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Buyers Guide & Information

Best Offset Smokers Reviewed

Add extra flavors through excellent heat control while cooking your meats with these high-quality brands.

by PITeam

Buyers Guide & Information

Best Offset Smokers Reviewed

Add extra flavors through excellent heat control while cooking your meats with these high-quality brands.

by PITeam

by PITeam

You have vertical smokers, there are cabinet style smokers, and then you have the horizontal smokers. Horizontal smokers, also known as reverse flow smokers or offset smokers, are the most difficult to master, yet most rewarding smokers available.

The best offset smoker is going to be affordable for your budget, large enough for your needs, and have enough features to suit the type of meats you plan to smoke. This article will explain offset smokers, offer benefits and guides to buying a smoker and show you our top picks for the best reverse flow offset smokers on the market today.

Image

Product

Cooking Surface Area

Material Type

Check Price

Oklahoma Joe's Highland Reverse Flow Smoker

Oklahoma Joe's Highland Reverse Flow 17202052

900 Sq. In.

Heavy Duty Steel

Dyna-Glo DGO1176BDC-D Charcoal Offset Smoker

Dyna-Glo DGO1176BDC-D

1176 Sq. In.

Heavy Duty Steel

Broil King 958050  Offset Smoker,Black

Broil King 958050

625 Sq. In.

Heavy Duty Steel

Dyna-Glo Signature Series DGSS1382VCS-D Heavy-Duty...

Dyna-Glo Signature Series DGSS1382VCS-D

1382 Sq. In.

Heavy Duty Steel

Royal Gourmet BBQ Charcoal Grill and Offset...

Royal Gourmet CC1830S

800 Sq. In.

Steel

Oklahoma Joe's Longhorn Reverse Flow Smoker

Oklahoma Joe's Longhorn 17202053

1060 Sq. In.

Heavy Duty Steel

Char-Broil Deluxe Offset Smoker, 40'

Char-Broil Deluxe 18202080

895 Sq. In.

Steel

How Does an Offset Smoker Work?

Offset smokers use a drum style food area with a side chamber known as a firebox. The firebox is where the wood and charcoal are burned, producing smoke that travels from the firebox to the food area. The process slow cooks and smokes the meat before the smoke exits the chimney located opposite of the firebox.

Many offset smokers have a grill in place inside the firebox so you can grill hamburgers, hot dogs, or steaks while your brisket and roast are smoking.

Learning how to properly maintain heat, airflow, smoke accumulation, and venting is a difficult task. Mastering an offset smoker is challenging, but when done correctly, it produces some of the best-smoked meats of any outdoor cooking appliance.


Benefits of Buying A reverse Flow Smoker

Owning and using an offset smoker has some benefits. Aside from the high learning curve, they are fun to cook on and produce quality meats, even for the novice grill master. So why should you consider buying or upgrading your reverse flow offset smoker?

  • Retaining heat
    Heat and smoke retention are crucial to keeping smoking times as short as possible and to prolong the wood or coals being used. Offset smokers allow you to stoke the fire or add more fuel without opening the cooking area.
  • Multiple-use options
    If you want to smoke an entire pig for the weekend party but have steaks tonight, the offset smoker allows you to do that. You can smoke meats in the central area and grill dinner tonight in the firebox.
  • Cook huge amounts
    The primary cooking area is deceptively large. With the ability to add grates and hooks or remove shelves, you can hold a lot of food, cooking everything together (or one large hunk of meat).
  • Easy to change flavors
    If you are cooking various meats, or want added flavors to your smoke, it is as simple as opening the firebox and tossing in some new flavored firewood.

How To Choose a High-Quality Offset Smoker

Before you pull out your wallet or enter your credit card number, there are several aspects you should consider about the offset smokers and which one is perfect for you.

Smoking/Grilling Needs

These smokers aren’t cheap, and before you spend your money, you should decide what your needs will be. If you plan to use the smoker every weekend, then a more expensive, durable unit may be in order. However, if the usage will be for smaller amounts of food or used only sparingly, then you might be able to downgrade to a less expensive smoker.

Durability

For the most part, offset smokers are made from cast iron, double-layered steel, or other highly durable materials. The less expensive models use thinner steel, which doesn’t retain the heat as well. When making your selection, find the construction materials and price range that match your needs.

Performance, Smoking/Grilling Consistency & Capacity

The key to a good smoker is the ability to perform consistently time and again. High-End smokers will send consistent smoke and heat from the firebox with ventilation and exhaust. The capacity of the food area, as well as the firebox, will go a long way to ensuring you get a consistent and quality smoke every time.

Temperature Adjustment

The ability to adjust your temperature is more art than science with an offset smoker. The right vent opening, as well as chimney adjustments, will go a long way to retaining or releasing the right amount of heat. However, some smokers allow for automatic adjustments and have higher heat ranges. How you adjust your smoker’s temperature can go a long way to making a good purchase even better.

Cooking Space, Storage & Footprint

Offset smokers can be compact, or they can be larger than a trailer. Other factors determine the size you need, but you should at least understand the cooking space and overall footprint of the unit.

You won’t be able to store a smoker on the patio like you can with a cabinet smoker. Knowing how much space the unit will take up in your yard can be a deciding factor as well. Some smokers also come with storage space. Most will have a rack on the bottom to store extra wood or coals. Others will have shelving, cabinets or other storage capacity areas included.

Mobility/Portability, Ease of Use, Easy Cleaning

Keeping as much of the owning process simple should be your primary goal. The units can end up weighing well over two hundred pounds, and even with durable wheels, they are difficult to move. The controls need to be simple to operate for you and clean up needs to be simplified as well.

Some larger units will have ash collection, so you don’t need to shovel out pounds of spent ash, this drastically reduces the maintenance and clean up time.

Features

Offset and reverse flow offset smokers don’t generally have a lot of bells and whistles. The additional features list will be lower than a standard grill or even other styles of smokers like pellet grills.

What you should look for are things like high-heat paint, which helps prevent corrosion and chipping, and seals around all vents, doors, and openings. A tight seal will help retain heat.

There are also features such as built-in thermometers, meat probes, and heat-resistant handles. The more standard features a smoker has, the higher the price ill be, but some of the add-ons are essential to quality meat.

Warranty Coverage & Price

Finally, you will want to let your budget have a say in which smoker you end up with. Most of the offset smokers reviewed here will fit various budgets. So you also need to look at the warranty.

When selecting a warranty, you want to determine how long the warranty is, of course, but also what it covers. Some will cover everything from the wheels to the paint on the smoker. Others will only cover certain portions of the smoker.

You also need to read the smaller print and find out what the warranty requires. Some will require registration of the product, or might need you to send in a warranty card within a specific time frame. Some will even require you to maintain the original proof of purchase for the duration of the warranty period.


7 Best Offset Smokers Reviewed

The best reverse flow offset smokers reviews are right here. If you are looking for your next offset smoker grill, it is most likely listed below. While there are hundreds of styles, brands, builds, and prices, the 7 best offset smokers are brought to you here for easy review and comparison.

1. Oklahoma Joe's Highland 17202052

Our Top Pick

Weight

181 Lbs.

Dimensions

53x57x33.5 Inches

Fuel Type

Charcoal/Wood

Cooking Surface Area

900 Sq. In.

Material Type

Heavy Duty Steel

Warranty

1-year warranty on all parts

The best offset smoker is the Oklahoma Joe’s reverse flow smoker. The Highland model comes with a 1-year warranty on every part of the smoker. The durable, heavy-duty steel construction will have your new smoker lasting well beyond the warranty period, though.

The high-heat paint and heat-resistant handles are easy to clean, minimizing maintenance times. It’s the performance and cooking ability that make this smoker stand out, though. The total cooking area is 900 square inches, with 619 sq inches coming from the primary food chamber and 281 sq inches found in the firebox for grilling use.

There are four baffles to help you regulate airflow and heat movement within the unit, and you can even move the chimney pipe to either side of the main chamber area to better suit your heat and smoke containment.

The 181-pound unit has large wheels for more comfortable transportation, along with a solid steel handle to help transport. Using solid-weld construction, even the stationary feet have welded bases to ensure a sturdy surface while cooking.

The best features of this smoker include the built-in thermometer and extra portal for meat probes, as well as it’s relatively low maintenance requirements. The firebox comes with a stainless steel fuel tray and an easy to access door for ash removal.

Pros

  • Heavy-duty solid-weld construction
  • Transports easily with large wheels and easy-push handle.
  • 4 baffles and moveable chimney for optimal airflow
  • 900 square inch total cooking surface

Cons

  • Higher-end cost for compact smokers.
  • No removable grease cup.

2. Dyna-Glo DGO1176BDC-D

Best Rated Offset Smoker

Weight

57 Lbs.

Dimensions

47x34.5x20 Inches

Fuel Type

Charcoal/Wood

Cooking Surface Area

1176 Sq. In.

Material Type

Heavy Duty Steel

Warranty

1-year warranty on all parts, does not cover damage caused by you or shipping.

The Dyna-Glo vertical offset smoker is one of a kind. It is highly durable, smokes great, and uses a charcoal basket for offset smoker use. The heat transfer keeps the majority of the heat in the firebox allowing the main chamber to smoke and heat slowly.

There are six movable racks for a total of 1176 square inches of cooking area. The overall design of the vertical box smoker keeps food on lower racks from cooking faster than those on the upper racks. Using charcoal or wood, you can fill the firebox with either or a mix of both, and changing flavors is a breeze.

While the construction materials are high-quality, the build is a bit lacking. Even the owner's manual tells you to purchase high-temp gasket sealer and gaskets to use in various places around the unit. This will include the door, the transfer area between cabinet and firebox, and around any vents and baffles.

You will get a 1-year warranty, and the high-temp powder coating helps prevent rust and corrosion. The best-rated offset smoker is not for the timid, but if you are ready for some of the best-smoked meats ever, the Dyna-Glo, in either standard or wide, is a good investment.

Pros

  • Huge vertical space with 6 movable shelves.
  • The built-in thermometer keeps your smoker at the right temp.
  • Standard and Wide versions available.
  • Dyna-Glo accessories are custom made for each smoker.

Cons

  • Needs high-temp sealant before use
  • Larger food items may not fit well in the Standard version.

3. Broil King 958050

Best Offset Smoker Under $1000

Weight

110 Lbs.

Dimensions

52.5x60x26 Inches

Fuel Type

Charcoal/Wood

Cooking Surface Area

625 Sq. In.

Material Type

Heavy Duty Steel

Warranty

5-year warranty on cook box, 2-year warranty on remaining parts and paint.

Made in Canada with high-grade 2mm heavy-duty steel, the best offset smoker under $1000 is easily the Broil King. The unit comes complete with 625 square inches of cooking space, an easy-clean firebox, and roto-dial dampers.

The chimney is a little small, which can let out too much smoke. You will need to fine-tune your baffle and damper venting skills each time you want to use the smoker.

Fill the firebox with wood, charcoal, or both and sit back to let the low-and-slow smoker do the work. You will even find the built-in thermometer is accurate to within 3 degrees, helping you maintain the perfect temperature for the duration of your smoke.

While the smoker construction is great, there are a few points of concern. The large wheels are plastic, and the legs come with caps. It isn’t ideal to set in the lawn and might be too large for patio use. A backyard deck is ideal, but if it needs to go in the yard, you may consider placing it on bricks.

One downside is that you cannot use the firebox as a grill area, which is a big miss. However, for an offset smoker, you can grill directly in the food area. There are two large doors for ash cleanout, and it comes with a 5/2-year warranty on the cook box/parts.

Pros

  • High-quality construction for years of use.
  • Roto-dial dampers for precision heat control.
  • Maintenance and clean-out made simple.

Cons

  • Not ideal for placement on soft surfaces.
  • Learning curve for accurate use is higher than most.

4. Dyna-Glo Signature Series DGSS1382VCS-D

Best Vertical Offset Smoker

Weight

125 Lbs.

Dimensions

58x45.5x25 Inches

Fuel Type

Charcoal/Wood

Cooking Surface Area

1382 Sq. In.

Material Type

Heavy Duty Steel

Warranty

1-year warranty on all parts, does not cover damage caused by you or shipping.

Dyna-Glo brings us their second offering to the list. This time the best vertical offset smoker is the Signature Series model. The firebox is the most exciting part. Here you can grill your meat directly over the fire. It also has a pull-out tray to access the fuel source and for simple cleaning.

The smoker is vertical, allowing easy temperature control from top to bottom. However, the doors will need gaskets or high-temp sealant to keep heat and smoke inside. The vertical offset smoker also keeps costs down by using a thinner metal for construction. You will need to maintain fuel to keep the heat from escaping.

Many find that addressing the fuel by adding smaller chunks of wood or piles of coal every half hour maintains a better temperature range.

If slow and low is your type of cooking, you will love the Dyna-Glo offset smoker. Large metal wheels and welded leg bases make it ideal to set up anywhere. The smaller footprint is perfect for backyard patios or competition fairgrounds.

Pros

  • 5 steel shelves plus hooks for cooking all types and sizes of meat
  • Removable firebox tray for easy fuel access and cleaning
  • Durable construction to last for years.
  • Paint doesn’t chip or peel.

Cons

  • Needs gaskets and high-temp sealant to prevent heat loss
  • Metal is a little thin.

5. Royal Gourmet CC1830S

Best Cheap Offset Smoker

Weight

55 Lbs.

Dimensions

55x48x27 Inches

Fuel Type

Charcoal/Wood

Cooking Surface Area

800 Sq. In.

Material Type

Steel

Warranty

1-year warranty on all parts

Royal Gourmet offers you the best cheap offset smoker and grill combo on the market. For less than $150, you can have perfectly smoked ribs and brisket right in your own backyard. You have the option of using the 438 square inches in the main cooking area for smoking or grilling, or you can throw your steaks right over the coals in the 183 square inch firebox grill plate.

Optionally, there is a swing tray in the main chamber to keep food warm or to smoke on an additional 179 square inches. With a total area of 800 square inches, no meal will leave any guest out.

The construction here isn’t going to be the best; there are no solid welds for the legs or bottom tray. Instead, everything is mounted with screws and bolts. However, it is high-quality steel, and the main chamber comes with heat-resistant handles and a thermometer.

It is advised you replace the thermometer, though, as the one included isn’t accurate. You may find your smoker too hot or too cold while the temp gauge reads that it is spot on. Trial and error will help determine which direction yours is off, or you can opt for a 3rd party upgrade.

The footprint is small, and this offset smoker can be used just about anywhere. However, we don’t recommend you put it on the grass or soft surface as there are no feet or caps on the legs, and it is liable to sink into the ground.

Pros

  • Inexpensive backyard smoker for the beginner.
  • 800 total square inches of cooking space.
  • Roto-dial dampers for airflow control.

Cons

  • Steel construction isn’t heavy-duty.
  • Heat escape is more likely, though high-temp sealant can be used.

6. Oklahoma Joe's Longhorn 17202053

Best Offset Smoker For Beginners

Weight

196 Lbs.

Dimensions

64x55.5x35.5 Inches

Fuel Type

Charcoal/Wood

Cooking Surface Area

1060 Sq. In.

Material Type

Heavy Duty Steel

Warranty

1-year warranty on all parts

If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it. Instead, Oklahoma Joe’s Longhorn is the best offset smoker for beginners. Like the Highland (our top pick), the Longhorn features high-quality, heavy-duty steel construction that minimizes heat loss and improves smoke quality.

The 1060 square inch cooking area (751 sq. in. primary, 309 sq. in. firebox) allows you to control where and how you cook. The movable chimney and four baffles will enable you to take complete control over your smoke and heat distribution. To top it off, you also get a removable drip cup and ash tray for easy cleanup.

While you won’t be able to hang meat, you can slow roast, grill, baste, and smoke to your heart’s content. Even bacon can be smoked and cured inside.

The Longhorn is longer and taller than the Highland, which gives you more total cooking area to play with, even though the Longhorn comes in number 6 on our list, it is a worthy competitor for the top spot.

With the same solid-weld construction and over-sized steel wheels, this offset smoker is ready for a patio, deck, yard, or competition. During assembly, you will need to get food-grade, high-temp sealant, and place around every area, including the screw holes.

Take your time and seal everything correctly. Total assembly time should be about 2 hours, 24 hours to dry sealant, and 24 hours to season. From box to cooking will be about four days.

Pros

  • Customize the baffles and chimney for your specific needs
  • Huge cooking area with a total of 1060 square inches
  • Solid-weld construction for years of service

Cons

  • Seasoned pros will find faults with the smoker's heat retention
  • Needs high-temp sealant on all areas, including screws and bolts

7. Char-Broil Deluxe 18202080

Best Reverse Flow Smoker For The Money

Weight

105 Lbs.

Dimensions

62x46x29 Inches

Fuel Type

Charcoal/Wood

Cooking Surface Area

895 Sq. In.

Material Type

Steel

Warranty

1-year warranty on all parts.

The Char-Broil offset smoker is the best offset reverse flow smoker for the money. Ideal for beginners or those looking to add an inexpensive second smoker to their patio for more cooking area.

The steel construction is quality, but the metal is a little thin. This is common in less expensive models, and you will experience some heat loss as the fires burn down. You will also experience heat spikes when adding more fuel.

Once you have learned to manage the fuel burn to keep a more even temperature, you won’t be disappointed. The Char-Broil Deluxe seals well and has adjustable baffles for airflow and smoke control. The firebox is easy to clean with its pull-out tray. You can also use the included firebox grate for instant grilling when needed.

The chamber handles aren’t heat-resistant, so you should always wear gloves when tending the firebox and interior of the smoker. However, this should be the standard practice with any grill or smoker.

The 1-year warranty will cover all parts, so you don’t have to worry about a thing while you are setting up and getting used to your first offset smoker.

Pros

  • Ideal for the beginner.
  • Easy to assemble and season.
  • Perfect for backyard barbecues and daily grilling.

Cons

  • No heat-resistant handles.
  • Heat loss is eminent.

Traditional vs Reverse Flow Offset Smokers

There will always be a debate between grill masters as to which is better, a conventional offset or reverse flow smoker. The only true difference is in heat distribution.

A traditional offset has higher temps near the firebox and cooler temps near the chimney. A reverse flow will use a baffle plate to keep the heat below the meat and then push it up over the meat on its way back towards the firebox and out the chimney.

Which is better? It depends on what you plan to use your smoker for. Traditional offset smokers are better for those looking to cook different types of meat. By placing your meat in different zones, you can cook them faster or slower.

A reverse flow offset smoker has a more even temperature range from side to side and top to bottom, so meat cooks slower but more even with less rotation. These are ideal for someone looking to get a good smoke flavor and a slow cook on a single type of meat.


How to Use Offset Smokers

If you have never used an offset smoker before you are in for some of the best barbecue you have ever tasted. The learning curve can be a little high since you aren’t merely grilling over coals. Offset smokers are designed to infuse smoke flavoring into the meat, that is, cooked at a lower temperature for more extended periods.

To use an offset smoker, you will first need to assemble the unit. It is advised that you also use food-grade, high-temp sealant when assembling to help mitigate smoke and heat loss during use. After assembly, you will need to season the smoker, that is, to burn coal or wood without putting food inside to get the smoker ready for use.

Most owner’s manuals will have varying degrees of times and temperatures for a proper season of their particular smoker. However, in general terms, you will start a fire in the firebox, open the dampers, and let the smoke and heat move through the smoker for about 20 minutes. Then you can raise the temperature by adding more fuel and letting it burn for about an hour. A proper shutdown and cleaning after the smoker is cooled will complete the seasoning.

From there, you just add coal and wood (chunked, high-density wood works best. 2 to 4-inch squares of hickory, for example. Following a recipe, you can maintain the proper temperatures and smoke infusion for a perfect piece of meat.

To get you started, you can use this recipe for a pork butt that will have you coming back for seconds every time.


Cleaning and Maintenance

To prolong the life of your new offset smoker, you need to have a regular cleaning and maintenance routine. Some aspects of the routine should be done before or after every use, such as removing ash or grease from the trays, traps, and cups.

Other items, such as washing, descaling, and checking bolt and screw tightness, can be done at regular, weekly, or monthly intervals, depending on use. When using the smoker, you should always wear an apron to protect against splatter and grease sprays. High-temp gloves or mitts will keep your hands safe when handling hotter parts of the grill.

 To get a better idea of how to maintain your smoker, check out this video on YouTube:

Frequently Asked Questions

We will cover some of the more frequently asked questions about the offset and reverse flow offset smokers.

How long do these offset smokers last?

In general, the more expensive the smoker, the longer it will last — the cost increases due to the use of high-quality materials and better construction of the smoker. For the beginner smokers or those looking to save some money, the best offset smokers from our list will tend to last between 4 and 6 years.

Where is the best place to buy offset reverse flow smokers?

The best place to purchase an offset smoker is going to be through Amazon. Because of the weight of the units, as the assembly involved, Amazon offers the best options. You can have the items shipped for free in most cases, and even next day or two-day shipping for Prime members.

You also have the option to pay an additional fee for expert assembly, if needed. Amazon will also make returns and warranty claims easier to process, should the need arise.

What are the best meats to smoke or grill in an offset smoker?

There isn’t a bad meat to put in an offset smoker. Everything from hamburger to ribs and shoulders will do well. You can also cook bacon, make sausage, and get a perfect smoke ring on that large brisket you’ve had your eye on.

Can I grill on an offset smoker?

Not every offset smoker will give you the ability to grill. However, most will offer or include a grate that can be used in the firebox for grilling purposes.

What are the best brands for offset reverse flow smokers?

There are several brands that you should be used to hearing by now. As better brands continually rise to the top, you will recognize the brand name as quality materials. Names such as Oklahoma Joe’s and Dyna-Glo are tops for budget smokers, while names like Yoder, Texas BBQ Pits, and Louisiana Grills top out higher-end smoker brands.

What accessories do you need when for your offset smoker?

Various aspects of backyard grilling require different accessories. Since not every accessory can economically be included with each purchase, it is up to you to buy the extras that you need. A cover for your smoker is almost a necessity.

Most companies will make durable, custom fit covers, though you can get a motorcycle cover to work as well. We also recommend protective gear. Gloves and aprons are a must for any serious grill master. You may also want to add items to the smoker itself to increase cooking space or to enhance the ability of your smokers.

Grill mats will allow you to cook fish and vegetables on the grates while meat hooks can free up valuable space for other items. If you are worried about heat and smoke escaping, you can also pick up a smoker insulation blanket to help maintain a more even heat exchange and prevent heat loss while cooking.


Conclusion

Buying an offset smoker for your backyard barbecue is one of the most exciting things you can do. With some patience and practice, you can be the neighborhood grill master and produce high-quality meats your whole family will love.

The best offset smoker is the Oklahoma Joe’s Highland offset smoker. It has a smaller footprint to fit nicely on a deck or patio and is durable enough to withstand daily cooking sessions. You won’t regret the sold-weld construction and smoke infusion the Highlander offers you. However, if you need other features or like having options, any of the offset smokers from our list will serve you well.

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