nicley, Mont Alto, PA

"The Memphis Dust and the pulled pork are excellent! I had to dang near run people out of my house!" Aswad Johnson

"I was about to buy a new smoker. After reading your article about setting up a horizontal smoker, I decided to try rehabilitating something the previous owner of my house left in the backyard. Total investment: $100. I figure I saved at least $500!" Coleman Shelton, Calvert City, KY

"Amazingribs.com is the most information packed barbecue site known to man." Pitmaster and BBQ Columnist George Hensler

"AmazingRibs.com is the world's go-to place for a barbecue treasure house of reliable information." Ardie "Remus Powers" Davis, author of numerous barbecue books

"This is my new go-to method for prime rib." Candy Weaver, President, Kansas City Barbeque Society

"We've won five Grand Championships and two Reserve Championships in the past three months. Learned much about BBQ from you and wanted to give you credit." Harry Soo, SlapYoDaddyBBQ.com

"The Alton Brown of Que." Joe Mizrahi, Smokin' Joe's, NYC

"I have always loved to travel and eat. Life became boring when I had to give up my worldly adventures. Thanks to you I now love to cook. I am now having adventures at home in my kitchen and my back yard. I am no longer bored, and my large family is grateful too. Thank you so much." Dugan Hoeflinger, Tucson, AZ

"I am in the process of opening a cafe and thought your simple sweet sour slaw is an amazing winner." James Murray, Toronto

"I had two ribs and my boyfriend ate the other 3 1/2 pounds. He couldn't stop to talk. He had to bring a box of tissues to the table because these ribs are so good they make him weep. He tells me that my ribs have deepened his love for me. Well, fine, but I know that just means he wants more ribs." Nancy J. Mostad, Minnesota




Many merchants pay us a small referral fee when you click our links and purchase from them. On Amazon it works on everything from grills to diapers, they never tell us what you bought, and it has zero impact on the price you pay, but has a major impact on our ability to improve this site! And remember, we only recommend products we love. If you like AmazingRibs.com, please save this link and use it every time you go to Amazonhttps://tinyurl.com/amazingribs

...some HTML for the first variant...



Get Smoke Signals, our free e-letter. No spam. Guaranteed

Enter your email:

If you love barbecue and grilling, get a FREE 30-day membership in our Pitmaster Club. We can up your game.

  • FREE 30 day trial membership.
  • Sneak previews of Meathead’s new book.
  • We block ads from members.
  • Real community. No politics. No flame wars.
  • Monthly newsletter.
  • Video seminars with famous pitmasters.
  • Weekly podcasts with Greg Rempe.
  • Weekly BBQ cartoons by Jerry King.
  • Comprehensive Temperature Guide Magnet ($10 retail).
  • Monthly giveaways of Gold Medal grills and smokers worth up to $2000.
  • Discounts on products we love.
  • Support for AmazingRibs.com!

Lookit what our members are cooking:

Post comments and questions below


1) Please try the table of contents or the search box at the top of every page before you ask for help.

2) Try to post your question to the appropriate page.

3) Tell us everything we need to know to help such as the type of cooker and thermometer. Dial thermometers are often off by as much as 50°F so if you are not using a good digital thermometer we probably can't help you with time and temp questions. Please read this article about thermometers.

4) If you are a member of the Pitmaster Club, your comments login is probably different.

5) Posts with links in them may not appear immediately.


Click to ask questions and make comments