Did you know that choosing the right smoker offers the best cooking experience for fast and evenly cooked food? As such, why should you suffer when there are several good smokers and grills on the market with a very affordable price, from which you can choose from?
Offset smokers are metal frameworks that allow for barbecuing and outdoor cooking of food over a transmitted heat, through induction from one chamber to another. There is a massive variety of models out there, and with the countless number of models, one is left drowning in a sea of choices. However, we decided to put together a complete buying guide with offset smoker reviews, advantages, disadvantages and everything else you need to know.
Table of Contents
- 1 Quick Comparison Table
- 2 How We Choose the Best Offset Smoker?
- 3 Reviews of the Best Offset Smokers
- 3.1 1. Char-Broil Oklahoma Joe’s Highland Offset Charcoal Smoker
- 3.2 2. Oklahoma Joe’s Longhorn Review - Best Reverse Flow Offset Smoker
- 3.3 3. Char-Broil American Gourmet 30"
- 3.4 4. Dyna-Glo Offset/Charcoal - Best Budget Offset Smoker
- 3.5 5. Char-Griller 1224 Smokin' Pro
- 3.6 6. Pit Barrel Cooker - Top Rated Offset Smoker
- 3.7 7. Oklahoma Joe’s Gas/Charcoal/Smoker Combo Review
- 4 Everything You Need to Know when Picking a Offset Smoker
- 5 What is an Offset Smoker?
- 6 How Do Offset Smokers Work?
- 7 Types of Offset Smokers
- 8 Benefits of Offset Smokers
- 9 Factors to Consider When Picking a Offset Smoker
- 10 Which is the Best Offset Smoker? (Conclusion)
- 11 FAQs (Frequently Asked Questions)
In a Rush? Here's Our Winner!
Best Offset Smoker for the Money
Top Rated Offset Smoker
Quick Comparison Table
Cooking Area (in2)
57 x 34 x 53
65 x 36 x 56
55 x 23 x 44
21 x 34 x 47
62 x 29 x 50
21 x 21 x 32
74 x 32 x 51
How We Choose the Best Offset Smoker?
60 Hours of Research
30 Products Considered
7 Top Picks
When people are considering picking a decent smoker, they think that they need to cross the $1,000 budget to get something worth having, but there are several top picks that are at $500 range or even less.
We based our picks and reviews on three main characteristics that we think make a quality offset smoker:
A high quality smoker is made of durable and decent construction, usually using ¼ inch thick steel and weighing hundreds of pounds, depending on the overall size of the product. I know that having a model with thick steel walls will take a bit longer to heat up but once it gets there, it is more stable and will cook your food evenly.
If you pick a lightweight model, with thin walls, like Weber’s Smokey Mountain, for example, a quick wind at your garden will suck the heat completely and leave you with unevenly cooked meat. There is no such problem on thick steel walls.
Next thing is the sealing of the smoker. You want a model that is built with tight fittings and the smoke cannot escape through several holes. The smoke should only come out of the pit through the stack and not where the door meets the body of the pit. Having several leaks and holes where the smoke comes out will make you have difficulties maintaining and controlling the cooking temperatures.
Heat Flow is the third thing we considered when picked our products in this list. The basic offset smoker has a flawless design, with temperatures wildly varying in the cooking chamber. We suggest a Reverse Flow Smoker, where engineer solutions are applied to provide a consistent and even smoke to the cooking chamber.
These are the three characteristics which we think make a quality smoker. We spent about 60 hours on researching, reviewed about 30 Models and picked only 7 to be featured on this list:
Reviews of the Best Offset Smokers
The best grilling experience springs from having a smoker that is worth your money, has a durable build and is properly sealed without heat leaking. Well, the Oklahoma Joe Highland is one smoker that fulfills all these characteristics.
It brings an all new experience in smoking, where there is a combination of 2 different cooking chambers for multiple options of cooking and heating. It boasts a total of 900 square inches of cooking space; 619 sq. in. in its main grilling room and 281 sq. in. in the smoker chamber. The main chamber is made of cast iron grates capable of turning your regular barbecue to a smoky flavored piece.
This smoker comes with multiple Smokestack systems that allow you to control the heat and ensure optimal temperatures from the smoke contained in the chamber. It is also accompanied by a side clean-out door for easy cleaning and fire management without having to open the main chamber's cover.
Furthermore, apart from its large primary cooking chamber, it comes with an inbuilt thermometer for checking its heat state, a front, and bottom shelves for easy cleanup and also for flame adjustment. Its firebox allows extra items to be hung on the side.
Should you be looking into buying a smoker for first time grilling experience, then this Highland smoker, which is modestly priced, is a good place to start.
2. Oklahoma Joe’s Longhorn Review - Best Reverse Flow Offset Smoker
The Oklahoma Joe’s Longhorn model has one of the biggest cooking surfaces among the models featured in this list. And, considering that it is built with sturdy, heavy gauge stainless steel all around, coated with porcelain enamel, then this model becomes a serious consideration as the best offset smoker out there.
With more than 1060 Square inches of total cooking space and about 309 square inches only in the firebox, this product is ideal for any event or group gathering. You can freely cook up to 30 burgers in one turn and the porcelain-coated grates are made for easy cleanup after you finish cooking.
The unit sits at the bottom of the barrel with 4 baffles to help the heat come across all the food, for an even cooking experience. You can even adjust the 4 grill grates for more accurate food positioning.
It features several dampers to adjust the heat and the smoke, making the process much easier.
Other features worth mentioning are the temperature gauge on the lid, the fact that it is considerably easy to assemble and the large charcoal basket, for longer cooking times.
While there is an excess of grill smokers out there, the Char-Broil is no doubt one of the best offset smokers for smoking and grilling. Designed for the average family use, it is easy to use and comes with a highly excellent price.
It has a stable and sturdy build enhanced by its steel make and square legs. This Char-Broil smoker also comes with cool touch handles and wheels to facilitate and necessitate easy movement.
It is well compacted to keep the smoke inside the cooking chambers and add flavor to your cooking. The smoke and the amounts of heat can be adjusted through its heat control and the adjustable chimney vent.
It comes with a 477 square inches of main cooking chamber which is covered by a porcelain wire cooking grate. The firebox further offers a 128 sq. in. cooking surface which allows for indirect cooking through a smoke transmission. Either of cooking chambers can be used for traditional charcoal grilling, but during smoking, the offset chamber should be utilized as the heat and smoke source.
This model is lightweight at only about 69.4 lbs, has a built-in thermometer, a built-in adjustable damper, and on top of using it, you get free recipes on its website.
4. Dyna-Glo Offset/Charcoal - Best Budget Offset Smoker
Each offset smoker has a thing or two that makes it stand out, and for the Dyna-Glo Charcoal Offset Smoker, you will enjoy its ease of use and the delicious cooking it delivers. It is designed in a vertical shape box, with thick and durable quality materials, with an inbuilt water pan, temperature gauge and a separate compartment for wood chips.
This Dyna-Glo offset smoker is among the unique smokers on the market offering vertical offsets, which are ideal for allowing heat and smoke to travel upwards and out through its chimney. With its design, it makes an affordable and an excellent cooker for grilling and smoking.
It comes installed with a firebox and with a rotational air intake damper, attached to the smoke chamber. Its insides is a charcoal, set up of a steel box coated with powder and a different bottom grate made of steel rods, resting on a detachable ash tray.
Its chimney is adjustable and sits on top of 6 chrome plated height racks, which are customizable and are capable of holding up to 150 pounds of meat in total. That is a whopping 784 square inches of cooking space! Nonetheless, the smoke box and the firebox have doors and a handle for convenience. What else do you need for an army you're cooking for?
Additionally, it comes with a separate compartment for wood chips and meat hanging hooks.
Boasting a heavy- gauge powder coated steel build, Char-Griller, among the smoker reviews mitigates the rising demands of the Texas-style BBQ smoker. It has plenty of cooking space, 830 square inches to be specific. The main cooking chamber makes about 580 sq. in. while the firebox takes about 250 sq. in. to deliver the excellent smoke flavors to your food.
Char-Griller comes with a non-sticky grate, build with cast iron, which also prevents warping. The heat is controllable using adjustable dampers and an adjustable heat grate for hot, medium and warm temperatures, with a gauge on the roof that lets you know the heat state. It also allows easy cleaning after each use, with its ash dumping pan.
The cooking racks on Char-griller can be slid out to allow get more access to the charcoal while cooking and without having to remove all the grill grates. The hood is airtight and doesn't allow leaking.
Its additional features include wheels, which makes it ideal for movement, a shelf for warming, a rotisserie kit, a propane igniter as well as a couple of barbecue recipes. It has affordable value and a year's warranty for material or craftsmanship defects.
6. Pit Barrel Cooker - Top Rated Offset Smoker
Simple yet amazing, this smoker is worth every penny and has been, among the many offset smoker reviews online, one of the best bargain smokers in the market.
It has a porcelain coated steel drum build of 1 to 30 gallons, which are big enough for large-scale cooking. It also comes fixed with 8 stainless steel hooks, a wooden hook, a pair of steel hanging rods, one charcoal basket, a grill grate, a wooden hook remover and 1 to 3 point barrel stand.
Cooking with the Pit Barrel Cooker offers you an amazing experience that incorporates both the quality and slow cooking of a smoker, producing a well smoked and cooked meat.
Unlike other smokers, the PBC package has been designed to allow shorter cooking periods, which do not need temperature regulations. It is portable and has a durable build.
It's versatility, and large cooking space allows you to cook different sizes of meat at once. You can even hang two full turkeys in it and cook without a problem! Have I mentioned that the steel grill grate could be used to search the meat steaks as well as let them cook at higher temperatures by removing the lid? Consequently, you can leave it on to add extra depth to your cooking.
It comes with a 30-day return period and a year's warranty.
This model also coming from Oklahoma Joe’s, is a great option for anyone who is looking for a combo product and like to have a very high versatile model. This specific model allows you to smoke, charcoal grill and gas grill, all in one unit.
The unit is separated into three sections, with a combined cooking space of 1060 square inches. The main section is for smoking your food, with a side chamber for grilling. There are two separate chambers, one of charcoal and wood, and the other one for the gas burner.
The 750 square inches of primary cooking space is separated to about 375 sq. in. for the smoker side and about 375 sq. in. for the gas side. This also means that although you are able to smoke a whole brisket in there while grilling enough burgers for your family, don’t expect to load some ribs or a pork butt as well.
Other worth mentioning features are the porcelain coated cast iron racks, multi-temperature gauges, easy to adjust dampers and plenty of storage space, making this model ideal for anyone who likes to have it all in one place.
Everything You Need to Know when Picking a Offset Smoker
Before you decide to invest into an offset smoker, here it is everything you need to know about these great meat making machines:
What is an Offset Smoker?
Differently from electric smokers, Offset smokers can be considered as normal grills and what gives them the name offset is the side box that is offset from the main cooking chamber. Inside this box is where the fire is housed, usually burning charcoal. The smoke from the charcoal fire is transferred into the main cooking chamber and cooks your food. There is a chimney, usually at the top, to let the excessive smoke come out and provide air flow for the fire.
They come in different shapes but the most common one is the shape of a barrel that is laid horizontally with an opening for you to put and remove food.
That is a basic explanation of an offset smoker. Nowadays, you can find them in several types and shapes, each providing a unique way to smoke your meat.
How Do Offset Smokers Work?
Most common models, the horizontally-laid-barrels models, consist of two boxes/cylinders which are sealed but connected at a certain point with each other. The smaller box is where the charcoal is burned and is also called firebox. The firebox is offset a little lower than the cooking chamber, which is where the food is placed and cooked.
The smoke which rises from the charcoal being burned down, moves through the bottom side of the cooking chamber and passes through the food in the upper side, cooking it with the heat and then finally escaping through the chimney at the top.
To adjust the cooking temperature, you simply adjust the air intake by opening or closing the vents. If you open the vents more, the increased oxygen levels will allow the charcoal to burn faster and produce more heat/smoke.
Types of Offset Smokers
I like to separate the offset smokers into two major categories: Traditional Affordable Offset Smokers and Reverse Flow Offset Smokers, which are more of a decent built, above average models.
I think that the traditional and cheap models are designed badly as their heat and smoke try to go up as soon as it leaves the firebox. This way, the smoke makes the side of the cooking chamber next to firebox much hotter than the other side. This is not good when cooking food as some will be done much faster than the other side. You can always keep moving the food around, but still, it can be painful and the food can come uneven.
Also, most of the cheap models, are built poorly, made of thin metal, so heat retention is poor and can have several leaks which will make even harder to maintain optimal cooking temperatures, especially when is windy or cold outside.
The second category, also known as Reverse Flow Offset Smokers are better at every aspect, and are the type most of the people should get.
They are made of thick metal that is very good at distributing the heat without leaking and their design is made in such way that the smoke and heat which comes from the firebox is forced to travel the length of all the cooking chamber using a thick metal plate as a director of the heat all around the chamber. Also, their chimney is placed on the same side as the firebox, making the smoke to pass through all the food before coming out. As you may already guess, Reverse Flow models are a bit more expensive than the traditional cheap models but they can be a great investment in the long run as will save you a lot of headache and uneven foods.
Benefits of Offset Smokers
Cooking Flavor & Widespread
If you are wondering why you should go for an offset type instead of a propane smoker, then here are a couple benefits that you get on these models.
When compared to grilling or cooking on a griddle, smoking your food is a completely different thing. Even though grilling is a fast and easy way to cook your food, still even the highest-end grill would not be able to give your food the flavor and texture that it gets from a dedicated smoker.
Smoking is a slow process that gives the meat a unique flavor and texture, by enhancing its taste with indirect heat cooking.
Indirect cooking makes the meat to take the flavors slowly and impact the taste more. You can also choose what kind of wood you like, such as hickory, pecan etc. and the meat will get a different flavor, depending on the wood you use.
Other than for personal use and backyard parties, offset smokers are used on commercial events, camping and by professional pit masters in different competitions, showing their versatility and widespread.
Also, if you don't feel confident on your personal skills, here it is a step-by-step guide on how to use an offset smoker to take your cooking experience on another level.
Good for Cooking Large Amount of Foods
These kind of smokers are designed to cook at a much larger scale than a traditional grill. They have the ability to cook at least 20 burgers or a whole turkey in one turn, so you surely will have plenty of food to go around.
If you feel like you are wasting your money by picking a smoker of this size, then just remember that you may need it when your friends come over or when you host a family party. It is always nice to have the option of not worrying about being able to prepare food for all your guest at once.
Offset smokers have the ability to cook on several methods; grilling, smoking, searing and roasting. With such a huge variety, this type of smoker is bound to replace several different appliances on your cooking arsenal.
In most cases, these type of smokers are made of quality steel welded together, which will make them very durable and stable to the ground.
And, considering that they mostly will stay outside, they are designed to withstand climate changes and wild weather conditions for longer lifespan.
Here it is a short list of Pros & Cons of an Offset Smoker:
Factors to Consider When Picking a Offset Smoker
The first thing that you should consider when picking an offset smoker is the cooking space. If the model you are picking doesn’t come with at least 250 square inches, then you should find another one.
Just plan and think that if you are going to cook for a crowd, then you may need a much larger smoker as there might be not enough food for everyone.
Cleaning your offset smoker is very important as it will impact the lifespan of it. Consider picking up a model with a catch pan beneath it, so you can easily remove when need to dispose the ashes.
There are models who are made of thin and cheap steel who is not very durable and long lasting.
You should aim for a model who has double thick steel walls or general all around steel construction. Make sure to research the brand before buying and also reading previous owner reviews as they will usually tell the durability and lifespan of the product.
Price is another important factor to consider and when it comes to offset smokers, you should be prepared because these devices don’t come cheap. It doesn’t mean that you are being rip-off, it just means that they are expensive in general.
In this list you can find top picks for several price points with each’s advantages and disadvantages.
Usually, these models are heavy as they are made of steel and heavy construction materials but having a model with wheels is always good, so you can move around and position as you like.
Cleaning and maintaining your smoker is very important as it will impact the lifespan of it. Consider picking up a model with a catch pan beneath it, so you can easily remove when need to dispose the ashes.
Which is the Best Offset Smoker? (Conclusion)
However, from our list of the best offset smokers, the Dyna Glo Vertical Smoker is the ideal pick for anyone out there. Why? Comparing its affordable price, ease of use and the setup, it offers much of an amazing grilling/smoking experience. Its self-regulatory temperature and the amount of space it avails makes it stand out among the five. Therefore, if you are looking for a user-friendly, portable and an affordable smoker, I would recommend you try it.
If you are looking for the top rated offset smoker and are prepared to pay a little bit extra, only to get the highest quality materials and performance, then no doubt, the Oklahoma Joe's Longhorn smoker is the one. It is built with heavy gauge steel, has a massive cooking area for its space, has great performance and comes with 2 years of warranty. This is definitely one of the best reverse flow offset smokers on the market today.
FAQs (Frequently Asked Questions)
You will most likely ask a couple of questions when reading the online offset smokers reviews, so here are the answers for some of the most frequently asked ones:
Why Use Offset Smokers?
Offset smokers are easy to use, capable of cooking a large amount of foods at once and give your food a unique and delicious smokey flavor.
Should You Go for a Vertical or Horizontal Offset Smoker?
The difference between horizontal and vertical models except for the shape of the cooking chamber, is that the vertical one gives you multiple racks for cooking different types of foods at the same time as the smoke rises from bottom to upper side.
Also, they usually tend to be more expensive than horizontal shape models because they are less used and not very common.
What is a Reverse Flow Offset Smoker?
Offset smokers comes as normal flow models and reverse flow models. The direct flow model are more cheap because there is no additional metal plate to direct the smoke properly. As a result, the smoke will go in every direction and a lot of cooking heat will be lost, leaving the food uneven and not properly cooked.
The Reverse flow models use an additional metal plate under the cooking grates to direct the smoke properly in the direction it should go, making it pass through all the food and finally going out the chimney, usually at the end of the cooking chamber.
Even though there are hacks you can try to increase cheap smokers performance, the standard models usually lack performance when compared to the reverse flow models.
How to Seal and Keep Offset Smokers Hot?
The first thing you can do to prevent leaking is by picking a properly sealed product, with thick metal walls and good construction. Models that have thicker walls maintain the temperature better and the outside weather conditions don't impact the heat.
If you have already picked a cheap model and are left with couple of spots leaking smoke, then you can try additional solutions, such as sealing them with heat resistant silicone or other alternative materials.