We’ve scoured through tons of brands and cooked scads of tasty meat in our quest to find the perfect offset smoker. We asked barbecue aficionados for their take on the subject but found that testing the smokers ourselves was the way to go.
In our opinion, the Dyna-Glo Signature Series Barrel Charcoal Grill and Smoker is the best offset smoker going. It’s durable and hardy. Plus, it manages to retain heat exceptionally well – a fundamental requirement of any offset smoker in our books.
What’s more, the price is reasonable, the smoker has a useful temperature gauge, and it’s relatively compact. What more could you want?
How to Pick the Best Offset Smoker For Your Needs
Buying just any offset smoker is a colossal mistake that many aspiring pit-masters make. The truth is that, despite their straightforward operation, there are quite a few characteristics and options you must consider to find the perfect smoker for your specific needs.
An essential thing to consider before buying is your ultimate goal for owning one. Offset smokers are more for long and slow cooking, so if you’re looking for an outdoor Sunday afternoon barbeque type of thing, then you might not benefit from an offset smoker.
Types of Offset Smokers
Reverse Flow Offset Smoker
Let’s start by taking a look at the different types of offset smokers on the market.
Generally, we can divide smokers into two main types: the traditional one and the newer reverse flow offset smoker.
Of course, you could also make life easier and get a reverse flow offset smoker. This smoker uses a steel plate to protect the meat from any direct heat. It ensures that the smoke travels slower through the chamber, therefore promoting an even exposure to the meat.
In the end, both types produce a fantastic result. A reverse flow smoker is far more convenient, but many pit-masters like the control and challenge of a traditional offset smoker.
The traditional smoker comprises two separate chambers connected by pipes or cylinders. The bigger chamber is where you place the meat that you want to smoke (we’re partial to a beautiful, thick brisket). The smaller chamber, called the firebox, is where you place and burn charcoal or wood to effect the smoking process.
The way it works is simple: Smoke and heat from the burning wood in the firebox slowly fill up the bigger chamber. This smoke cooks the meat via indirect heat, while also absorbing all the beautiful aromatics of the wood.
For the most part, this setup works fantastically, with one caveat: Because of physics and plain common sense, the area nearest the firebox naturally is hotter than the other parts of the chamber. Unfortunately, this means that your meat might tend to cook unevenly.
Experienced pit-masters compensate by rotating the meat regularly to make sure it gets even heat. When cooking multiple portions of meat, place those that need a longer cook time nearer the firebox.
Things to Look For In an Offset Smoker
Once you decide which type of smoker you want, it’s time to delve deeper into the details of options available. To help you out, here are some features and considerations any pit-master must think about including in their next smoker:
As with any type of cooking, knowing the precise temperature of your food is vital to producing great smoked meats consistently. In our opinion, you need to measure not only the heat of the meat itself but also the temperature inside the smoker chamber.
Look at the temperature gauge to see if it’s of high quality. Ideally, you want to be able to read in 1-degree increments to monitor temperature changes well.
The best setup will have two gauges, one for each side of the smoker outlet. This duplication allows you to compare whether there are any differences in temperature and adjust accordingly.
Digital thermometers are the absolute best. Look for wired probes, too, as they offer the most flexibility and most accurate readings.
It goes without saying that offset smokers take on a lot of heat. Being constantly exposed to high temperatures for hours on end will undoubtedly wear on any piece of equipment. So, make sure the one you choose is robust.
At an absolute minimum, the smoker should be built using ¼”-thick gauge steel. Having a thinner wall makes it easier for heat to escape and more challenging to maintain the temperature inside the smoker – not to mention, it’s not as durable as thicker steel.
You also need to consider parts other than the chamber itself.
Check the hinges, chamber doors, and the supporting legs and wheels. Try opening and closing them and see how it feels. If it’s flimsy, that’s a sign that it might not be solid enough to last. A smoker is a significant investment, so you need the sturdiest one you can get.
Seals and Dampers
For a smoker to work effectively, it must hold as much of the smoke in as possible before letting it escape through the chimney. This only happens with good seals. Check to be sure there are no “leaks” or gaps when you close the smoker chamber.
If your offset smoker is well-sealed, you’ll be able to maintain the temperature better and use less fuel.
The one thing that pit-masters detest is cleaning their offset smokers after a long smoking session. It can be a little nasty and a big pain to clean something that’s been exposed to smoke for hours on end.
And unfortunately, you can’t haul your smoker to the sink for proper washing. With this in mind, your offset smoker should be easy for you to scrub in place. Look for a drain feature beneath the chambers, which allows you to hose it down and let the water drain naturally.
Removable parts also are a blessing because you can take them to the sink for a more thorough scrubbing!
The size of a smoker’s chamber is primarily up to you, depending on what you ultimately want to do with your smoker.
If you cater to large crowds and want to smoke a lot of meats, then a bigger chamber is a necessity. That said, don’t just pick the biggest smoker on the block because it will cost you! Plus, it will take up a lot more space.
Planning is crucial. Find a smoker with a chamber that’s in concert with the amount of meat you want to cook. You might also want to consider racks and hooks, as these allow you to use the space inside the chamber strategically.
Also, consider the size of your firebox, which differs based on the type of fuel you plan to use. Charcoal is perfect for smaller fireboxes. But if you’re looking to mix and match charcoal and wood logs, you’ll need a bigger chamber.
Compact and Portable
By their very nature, offset smokers generally are not highly portable. They’re meant to be a standard fixture in your backyard, much like your oven or stove is in your kitchen. That said, biggest is not always best. If you have a sprawling yard, it should work, but not everyone’s that lucky!
Consider an allotted space for your smoker and choose size accordingly. You don’t want a smoker so big that it steals away too much yard space.
Also, don’t forget that your offset smoker requires plenty of ventilation space around it to work correctly. So, add this to your allotted space. Finally, be sure to keep your smoker away from walls as much as possible (unless you enjoy scrubbing blackened walls on a regular basis).
Top 7 Offset Smoker Reviews
A genuine professional offset smoker isn’t a cheap piece of equipment. In fact, some might require you to take out a small loan for you to afford.
Or just opt for the affordable Royal Gourmet BBQ Charcoal Grill and Offset Smoker. This unit is a combination of an offset smoker and a charcoal grill, allowing you to use it on those family barbecue afternoons. Just load the main chamber with conventional charcoal or small wood chips, and you’re good to go.
This grill-smoker combo also is a highly capable offset smoker, thanks to the 183-square-inch firebox on its side. It’s equipped with two adjustable dampers to give you some control over the smoke’s temperature. A convenient side door on the firebox also gives you quick access to the fuel source, making tending the smoke easy.
The main oven chamber on this affordable option offers a spacious 800-square-inch cooking space, plus an additional 179-square-inch cooking rack. Racks are especially useful for cooking a complete meal in the Royal Gourmet, from meats to side veggies.
Considering that this is a backyard grill and an attached smoker, it’s not bulky. This feature makes the Royal Gourmet extraordinarily portable and easy to stow away. If you have a smaller backyard or limited porch space, this is a fantastic option.
Cleaning is also a breeze. Aside from the fact that you can take it and clean it anywhere, it has a removable ash pan for easy disposal of your fuel remnants.
Overall, the Royal Gourmet BBQ Charcoal Grill is your best bet if you want the utmost in flexibility. Maybe you want the option to smoke your meats, but don’t do it often enough to justify purchasing a smoker. With this unit, you get the best of both worlds.
Smoke naturally wants to rise upward, not sideways or downward. So, you might wonder why most offset smokers place the firebox on the side of the main chamber.
Well, the manufacturers of this Dyna Glo model didn’t want to mess with physics, so they designed this Wide Body Vertical Smoker.
The most significant advantage of this offset design is that it uses indirect heat from the smoke very well. It protects the bottom rack from cooking too quickly and ensures even temperature distribution. This design makes for amazing slow-cooking and maximum infusion of the wood’s flavor into the meat. Mmmmm….
The Dyna Glo smoker makes controlling the temperature far easier than other models because predicting the movement of the smoke is easy (Hint: it always goes up!). To finetune the temperature, simply use the adjustable flute.
To achieve the maximum smoke flavor, you definitely want to be able to control the temperature of your smoker. However, this only works within a specific temperature range, which you can glean quickly from the Smoke Zone indicator on this model.
This stainless-steel gauge tells you the temperature you need to maintain to reach this “Smoke Zone” of maximum smoke infusion. Simply adjust the temperature using the flute or tending the firebox.
Speaking of the firebox, this Dyna Glo is specially designed to burn fuel efficiently. By keeping wood chips and charcoal packed tightly together, it ensures that your fuel burns far better and with minimal loss.
The cooking stack provides a total of up to 1,890 square inches of cooking space! You can place food high or low in the pile, using six adjustable cooking grates, to accommodate for different foods and cooking times.
All in all, this is a fantastic smoker – plus, the Dyna Glo’s vertical design makes it highly space-efficient.
Whether you’re an aspiring pit-master or just want an easy way to prepare smoked meats at home, the BIG HORN Outdoor Pellet Grill and Smoker might be your ticket to glory.
The standout feature of this smoker is its fully automatic, digital temperature control system. Simply set it to your desired temperature (from 225 to 450 degrees Fahrenheit), and the smoker will maintain it for you!
It accomplishes this by automatically regulating the release of wood chips, adjusting the temperature of the smoker accordingly. The most significant benefit of this is that you’ll get perfectly smoked meat, each and every time!
Seasoned pit-masters might scoff and call automatic temperature control cheating. But at the end of the day, all that matters is whether it fits your specific needs. You get delicious smoked meat, so this model is perfect for those who want the tasty result without the trial-and-error along the way.
The 700 square inches of cooking space is quite generous, giving you enough room to cook tons of burgers and racks of ribs to your heart’s content.
The smoker goes beyond smoking meats, too. With it, you can also grill or even braise food. You can employ any cooking method that infuses an amazing woody character to your food. Wood-fired backyard pizza, anyone?
A temperature gauge is installed in the cover of the Big Horn. It’s reasonably accurate, but really just there for your information. Remember, the digital temp controller is doing the adjusting for you.
The footprint of this griller is also quite compact, making it an ideal addition to any porch or backyard. Its size also makes hauling and cleaning it a breeze.
At the end of the day, this is a great smoker for absolute beginners. It’s a great way to learn the ropes or test out recipes while getting delicious results from day one!
The Dyna Glo Signature Series is for people who want a high capacity smoker with a larger firebox. It’s a great fit if you’re going to mix and match various fuel sources or if you’re going to experiment with bigger split wood for your smoker.
The cooking chamber gives you ample space of about 443 square inches. Add that to an offset cooking space of about 287 square inches, and you get a grand total of 730 square inches. It’s more than enough to feed your family and a few friends.
If you need more space (say, you’re cooking for a small party), the Dyna Glo Signature Series also comes in a larger size that features 962 square inches of cooking space. But this smaller model is more than enough for most folks.
The entire smoker comprises heavy-duty steel, with this particular model featuring a porcelain coating. The inner grates also are porcelain-coated to help retain heat and allow a more even cooking process.
The side firebox is one of the highlights of this smoker. It’s pretty generous, so you won’t be constrained when it comes to space. It also features a removable ash pan, allowing for easy disposal of soot and residue after the smoking process.
This unit also has a dial temperature gauge, graduated in 5-degree increments. It also indicates the ideal temperatures for grilling, barbecue, and smoking, taking a lot of the guesswork out of your cooking.
We find that this Dyna Glo Signature Series to be a fantastic option for the really serious pit-masters out there. It doesn’t come with many bells and whistles but has everything you need to produce delicious smoked meats the traditional way.
Char-Broil has always been synonymous with grilling in America. It has graced countless backyard barbecues and parties since 1984. Now, the company is getting into the smoking game with its take on the offset smoker.
This offset smoker provides a total of 605 square inches of cooking space, which translates to about 24 burgers. It’s slightly shy of the industry standard (we prefer 700 square inches or more), but this fits the bill for a lot of folks.
The body of this smoker comprises heavy-duty porcelain and steel. Not only is this exceptionally durable, but it’s also capable of retaining heat far better than other materials. Even the cooking grates on the inside are coated with porcelain for maximum temperature control.
Speaking of adjusting the temperature, this offset smoker gives you plenty of ways to do that. One way is via the top damper in the main cooking chamber. This damper allows you to control the amount of heat and smoke coming out of the smoker.
Another way to adjust the heat is through the easy opening in the firebox, which lets you quickly increase or decrease the heat and smoke it produces. It also has a small door on the side, so you can conveniently clean ash and soot after the smoking process.
Monitoring the temperature also is easy, thanks to the built-in analog temperature gauge.
The rest of the parts, including its feet and wheels, also comprise heavy-duty materials that last longer. What’s more, the wheels are 8 inches wide, making transporting this smoker efficiently despite its hefty weight.
But maybe the best thing about this smoker is the price. At a cost of about $150 at the time of this writing, this is one that performs exceptionally well and can produce fantastic results for less!
Ask a group of people in the meat-smoking community about Oklahoma Joe, and you’ll inevitably get mixed opinions. Some swear by it, while others see it as inferior to other brands. But we can’t deny that Oklahoma Joe makes decent (if not great) smokers.
The company is hoping to win a few enthusiasts and casual barbecue folks with this versatile, 3-in-1 Smoker Combo.
If you’re looking for versatility in a single piece of barbecue equipment, this is it. It combines an easy-to-use gas griller for a conventional barbecue and a traditional firebox for a more extended, slow smoking process.
Of course, it’s the latter that we’re particularly interested in here! Being dual-use, this 3-in-1 combo gives you a massive 1,060 square inches of cooking space, including 750 square inches for the gas grill and 310 square inches for the offset smoker.
Unfortunately, you can’t use the firebox for the entire 1,060 square inch space, which is one of the drawbacks of this unit, as we find the chamber for the offset smoker to be a tad bit too small.
You do get quite a bit of control with your smoking process with this unit, though, thanks to the multiple dampers that allow you to regulate the smoke and heat throughout the smoking chamber.
The firebox also is easy to use. It has an access door, which makes tending the fire and cleaning up easy.
The gas grill is convenient, too, providing up to 36,000 BTUs for excellent searing and grilling power.
Oklahoma Joe’s 3-in-1 Smoker Combo is neither the largest nor the most sophisticated smoker. Still, it’s undoubtedly the most flexible for those folks looking for the ultimate all-in-one barbecue equipment.
For the beginner smoker who wants to do it the right way, the Char-Griller E1224 Pro is a good investment. Its budget price won’t break the bank, yet it performs amazingly well.
This Char-Griller smoker is made from heavy-gauge steel, which does a decent job of retaining some of the heat inside the chamber. At the same time, it’s highly resistant to warping from prolonged use.
The cast-iron, non-stick grills also comprise heavy-gauge steel – the material of choice for searing (just ask any chef!). With its excellent heat retention, you’ll achieve those perfect sears and crusts on your steaks, too.
Despite all this heavy-duty hardware, the E1224 Pro is relatively lightweight. The built-in wheels make this unit reasonably easy to move this one around the yard, giving it some portability.
The main chamber provides 580 square inches of cooking space, more than enough for most purposes. The firebox is a generous 250 square inches. Not only does this give you plenty of space for wood and coal, but this firebox can also double as a direct grilling chamber.
Controlling the temperature is easy, thanks to the adjustable dampers and fire grate, regulating the amount of smoke and heat that enters the main chamber. The firebox also has a smooth access drawer for adding fuel as needed. It makes disposing of the ash a breeze, as well.
For quick monitoring, the built-in temperature dial lets you know if you’re in the right zone for smoking and grilling.
The only drawback of this smoker is that the chamber walls are thinner than most, which can allow some of the heat escape. You might end up using more heat and fuel to smoke your meats thoroughly.
Final Verdict: Best Offset Smoker For Your Money
We’ve gone through the best offset smokers you can buy, both in terms of price and functionality. There are lots of great options out there, for sure. But we believe the Dyna Glo Signature Series Barrel Charcoal Grill and Smoker gives you the most bang for your buck.
Its exceptional durability is impressive, as is its excellent heat retention, which gives you better and more even cooking. The firebox also is generously sized, giving you plenty of options for smoking experimentation.
If you’re a pit-master looking for a piece of equipment to take your skills to new heights, we can’t recommend this one enough! You Can now with your 1st cooking recipe