How To Use an Offset Smoker (With Tips & Tricks)


Is it your first time using an offset smoker? Then there is a whole world of amazing taste sensations at your fingertips!

But there’s something you must do before you can start experimenting with new flavors. That is, that you must learn how to grill with side smoker.

Offset Smoker in Patio

Are ready for some piping hot-off-the-press tips? Then make sure you check out what’s coming up next.

Here’s how to use an offset smoker:

  1. Choose your fuel
  2. Start your fire
  3. Adjust the temperature
  4. Control the fire
  5. Rotate your meat

Step-By-Step How to Use an Offset Smoker

Before I dive straight in with a how-to guide, it’s important you know which kind of smoker I will be analyzing today.

So, what is an offset smoker?

Pretty much everyone is after an offset smoker thanks to its innovative design. It’s called an offset smoker because the food smokes in a chamber that is separate from the firebox.

Offset smokers are for serious BBQ enthusiasts. They are ideal for large gatherings thanks to their various shelves.

Despite what some think, an offset smoker is not hard to use! It is distinct from a normal smoker, but we will talk about some of the differences and how easy it is to use below

1.    Choose Your Fuel

When it comes to using an offset smoker, you have two fuel choices. They are wood and charcoal. Here’s everything you need to know about the two.

– Wood will help you to infuse your meat with flavors like maple, apple, alder, cherry, oak, and more.
– Smoking food with wood alone could make your meat taste bitter
– Charcoal is the best fuel to use to initially ignite your smoker.
– Charcoal will give your meat that authentic smokey flavor.
– Smoking food with charcoal alone could make your meat lack that rich BBQ flavor


Smoking your meat with both charcoal and wood fuel helps to enhance its flavor. For the best tasting results, choose your wood flavor according to the meat you will be smoking.

Also Read:

2.  Start Your Fire

Once you’ve chosen your fuel, you can start your fire. If you are using both charcoal and wood you should use charcoal to get the fire ignited. You can add the wood later.

Here’s how to do it.

  1. Light the coals with a chimney starter in the chimney smoker.
  2. Once the coals have lit, transfer them into the firebox. Keep the coals contained on one side of the firebox.
  3. Start drying out your logs by placing them beside the coals. Once they’re dry, put them on top of the coals. Continue drying out logs and then adding them to the top of the coals.
  4. Close the lid and keep the firebox and vents open while the smoker gets hotter.


If you don’t have a chimney starter, you should place the coals in a pile on top of one another. Light the coals on the top of the pile and wait for them to all heat up and set alight. Once alight, carefully transfer them to the firebox.

3.  Adjust the Temperature

Adjusting the temperature on your offset smoker is key to making sure your food cooks evenly. Here are some of the key ways you can keep it stable.

  1. Set up the thermometer where your food will be cooking.
  2. Once the thermometer reads the temperature you desire adjust the vents (the damper). You can also adjust the chimney cap. Leave the dampers so that they are between halfway to ⅓ of the way open. Adjust the chimney cap so that it is ½ open.
  3. As your logs dry out, place them on the top of the coals.
  4. Keep an eye on your thermostat as your food is cooking. If the temperature is too low, open the vents slightly. Then check in on the thermometer 5 minutes later and see how the temperature has changed.

4. Control the Fire

Perhaps you are wondering how you can manage fire in an offset smoker. Take a look at the following pointers that make it easy for you to detect the problem and resolve it.

Temperature ProblemSolution
The temperature on the thermometer drops slightlyPlace a dry wooden log onto the coals in the firebox.
The temperature in the smoker will not remain stableOpen your vents slightly to raise the temperature in the smoker
It is windy or a particularly cold dayOpen your vents slightly to keep the temperature in the smoker hot


To keep the temperature in your smoker regular, check it every 40 minutes. Continue drying out new logs so that they can be added to the coals.

5.  Rotate Your Meat

We’ve reached the most important step, that is, cooking your meat. Where should you put your meat on an offset smoker? Well, the answer to that question depends on if you have a reverse flow offset smoker or a regular offset smoker.

Let’s take a look at what you should do.

Reverse Flow Offset SmokerRegular Offset Smoker
Open the cooking chamber Rotate the meat. Do this periodically to ensure that it cooks evenly.Use a meat temperature probe or a thermometer to find out how hot the meat is. Adjust the vents according to the temperature of the meat. If you want it to cook faster, open them slightly.

Where Should You Put the Water Pan in an Offset Smoker?

If you have an offset smoker, you will not be able to put your water pan in the same place you would in a regular smoker. This is because the firebox is not in the same place as your food.

So the question arises, where should you put it?

You should put your water pan on the cooking grates. Place it snug between your meat and the firebox. If you do so, the water vapor will intercept the flow of heat to your food. This will help to keep the food moist, stopping it from drying out.

Related: How to Clean an Offset Smoker


If you’re using an offset smoker for the first time, it could seem a little daunting. But I am sure the simple steps and tips and tricks in this article have helped you to set up your smoker like a pro!

If you like this article, then make sure you check out more of my free guides!

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Tyler Lachance is a cookout professional. His expertise on cooking grilled food, creating marinades, formulating sauces and matching his food with the perfect drink is unrivaled.

Born and raised in a family that has a long history of cookout, he has treated this activity as a part of his culture and who he is.