Best Offset Smoker Reviews | Buying Guide

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Smoke Hollow 4 in 1 Charcoal and Gas Grill Combo

Best Offset Smoker Reviews

Offset smokers are one of the best options for someone looking to cook up some quality, traditionally tasting BBQ. Not only can you produce some great tasting food but they also look really cool and can make you feel like a true pit master. Don’t let that idea sway your decision though. In this guide, we’re going to take you through everything you need to know about the best offset smoker you can buy today. Also, a few words of warning about buying cheap offset smokers.

What is an Offset Smoker?

Offset smokers usually start life as relatively normal grills. They tend to be barrels that are laid horizontally with an opening for you to put your food in and out of. What turns them into an offset smoker is the side box that is offset from the main cooking chamber. This is where the fire is housed, usually using charcoal as the fuel. The fire obviously produces smoke and it’s that smoke that is drawn into the main cooking chamber and cooks your meat. There is always a chimney to let any excess smoke out and to provide and air way for the air to flow.

Ok so that’s the basics of an offset smoker, but what makes a good one. You may have heard the term ‘reverse flow smoker’. This is where the smoke is drawn into the bottom of the cooking chamber and forced to flow along the bottom by a diffusion plate. It can then rise at the far end of the cooking chamber and comes back along the top, above the diffusion plate, over the meat, and out of the chimney. The chimney location is very important as it allows the smoke to flow in the desired direction. Having the chimney at the side where the smoke enters the cooking chamber allows the smoke to flow the entire distance of the cooking chamber twice. This ensures a much more consistent cooking chamber temperature and therefore a much better smoker to cook on.

Of course, a good offset smoker doesn’t have to be a reverse flow smoker. We just find that the best offset smoker is usually a reverse flow smoker.

 

Best Low Budget Offset Smoker

Dyna-Glo DGO1176BDC-D Vertical Offset Charcoal Smoker

Dyna-Glo Charcoal Offset Vertical Smoker - Best offset smoker
Best Low Budget Offest Smoker – Dyna-Glo Charcoal Offset Vertical Smoker

The Dyna-Glo is a vertical offset smoker that’s made from a heavy gauge, powder-coated steel that can smoke up to 150lbs of food at once. The vertical design is a little different to standard offset smokers but it works very well. The smoke from the offset firebox is easily drawn into the cooking chamber and flows fairly evenly over all the racks. This almost completely eliminates one of the biggest problems with cheap offset smokers, the uneven cooking. The build is good, it leaks little smoke compared to other models and feels solid. It even has some heavy duty handles for easy manoeuvrability.

Other features include:

  • 1176 square inches of total cooking area means you can smoke for a lot of people at once.
  • Built in thermometer for basic temperature readings.
  • Porcelain-enamelled steel fire box, ensures maximum heat retention and great smoky flavor.
  • Charcoal and ash management system that uses a second door so you lose as little heat as possible when opening. This also makes cleaning very simple, you simply open the door, take out the ash pan and throw the ashes away.
  • Adjustable flue for additional temperature control.
  • Six height adjustable cooking grates allow you to cook various foods of different sizes.

The main problems of the Dyna-Glo are the assembly and some smoke leakage. It took us quite a while to put it together and even when we were finished there were a few misaligned parts. Maybe we’re just not very good at assembling smokers. We assume that the tough assembly led to the second problem, which was smoke leakage. It wasn’t awful but it was noticeable. Comparing it to one of the higher end models and the different is huge.

Despite all the drawbacks the Dyna-Glo is the best offset smoker for the money if you’re on a budget. You’ll get great results, easy cleaning and can cook loads of food at once. And at the price it is you’re not going to get much better.

Check the latest price on Amazon.

 

Alternative:

Char-Griller 1224 Smokin Pro 830 Square Inch Charcoal Grill with Side Fire Box

Char-Griller Smokin Pro 1224 Offset Smoker -Best offset smoker
Char-Griller Smokin Pro 1224 Offset Smoker

If, for some reason, you don’t like the Dyna-Glo then the Char-Griller Smokin Pro is a decent alternative. It’s more of a traditional offset smoker that uses a horizontal drum as the main cooking chamber. A nice feature of the Smokin Pro is that the side fire box can be taken off and used as a dedicated table top grill. It uses good quality, powder-coated steel and a cooking area of 830 square inches when including the side box. It has removable charcoal draws that allows you to add charcoal and dump ashes easily. This is a nice feature and does make cooking and cleaning a lot simpler.

Other features include:

  • Adjustable fire grate for additional temperature control. Although the temperature control you have is minimal, it’s still nice to have it.
  • Built in thermometers that can give a basic temperature reading.
  • Two shelves for multiple cooking options.

The Char-Griller Smokin Pro is a decent beginner offset smoker, however it does suffer from some typical cheap offset smoker problems. The fact that it isn’t reverse flow means that it doesn’t have a very even cooking chamber. Food on the right hand side of the chamber cooks quicker than the food on the left. The build quality is a bit disappointing and the one we used had the paint start to peel after a couple of uses. Also, this thing leaks a lot of smoke! The food it produced was good though, it had a nice smoke ring and tasted great. It was just a hassle to cook it.

A lot of people like the Smokin Pro for the modding possibilities. We’ve seen a lot of people turn this decent smoker into a brilliant smoker with some very simple modifications. If you’re willing to do that then the Char-Griller Smokin Pro suddenly become very good value and is probably the best offset smoker for the money. But you have to know what you’re doing and have to risk that it might go wrong and you could ruin your smoker. If you’re willing to take that risk then we highly recommend picking one up.

Check the latest price on Amazon.

 

Best Mid-Range Offset Smoker

Pit Barrel Cooker

Pit Barrel Cooker - Best offset smoker
Best Mid-Range Offset Smoker – Pit Barrel Cooker

Whilst the Pit Barrel Cooker isn’t technically an offset smoker it does cook in a very similar way to a vertical offset smoker. The smoke and heat are produced away from the grill and the heat rises, so we’re going to count it for what we’re doing.

We have a full Pit Barrel Cooker Review here, where we take an in depth look at one of the best smokers you can buy.

The Pit Barrel Cooker has had quite a lot of coverage since it was released and that for good reason. It takes the idea of an Ugly Drum Smoker (UDS) and refines it into something brilliant. It’s simple and very easy to use. It’s truly a set-it-and-forget-it smoker. And it’s made from high quality 18-gauge steel and is coated with a porcelain enamel for added strength and durability.

Other features include:

  • Accessories included with the basic package. These include 8 stainless steel hanging hooks and hanging rods.
  • Removable charcoal grate for easy ash clean up and easy starting of the fire.
  • The Pit Barrel Cooker is surprisingly portable due to some sturdy carrying handles and being surprisingly lightweight.
  • No need to regulate temperature or smoke.

The Pit Barrel Cooker is one of the best smokers available today. It’s well priced, simple to use and produces great food that absolutely anyone could do. We highly recommend the Pit Barrel Cooker and unless you’re wanting to spend a lot of money on a high end offset smoker we’d recommend picking up one of these instead.

Check the latest price on Amazon.

 

Alternative:

Oklahoma Joe’s Highland Reverse Flow Smoker

Oklahoma Joe's Highland Reverse Flow Smoker - Best offset smoker
Oklahoma Joe’s Highland Reverse Flow Smoker

The Oklahoma Joe’s Highland model of offset smoker is one of the cheapest reverse flow smokers that you can buy. The fact that it is a reverse flow smoker means that you automatically get a better quality of smoker that give you much more even and consistent smoking results. The Highland model has a total of 900 square inches of cooking space when you include the firebox chamber. It uses a series of four baffles to help guide the heat and smoke through the main chamber. These baffles are all removable and allow you to fully customize your setup to how you like best. The smoker as a whole is fairly simple to use and once you’ve done a bit of experimenting with the set up of the baffles you’ll be ready to produce some of the best BBQ you’ve ever tasted.

Other features include:

  • Firebox contains a large stainless-steel fuel basket and easy clean out door for quick ash removal.
  • Everything is made from heavy-gauge steel that has been coated in porcelain for extra insulation and longevity.
  • Multiple dampers for easy heat and smoke control.
  • Front and bottom shelves for extra quality of life when cooking and easy storage of charcoal.

Overall, you’re not going to get a much better, or cheaper, reverse flow offset smoker. The build quality is great, it’s very durable and none of the paint started peeling. The assembly is a bit of a chore and takes a while, but when you’re up and running you’re left with one of the best offset smokers at this price range. There was a little smoke leakage from the one we used so we’d recommend picking up some smoker sealers to keep as much of the smoke and heat inside as possible. Having said that, the actual smoking process was fine and the customizable baffles are a great addition.

Check the latest price on Amazon.

 

Best High-End Offset Smoker

Smoke Hollow 4 in 1 Gas/Charcoal Grill with Firebox

Smoke Hollow 4 in 1 Charcoal and Gas Grill Combo - Best offset smoker
Best High-End Offset Smoker – Smoke Hollow 4 in 1 Charcoal and Gas Grill Combo

The Smoke Hollow 4 in 1 is mainly a charcoal and gas grill combo. It also has a searing grill and a firebox so it lives up to the name. This means it’s one of the most versatile smokers around. We love the idea of charcoal and gas grill combo as it allows you the convenience of gas if you’re not up for more traditional grilling. Also, a lot of people simply don’t have the time to cook with charcoal every time they want BBQ. This give you the convenience of having everything you need in an outdoor kitchen in one product. The smoker works like a traditional offset smoker. You light your fire in the firebox and the smoke is drawn through into the main cooking chamber. As it’s not a dedicated smoker there are a few compromises such as lack of control over the heat in comparison to other offset smokers but we think for an overall product that is quite a minor issue.

Other features include:

  • All cooking grates are porcelain coated cast iron for maximum durability.
  • The offset firebox has a deluxe draft control to allow as much control over the smoker as possible.
  • Easy to slide out grease and ash pans under the gas and charcoal grills.

Overall, this is a great smoker and is relatively easy to use considering the limitations. You could smoke on one side, grill in the middle and sear on the other side if you really wanted. It really is a brilliantly versatile piece of equipment.

Here’s a video to give you a better idea of what you’re dealing with:

We’d recommend the Smoke Hollow 4 in 1 Gas and Charcoal Grill Combo as the best charcoal and gas grill combo that you can buy today and having an offset smoker in there as well is just the cherry on the cake.

Check the latest price on Amazon.

 

Alternative:

Oklahoma Joe’s Longhorn Reverse Flow Offset Smoker

Oklahoma Joe's Longhorn Reverse Flow Offset Smoker - Best offset smoker
Oklahoma Joe’s Longhorn Reverse Flow Offset Smoker

Another Oklahoma Joe’s makes it onto the list. This time the Longhorn, which is the big brother of the Highland that was featured earlier. Both Oklahoma Joe’s are very similar except the Longhorn is much bigger. It boasts a cooking area of 1060 square inches if you include the firebox chamber. It’s a reverse flow offset smoker so you know that the cooking process will be the best it can be in an offset smoker. It has the same four baffle system as the Highland which we love. It gives you so much control and customization to how you cook.

Other features include:

  • Firebox contains a large stainless-steel fuel basket and easy clean out door for quick ash removal.
  • Everything is made from heavy-gauge steel that has been coated in porcelain for extra insulation and longevity.
  • Multiple dampers for easy heat and smoke control.
  • Front and bottom shelves for extra quality of life when cooking and easy storage of charcoal.
  • Cool-touch handles to protect your hands from heat.
  • 10” wheels for easy mobility. These were great on the Longhorn and felt very stable and durable.

If you’re looking for the quality and ease of smoking that you get from a reverse flow smoker then the Oklahoma Joe’s Longhorn is one of the best reverse flow offset smokers that you can buy. It does come with similar problems as the Highland, such a smoke leakage, but for the money it’s going to be difficult to find much better.

Check the latest price on Amazon.

Other options to consider are the very high quality (and price) Horizon offset smokers, or Lang offset smokers.

 

Pros and Cons of an Offset Smoker

Pros

  • Great quality food that tastes authentically smoked (because it is). You’re always going to get the best smoked meat from a charcoal or wood smoker. There’s nothing that quite beats the real taste of charcoal smoked meat and an offset smoker will give you that.
  • Most offset smokers have a very large cooking area. This is perfect for larger cuts of meat. If you’re looking for a smoker that can deal with multiple racks of ribs or many chickens then an offset smoker might be for you.
  • Great for modding. If you’re looking for a mostly blank canvas then a cheap offset smoker is a great way to make a smoker that is perfect for you.
  • They look great. The classic design of an offset smoker is what a lot of people naturally associate with when they hear the word smoker.

Cons

  • Generally, a lot more work than other smokers. It’s not always a set it and forget it affair. This might be right up your alley though and if it is then an offset smoker is probably for you. Most people, however, consider not being able to set it and forget it a con.
  • Unless you spend a lot of money on a very high-quality offset smoker you’re probably going to have to deal with the temperature gradient. This is where it is generally a lot hotter near the firebox. This does create a bit of an awkward cook and can lead to some uneven results. But with a bit of practice this can be used to your advantage.
  • A lot of offset smokers use more fuel than other smokers of the same size. Pellet smokers tend to be the most efficient.

 

How to Make the Most of Your Offset Smoker

Offset smokers are never truly set it and forget it, they will always take a bit of tending to to ensure they are always cooking at optimal settings. We’ll go over a few quick tips to get you making the most of your offset smoker.

  • With any charcoal grill or smoker, we always recommend using a chimney starter to light your fire. They make starting a grill super easy and can be picked up for a few dollars. To learn how to use a chimney starter, read our guide.
  • We’d recommend sticking to charcoal over wood as it’s easier to light and control. We’ve looked at the best charcoal and have gone over lump charcoal vs briquettes to make picking the best charcoal for your offset smoker as easy as possible.
  • Preheat the smoker. This will help keep your timings more consistent and will also help prevent any bitter creosote from forming.
  • Use thermometers! This is a must for any outdoor cooking and especially when using smokers. A good digital meat thermometer will allow you to keep an accurate eye on the temperature of the inside of the meat and the inside of the cooking chamber. This will let you produce meat that is cooked to absolute perfection, every time.
  • Keep the lid closed and the smoker sealed. This is quite an obvious one, but it’s so easy to absent mindedly open the lid to look at your food. Don’t do it. Let your thermometer do the work. Only open the lid when the thermometer is reading the idea temperature. We also recommend using smoker sealers to seal any cracks or gaps in your offset smoker. This can really help to keep the temperatures consistent when cooking. We like to use the LavaLock Silicon Adhesive and the LavaLock Self Stick Tape.
  • Offset smokers are all prone to rust. To get the most out of your buy we’d recommend taking good care of it when you’re not using it. You can buy a dedicated cover for most smokers or just keep it out of the rain when it isn’t being used.
  • You can even modify your offset smoker. Offset smokers are the best smokers to modify and there are many modifications you can make to create a much better product. For example, you can add heat deflectors or convection plates to help with the air flow and heat distribution. Or simple modifications to the chimney can see a greater air flow. There are a lot of mod ideas available and amazingribs.com has some of the best possible mods you can make.
  • You can also use automatic smoker temperature controllers to automatically maintain perfect temperature. Check out our rundown to see if they’ll suit your smoker.
  • Use our smoking times and temperature chart to make sure your food is cooked to perfection.
  • Check out our guide on how to season your new smoker to make sure you season it correctly.

 

Hopefully this guide has helped you find the best offset smoker for you. If you have any questions then please ask them in the comments or contact us directly.

2 commentsOn Best Offset Smoker Reviews | Buying Guide

  • Hi, I’m looking at buying an oklahoma joe highland. Should I get the expert assembly on amazon?
    Thanks,
    Chris

    • Hi Chris,
      That depends how confident you are with assembling it. It’s not that difficult in comparison to other smokers but is still a bit of a chore. Normally we’d recommend not getting the expert assembly but if you’re happy to spend the money to save some time and effort then it’ll be worth it.
      Hope that helps,
      Tim

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