Best offset smoker

Best offset smoker buying guide

Finding the best offset smoker for your backyard or patio can be a long arduous process.

There are so many types of smokers. Hence, today we will add another buying guide, and look at how to get the best offset smoker possible.

There are a ton of offset smokers available. Thus, you would think that would make it easier for you to find the best one.

However, this is not the case, due to the sheer amount of brands and models available.

How do you know which ones to look at? That’s what we hope to help you with.

Firstly, it is important to note that in searching for an offset smoker, you should know as much as you can about smokers in general.

So please take a look at our smoker 101 information guide as well.

In it, you will find a lot of user smoker information, regardless of what you are searching for.

That being said, in the end it really depends on what is going to work best for you.

Namely, you might find that the most popular offset smoker might not be the best offset smoker for you.

Hence, this guide will provide you with lots of options to make your decision making process easier.


What is an offset smoker?

Offset smokers are one of the most popular and classic versions of a smoker.

In trying to differentiate an offset smoker from others you can look at a number of things.

Firstly, you’ll notice that the cooking chamber has a cylindrical shape form

Additionally, the food is usually smoked while charcoal and wood burn on a side attached firebox.

This firebox is usually a cylinder that has a smaller diameter.

This side firebox is the reason for the “offset” part of the name.

Best offset smoker

In order to cook the meat, a fire is lit in that firebox, in which the flow of air is heavily controlled.

More importantly, the heat and smoke are used to cook the meat and give it flavor before exiting through a vent on the other side of the cooking chamber.

The idea is to to make sure that the heat is next to the meat rather than under it. 

This sort of design has been adapted across the industry, and bigger commercial versions have also been manufactured.

It is common believe that offset smokers surfaced in southern states like Texas by people who worked the oil field(although this has never been confirmed).

Nevertheless, the offset smoker was designed based on brick barbecue pits.

You can basically make any type of low or slow meats, including chicken.


Temperature control in an offset smoker

The idea is to give you control of the heat and smoker by monitoring and changing the amount of air that flows and the vents.

Remember that by opening vents you let in more oxygen, which gives life to the fire.

Basically, the temperature changes inside the cooking chamber.

Thus, in order to have even cooking not only do you need to keep an eye on the temperature, but on the airflow as well.

Additionally, make sure you keep in mind that the different changes in temperature is even more glaring in bigger offset smokers.

In a common offset smoker, the side of the cooking chamber that is closest to the firebox is the hottest. Which, can of course cause uneven cooking.


All this led to the creation of what is known in the industry to a new form of technology reverse flow technology.

Essentially, what this does is add an additional metal plate. That way, your meat is protected from intense heat.

Furthermore, it directs the smoke around the meat over and under, before venting it out through the chimney.

Nevertheless, if you don’t have an offset smoker that includes such a system, then simply move and rotate your food around.

Although, keep in mind that you’ll have to have a more hands on approach.

You can easily tell the difference between a traditional and a reverse flow offset smoker by the location of the chimney.

Namely, reverse flow smokers has a chimney right by the firebox. In which case you know the smoke has circulated the cooking chamber before being released.


Advantages and disadvantages of using an offset smoker

Positives
  • You’ll be able to smoke for large amounts of groups thanks to the general size of the cooking chamber
  • You don’t have to deal with any electricity
  • Like most smokers, you’ll have access to a ton of accessories
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    You don’t have to open the cooking chamber and risk losing smoke in order to add things such as wood chips
Negatives
  • They are generally very heavy, thus you’ll find it hard to move around without any help
  • They are not the best type of smokers to handle bad weather conditions(although generally speaking, for large gatherings who would want bad weather anyways?)
  • The preheating time is a lot longer than other types of smokers
  • arrow-right
    Assembling and maintenance can take up a lot of time, hence, offset smokers might not be the best for beginners

Things to keep in mind when getting the best offset smoker possible

When getting an offset smoker, you also want to consider a number of things.

Firstly, you want to make sure you decide what you will be using the smoker for.

Meaning, do you need a big smoker to cook for larger groups? Or just something you’ll use occasionally.

That really is crucial in your decision making process.

Secondly, you have to come up with a budget of how much you want to spend.

It is absolutely useless to look at the best offset smoker available if you cannot avoid it.

Thus, stick to a budget, then figure out a way to maximize the amount of features you can get at that price range.

Features to look for in your cooking smoker

Make sure you hammer down what specific features you will be needing.

Do you need bigger grilling space? What parts of the smoke need to be removable? Etc, basically, make sure everything you need is covered.

If you want to focus on the most important common features? We suggest you take a look at the size of the firebox.

You want to make sure you have a firebox that is big enough to fit whatever you will be using as fuel.

Additionally, take a look at the size of the cooking chamber.

This ties back to what we said a few points back about the size of the groups you’ll be cooking for. 

Furthermore, you want a heavy gauge metal composition, it will allow you to avoid unnecessary bends.

And, be more prepared for weather conditions.

Especially relevant, is the need for 2 temperature gauges, as you will see later on in our explanation of how to use an offset smoker.

There are plenty of good affordable options, so do not rely on the integrated one.

Also, make sure you get an offset smoker with a good warranty.

Best offset smoker

Hence, you want to do your due diligence on the brand of the offset smoker you are getting and determine if they offer good warranties on their products.


Finally, make sure you find an offset smoker that will fit wherever you plan on using it.

We cannot mention how many times we’ve seen people disgruntled about the size of the smoker and how they miscalculated. 

Please note this includes space needed for ventilation as well!

Therefore, avoid this problem by doing your due diligence about the spacing of your backyard or patio.

Trust us when we say it will save you a lot of time and trouble. 


How to use an offset smoker?

When it comes to using an offset smoker it is quite simple once you learn how to deal with the heat.

Firstly, make sure to season the smoker if you have to.

What exactly does this mean? It means you have to get your smoker ready for use.

This is usually done to avoid rust and corrosion.

It is a process that extends across multiple industries such as Woks for example.

If you have a new offset smoker you want to make sure you apply soapy water to the entire smoker.

Afterwards, wash with water to get rid of any dirt or grease accumulation.

Follow that up by letting it dry and apply vegetable oil inside the cooking chamber.

Moreover, once this is done simply light a fire, with the vents open and let it burn for about half an hour.

Secondly, although you don’t have to do this, you should put in place 2 temperature meters in the smoker.

However, we do recommend it, even if your offset smoker has a built in temperature gauge

Basically, you want to place one on each end of the cooking chamber in order to have very good accuracy.

The reason you don’t want to depend on the built in thermometer that’s usually found at the top of the smoker.

Because that one measures the temperature at the top of the lid rather than where your food is smoking.

While the difference in temperature may not be much, it may be significant to alter your recipe result.

Don’t forget about the vents!

After placing your 2 thermometers(if you have them), make sure the vents(both the air intake one and the chimney vent) are opened.

Why? Remember the flames inevitably need oxygen, and you’ll also need to open the chimney vent, to release the smoke.

Bear in mind that you will be manipulating these vents during your smoker to keep the heat and smoke inside the smoker in check.

More importantly, follow that up by lighting a full box of briquettes inside a chimney starter.

You want to heat them until they start glowing. Which, can take roughly 15 minutes.

Thus, once you you have your briquettes glowing hot and ashy, place them in the firebox and close the lid.

Keep in mind you don’t want to light the fire completely out of wood.

Why? Because it is hard to keep going for long periods of time.

Finally, monitor your offset smoker until you bring the temperature to whatever your desired level is.

Moreover, make sure you keep the chamber and firebox closed while your offset smoker reaches the desired temperature.

Heat adjustment and food placement

Now for the good part! Firstly, place whatever you are cooking on the grill in the cooking chamber and close the lid.

Furthermore, you have to add briquettes to the firebox as you see fit.

Particularly, if you want to keep a steady heat or make the temperature higher. 

You should also have some form of grill scoop to make space for new briquettes from the chimney by scooping aside the ashy coals.

As far as checking the temperature and firebox? Due so roughly every half an hour. In order to avoid your fire going out.

More importantly, really keep an eye on the temperature.

If you notice it starts fluctuating or dropping after you’ve added more briquettes, you should a log of wood to the firebox.

Also, you can open the air vent to let the fire breathe and get stronger.

Please note if you open the vents don’t do it for long as the temperature will skip within a few minutes.

Likewise, if the temperature is too hot then simply close the vents.

Furthermore, if this does not work then also open the cooking chamber for a minute or 2 for a quick drop in temperature.

Smoking your food

Keep a few pieces of wood to add to the firebox every hour.

Additionally, make sure you place the wood next to the fire, you don’t want it to burn too fast.

Especially relevant, is to remember that wood chips burn off quickly, so wood chunks should be your preferred go-to.

In regards to the food, just flip it over about every hour.

Thus, when you flip the pieces you want the pieces now being worked on are closer to the firebox.

No matter what you are you making, rotating it is important when using an offset smoker. 

On the other hand, you can avoid your meat drying out, by taking a rack(made out of metal) on top of the coals in the firebox.

Get a pan filled with water(aluminum pan) and place it on the rack.

That will let the smoke be moist before going into the cooking chamber.

Furthermore, you’ve probably seen people spray beer or water on the food. This is not for show, but to keep the food moist. 

This is normally done towards the end of your smoke, and should be part of your recipe.

As long as you follow this general procedure, you should be good to go in using your offset smoker.

Nevertheless, here’s a great concise and easy video from The Home Depot we found that explains how to use an offset smoker to perfection:


Make sure to get a cover for your offset smoker

One final thing we want to talk about before we take a look at the best offset smoker options is to make sure you get a cover for your offset smoker.

Remember that all smokers are subject to rust and weather conditions.

No matter what type of material your smoker is made out of, it will inevitably rust if you do not properly take care of it.

Thus a cover is essential in all this. All the offset smokers we are going to review below come with a cover option.

While it is not normally included, it is a relatively small percentage of the total price of the smoker and will save you a lot of hassle down the road.

Additionally, there are also plenty of universal offset smoker covers from reliable brands. So do not worry about finding one that suits your budget.


Dyna-Glo DGO1176BDC-D

This offset smoker is quite the overachiever in our eyes. Not only did it make the list in this guide, but also made it in our best charcoal smoker guide.

This Dyna-glo product is one of the best offset smoker options you can get your hands on.

It has enough feature to justify just about anything you want to do. It is backed by a great brand in Dyna-Glo. 

Pros:

  • Vertical design for heat efficiency and flavor
  • Removable steel ash pan
  • Ash and charcoal management system
  • plus
    Dual door design
  • plus
    15,000 BTU cast iron burner

Cons:

  • Packaging when delivered could be a lot better

Features

The first thing you will notice is the vertical aspect of this smoker.

Which, is one of the reasons is one of the best offset smoker options on the market.

Namely, by having a vertical design you make sure the heat follows its natural projection to rise naturally.

Additionally, this design makes sure to keep direct heat away from whatever you are cooking. Thus, making it easy to slow cook.

Moreover, it includes 6 adjustable cooking grates. Allowing you to play around with various food sizes.

Essentially, you have a total of 1176 square inches of cooking space and each grate can hold about 25 pounds of food.

Furthermore, the charcoal chamber is made out of porcelain enameled steel.

Therefore, you can rest assured that your briquettes will be stacked accordingly in order to burn smoothly.

Similarly, you will love that this offset smoker is built to help you with cleanness.

Thanks to its charcoal and ash system, you’ll be able to handle ash for hours and not have to worry about constantly cleaning while you cook.

Finally, consider its heavy duty construction, and you are talking about one of the best offset smokers when it comes to durability.

Hence, make sure you take a good look at this one.

It is built for comfortably with its double door design and its 15,000 BTU cast iron burner.

Namely, there is no way you can go wrong with this purchase. Which is why it is Amazon’s choice for offset smoker. 


Char-Broil offset smoker

Char-Broil is one of the most popular smoker brands. Hence, we are not one bit surprised that they have an excellent offset smoker.

It has a lot of features and gives the buyer options on the type of smoker they can get with the appropriate changes in price of course.

This offset smoker, is more for those who are more strapped in regards to budget.

Pros:

  • Cool touch handles
  • Porcelain coated grates
  • Adjustable height grate

Cons:

  • It has to be given extreme care and maintenance, materials are not as durable as more expensive offset smokers

Features

This product allows you to use it not only as a smoker, but as a barbecue and a charcoal grill.

Hence, you are not limited in your cooking options.

On the other hand, you’ll be able to easily maintain it clean thanks to its clean-out door.

Therefore ash removal should be the least of your problems. And, it includes a built in damper that is adjustable.

Additionally, you’ll love the design thanks to its all black steel color.

Furthermore, it includes a lid mounted temperature gauge(although we suggest you get your own temperature gauge for better results).

Especially relevant is the cooking space you’ll have to work with. It comes with 290 square inches of cooking surface.

For perspective, that’s enough for about 18 burgers, which is quite a significant amount.

Furthermore, you’ll want to note that the the fuel to be used is wood. 

While we recommend this offset smoker for home use, such as family gatherings, it is not ideal for commercial purposes.

The dimensions of the product are 48.3 width x 17.5 deep x 44.6 high(all in inches). And, has a weight of 46.5 pounds.

Namely, this is one of the best offset smoker options for somebody who is on a budget.

Please note it also includes a user manual and a user guide. Usually, most smokers include one and not the other. 


Oklahoma Joe’s Longhorn RF smoker

One of the most popular names in offset smokers, you will have a hard time finding fault in this smoker.

It is without a doubt one of the best offset smoker options currently available on the market.

It’s features are matched by only the best of smokers, and it covers all the basic necessities the average individual is looking for in a smoker.

Hence, no matter what your particular needs you’ll find some if not all of them, covered in this one.

Pros:

  • 1,060 total square inches of cooking space
  • Reverse flow technology
  • Heavy gauge steel construction
  • plus
    Firebox chamber design makes it easy to remove ash

Cons:

  • Can easily rust if not given the proper maintenance

Features

Firstly, you’ll have ample space to smoke whatever you want.

With 1060 total square inches, 751 inches the main chamber, and 309 inches in the firebox chamber you have a lot flexibility and cooking surface.

On the other hand, one of the main factors to consider is that this smoker employs reverse flow technology.

Which, means you do not have to have a total “hands on” approach when it comes to the smoking.

Thus, you’ll be able to use the time to prepare other parts of your meal.

With 4 baffles to conduct heat and smoke through your food, you it puts chefs in pretty comfortable positions.

Finally, Longhorn makes an emphasis on making sure the user has heat heat and smoke control by having multiple dampers. 

In addition to having porcelain coated grates and a heavy steel gauge construction to promote durability.

More importantly, unlike a lot offset smokers, you can legitimately have this smoker built in 2 hours, and even less time if you have a helping hand.

Finally, you have the ability to customize your smoker thanks to the included removable baffles. It is definitely an excellent choice for best offset smoker.

Particularly, if you are an expert in dealing with offset smokers and would know how to properly give it maintenance in the long run.


Royal gourmet Charcoal Grill with offset smoker

This royal gourmet smoker provides convenience in being a charcoal grill and a smoker at a very affordable price.

It is one of the best offset smoker options because of its attention to detail and specificity.

Whether you are on a budget, or you have a bit more to spend, this is one of the best offset smoker options you will find.

Pros:

  • 782 square inches of total space
  • One of the easiest smokers to clean
  • Easily assembled with or without help
  • plus
    Cool touch handle

Cons:

  • Some consumers have complained about the durability of the parts

Features

First of all, this is a great smoker for big family activities. Namely, you count with 782 total square inches of cooking surface.

440 square inches in the main chamber alone, while 180 square inches are reserved for the chrome warming rack.

And, 182 square inches from the smoker. This Royal Gourmet smoker gives you lots of flexibility.

You’ll count with a heavy duty lid that is built for durability.

Additionally, it has a spring handle that is cool to the touch. Thus, you can comfortably go about your cooking.

On the other hand, it comes with a professional thermometer.

And a lot of space for storage and preparation thanks to the front table(made out of steel mesh) and the bottom shelf. 

If you are still having doubts about the versatility that this offset smoker offers then consider that the included charcoal pan can carry 5 pounds of charcoal at any given point.

The dimensions of this product are 45.3 x 26.8 x 48 inches. With a weight of 57 pounds.

Hence, it is important to note that it is a lot lighter relative to other offset smokers on the market.

With such a design, you can basically fit this offset smoker in any backyard or patio and even balconies.

Thus, it should be at the top of your to do list if spacing is a big issue for you.


Final thoughts

Without a doubt finding the right offset smoker depends on a lot of factors. It really depends on what you are looking for as a cooker.

Do you want a more hands on approach? Or an offset smoker that will give you versatility.

What’s your budget looking like? How many people are you going to be cooking for on a regular basis?

Nevertheless, finding the best offset smoker can be narrowed down once you know what you are looking for.

As long as you remember that everybody has their own guidelines in regards to shopping, you should be fine.

That being said, if you ask us which things you should keep an eye out for the most. 

We would say getting an offset smoker that includes reverse flow technology

Just because an offset smoker is a reverse flow smoker it does not mean that you cannot closely monitor your meat.  

Thus, we would suggest you get one with reverse flow technology unless you are a master chef.

Additionally, you want to make sure you have a good warranty.

Why? Because there are a lot of cheap offset smokers out there that do a great job of masking how terrible they are.

Thus make sure you do you extensive research on the warranty of your product.

We hope this guide made it easier in your selection process. We are positive that one of the above is the best offset smoker you can get.

Please feel free to leave us any questions or comments in the section below.

And, don’t forget to take a look at our other reads at thecookingsmokers as well as our reviews section for more interesting reads on smokers.

Resources:

Wikihow
Barbecuebible
Amazon

Also make sure you take a look at our buying guides for more interesting products.