The first thing that comes to your mind as soon as you hear barbecue are a perfectly smoked, mouth-watering rack of ribs.
But, how can you make such delicious ribs? The job gets much easier if you get the proper types of equipment for it.
The Oklahoma Joe Highland grill is one of the best offset smoker equipment on the market today, with everything you may possibly want from such device.
I decided to put together a full Oklahoma Joe Highland review, with customer reviews, warranty, things to have in mind and all the advantages & disadvantages of this model.
Note: You can use our quick navigation table below to jump to the preferred section and if you are in a hurry, you may click here to jump directly to our conclusion.
In a Rush? Here's Our Editor's Conclusion:
Table of Contents
- 1 Oklahoma Joe’s Customers Reviews - Is it trustworthy?
- 2 Oklahoma Joe’s Original Highland vs Reverse Flow Highland
- 3 What is a Reverse Flow Smoker?
- 4 Advantages of Offset Reverse Flow Smokers
- 5 Disadvantages of Using an Offset Smoker
- 6 Why Should You Choose a Reverse Flow Design?
- 7 Quick Overview on the Oklahoma Joe Highland Offset Grill
- 8 Key Features of Oklahoma Joe Highland Grill
- 9 What We Like
- 10 Other Advantages
- 11 Disadvantages
- 12 Oklahoma Joe Highland Video Review
- 13 Final Thoughts
- 14 Oklahoma Joe Highland vs Longhorn
- 15 FAQs
Oklahoma Joe’s Customers Reviews - Is it trustworthy?
Oklahoma Joe’s was started by Joe Davidson around the late 1980s. He took his $2000 savings and built 12 meat smokers which turned out to be a massive success with all of them sold at the 1987 Oklahoma Joe's State Fair. He took orders for 100 more smokers and since then, it has been a growing ride year-by-year.
In the mid-1990s, Joe and his team moved to a brand new facility in Stillwater, Oklahoma and expanded to around 150 employees with the capacity to produce up to 100,000 smokers per year.
During this time, Joe participated and won more than 300 bbq competitions, all over the country.
He took advantage of these competitions to promote and research competitors in order to make some of the best smokers on the market later on.
Around 1998’s, the Char-Broil bought Oklahoma Joe’s from its original founder, Joe Davidson and combined their manufacturing power with Joe’s products, to continue producing high-performance grills and smokers.
Just like the original products, most of Oklahoma Joe’s products are made from heavy gauge pipe, so they are built to last for years to come.
The experience and resources of Char-Broil gave Oklahoma Joe’s ability to expand its product line and start producing a variety of outdoor cooking devices.
Today, they are mostly known for pellet smokers but their different kind of grills, covers and grilling accessories are also widely used by bbq enthusiasts.
Oklahoma Joe’s Original Highland vs Reverse Flow Highland
Oklahoma Joe’s currently produces two types of offset smokers: The original standard version and the Reverse flow version.
Lately, they started to produce a model which is a combination of both versions into one unit.
The concept of pellet smokers is to have total control over fire and heat while having an easy to use and durable unit.
In the beginning, manufacturers produced the standard pellet smokers, focusing on construction and fire control but then, they faced the problem of heat management.
A lot of customers started to report un-even cooking and heat escaping through different points of the chamber without reaching the food.
So, manufactures redesigned the inside part of the pellet smokers and the reverse flow concept was born.
The standard offset smoker is made of two main parts: the cooking chamber and firebox. The food is placed inside the cooking chamber on the racks and the heat/smoke goes from the firebox to the cooking chamber and eventually to the chimney on top of the lid, depending on your device design.
This was working great at the beginning until a lot of people started reporting issues with heat management. In those versions, a lot of smoke was not being used. Since the design was just the smoke coming from firebox to food, the smoke had no direction and one side of the food was being cooked while the other side was not.
And, when those devices were being used in cold countries, the smoke was even harder to be controlled and it was not efficient at all.
What is a Reverse Flow Smoker?
While the name may sound complicated to you, actually a reverse flow smoker is just a standard smoker which has an extra part built-in to help the smoke reach all the food in the cooking chamber, not only one side.
A lot of models have one piece of hard metal placed down the cooking grates and the fire has to pass throw all the food before going out of the chimney.
There are people who think that this doesn’t do any difference but it actually does help smoke to stay longer in the cooking chamber and to cook the food evenly.
Advantages of Offset Reverse Flow Smokers
Here are a couple of advantages and disadvantages of Offset reverse flow smokers:
Easily Adding Pellets
Thanks to its design, where the cooking chamber is completely separated from the firebox, you can add more wood without having to open the cooking chamber or remove the food, like you do on charcoal models.
This will help you to save time and to actually maintain an even cooking temperature since you don’t open the door of the cooking chamber.
Large Cooking Space
Offset smokers most of the time come with a large cooking space. You can choose to cook a large amount of food at the same time or only use a portion of the space to cook. The same thing applies for fuel, depending on your model. You can use as much fuel as you need depending on the amount of food you are planning to cook.
Offset smokers are very popular which is a huge advantage. You can easily find replacement parts if anything goes bad and at an affordable price.
Another benefit of the popularity is the wide range of add-on items and attachments that you can find and use to customize your unit. Mitts, spatulas, mods and other cooking items are very easy to find online to offer you the ability to customize your device based on your preferences.
Disadvantages of Using an Offset Smoker
While there are a lot of advantages, there are also a couple of disadvantages.
You have to carefully look out for any cheap and not well-built model when you pick up. Thin metal and isolation will cause you heat problems and difficulties to maintain an even temperature later on.
Another disadvantage of offset smokers is the price. They are not very cheap, especially when compared to other types of smokers and grills.
Since they need to be well built with thick steel all around, the cost of producing them is high and as a result, the retail price can be high too.
Why Should You Choose a Reverse Flow Design?
While some people may think that reverse flow models are the same as the standard models, here are some benefits of the reverse flow design:
With reverse flow design, you get more even heat and smoke distribution throughout the cooking chamber.
You will have an easier time preheating the smoker and managing the fire since the heat will not escape from everywhere and the cooking lid is not opened when you need to add some fuel.
The reverse flow design actually improves the food flavor and retain more moisture since the smoke stays a bit longer in the cooking chamber before escaping through the chimney.
After you read all the benefits of reverse flow smokers, now it is time to jump right into the Oklahoma Joe’s Highland smoker review.
In a Rush? Our Editor's Conclusion:
Quick Overview on the Oklahoma Joe Highland Offset Grill
Oklahoma Joe Highland Technical Details
When you first take a look at the Oklahoma Joe Highland smoker, you will notice the classic design and the heavy duty construction, durable enough for any weather conditions.
It has a system of 4 baffles, which are removable and a smokestack which is also adjustable in order to allow the hot air to combine with the conducted heat in the cooking chamber.
The separate firebox is large enough to hold charcoal for you to cook without interruption and without opening the cooking chamber lid.
The combination of its power and the 900 square inch cooking space are more than enough to cook food for a group of people or a small party.
Overall, this model is very reliable and has a solid performance. If you are looking for a long lasting choice and a great all-around product, then this might be the perfect fit for you.
Key Features of Oklahoma Joe Highland Grill
What We Like
Cooking Space & Performance
The Highland smoker from Oklahoma Joe’s features a massive cooking space of 900 square inches, from which, 619 square inches are dedicated to the main chamber and 281 square inches in the firebox chamber.
If you are curious to know, the exact dimensions of the cooking grate are 34” x 17 ½”, which I think it is more than enough to fulfill cooking needs for a large group of people or a small party.
One useful feature of the reverse flow model is the 4 baffles to guide heat and smoke through the cooking chamber for a more even and delicious cooking.
Also, if you want to create a custom setup, then all the baffles are removable and the smokestack is also adjustable to create a customized setup.
Durability & Construction
As for construction, the Highland smoker boasts a durable design that everyone can appreciate.
It has an overall heavy duty steel construction, which will make sure the unit will survive any weather condition.
The main chamber/cooking chamber features porcelain-coated cooking grates, which make them very easy to clean and maintain.
It has a front and side shelf for extra cooking and preparation space, which will make the process of putting and removing food from the grill very easy.
And if you want some more storage space, there is a shelf at the bottom of the unit too, to store your tools and essentials.
Reverse Flow Design
The Oklahoma Joe’s Highland smoker comes as a standard version and as a reverse flow design version.
The main difference between these two versions is that the Reverse Flow version comes with 4 heat baffles that ‘reverse’ the heat and smoke through the cooking chamber. So, the smoke does one extra side before going out of the chimney.
This extra side of smoke helps even out the hot spots of the cooking chamber.
The Original version sends the heat from the firebox, located in the right side of the grill, directly to the cooking chamber and then finds its way out the stack on the left side of the unit.
As for the Reverse flow, the heat enters the cooking chamber from the firebox on the right side of the grill, goes around the baffles and cooking surface before going out of the stack on the right side of the unit. So, reverse flow design has the entry and exit point of the smoke on the same side, making the smoke go all over the food before going out.
This is a very efficient and clever solution to prevent hot spots and increase performance.
Overall, the reverse flow version is a better smoker but the extra baffle system makes it slightly expensive than the original version.
Ease of Use
Another benefit of owning this model is its ease of use.
You can choose to switch from reverse flow design to the original version by just adjusting the smokestack locations. That is definitely very useful and a cool feature to have.
It features a removable ash bin which is very easy and quick to clean using the access door.
The vertical chimney has dampers which can be tweaked to keep the heat from escaping and stay within the cooking chamber.
Easy-Access Firebox Chamber
The design of the Highland model makes its firebox chamber easy to access and multi-functional at the same time.
It has a side door from which you can remove the ash, and on top of it, it has the option for cooking anything you want without disturbing the meat inside.
Assembly and Warranty
Because of its heavy-duty construction, the Highland will require you to assembly. The assembly may require some time because of the heavy parts and bolts, depending on your skills but you will find everything you need inside the packaging.
As for warranty, Oklahoma Joe’s offers a 2-year warranty for the grate and other parts of the smoker.
While I couldn’t think any major disadvantage for this model for the time of testing, what I can consider somehow a drawback is the assembly requirement and the time it takes to put it together.
For some people, assembling is not difficult but most of the people I know hate assembling and sometimes they could not figure out where parts go.
Also, I noticed a couple complains regarding the heat escaping through the lid door if you don’t close it very well, so you may have to keep that in mind.
Oklahoma Joe Highland Video Review
In a Rush? Our Editor's Conclusion:
In conclusion, the Oklahoma Joe's Highland is a pretty straight forward offset smoker. It has a classic design and heavy-duty steel construction.
The 4 baffle system will help you out increase the cooking performance however, if you need to adjust it, you better have some experience with smokers overwise you will decrease the heat circulation and temperature.
Overall, it is a good smoker, with an affordable price for its size and massive cooking space, very good for everyone who is looking for classic models with great performance.
Oklahoma Joe Highland vs Longhorn
Since Oklahoma Joe has a full line of models for sale, then you may be wondering if their Highland model is the right choice for you, especially if you consider other similar models, such as the Longhorn.
Here is a quick overview on Oklahoma Joe Highland vs Longhorn, so you create a better idea which one is the best for your needs.
When you take a look on both models side to side, you may think that they are completely identical. Well, while they may seem very similar on the outside, the Longhorn is actually a lot bigger than the Highland model.
The materials used of construction are the same on both models, so you want notice any difference on durability or build quality.
What is the main difference is that the Highland features a 619 square inches of cooking space while the Longhorn has a massive 1060 square inch cooking space. Both models are an offset style smoker, with two separate cooking chambers.
The cooking space on the Longhorn model is separated 751 square inches as porcelain cooking grate and 309 square inches as additional cooking area.
As you may expect, the Longhorn model is slightly larger in dimensions, even though the overall design remains very similar to both products.
Both models contain shelves to keep your accessories organized on the front and under the main cooking chamber.
One thing I would like to mention, so you can have in mind, is that due to being larger in size and with more cooking space, operating the Longhorn model would be more difficult, especially if you are a newbie smoker.
Several users have reported that there is leaks around the smokebox and exhaust even though they have found solutions by using other alternative fixes.
So, if you are a newbie smoker, I would suggest you go for the Highland model since it is more compact in dimensions but offers the same features and construction quality as its higher-end competitor.
Overall, Longhorn features a durable and sturdy construction, massive cooking space and a lot of other useful features, just like the Highland model. The main difference between these two models is the cooking space on the Longhorn is larger than the Highland’s one. Other than that, they are almost identical, including their outside construction and design.
Here are a couple of frequently asked questions about the Oklahoma Joe's Highland model:
Should I season my new smoker before starting to cook?
Differently from electric smokers, it is recommended to season your smoker before cooking to cure the finish and season the interior steel.
How do you season a new smoker?
You can use vegetable oil to slightly brush all the interior cooking surface and then turn on the unit and leave it operate for 1-2 hours.
What can I cook on a pellet smoker?
Oklahoma Joe Highland offset smoker grill is capable of cooking a huge variety of foods, thanks to its 8-in-1 versatility and the smart temperature control unit.