If you want to do a lot of barbecuing and food smoking and be serious about it, it is high time that you get the best offset smoker available in the market.
An offset grill is ideal in churning up an awesome barbecue. It can cook a huge amount of meat at a time. It is basically inexpensive to operate and when well-cared and maintained can give you many years or even a lifetime of use.
A great smoker is an outdoor device that can cook food on indirect fire and at low temperatures. It looks like a regular charcoal grill except that it has two chambers – the cooking chamber and a small firebox. The position of the firebox (on the side or below) is what makes it either a horizontal or vertical offset grill.
The smoke coming from the fire imparts flavor to the food. It consists of a large grill and a hopper for the wood or charcoal an id often on the side of the smoker. A hole on the side of the smoker transfers smoke from the hopper all the way to the grill.
Offset smokers are often referred to as traditional smokers because they can produce slow and low mouth-watering meats. They come in these major categories: Horizontal, Vertical, Cabinet. They are popularly used in grilling competitions and restaurants.
Top 5 Best Offset Smokers Reviewed In 2020
The best offset grills mentioned below have gone through an-depth analysis based on types, best features, ease of use, customer recommendations and prices.
🥇 Best Over-all: Char-Broil Oklahoma Joe’s Combo
The Char-Broil Oklahoma Joe’s Combo is a versatile smoker having 2 charcoal burners and 1 gas burner. It is pretty large too with a total cooking surface of 1,060 square inches allowing you to cook a large amount of meat at one time.
- Burners – The Oklahoma Joe Combo has a total of 3 burner – 2 charcoal driven and 1 gas driven. Each burner has a BTU of 12,000. This provides a lot of heat for searing or slow cooking. This is exceptional because most combo smokers only feature 2 burners – 1 charcoal and 1 gas. The charcoal burner is for smoking and the gas burner is for grilling.
- Temperature Gauge – This combo smoker has 3 temperature gauges to control each of the burners mounted on the lids for easy monitoring of temperature on the cooking chambers.
- Design and Construction – The Oklahoma Joe Combo Grill comes with a firebox on one end and a gas burner on the other end. In between are the two charcoal burners. This smoker is made from a 2.5 mm thick steel to ensure efficient heat retention inside the cooking chambers to evenly cook food. While gas in smokers are often of inferior quality, the Oklahoma Joe Combo smoker comes with a good-quality gas system.
- Heat and Smoke Control – Efficient heat and smoke control is provided by multiple dampers across the firebox and smoking chamber.
- Cool-touch handles allow a firm grip of the lids and grill and preventing your hands and fingers from getting burn.
- Beneath the cooking chambers is a storage shelf made of metal for your cooking utensils. It also comes with a pair of metal wheels to allow it to be moved around.
- Produces meat with a juicy flavor
- Dual heat sources – charcoal/wood and gas
- Made from thick steel for fast heating and efficient retention of heat
- Cast iron grate surfaces coated with porcelain for durability
- Easy to use even without much experience with smokers
- Inaccurate temperature gauges
The Char-Broil Oklahoma Joe’s Combo provides the convenience of being able to smoke meat either through charcoal/wood with a rugged firebox and with electronic ignition for the gas burner.
🥇 Best For Beginners: Char-Broil Gourmet
If you are new to smoking food, the basic and standard Char-Broil Gourmet is an ideal entry level smoker. It comes with a simple operation with a firebox that can be used for searing and direct cooking making up for the small cooking surface of the main cooking chamber.
Its temperature gauge and vents are easy to adjust and monitor. This smoker also features trays for water and wood chips plus a pair of wheels for mobility.
- Burners. This smoker comes with a burner inside the firebox for direct cooking and another burner in the main cooking chamber for indirect cooking.
- Temperature Gauge. Temperature gauge for easy monitoring of temperatures is mounted on the lid.
- Design and Construction. This standard smoker is sturdy and stable because it comes with 4 square steel legs. Two of the legs hold a pair of wheels. It also features an offset firebox which does not need to be opened when stoking the fire.
- This smoker features grates coated with porcelain for easy cleaning and making it rust-proof as well. To maintain moisture inside the cooking chamber and also for continuous moistness of the meat, it comes with an enamel water pan coated with porcelain. The cooking chamber is well-welded to prevent the leakage of smoke to ensure flavorful food.
- Heat and Smoke Control. Heat is well-controlled via a temperature control mechanism that is fully adjustable together with adjustable grate heights. The amount of smoke is controlled through a vent chimney at the top of the smoker and an adjustable damper together with a smokestack (vertical tube).
- Additional Features. This smoker comes with a storage rack well below the cooking chamber for charcoal stocks and pieces of utensils. It also comes with a shelf on the side of the cooking chamber for plates and condiments. Cool to the touch handles protects hands when opening the cooking chamber and firebox. This smoker comes with wheels, too.
- Comes with direct and indirect cooking chambers
- Simple operation
- Easy to clean and maintain
- Ideal for beginner food smokers
- Small cooking surface
- Wood as fuel can be difficult to deal with.
The durable Char-Broil Gourmet is easy to assemble, operate and clean entry-level smoker. It is a basic offset smoker that is easy on the budget.
🥇 Best Compact: Dyna-Glo Barrel
The Dyna-Glo Barrel and Offset Smoker may be small but it can produce great tasting smoked meat. To make up for its small cooking main cooking space, the firebox comes with a grill for burgers, sausages and vegetables during the last stages of the smoking process.
- Burners. It basically comes with 2 burners, one in the main cooking chamber and another one for grilling in the firebox.
- Temperature Gauge. It comes with a temperature gauge on top of the cooking chamber to monitor temperature inside the smoker.
- Design and Construction. This grill is made from heavy-duty steel and powder-coated to withstand high temperatures. Racks are coated in porcelain for easy cleaning and rust resistance. The firebox is designed for an easy and smooth transfer of smoke to the food and to retain heat inside the cooking chamber to ensure even cooking.
- This smoker features a grease management system for efficient collection of food grease to allow easy cleaning of the smoker. Cooking grate height is easily adjustable to allow the cooking of food in any size.
- Heat and Smoke Control. The wood chip box is made from high-quality steel with porcelain enamel construction to allow maximum flow of smoke to the food while cooking.
- Additional Features. This smoker comes with heavy-duty handles to ensure it can withstand high heat temperatures. Its removable ash pan allows easy ash disposable and the removable charcoal grate allows quick access to the charcoal.
- Lightweight with 2 steel wheels for easy mobility
- The shape is of a traditional offset design
- Grates are porcelain-coated for easy cleaning, rust resistance and durability
- Heavy-duty material makes it less prone to rusting and warping
- Thermometer comes with smoke and grill zones for easy cooking
- Small cooking area.
The Dyna-Glo Barrel allows you an additional cooking option by being able to grill and smoke food in a single cooking equipment.
🥇 Best Budget: Char-Griller Pro 1224
The Char-Griller Pro 1224 is what you are looking for if you need a high-quality smoker even while on a budget. Without having to invest so much, you can cook great tasting smoked meat in one of the best offset smokers available in the market.
- Burners – This smoker comes with 2 cooking spaces, one in the main cooking chamber and another in the firebox which doubles as a griller. Cooking space in the firebox is for searing and direct cooking.
- Temperature Gauge – Temperature gauze is mounted on tip of the lid of the main cooking chamber.
- Design and Construction – This smoker is lightweight but a bit big so it comes with wheels for easy mobility. It comes with cooking grates made from cast iron. You will need to season the grates well though and keep them dry after each use to prevent rusting. Should they rust, a steel wool and re-seasoning will bring back its brand new look. This smoker comes with a built-in thermometer to monitor temperature inside the smoker. The ash tray is easy to clean as it is removable. The main cooking chamber comes with an additional rack to keep food warm while you are grilling in the firebox.
- Heat and Smoke Control – Heat is controlled through an adjustable fire grate and similarly adjustable dampers.
- Additional Features. This smoker comes with drawers for easy access when you need to add charcoal to the smoker. It also allows the easy removal and disposal of ash for easy cleaning. Cool to the touch wire with wood handle will not burn your hands and fingers even when the smoker is extra hot.
- Durable cast iron cooking grates
- Large total cooking space
- Easy heat control with adjustable fire grate.
- High grade thermometer with smoke and grill zones
- Thin metal contributes to amount of heat loss
- Smoke tends to easily leak
The Char-Griller Pro 1224 comes with some superb features you will not even find in the more expensive smokers. It is designed to be a traditional and simple smoker that requires a small investment but can allow you to enjoy smoked and grilled food as though they were cooked in a high-end smoker.
🥇 Best Hight-end: Smoke Hollow 4 in 1
The Smoke Hollow 4 in 1 is a smoker. It is a smoker, charcoal grill, gas grill and it also has a sear burner. It produces food with the real smoky flavors achieved from wood or charcoal smoking. This 4 in 1 smoker and griller allows you to do multiple cooking methods with only a single equipment. Whether you are up to charcoal grilling, propane grilling, searing or smoking, you can do all these in this unique Shallow Hollow equipment either one at a time or in combination.
- Burners. As its name suggests, it comes with 4 burner.
- Temperature Gauge. It comes with 2 temperature gauges one each on the lid of the gas grill and the smoker.
- Design and Construction. The Smoke Hollow 4 in 1 is two grills attached to another grill. The fourth cooking space is the fire box. The charcoal grill features a firebox and adjustable charcoal tray. The grills are easy to clean as each comes with a slide out removable grease pan. This smoker also comes with a storage shelf on the bottom. All cooking grates are made from cast iron coated with porcelain making them extremely durable.
- Heat and Smoke Control. This is not a dedicated smoker so it does not have an exclusive heat control system. The firebox though comes with a draft control to manage as much of the smoke as possible.
- Additional Features. This smoker comes with a bottom storage shelf for cooking utensils and charcoal storage. Being really a large smoker, it comes with 4 wheels.
- Nice side-by-side construction
- Combo charcoal and gas smoker
- Gas griller comes with 3 burners made from stainless steel.
- Grates are of porcelain coated cast iron.
- Large cooking space of 1,435 square inches for all 4 cooking surfaces
- Extremely heavy equipment
The Smoke Hollow 4 in 1 is an amazing outdoor kitchen. It is all you need to cook delectable outdoor food in multiple cooking methods. You can choose to cook with either charcoal or gas. This may be a high-end smoker but it is well worth every penny you spend on it.
Reasons to Choose an Offset Smoker
Many barbecue enthusiasts prefer offset smokers for these reasons:
- Almost all offset grills come with a large cooking space. More often the cooking area comes with 2 or even 3 individual cooking racks allowing you to cook a lot of meat at a time. You can even find a smoker large enough to cook an entire pig.
- An offset grill is a charcoal grill and a smoker in one. This will save you a lot of money and space. There are many smokers that are combo sets where you smoke food in the main cooking chamber and grill the traditional way in either an individual griller or in the firebox.
- When you are smoking food, you will need to add more charcoal or fuel. In offset smokers, there is no need to open the cooking chamber’s lid to get to the fire because it has a separate chamber for that. Without opening the lid, the smoker will not lose too much heat that will prolong cooking time.
- Many smokers look like they were used by cowboys of years past. Some even look like steam engines. An offset grill in your yard exudes the feel and confidence of serious food smoking. Not to mention that it looks cool, too.
Offset smokers are getting to be a popular option for outdoor smoking and barbecuing.
Types of Offset Smokers
Offset smokers can either be in the traditional or reverse flow forms.
1. Traditional Offset Smokers
This is a natural and the hottest type of offset smoker. It comes with a cooking chamber, a smokestack on one side and a firebox on the other side. Heat and smoke are produced in the firebox. They then go to the cooking chamber, circulates through the food and out though the smokestack. This cooks the food and gives it a smoky flavor.
Traditional offset smokers tend to unevenly cook food. Since the firebox is located on one side of the cooking chamber, food closest to it will cook faster. To avoid this, you will have to carefully position and rotate the grill. Close monitoring of the food is also necessary.
2. Reverse Flow Offset Smoker
This type of smoker costs more than the traditional one. Food cooks evenly in this type of offset smoker because the firebox and smokestack are located on the same side. It also comes with a deflector plate below the grates.
The deflector plate diverts smoke and heat leaving the firebox from going all the way up. The deflector plate with holes controls the upward flow of smoke and heat allowing them to first flow through the entire cooking chamber before finally going upwards at the other end of the chamber.
This process allows an even temperature on the entire cooking chamber. Regardless of how near or far food is from the firebox it will cook at the same temperatures allowing even cooking.
Smoke in a reverse flow smoker flows efficiently out from the chimney for a pollution-free and simple operation.
Qualities of the Offset Smoker
Before getting to work on how to choose the excellent offset smoker, there are certain considerations you need to ponder on:
- Do you have the space for an offset grill? Most offset smokers are large and if you have a small yard you may not have enough space for one.
- What is the normal weather condition in your area? Low temperatures, constant heavy rains and high winds negatively impact the performance of an offset smoker.
- Offset grills have a learning curve. You need to dedicate some time into perfecting your skills to enjoy and maximize the use of your offset smoker.
If you are ready to own an offset smoke, here are the features you need to look for to get the best offset for the money.
An offset smoker needs to be made of thick heavy metal so it can retain heat better to keep temperatures constant. It will also reduce the need for more fuel. The smoker can get to be really hot so one that is made of thick metal will not easily warp with constant use.
An offset smoker made of thin metal will not produce even heat. It will be hot on one side and cold on the other side of the cooking chamber and you will need to turn the meat every so often so it will cook evenly.
The smoker should have a good temperature gauge on the lid. This is so you can monitor the temperature inside the smoker without the need of having to open the lid. Constant opening of the lid will cause the smoker to lose some heat and will take more time to cook.
Quality Seals and Dampers.
A good quality offset smoker should have a tight lid to prevent the leaking out of smoke. Leaking will cause the smoker to need more fuel. It will also lose the ability to transfer smoky flavor to the food.
Dampers should be easy to slide, oil, adjust and should also have a tight seal. This is so the heat as well as the level of smoke inside the cooking chamber is well-controlled
Consistent temperature is important to ensure good smoking. The proper flow of oxygen inside the cooking chamber controls temperature levels. Oxygen is an important component of fire. More oxygen allows fire to burn better.
There should also be good internal venting. The cooking chamber and firebox should not meet at the height of the grill or even higher for good distribution of heat. For good heat dissipation heat and the meat should not start at the same height.
Even if you will store the offset smoker indoors, a good protective covering such as a waterproof one will protect the smoker against the elements and keep it dry. If the smoker does not come with a protective cover, purchase one that fits its dimensions and size.
Good Quality Rollers.
Whether you plan to move the offset smoker around or keep it just in one place, sturdy wheels will make your smoker stable.
Top Quality Paint Job.
Paint should be resistant to heat. If the paint used is not heat-proof it will easily chip off, expose the metal underneath and will easily rust. Chipped paint will cause the metal to thin which could cause heat loss affecting the performance of the offset smoker.
The smoker should include some storage space. The area between the legs of the smoker should be with shelves or grates for storing cooking stuff and fuel. It should also include hooks for the cooking utensils. Side shelves are convenient for plates and all the sauces and spices you need.
While a good offset smoker will last a lifetime, a warranty gives you the peace of mind that your smoker is protected against any factory defects.
Look for these features in the offset grill model you are considering to ensure a good choice.
How to Use an Offset Grill?
You may get intimidated when you first try your hand on an offset smoker. Truth is, once you know how to regulate heat, the device is easy to use.
An offset smoker works by allowing smoke and heat to indirectly cook meat. Fire is created in the firebox with the use of wood or charcoal. Smoke and heat then flows from the firebox to the cooking chamber and out of the chimney which is on the other end of the firebox.
Season the offset smoker when using for the first time. Here are the steps to do it.
- Rub soapy water on the entire smoker.
- Rinse well to get rid of all the grease, dust, shavings and al factory chemicals.
- Allow the smoker to dry.
- Rub vegetable oil all over the cooking chamber.
- Open all the vents and start fire on the firebox.
- Allow fire to burn for about 30 minutes.
- When the fire dies out, cool the chamber.
- If you are going to cook, start placing meat 30 minutes after starting the fire.
You only need to season your offset smoker once. Here are the preparation steps for cooking with the smoker.
- Set the temperature to pre-heat the smoker. You can either set it at low (1000F) or high (3000F).
- Add in wood or charcoal. When using wood pellets, place them directly into the hopper without soaking. Soaking wood pellets will make it difficult to get the right amount of smoke.
- When using charcoal, place them inside the hopper in a pyramid manner. This will allow fire to slowly spread from the top to the bottom. It is recommended to use lit briquettes for better results.
- Set the temperature probes inside the cooking chamber. One probe should be inserted on the meat and the other in one corner of the cooking chamber. The built-in thermometer on the lid is meant to measure temperature of the grill’s top and not on the cooking space.
- Temperature inside the cooking chamber should be set between 225 °F and 275 °F. While pre-heating, keep the cooking chamber and firebox closed.
- Arrange food on the racks of the cooking chamber and close the lid.
- Check the temperatures inside the cooking chamber. Add briquettes or charcoal in the firebox as necessary to maintain the heat inside the cooking chamber or when you need to bring it higher (when temperature is dropping).
- Opening the intake vent is the best way to get a nice and hot fire going. If you want a higher temperature, you can also open the chimney vent and close it once you have achieved the desired temperature.
Make sure to always monitor the temperature inside the cooking chamber and that of the food you are cooking.
How to Make the Most out of Your Offset Grill
Offset smokers can cook at slow and low heat almost all kinds of meat including pork picnic, pork but, brisket, ribs, sausages and chicken. Once you have mastered the indirect cooking style of offset grills , you will be able to create great smoke meat, fish and poultry as well as perfect barbecues.
Here are tips on how to make the most of your offset grill.
- Slow and low cooking is the key to perfect cooking in an offset grill. Temperature needs to be maintained at consistent levels. Practice, a lot of patience and some experimentation are the best strategies.
- Make sure to season your offset smoker before initial use. Seasoning entails actually running your smoke for the first time. It is therefore also an opportunity to get the feel of the smoker.
- Experiment with charcoal and wood to know which provides a more consistent temperature for your smoker. Some say charcoal with a few wood chips create a nice smoke is easier to control.
- Always pre-heat the smoker to the right cooking temperature (based on food to be cooked) before starting to cook.
- Always keep the lid close to retain and maintain the right cooking temperature. This will also ensure even cooking. Opening the lid every so even is only necessary when cooking a large amount of heat in the grilling space.
- Clean the firebox of ashes and the cooking chamber of grease after every use. Ashes and grease build-up can cause water to get trap which will eventually lead to rusting.
- Always make sure to cover your smoker when not in use and store in a dry place.
Best Way to Cook Using the Offset Smoker
There are techniques on how to cook on an offset smoker to achieve an evenly cooked meat.
- Wood chips burn quickly and will bring down the temperature. Loading 1 or 2 large pieces of wood will keep smoking for about an hour or so. Wood chips quickly burn and you will need to frequently load more to achieve an even temperature. The best way to keep the fire burning is to place wood beside the fire.
- Add moisture to the firebox to prevent food from drying out due to long smoking hours. Moisture can be added by placing a pan of water inside the firebox.
- Regularly spray food to keep it constantly moist. Fill a bottle spray with water, apple juice or even beer. Spray every 20 minutes or so and toward the last hour of smoking. Open the lid and turn the meat on its other side with the use of tongs.
- Rotating the food every hour or so can produce an evenly cooked meat. You may also transfer meat in the cooler part of the cooking chamber to a space near the firebox and vice-versa.
- Make good use of the temperature probe because it is the most important accessory that comes with your smoker. Insert the meat probe into the meat. The probe will monitor the doneness of the meat.
These are just some of the techniques you can use to comes up with an evenly cook meat using your grill. The more you use your offset grill, the more you will gain more techniques to ensure an evenly cooked and mouth-watering meat.
Adding More Flavor to the Meat
An evenly cooked meat is not all there is to it. You should also ensure that you are able to smoke a flavorful one in your offset smoke. Here is how to do it.
- Use hardwood, nutwoods or fruitwoods to ensure your food gets the best flavors out of the smoke.
- Marinate meat at least twenty-four hours before cooking. The brine will bring out the best flavors of the meat.
- You can also rub some spice all over the meat for better flavor.
Remember an evenly cooked meat is useless if it does not come with the best flavors.
How to Clean and Maintain an Offset Grill?
Cleaning and maintaining your offset smoker is an important aspect of owning this cooking equipment. Cleaning your smoker after each use and doing some occasional routine checks will help keep your offset cooker in top shape. It will also make it last for longer years.
Every offset grill is different. While all require maintenance checks, some need more periodic checking and repairs. Before cleaning and venturing into maintaining your grill, it is important that you read and understand that part of the Owner’s Manual.
- Seasoning your new smoker is the first-ever cleaning job you will be doing. All smokers need to be seasoned prior to initial use to get rid of all the dust, dirt and chemicals used during the product products. If you do not season your new smoker all the contaminants that came with it may mix with your food.
- After every use rid your smoker with all ash residues and food drippings. Most smoker models come with removable or slide our ash and drip trays so this will not be such a hassle.
- Rub cooking oil on the cooking surfaces of the smoker and heat it to about 2500 Cooking oil does not only clean the smoker but also provides a protective layer to prevent rusting.
- Clean the external parts of the smoker with soapy water and make sure to dry it out before storing it.
If you are storing your smoker outdoors, make sure to but a protecting covering.
Make sure to always keep your offset grill free from any ashes or food drippings before storing. These are also the first items you need to check when doing your periodic thorough cleaning and maintenance check.
Avoid scrubbing the metal components of the offset grill as you may remove the protective paint. Without the paint, the metal will rust. Clean out all oily and smoky surfaces in the exterior of the smoker.
If you notice rust in any part of your smoker, remove it immediately to prevent it from spreading. You can also give your smoker a new paint job if it so requires. Make sure to use heat resistant paint.
The search for the good offset smoker 2018 is over. Included in this list are the best offset grills in different categories including different cooking methods that can be done in each smoker.
When you ultimately need to make a choice, remember that the best offset smoker is one that is capable of evenly cooking while retaining most of the best flavors of meat. Look out for the features that will allow you to achieve these cooking goals.
Last Updated on August 17, 2020 by Judith Fertig