Today we are looking at offset smokers.
Offset smokers cook meat indirectly utilizing smoke at low temperatures. This method uses the fire to cook the meat while the smoke adds a unique zest of flavor. This process of cooking takes a bit of a longer time commitment, as well as a watchful eye while maintaining the fuel and temperature. But the taste it provides will quickly make you very popular with friends, family, and the whole neighborhood.
In this review, we're going to highlight a few of the best offset smokers on the market and discuss why they're so unique. If you've been on the hunt for a new offset model, you'll love our top pick.
Best Offset Smokers Comparison Chart
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What is an Offset Smoker?
First, let's discuss what an offset smoker is. Offset smokers are constructed with two chambers.
Offset smokers generally look just like a regular charcoal grill, but their distinguishing trait is the presence of these two separate chambers.
This separation allows you to continue to stoke and maintain the fire without opening the chamber containing the meat. Leaving the main chamber closed cuts down on loss of heat, which in turn allows for faster cooking time.
The larger chamber is the main cooking chamber. Usually equipped with shelves, this chamber is commonly long and horizontal, made to handle various meats including briskets, ribs, and shoulders.
The second chamber, attached next to the cooking chamber, is the firebox. Charcoal and wood are ignited in the firebox, this is the source of heat used for cooking the meat.
A small hole connects the firebox to the main cooking chamber. The firebox is constructed with a main door, an adjustable vent, and a damper. The door is typically on the top or side for easy access for the charcoal and wood. The vent and damper allow you to have control of the temperature and smoke.
What Makes a Top of the Line Offset Smoker?
Buying your first offset smoker can be a little intimidating. Here are a few features to keep in mind as you get started.
First, the material can play a large role in the quality of the smoker. Smokers are stored outdoors and, therefore, need to be sturdy enough to withstand various weather conditions.
Be sure to buy a smoker that can withstand whatever climate conditions your residence experiences.
Heavy metal smokers are more desirable because they keep a consistent heat unlike lighter metals which leave you with hotter and colder zones. Heavy metals also cut down on heat loss and, in turn, cooking time.
They also tend to be pricier, so you will need to pick something substantial that also fits your budget. If you can swing it, quarter-inch steel is recommended.
Another important feature to take into consideration is the ventilation. Offset smokers operate using fire. One of the of the most important ingredients to a good fire is oxygen.
Vents provide control over how much oxygen the fire gets and allows you more control over the smoker’s temperature. You don’t want the vents to be too small or difficult to adjust for this reason.
When it comes to internal venting (the vent between the firebox and the main chamber) you want the connection to low. Heat rises, so you don’t want the vent to be at the same level or higher than the meat.
Another great feature to take into consideration is reverse flow technology. Smokers with reverse flow technology require the heat and smoke to travel twice the length of the chamber so it smothers the food before it goes through the exhaust stack.
Paint and Thermometer
Areas you definitely don't want to skimp on is the quality of the paint and thermometer. The paint should be a high-heat paint so it does not break down over time.
This will leave exposed metal which can also lead to rust. Not only is rust unsightly, but it will also thin the metal, which can hinder the smoker’s performance and also lead to heat loss. The thermometer should be built in, top quality and be calibrated well. It is extremely important to know the internal temperature of your smoker in order to produce excellent tasting meat.
If you don't have an upgraded smoker thermometer, you should do yourself a favor and look into some of our top picks.
Other things to consider when shopping are things for smaller conveniences. These can include wheels for transport and storage space for utensils, plates, etc.
Review of the Best Offset Smokers
Let's take a look at some of our favorite offset smokers. When discussing each model, we're going to highlight some pros and cons after breaking down the smoker's main features.
Best Offset Smoker Overall:
Char-Broil American Gourmet Offset Smoker, Deluxe
The Char-Broil American Gourmet Offset Smoker is a three-in-one barbecue, grill, and smoker.
It boasts a 670-square-inch cooking surface in the main chamber, while the firebox is 355 square inches, giving you a total cooking area of 1,280 square inches.
This smoker has lots of storage for all your utensils and extra charcoal, as well as chrome-plated handles that are cool to the touch and prevent you from getting burned. The smoker is made of steel so it is extremely durable and reliable.
The chamber is welded, so you will not lose heat or smoke. It has lots of user-friendly, adjustable dampers and vents to easily control the heat and smoke while you cook.
This product provides excellent cooking for a decent price. It requires a bit of assembly on arrival and a lot of time and attention when cooking, but it is well worth the work when the meat is done. The thermometer doesn’t seem to be of the best quality but there is plenty of room for all your backyard barbecuing needs.
Best Offset Smoker Under $200:
Dyna-Glo DGO1176BDC-D Charcoal Offset Smoker
The Dyna-Glo Charcoal Offset Smoker has a vertical design which houses 1176 inches of cooking space allowing you to smoke up to 100 lbs of food at a time. Cooking shelves are also arranged to provide for even cooking.
This smoker is constructed of heavy-duty steel to provide for excellent heat efficiency, as well as maximum durability. The smoker is designed with double doors to decrease heat and smoke loss while you are cooking. This smoker also comes with an option for a custom-fit cover to ensure the utmost protection against the elements.
On arrival, this smoker is easy to assemble, however, many users find they need to reseal all the seams to prevent smoke and heat loss. Once resealed, there are few issues with this cooker.
The damper does not have a handle, so you need to wear gloves and take care when adjusting. Because this cooker is so sturdy, it can be difficult to move. Many users end up adding wheel modifications to remedy this issue. This a great smoker, for a great price. It is affordable for all skill levels and is able to produce great tasting meat.
Best Offset Smoker Under $300:
Char-Griller 1224 Smokin Pro 830-Square-Inch Charcoal Grill with Side Fire Box
The Char-Griller 1224 Smokin Pro provides 830 square inches of cooking space. This smoker is constructed using heavy-gauge powder-coated steel. It is equipped with nonstick cast-iron cooking grates and adjustable dampers and fire grates.
It also has a heat gauge to let you know the internal temperature. There are removable charcoal drawers to allow for ease in adding charcoal and dumping ash.
This model also comes with a convenient side table to hold your plates, utensils, or a refreshing beverage while you cook.
This smoker is reasonably priced and extremely easy to use and clean. Some users complain about receiving the wrong size washers or no washers at all , which are necessary for assembly, as well as needing to reseal some of the seams. Most people were satisfied with the cooking ability of this smoker once assembled, however.
Best Offset Smoker Under $500:
Dyna-Glo Signature Series DGSS730CBO-D Barrel Charcoal Grill & Side Firebox
The Dyna-Glo Signature Series Smoker is large enough to house between six to ten racks of ribs.
It has a removable charcoal grate and ash pan so you have easy access while fueling, as well as an easy clean up when you are done.
This model comes with a collapsible steel work station giving you plenty of work space without the bulk. It also comes with steel cooking grates that are covered in porcelain to help retain heat and natural juices while cooking.
There is also a professional-grade, stainless steel temperature gauge which displays ideal temperatures for both grilling and smoking.
The Dyna-Glo Signature Series Smoker Grill must be seasoned before use and users report the seams must be sealed as well, but once you get cooking, the flavor this smoker provides is something to rave about. It is fairly easy to assemble, very sturdy, and provides great tasting meat.
Best Offset Smoker Under $1000:
Oklahoma Joe Longhorn Reverse Flow Smoker
The Oklahoma Joe Longhorn Reverse Flow Smoker gives you 1,060 square inches of cooking space. It is made of heavy-gauge steel with porcelain-covered cooking grates.
The firebox chamber has a stainless steel fuel basket and clean out door to allow for reduced heat loss and easy cleanup.
This smoker is made with four removable baffles, large charcoal baskets, and flexible configuration provides the option of the reverse flow technology to give even heat and smoke or a classic setup.
The Oklahoma Joe Longhorn Reverse Flow Smoker is a slightly pricier option ideal for smoker enthusiasts looking for a little more challenge that gives the utmost smoking performance.
Users find the temperature gauges to be well balanced and work well. The biggest issues users have with this smoker is the peeling paint on the firebox and the baffles that make the reverse flow technology possible are a little more labor intensive to clean. The even cook and phenomenal taste this smoker provides make it well worth it.
Offset smokers, vertical smokers, and reverse flow offset smokers perform the same task; to cook, smoke, and grill food. However, some minor differences in their designs, the configuration of firebox chambers, capacity, and smoke efficiency make them distinctive. Keep on reading and discover the factors that make these smokers either lose or win the race.
Reverse Flow Smoker vs. Offset
First, let’s shed light on the similarities exhibited by reverse flow smokers and offset smokers.
Both reverse flow and regular offset smokers belong to the class of horizontal smokers. Secondly, a tempting smoky aroma is delivered, no matter what equipment you choose.
Now, check out the differentiating capabilities between the two.
Reverse flow smoker, unlike an ordinary offset smoker, accompanies a baffle (metal) plate below the cooking racks. This plate intends to control the harsh heat coming from the fuel box and spread it uniformly throughout the cooking compartment. The heat reaches the meat through baffles and also on the way to exhaust. As a result, the maximum infiltration of smoky flavor in the meal is achieved.
Meanwhile, in offset smokers, the heat cooks the food while it moves up toward the chimney. The desired temperature can be attained at a faster rate when a reverse flow smoker is in use.
Offset Smoker vs. Vertical Smoker
Offset and vertical smokers have no similarity other than the fact that both yield the same, consistent wood and charcoal flavor in meals.
However, there are some differences.
Vertical smokers have the firebox and cooking area as one unit. Meanwhile, in the case of offset smokers, the fuel box is totally a separate compartment. Only heat travels from the fuel to the cooking chamber.
In vertical smokers, with the fuel placed beneath the grates, more heat reaches the food that is placed on bottom racks. As a consequence, uneven heat distribution sometimes overcooks the food in lower grates.
Offset smokers are cumbersome, bulky, and difficult to move and store. On the other hand, vertical smokers ensure easygoing mobility and occupy less space.
How to Use an Offset Smoker
Offset smokers are equally convenient for both beginners, as well as pro pitmasters. For better understanding, we split the procedure of using offset smokers into simple steps. Follow these steps and cook like a pro.
- First of all, make sure your smoker is clean, especially the grates.
- Prepare the firebox by charging it with charcoal or wood. Ignite it.
- Meanwhile, close the hoods and open the vents for optimum air circulation.
Tip: If you are using charcoal as the primary fuel, you can add wood chunks for achieving wood flavor.
- When the gauge says the needed temperature, set your meat on the grates evenly.
- Close the hoods of the cooking chamber and firebox chamber.
Tip: Opening the vent will allow more air to enter the fuel chamber and spur the temperature to rise.
- Don’t forget to see the fuel status and add some more if the temperature increases very slowly.
- Check the tenderness of the food. Flip it if needed. Avoid opening the hood unnecessarily or intermittently.
- When the food is done, remove it from the grates.
We hope the steps are helpful to you. For a visual representation, be sure to refer to the video below for a full overview of what was just described.
How to Clean an Offset Smoker
Maintaining your offset smoker will make it survive for a long time and serve you in the long run. Below are the steps which describe how to clean an offset smoker.
Before proceeding further, let’s go through the list of products required for safe and sound cleaning. The list includes grill brush, strong cleaning solution (tough on grease and suitable for stainless steel), and a plastic scraper. Prepare a concentrated solution of cleaning liquid and water.
- Heat the chamber to a moderate, bearable temperature.
- Shut off all the fuel valves.
- Brush off the solid gunk stuck on the grates and the interior of the chamber.
- Use the scraper for scraping the grease and drippings off.
- Remove the grates from the chambers.
- Remove the ashtray and throw the fuel ash in the dustbin.
- Vacuum the ash and solid residue present in the chambers.
- Dip the brush in the cleaning solution and rub it against the grates.
- Rinse these grates with water.
- Use a cloth soaked in the cleaning solution and wipe the interior and exterior of the unit.
- Here, cleaning is completed. Now, you can install the grates and ashtrays back in their positions.
In case you face any confusion, be sure to refer to the video below for a full overview of what was just described.
Offset smokers are a great way to step up your pit-master game. While it is a little more time and labor intensive, you will be greatly rewarded for your hard work.
There are many things to consider when deciding which smoker is best for you. Material, ventilation, storage, and modifications are all factors that should be considered when shopping.
High quality is extremely important to the level of cooking that the smoker provides. Smokers come in all sorts of price ranges and it is very important to get the best-quality smoker for the price you can afford.
People Also Ask
During the research, we came across some questions that the majority audience asked frequently. We have answered these below so you won't have any questions left in your mind.
Where to Put the Water Pan in Offset Smoker?
Using a water pan becomes essential when you cook a meal in an offset smoker. The water pan behaves as a heat sink and intends to maintain the heating temperature in the chamber. In this way, you will be able to cook food uniformly. The best position to place the water pan is under the grates near the baffles.
How Does an Offset Smoker Work?
Offset smokers are horizontal in shape. They are comprised of two separate chambers, one for cooking and the other for burning the fuel.
The ignition of the fuel creates heat and smoke that passes from the burning box to the cooking area. You can make the unit acquire the required temperature and airflow by adjusting the vents and chimney. The indirect heat cooks the meal and penetrates the smoke flavor while shifting towards the chimney.
How Much Wood Does an Offset Smoker Use?
The amount of wood required in an offset smoker depends on the shape of wood used. Also, if the primary source of fuel is wood, then it will need you to use more wood for a cooking session. If you are using wood chips, then two cups of these chunks will be enough for almost 30 minutes.