When it comes to preparing savory-smoked and juicy meat, chefs and homeowners count on offset smokers. These horizontal smokers (may it be small or heavy-duty) are perfect for preparing a batch of meat in one go, making it an ideal option for cookouts.
But choosing the best offset smoker can be a task at its best! So, I decided to pick and review the top six offset smokers to help you make an informed decision.
These are some fantastic offset smokers that I got a chance to try my hands on, and here’s my experience with them.
If you’re in a hurry, here’s all of them:
1. Oklahoma Joe’s Highland Reverse Flow Smoker
If you are looking to infuse the real smoky flavor to the food, Oklahoma Joe’s Highland Reverse Flow Smoker is a catch. There are numerous reasons for keeping this smoker in the first place, such as it serves you as a traditional and an offset smoker.
Arguably, the design is impressive, and this best backyard offset smoker can be a showstopper at any party. Furthermore, the smoker has a 900 sq. inch cooking area, making it perfect for feeding a big gathering.
The smoker uses “reverse flow technology” that forces the smoke to flow back inside the cooking area, so the meat gets tender, and you can taste the smokiness in it.
Made using high-quality steel, the smoker offers durability and resists any damages caused due to high temperature and weather.
Cooking with this offset smoker is relatively easy, and you don’t need a thermometer at all. The easy-to-read temperature gauge tells you the exact temperature inside the smoker.
There’s a big cool-touch handle attached to the smoker, so you can open it anytime without getting your hands hurt.
Oklahoma ships the offset smoker with pre-installed baffle plates that are securely locked in place. Furthermore, the porcelain coating protects the baffles from heat and makes the cleaning job more manageable.
You get a charcoal basket with a swing-open door that helps stop the fire without opening the main compartment.
Overall, Oklahoma Joe’s Highland Reverse Flow Smoker is a superb option you can buy at under 500. The wheels make it a portable option, and there’s a big mesh shelf that holds your utensils and spatulas to make cooking more comfortable and convenient.
Watch it in action here.
2. Char-Griller E1224 Smokin Pro Charcoal Grill with Side Fire Box
If you are searching for the best affordable offset smoker, then your search ends here at Char-Griller E1224. It’s a fantastic smoker under $200 that’s perfect for homeowners on a budget. However, being a budget machine doesn’t mean it has limited features.
You get everything in this compact smoker that you can expect from an expensive one. From an onboard temperature gauge to transportation wheels and multiple shelves, Char-Griller E1224 has it all.
Furthermore, it has 830 sq. inch of cooking area in total, so you can even smoke big meat cuts. There are multiple convenient features that Char-Griller E1224 offers, such as the charcoal hopper that lets you add more coal without even removing the entire grate.
Another convenient feature is the removable ash pan. You can dump out the ash on the go. Both chambers come with a wooden handle that doesn’t overheat, so you can open them without harming your hands.
The offset smoker’s powder coat finish safeguards it from the harsh elements of nature and remains in good shape.
Furthermore, this best value offset smoker’s overall body is durable and is made of heavy-duty steel. Whether you are a beginner or an expert, this is one of the best offset smokers to purchase on a budget.
The thing that I liked the most is the large storage shelf. All the ingredients and utensils remain organized and accessible at all times.
Watch it in action here.
3. Dyna-Glo Signature Series DGSS1382VCS-D Heavy-Duty Vertical Offset Charcoal Smoker
Do you have less space in the backyard that may be insufficient to fit any regular offset smoker? Have a look at Dyna-Glo Signature Series Vertical Offset Smoker, as it’s the best option you should consider.
The skinny vertical chamber consumes less space than any horizontal smoker, so you can use it in a small backyard. However, being skinny doesn’t mean this offset smoker has less cooking area.
You get 1382 sq. an inch of cooking space, and that’s sufficient to feed anyone at a party. Dyna-Glo Signature Series Vertical Offset Smoker stands with pride in the list of best durable offset smokers with its heavy-duty body.
The smoker converted into a grill, so it’s a versatile offset smoker grill. The main chamber’s overall height is 59″, and it won’t bang in your store’s door.
All the compartment doors have cool-touch handles for the ease of opening and closing. One thing that sets this offset smoker apart from other options is the sausage hook.
Furthermore, the bigger temperature gauge comes with smoke readings, so you know what’s happening with the meat without opening the primary chamber’s door.
All five grates are chrome-plated to resist corrosion, and cleaning them is hassle-free as well. You can move Dyna-Glo Signature Series Vertical Offset Smoker anywhere, all thanks to its bigger steel wheels.
Lastly, this is a versatile offset smoker you should buy to smoke and grill food. It has an ideal cooking space and is the right smoker to infuse the real smoky flavor to anything you cook with it.
Watch it in action here.
4. Oklahoma Joe’s Charcoal/LP Gas/Smoker Combo
Oklahoma Joe’s Longhorn is a versatile option that serves you as a charcoal, gas grill, and offset smoker.
The machine has ample cooking area and is a perfect choice to cook the large meat cuts. The main chamber has 750 sq. inch cooking space, and you get some space in the firebox chamber as well.
There are different chambers for different purposes, so you can use it to grill, smoke, and cook different cuisines in one go.
Adjusting the heat and smoke is easy, and all you need to do is adjust the dampers. The damper is attached to the firebox’s door (similar to smoker box) and has a big handle for easy adjustments.
The thing that I find impressive is the placement of burners in the gas grill chamber. The three burners can produce up to 36,000 BTU’s of heat to quickly and adequately cook the meat. You can keep an eye on the temperature, all thanks to the onboard temperature gauge.
Furthermore, there’s a side-swing door attached to the firebox for ultimate convenience. All the chambers have cool-touch handles, and the gas grill comes with auto-ignition.
Just like other impressive smokers from Oklahoma Joe’s Store, Longhorn also comes with built-in shelves for the ease of organizing the ingredients and other stuff.
There are bigger wheels as well, so you can move the entire setup anywhere and anytime. Another impressive trait of this offset smoker is the steel construction. It’s the best heavy-duty smoker that’s built to last and requires less maintenance.
Watch it in action here.
5. Dyna-Glo DGSS730CBO-D-KIT Signature SeriesBarrel Charcoal Grill & Side Firebox
It wouldn’t be wrong to say that Dyna-Glo DGSS730CBO-D-KIT Signature is an offset smoker that can expand your culinary horizons. With this amazing machine, you can prepare almost all types of cuisines that need smoke for an enhanced flavor.
The smoker comes attached with a side firebox that has a bigger air vent for reduced fuel consumption.
The total cooking area is 730 sq. inch, which is suitable for a family of four.
Installing and using this machine isn’t difficult, and even beginners can do it without any professional help. You get porcelain-coated grates with this charcoal grill that help in retaining the heat and doesn’t catch rust easily.
Adjusting the heat and smoke is possible with the adjustable damper. Also, the offset smoker has a temperature gauge that tells you everything about the temperature inside the chamber.
The thing I loved about Dyna-Glo DGSS730CBO-D-KIT Signature is the removable ash pan and charcoal grate. You can easily add more fuel or dump out the ash just by removing the grate.
The smoker’s entire body is made up of alloy steel that’s highly durable and resistant to corrosion. Yes, Dyna-Glo DGSS730CBO-D-KIT Signature is heavy, but the oversized wheels let you move it with ease. There are two big mesh shelves available for keeping the ingredients organized, so you don’t need a secondary table when using this offset smoker.
Watch it in action here.
6. Oklahoma Joe’s Highland Offset Smoker
Here’s another option from the house of Oklahoma Joe’s Store, which is purely an offset smoker. From beginners to expert chefs, this is a choice for everyone who expects durability and ease-of-cleaning.
Oklahoma Joe’s Highland Offset Smoker offers you a multitude of heat and smoke controls with its adjustable dampers.
Furthermore, the smoker comes with a 900 sq. inch cooking area. You get 619 sq. inch of primacy cooking area and 281 sq. inch of secondary cooking space inside the firebox.
Cooking with this offset smoker is pretty straightforward. You get bigger mesh shelves to keep the uncooked meat and other ingredients handy.
The onboard temperature gauge lets you check the temperature at a glimpse, so bid goodbye to opening the primary door multiple times.
One of my friends has this offset smoker, and he loves it because of the steel wheels. You can put the smoker into the store to safeguard it from the harsh weather.
The cooking grates have a porcelain coating, which makes them resistant to rust. Also, cleaning the grates is a cakewalk, and you can get rid of the grease and oil just by using any grill cleaner.
In a nutshell, Oklahoma Joe’s Highland is an easy-to-use and convenient offset smoker to buy. From a cool-touch handle to an onboard temperature gauge, you get everything a good smoker should have.
Just assemble it using the instruction manual, and voila, you can start cooking smoky meat for your friends or family.
Watch it in action here.
Everything You Need to Know About the Best Offset Smoker
Do you know what is an offset smoker or how does it work? When I was new to these offset wood smokers, I had no idea how they work and the features to look for before buying one.
So, I did extensive research to understand every single component that comprises a good heavy-duty smoker. To save you from the hassle, I’m here with every detail that you should know about these horizontal barrel smokers.
How Does an Offset Smoker Work?
It is imperative to understand the working of an offset smoker before you buy one. An offset smoker has multiple components, such as the primary chamber and firebox, that work together to give you a smoky flavor.
The firebox attached to the smokers burns fuel such as firewood or coal. Also, there’s an air inlet in the firewood box that sucks the air and keeps the fire burning.
The air is then pushed into the main compartment, where it smokes the food. The damper attached to the main chamber helps in controlling the heat and smoke.
You can adjust the damper to keep the smoke intact or to let it out of the smoker.
The smoker is known as an offset because of the firebox that’s either attached to the side or at the back.
Vertical vs. Horizontal Offset Smoker
It can be pretty confusing when it comes to choosing between vertical and horizontal smokers. Well, both are good at smoking the food, but there are some significant differences that you should know to make an informed decision.
I’ve used both vertical and horizontal smokers, and here are the differences that I have experienced so far.
The capacity is an essential factor to look for when buying a smoker. There’s a big difference in terms of capacity when it comes to vertical and horizontal offset charcoal smokers.
Usually, horizontal smokers have more cooking capacity than vertical smokers; this is what I experienced after trying multiple smokers and grillers.
Also, managing the food becomes easier in horizontal smokers. But there are a handful of vertical smokers like Dyna-Glo Signature Series DGSS1382VCS-D Heavy-Duty Vertical Offset Charcoal Smoker & Grill that have a decent capacity.
Another difference between a horizontal and vertical smoker is the requirement of fuel. Horizontal smokers use less fuel so that you can save a good number of bucks on coal.
The reason why vertical smokers need more fuel is the design. The meat kept on the top grate takes more time to get cooked. And more time means more money spent on fuel.
Both vertical and horizontal smokers are portable, all thanks to the built-in wheels that most manufacturers offer these days. However, it is easy to move vertical smokers as they occupy less space.
Moving a horizontal smoker can be a pain if you have a big one with extra cooking capacity.
Versatility is something you get with horizontal smokers. Some of them come with a built-in gas grill and other chambers. But it’s not the case with vertical smokers.
There are some other differences as well, such as the cost and type of cooking, but that depends on the brand and model you are going for.
It is crucial to choose the right orientation when buying an offset smoker to have a great experience with it.
Features to Look for in an Offset Smoker
Buying the best offset smoker depends on multiple factors. So, it shouldn’t merely rely on your guesswork. Have a look at these factors before you invest your hard-earned money into a smoker.
Start with checking the smoker’s construction, as it should be durable enough to withstand the test of time.
Usually, most smokers are made using steel as it resists corrosion and is lighter than cast iron. Furthermore, check if the material comes with powder coating or any other layer that can reduce corrosion chances.
If the smoker has poor ventilation, then you’ll end up spending a lot on fuel. Proper ventilation is vital to keep the fire burning for longer.
Go for an offset smoker that has bigger air vents for better airflow. Also, bigger air vents or dampers will help you in regulating the temperature and smoke efficiently.
The connecting tube between the main chamber and firebox should be wide enough to allow the smoke to enter quickly.
If a smoker meets all these ventilation requirements, then it is the right option to purchase.
All the best offset smokers that I’ve reviewed above have ultimate ventilation, so you can go with just any of them.
Buying an offset smoker without storage space means running here and there for the ingredients. So, make sure that the one you are planning to purchase has ample space to keep the ingredients organized.
Also, the storage shelves allow you to keep the tongs, spatulas, and basting brush handy.
The choice of cooking space depends entirely on your requirements. If you need a smoker for a party, then go for one with a bigger cooking space.
On the other hand, an offset smoker with a smaller cooking space is great for any small gathering or for a nuclear family.
The built-in thermometer eliminates the need of purchasing and setting up one separately. I love my smoker, and its thermometer shows precise readings that help me cook delicious meals for everyone.
Even if you are going for a versatile smoker, ensure that it has multiple temperature gauges.
Wheels make the offset smoker mobile. These machines weigh hundreds of pounds, and moving one will be nearly impossible if it doesn’t have wheels.
Go for a smoker with over-sized wheels to cross all the hurdles with ease.
Cool-touch handles are great to safeguard your hands from getting burned. All the best offset smokers listed in this article have cool-touch handles. It is a necessary feature that a smoker should have.
Some smokers can cost you around 500-600 bucks, whereas some are around $200. Never fall prey to cheap quality smokers just for the sake of saving some money.
Buying a cheap one will result in spending a lot on getting it fixed multiple times.
Accessories that Complement Offset Smokers
Here is a handful of accessories that I love using with an offset smoker. All the accessories listed here are useful, so make sure to add them to the cart when buying an offset smoker.
Heat-resistant BBQ Gloves
Usually, most of the offset smokers come with cool-touch handles. But it is essential to wear gloves when taking the meat out of the grates. Get a pair of heat resistant gloves and protect your hands from the flame.
If the smoker you own or plan to purchase lacks a thermometer, make sure to buy one separately. Using a good thermometer helps you find out the meat’s right temperature to prevent it from getting over/undercooked.
I don’t like my smoker grates dirty; if you too can’t see grease build-up on the grates, get a quality grate cleaner. The cleaner solution will make it easier to get rid of the grease and grime.
It’s pretty easy to clean an offset smoker.
A basting brush
There’s no need to explain why a basting brush is important when using an offset smoker. I tried the regular kitchen basting brush, and it got burned due to the flame.
So, make sure to get a basting mop that’s designed for grills.
A rib stack
A rib stack lets you keep the ribs together, so you get some extra space to grill other items alongside. You can even invest in a sausage hook if required.
Offset smoker cover
A durable cover keeps your valuable offset smoker in good shape by protecting it from the climate’s harshness.
How Much Cooking Space Do You Need?
While buying the best offset smoker, everyone bumps into one question. How much cooking space is sufficient for my needs? Even I was dubious before purchasing one.
But, to save you from the hassle, I’m here with all the details you need to know to decide the right cooking space.
The cooking area’s size depends on multiple factors, such as where you’ll be using it. And the number of people you want to cook for.
If you need something for your family or a small group of friends, I recommend going for a small offset smoker with around 300-400 sq. Inches of cooking space.
On the other hand, if you want to host a party with a lot of people, go for an offset smoker with around 800-1000 sq. inches cooking space.
The more the number of people, the bigger the cooking space should be.
Here’s something that’ll help you in choosing the right size:
|Three people||300-400 sq. inches|
|Four people||400-750 sq. inches|
|Five people or more||800- 1000 sq. inches|
However, choosing the size is entirely up to you and your requirements.
Note: Offset smokers with bigger cooking spaces occupy a lot of space. Also, they are hard to move and store.
Who should buy an offset smoker?
Do you really need an offset smoker? Or a standard grill will serve the purpose? Well, it can be a dream for many to own a good offset smoker. But if you aren’t using it, buying it will be a complete waste of money.
If you are looking for something that can add the true Texas smoky flavor to the food, an offset smoker should be on your bucket list.
Also, these are good for people that need something with a huge cooking capacity. The smoke remains intact, all thanks to the firebox chamber that lets you add more fuel to the smoker to generate more smoke.
Modern offset smokers are highly versatile and portable. You can even use them for grilling and other such purposes, depending on the model you are going for.
In short, you should go for an offset smoker if you love smoky-flavored meat. Moreover, the big capacity of the cooking chamber lets you place other cuisines in it as well.
How to use an offset smoker?
Using an offset smoker may seem hard, but it isn’t if you are using the right techniques. When I got my first offset smoker, I’d no idea how it works, and the below-mentioned tips helped me become a master at it.
Step 1: Season the offset smoker
This is not necessary, but if you are a beginner or have a new smoker, make sure to season it before using. To season the smoker, all you need is a bucket full of water and a cloth.
Clean the entire smoker to get rid of the dust and debris from the grates and the coal bed. Once the cleaning is done, let it dry for some time, and then spread a little vegetable oil to get the grates ready.
Now burn some fuel into the firebox to complete the seasoning.
Step 2: Open the chimney and air intake vent
An offset smoker comes with two air vents that supply enough air to keep the flame lit. Open up both vents before you start adding fuel to the smoker.
Step 3: Add the fuel
I use charcoal with the offset smokers, but some of my friends prefer briquette. Don’t just put the fuel into the smoker, and use a chimney starter for easiness and safety.
Here’s a quick guide on using a chimney starter.
Step 4: Spread the fuel on the bed
Now spread the fuel on the bed carefully to ensure that you don’t have to pick up the coal for better cooking manually. The coal should be spread on the entire bed so that you can use the whole cooking space.
Step 5: Bring it to the right temperature
Before you place the cuts of meat on the grates, it is crucial to set the right temperature. If the offset smoker has a temperature gauge, then there’s no need to use a separate device.
Start putting on the meat on the grates when the temperature gauge needle points to the right reading.
Step 6: Keep refueling until you are done with the cooking
Keep adding more fuel to the burning chamber to generate more smoke. All you need to do is open the side door of the chamber and stash in more fuel.
Step 7: Clean and store it
Once done with cooking and partying, clean the offset smoker and store it properly. Cleaning the smoker may take some time, depending on its size and how dirty it is.
Watch this video and learn some quick hacks to clean the smoker.
Offset Smokers’ Maintenance Tips
So, are you ready to invest in an offset smoker? Well, these smokers don’t come cheap, so you should maintain them properly in order to enhance their lifespan.
Step 1: Clean it
After every cooking session, get rid of all the ash accumulated on the cooking grates. Ash absorbs a lot of humidity, which can result in rusting and can damage the grates.
Let the offset smoker fully cool, and then sweep the ash out of the smoker. After removing the ash, make sure to clean the spilled sauces with a damp cloth.
Step 2: Brush the grates
Brushing the grates is necessary to maintain the offset smoker. I use a nylon bristle brush, and it does the job pretty well.
Step 3: Get rid of the grease
Getting rid of the grease can be a little task. I recommend using a putty knife to do the job on the go. Remove all the grease accumulated on the grates, and then proceed to the next step.
Step 4: Remove the rust
Removing the rust is indispensable to enhance the longevity of an offset smoker. Brush off the rust with steel wool, and then re-season it with hot cooking oil.
A smoky hot tip:
When removing rust from the grates, spray some canola oil on them. The oil protects the grates from moisture and curtails the chances of further corrosion.
These are the routine maintenance tips you should follow to keep the offset smoker in good shape. Don’t forget to deep clean it every time you see grease and grime building up on the surface.
What Can You Burn with an Offset Smoker?
Some people recommend using full wood splits with an offset smoker, but I prefer using a base of charcoal as it adds the right smoky flavor and helps the wood burn quickly.
There are two types of charcoal that you can use in an offset smoker:
- Lump charcoal
- Briquette charcoal
Lump charcoal is pure wood charcoal without any impurities, so it burns clean and is great for BBQ. Also, it results in less ash, and cleaning the offset smoker becomes easy.
I only use this charcoal during parties because it’s pricey as compared to briquette.
It’s the common charcoal you’ll find in the market. Briquette charcoal burns quickly but results in a lot of ash, which requires more cleaning.
The best thing about briquette is that it burns a little longer than lump charcoal.
The Best Woods for Smoking an Offset Smoker
Charcoal is good for igniting the fire, but you need wood logs to attain a smoky flavor. Some people use just any wood they find, and that’s something you should avoid.
Using the right wood will add a lot of taste to the food without filling the entire backyard with smoke.
I prefer using hardwoods, including:
These wood types are great because the fire lasts longer and burns hot. Moreover, these woods don’t intervene with the flavor of the food.
One of my friends prefers using fruit woods to add a sweet flavor profile to the food being smoked in the barrel.
So, you can use both hardwoods and fruit woods for smoking. However, there are a few wood types that aren’t suitable for smoking.
Don’t use evergreen woods such as cedar, pine, spruce, and hemlock. These woods contain high amounts of sap that can kill the flavor of the food.
Also, it takes a lot of time to burn these woods, so it’s better to avoid using them in an offset smoker.
With these best offset smoker reviews, it’ll be easier for you to select the right machine. Just go through the reviews and other important sections to understand more about these insanely-popular smokers.
I hope all the details mentioned here are enough to give you a good idea of what an offset smoker is and what to look for before buying one.
So, get ready with all the sauces, cuts of meat, and call your friends for a party after ordering an amazing offset smoker.