Cooking with fire is as old as civilization itself. However, it was not until humanity learned to cook with smoke that the true flavor of the meat was unlocked. Since then, smoking has quickly become one of the more popular methods for cooking meat–whether large slabs or small cuts.
Still, the flavor is not the only reason ancient civilizations opted for smoking their food instead of simply grilling it. Smoked food, when done properly and over a long period of time, will actually cook and then seal the food. This allows the food to stay better preserved and hold longer if not eaten right away.
These days, smoking your food is a serious business, and the people who produce the highest quality offset smokers take it seriously. With advancements in technology and thermodynamics, offset smokers have become wonders of progress. However, not all smokers are created equally, nor have all offset smokers taken advantage of the latest development in smoker technology.
As such, it can be a daunting task to figure out which offset smoker is better than another–a task made all the more important considering smokers are often fairly large investments in their own right.. This task is made all the more difficult by the fact that many smokers may simply rely on their brand recognition and reputation to compensate for an inferior product. Moreover, there are plenty of brands that make it a point to explicitly target the budget smoker market.
That is why we have taken the time to scour the offset grills available and identify which ones are the best for different purposes. Whether you are looking for an offset smoker that can travel, one that is light on your wallet, or simply the best offset smoker available, our list of the 10 best offset smokers will have something for everyone. Moreover, we have also provided a helpful guide, so that you can understand what makes one smoker better than another and feel confident about your purchase.
Top Rated Products:
When looking at the RiverGrille Rancher’s model, there is a lot to love. However, one of the first things that should immediately stand out is this smoker’s high standard of architectural excellence. Quite simply, there is no other offset smoker on our list that provides a solid steel construction anywhere near this gauge.
At 4 mm, the body’s steel is incredibly thick–one of the thickest gauges of steel used for offset grills that does not require a custom construction. However, that is not the only architectural advancement that makes the RiverGrille so spectacular. The body itself is also cast, requiring no seals or seams and keeps the heat and smoke trapped within.
AS if that was not enough, this offset smoker also features an amazing 1,713 sq. in. of total cooking space with a main grill of over 1,300 sq. in. Unfortunately, this grill is sizeable in a few ways. Both the price, the highest on our list, and the weight, over 350 pounds, may put this offset smoker out of reach for many consumers.
4 mm thick steel is incredible and traps heat securely
All combined, the RiverGrille provides an astounding 1,713 sq. in. of cooking surface
Due to a cast construction, the seals are few and well-done
Easily the most expensive grill on our list
Though it has large wagon wheels, 352 pounds is still a load to move around
Does not offer a gas connection–this is a wood and charcoal smoker only
Oklahoma Joe’s is probably one of the premier mid-level offset smoker makers. While they cannot boast the superior construction that RiverGrille does, they definitely provide a more than adequate offering in their own right. As with all great offset smokers, the quality begins with the construction.
In that regard, the Oklahoma Joe’s is certainly no slouch.
First, this offset smoker features a steel construction with thick 2.5 mm gauge canisters. This is more than thick enough to ensure that heat stays trapped and radiates back to the food. Moreover, this is the first offset smoker on our list that can double as a traditional smoker which uses either wood or charcoal or a gas smoker.
Keep in mind, gas is not quite as good, but the Oklahoma Joe’s does provide a high quality gas system. First, every burner on this offset smoker puts out up to 12,000 BTUs. This will provide plenty of heat whether you want to slow cook or sear, though the gas burners are not intended to actually smoke the food itself.
However, as a mid-level, this offset smoker does come with some limitations. For one, some of the nice additional features are not so nice and are actually of poor quality. The temperature gauges are not accurate, and the side burner feels flimsy.
Can be used as either a wood/charcoal burning unit or a gas heated unit
Features a total of four gas burners, each producing 12,000 BTUs
2.5 mm thick steel is excellent for trapping and radiating heat
The chimney is too close to the firebox for even heat dispersion
220 pounds makes this one of the heavier offset smokers on our list
Some of the extra features, like the side burner and the temperature gauge, are substandard
Our first entry level offset smoker is a bit of a mixed bag, but that should not be taken as a sign that this is a poor product. Instead, if you are in the market for an entry level offset smoker, price is probably a bigger deal than perhaps the overall quality. As such, this offset smoker is a bit expensive for the entry level, though it is easily the best entry level as well.
First, the total cooking area for this offset smoker is 830 sq. in. which is almost double what most entry levels offset smokers provide. Moreover, entry level offset smokers are not really known for the best of construction, but the Char-Griller 1224 is made with surprisingly solid seals. However, it is still likely you will need to do some touch-ups to make the main chamber airtight.
Unfortunately, this offset smoker does not offer the option of cooking with gas, but that is not all that surprising for an entry-level product. However, it is also fairly heavy for its market at 118 pounds which will limit its ability to be easily transported. Still, with non-stick cast iron grates and an easy-to-access ash pan, this offset smoker is at least easy to clean up.
830 sq. in. of total cooking space is great for an entry level offset smoker
An ash pan and non-stick cast iron grates makes cleanup a breeze
Surprisingly good seals for an entry level offset cooker–though, some modifications may be necessary
A tad expensive for an entry level offset smoker
A single lid will allow too much heat and smoke to escape
While not the heaviest, 118 pounds is still a load to take on the go
Our next entry is another product manufactured by Oklahoma Joe’s, though this product is also somewhat unique on our list. Specifically, this is the only offset smoker on our list that features the reverse flow heating method. This means that the heat must travel under the primary cooking area before traveling back to the chimney which will ensure more even temperatures throughout the smoker.
Unfortunately, this offset smoker trades the good with the bad, and the rest of the construction is not quite what you would like to see out of a mid-level smoker. First, the body of this offset smoker is only made out of 1 mm gauge steel which is the absolute floor for acceptable standards and will not trap the heat as much as desired. Furthermore, this offset grill also features a single lid which will release too much heat and smoke when you check on the hood.
Still, the construction is not all bad as this offset grill at least uses the same cold rolled construction as the other Oklahoma Joe’s on this list which reduces the need for seams or seals. However, you will definitely want to run this offset smoker through a few dry runs as the paint on the inside will melt off onto the grates and bottom of the chambers.
The only smoker on our list to utilize a reverse flow, keeping temperatures more consistent
Adjustable heat baffles and smoke stack positions offer plenty of versatility
A cold rolled steel construction prevent the need for many seals or seams
A single lid will allow more heat and smoke to escape when checking on food
1 mm gauge steel is barely adequate for trapping heat
The paint will melt under continuous high temperatures the first few uses
If you are in the market for a mid-level offset smoker and do not like the Oklahoma Joe’s, then you definitely need to give the Smoke Hollow Brand a gander. While it is not superior in every way, the 8500 competes or supersedes the Oklahoma Joe’s combo offset smoker along most of the important factors. Moreover, with both products priced about the same, this can be a decision that comes down to the little things.
First, this offset smoker sports a great gauge of steel at 2.5 mm, so you do not have to worry about heat radiating through the body. However, the 8500 is definitely not as good of a gas smoker as the Oklahoma Joe’s with the primary burners only putting out 10,000 BTUs. While this is not terrible and the sear station at least produces the 12,000 BTUS that the Oklahoma Joe’s does, it still limits some of the highest end cooking applications of the gas burners.
Another area of concern comes with the primary cooking area which only provides 550 sq. in.–though the total cooking area is at least a solid 1,000 sq. in. Still, the chimney is also exceptionally close to the firebox which will make keeping the temperatures even a challenge if not outright impossible.
Can cook with gas, coal, or wood
Each cooking surface features its own lid, allowing you to check on the food without releasing too much heat or smoke
All the grills are made from porcelain coated cast iron
The main gas burners only put out 10,000 BTUs each
The chimney is awfully close to the firebox
A primary cooking area of 550 sq. in. is small for a mid-level offset smoker–1,000 sq. in. total is not bad
If you are looking for the absolutely least expensive, entry-level offset smoker that can still technically get the job done, then the Char-Broil American Gourmet is the product for you. This offset smoker will not wow you with its construction, cooking area, or extra features, but then again, at this price point, you really should not expect it to either.
However, if you are new to the smoking method of cooking, then this is a great way to start learning. Aside from the low cost, this offset smoker is also one of the easiest to put together–a task which should not be taken lightly as the top-tier and even the mid-level offset smokers can take hours to assemble.
Moreover, the American Gourmet is also exceptionally light and can be transported much easier than the mid-level and better offset smokers. In this regard, this can even serve as a secondary offset smoker for owners of more advanced models if they want to take their smoker to the beach or somewhere else off of their property for a casual get together.
Incredibly affordable with an extremely inexpensive price point
One of the lighter offset smokers on our list makes it great for travel
Quick and easy installation is perfect for beginners
A fairly small cooking area of less than 450 sq. in. will limit your options
Not the greatest seals allowing heat to escape
A single lid allows more heat and smoke to escape when checking on the food
Our second Smoke Hollow is actually very similar to the first model, though it does show some noticeable depreciation in regards to its ability to cook with gas. However, with a price that is nearly halved and a construction that does not give up much compared to its bigger brother, this is an amazing value and might be the best bet for a mid-level offset smoker.
First, much like the previous Smoke Hollow, the 6,500 features a solid construction made from 2.5 mm gauge steel to trap heat and radiate it throughout the entire body. Moreover, this model actually moves the chimney a bit further away from the firebox compared to the 8500, so maintaining even temperatures throughout will be somewhat easier.
However, if you switch over to using gas, you will notice a significant decrease in the 6500’s ability. The primary burners can only put out a maximum of 6,500 BTUs, while the searing station’s burner only produces 9,300 BTUs. Altogether, the gas options for this offset smoker are only adequate for thinner cuts of meat or if you plan on cooking the food for longer at lower temperatures–which will increase the chance of giving the food a propane flavor.
Can cook with charcoal, gas, or wood
The 2.5 mm gauge steel is great for keeping heat in and temperatures consistent
Very reasonably priced for a mid-level offset smoker
6,500 BTU burners are fairly low for a smoker
The searing station BTU of only 9,300 is also a bit substandard
Does not provide a base for the gas cannister
Landmann 591320 Smoky Mountain Bravo Premium Charcoal Grill with Offset Smoker Box (Check Price on Amazon.com)
The Landmann is an offset smoker that does not really have a true market or category in which it fits cleanly. By examining the construction specifications, this offset smoker seems more suited to the entry-level market; however, if you judge just by the price, the Landmann seems as though it fancies itself a less expensive mid-level offset grill.
Ultimately, the Landmann is best understood as a premium entry level offset smoker which is a bit of an oxymoron. With a steel gauge of 0.7 mm, this smoker will release heat far more than would be preferred which will necessitate a hotter firebox. However, without a legitimate chimney, this can quickly lead to too much smoke.
Unfortunately, with a single lid, this means you will end up releasing too much smoke and heat when you try to make adjustments. Still, it should be fairly easy to control the heat from the starting point as this offset smoker features side door access for both the firebox and the grill. Moreover, the porcelain coated cast iron grates will transfer the heat generated cleanly while cleaning up easily.
Porcelain-coated cast iron grills
Easy access to add charcoal or wood for either the grill or smoker compartments
The price is right for a mid-level offset smoker
With a steel gauge of only 0.7 mm for the cabinet, this is well below the desired 2 mm or even base 1 mm required for proper heat-trapping
A single lid will allow too much heat and smoke to escape when checking on food
808 sq. in. of total cooking space is a tad small.
Best Choice Products BBQ Grill Charcoal Barbecue Patio Backyard Home Meat Cooker Smoker (Check Price on Amazon.com)
If you are willing to invest a little bit more to get a moderate return for the cost, the Best Choice can be a better budget offset smoker than the Char-Broil. Providing a construction that, while substandard among serious offset smokers, is still decent for an entry level product and a slightly larger total cooking area, the Best Choice is indeed a better choice for a lower end entry level offset smoker.
First, the body is made out of 0.6 mm gauged steel. Now, for a high-quality offset smoker, this is unacceptable, but for a rock bottom entry level smoker, this is better than expected. Moreover, with a total cooking area of 460 sq. in., you will definitely be somewhat limited, but again, this is still an improvement over the Char-Broil.
On the plus side, this offset cooker is every bit as portable as the Char-Broil at a light 40 pounds, while the chimney is placed as far away from the firebox as can be. This will force the smoke and heat to travel further and cook the meat longer before leaving.
An excellent price point for an entry-level offset smoker
At 40 pounds, this smoker is ready to be taken anywhere
A far side chimney does help keep the temperatures as even as can be expected for an entry level product
0.6 mm steel thickness is substandard and will not trap nor radiate the heat nearly as well as many of the other products on our list
The cast iron grates are not coated with porcelain making cleanup a bit of a pain
A total cooking area of 460 sq. in. is smaller and will limit your options
Our final product is another high end offset smoker, the second on our list, manufactured once again by RiverGrille. Much like the first model reviewed, this offset smoker is made with the finest attention paid to its construction that places it head and shoulders above any other brand on this list–though it does feature a few caveats that make it a touch poorer than the RiverGrille Rancher’s model.
First the good: just like the Rancher, the RiverGrille Farmer uses an incredible steel gauge of 4 mm. This will ensure that there is no heat loss through the body and that the temperatures radiate cleanly and more evenly. Moreover, the same single body construction method to reduce the need for seams or seals is used with the Farmer.
However, the difference is price between the two, while not insignificant, does not truly justify skimping out, as this offset smoker is still a sizable investment. Moreover, the Farmer does not offer multiple lids to keep heat and smoke in when checking on the food, instead of using a single lid. However, the surface area, while not nearly as expansive as the Rancher model, is at least the second best on our list at 1,164 sq. in. total.
4 mm thick steel is incredible and traps heat securely
All combined, the RiverGrille provides a solid 1,164 sq. in. of cooking surface
Due to a cast construction, the seals are few and well-done
At 260 pounds, this offset smoker is not the easiest to travel with
While not quite as expensive as the Rancher, this offset grill is still fairly pricey
Like the Rancher, the Farmer does not offer to ability to cook with gas
First, the 4 mm inch steel body is well more than the desired 2 mm minimum. This alone makes the RiverGrille one of the best offset smokers on our list if for no other reason than that it will be able to trap and radiate the heat generated from the firebox better than pretty much every other grill reviewed. In fact, the only other offset smoker that comes close to this gauge of steel is the other RiverGrille which also features a 4 mm thick body.
However, the Rancher’s model also features an incredible 1,713 sq. in. of the total cooking surface with a primary cooking space of 1,343 sq. in.–the primary cooking space alone is larger than many of the other offset smoker’s total cooking space. When you combine the steel thickness with the massive cooking area and throw a cast body with few seals for heat to escape, and you already have the best offset smoker on our list–the dual professional temperature gauges are just icing on the cake.
This is fairly straightforward: the more the better. However, it can get a bit more complicated when there are multiple levels or optional surfaces.
Regardless, you will want to ensure that your primary grill is large enough to cook an entire chicken, turkey, or rack of long ribs. Moreover, the optional cooking surfaces should be large enough for plenty of burgers or a choice few cuts of meat.
This is an immensely important factor and will likely determine the quality of your smoke more than any other single quality. Thankfully, there are some established standards, so you do not have to worry about a multitude of options.
Essentially, any quality offset smoker will be constructed out of steel. Moreover, the steel will be of as high a gauge as you can muster. Steel will absorb the heat evenly and abundantly, then radiate that heat back.
Other materials will not accomplish this task quite as well and will ultimately produce inferior oven conditions, keep in mind, the thickness of the steel will often directly correlate to the price of the offset smoker. As such, you should not try to save a few bucks by purchasing a lower gauged steel.
This factor is not quite so cut-and-dry, though there is at least a consensus “winner.” Offset smokers come in one of two varieties, either crossflow or reverse flow. The better of the two is reverse flow.
With crossflow offset smokers, easily the more common of the two, the heat radiates from the offset box and travels across the grill where it cooks the food. Unfortunately, this creates a scenario where the temperature closest to the hotbox can diverge by as much as 50 degrees when compared to the temperature at the other end of the smoker.
However, reverse flow offset grills seeks to alleviate this issue by using a vent to funnel the heat under the grill, forcing it to travel back towards the firebox before leaving the chimney. This keeps the temperatures far more consistent and, if properly managed, will see a difference of as little as 10 degrees.
This is where things get a bit more complicated. There are numerous types of heat production: wood, charcoal, gas, and electric. Each of these has their advantages, but your ultimate goal is to cook with either wood or charcoal–especially for a competition where gas and electric offset grills are generally banned.
Electric is the easiest of the four to cook with, but it is also known for producing an inferior flavor. Gas is relatively easy and will produce both a consistent heat and an excellent flavor. For inexperienced smokers, your offset smoker should probably include the option to cook with gas.
Wood and charcoal are both fairly similar, though wood is definitely the more difficult of the two to use. In fairness, they both create a similar heat and flavor, but wood will both burn hotter and smoke heavier.
As such, controlling the temperature with wood requires more skill, failure to do so can leave food cooked unevenly or covered with soot. An alternative to either is wood pellets which are precisely manufactured, burn similarly to charcoal but have the flavor of wood.
This is the actual craftsmanship of the grill itself. Examine the grill carefully and ensure that the seals are consistent and closed throughout. Cheaper offset smokers will often be run through factories on assembly lines moving so quickly that a seal may only be welded to a point leaving a gap.
This allows the heat and smoke of your smoker to escape and will create difficulty controlling the temperature or the concentration of smoke. However, if you know how to sell yourself, it can be an adequate way to save a little money. Still, offset grills with poor seals often suffer from other issues as well, so choose wisely.