Holds a Master’s degree in Linguistics, loves traveling and learning new languages. Fluent in Spanish, is learning French and Czech at the moment. Enjoys exploring national cuisines every time he visits new countries.
Claims that grilling is the art that he has been learning all his life long and is not planning to stop. Has been grilling for as long as he can remember. Author of numerous online and offline grilling masterclasses runs his own BBQ accessories shop.
Last updated: August 20, 2021
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It is hard to find any meal that compares to a nicely barbecued piece of meat. Savory barbecued meat has, for long, remained a preserve of professional chefs. Today, the best offset smoker is within reach of ordinary barbecue lovers. The improved quality and functionality of offset smokers allow barbecue enthusiasts to master the art of smoking meat. We will help you pick an ideal smoker from the plethora of products that the market offers.
We spent many weeks reviewing the top 43 offset smokers. To determine the very best smoker, we consulted with leading chefs, barbecue enthusiasts, and manufacturers. This is how we found the Broil King 958050 to be our editor’s choice. This smoker offers the best barbecue experience given its heavy-duty cast iron grids and the ingenious Roto-draft damper technology that gives the meat a rich smokey and savory taste.
When buying your offset smoker for those outdoor or indoor barbecue unrivaled experiences, you will first need to understand the various features they have. An offset smoker has a firebox or hopper where the source of heat is put. Then there is the oven or the cooking space where your meat gets cooked. When buying a smoker, you should determine the temperature that the oven reaches or the total area that the smoker takes up. The review starts off with a comparison table of the top 10 offset smokers. This is followed by an in-depth review of each product and lastly, a buying guide to help you make an informed decision.
When shopping for the best offset smoker, you should look for the one built with the best materials and that which delivers exquisite tasty meats. Well, with the Broil King 958050, you get to enjoy this and much more. The equipment delivers constant temperatures of between 200 and 400°F. A super-efficient Accu-TempTM thermometer has been included. The grates are made using porcelain-coated cast iron that helps the cooker deliver constant heat throughout the oven. The high-quality black paint also helps at making the meat well-cooked and piquant besides making the cooker easy to the eye.
The manufacturer of this offset smoker knows that people are looking for that piece of equipment that doesn’t take up all the space. The Broil King 958050 takes 625 square inches making it small comparatively. It is also relatively light, and this makes it easier to move around, mainly because the manufacturer has included two large 8” wheels. The overall steel construction is 2mm thick, and this guarantees even distribution of heat throughout the oven. For an ardent barbecuer, this cooker will tackle many cooking sessions over the years.
For that delicious chef-standard piece of beef, mutton, or pork, the Canadian manufacturer has employed the Roto-Draft damper technology in making the air vent system. This makes the smoker boast of a chimney style hence a more effective way to smoke the meat. The two cooking chambers have removable ashtrays. The charcoal trays are also designed to diffuse the smoke. Putting together this cooker has been made extra easy by the included manual and the extra screws.
You can always tell the quality of an offset smoker based on its weight. Some of the best models available happen to be the heaviest. Such is the case for this cooker, which weighs in at an absolutely gargantuan 250 pounds. It has a large cooking surface and a massive hopper. This makes it a bear to move, so be sure to have a place set aside for it at your home that you won’t have to move it ever again. All of this weight is necessary to the design of this cooker. It is made out of extremely durable and thick steel. Simply put, this smoker has been built to withstand as many smoking sessions as you can dish out without breaking down in the least.
If you are a serious smoker or barbecuer, then this is the model for you. Thanks to its well-built design and porcelain coated grates, this is also one of the most efficient smokers you could buy as well. It has multiple dampers and baffles so that you can tweak the amount of heat and smoke you use for a unique flavor every time you cook with it.
Something else that helps to make this such an efficient smoker is its cooking process. It utilizes a reverse flow method to cook that uses less fuel while producing more heat than a standard smoker. This is because the air is heated twice before it even gets to the food, which allows it to heat up more quickly and maintain that temperature level more effectively.
What makes it special?
Large cooking area
Uses reverse flow for efficient cooking grates are very easy to clean
For that thrilling outdoor barbecue experience where you serve expertly cooked meat, the Royal Gourmet BBQ charcoal grill is here to help you. The manufacturer has employed the traditional smoking technology. The total cooking area is 782 square inches, which makes it reasonable when compared with other models. The cooking chamber takes up 438 square inches. The hopper capacity is 5 lbs, and this means you will have enough room for the charcoal. The total weight and ease of moving this grill will make you fall in love with it. It weighs a mere 58.4 bs making it one of the lightest in the market. The two large 6-inch wheels make the equipment’s portability even more effortless.
Just because the cooker is light does not mean the materials used to make it are wanting. In fact, the manufacturer has used steel on most of the cooker. Porcelain steel measuring ¼” thick has been used to make the cooking grates. The warming rack takes up 179 inches making all the components of the cooker well proportioned. The maker of the cooker has employed the latest technology hence guaranteeing seamless connectivity between all the components. In turn, this means constant and sustained temperatures for cooking. The side smoker box performs perfectly because the lid adopts groove design has been used.
Learning to barbecue could never be easier. This Royal Gourmet BBQ grill is easy to assemble. Moreover, it comes with a heavy-duty lid, adjustable damper, and a professional thermometer. The large capacity charcoal pan allows enough room for the charcoal to burn.
It is easy to master the art of smoking, grilling, and roasting your favorite delicacy. This pro grill allows you to use electricity and wood-pellet hence making it user-friendly and practical. Don’t worry about the electric cooking, you are guaranteed to enjoy hardwood pellet flavor and grill smoke all the time. Traeger has invested in sturdy steel construction and porcelain grill grates hence ensuring the cooker’s functionality and durability. The high-quality powder coat also serves to make this smoker durable. The cooker weighs 109 lbs and boasts of two large wheels that make it relatively easy to move around.
The hopper capacity is 18 lbs, and this gives it enough room to accommodate enough pallets for long and sustained high-temperature cooking. The hopper is easy to clean, as is the rest of the cooker. You can opt to have a grill with a chicken hanger. As for versatility, this Traeger Grill is the real deal. It comes with dual meat temperature probes, side lift bar, sawhorse chassis, and don’t forget the wheels are all-terrain. With this grill, you will barbecue, roast, grill, smoke, braise, and bake anything you want to, to perfection.
While the cooking area is 380square inches and can comfortably accommodate two chickens, one cannot help but notice how small it is when compared to the competition. Still, this is a very homely grill that will take two chicken and three racks of ribs or a dozen burgers. It is a piece of equipment that will help you revolutionize your cooking and the delicacies you place on your dining table.
Even though barrel style offset smokers are much more common than vertical models, that doesn’t especially mean that they are better. For instance, if you are looking for the biggest possible cooking area, then it is a no brainer to pick a vertical model. This smoker, for instance, has almost 1,700 square inches of cooking space! With this amount of space, not only will you be able to make enough food for your family, but you could do the whole neighborhood as well. If you are looking for a cooker to use for a BBQ business, this model would also be a good bet.
Another big advantage to using a vertical style smoker is the amount of room that they take up. Since most of the cooking surface is going up instead of over, this smoker is relatively compact in comparison to a barrel model. This compact design makes it an excellent option for pretty much any space, no matter if you have a large yard or a limited patio that you are going to be doing your cooking on.
This is also a very portable model. While you wouldn’t think so based on its overall weight, it is quite easy to move from place to place. The reason that this smoker can be moved with such ease is because of its oversized wheels. These make it very easy to roll into different areas, even if you are on your own.
The RiverGrille Rustler is made with extremely durable and easy to clean steel. With proper maintenance, there is no reason that this smoker shouldn’t last you for a good long time. You just need to make sure you set lots of time aside to assemble it each and every time you clean it, as the parts are not always easy to get in and out.
When you are looking for a great offset smoker, you should always look for one that can be used for a wide array of applications, not just smoking. This model is a perfect option if you are looking to cook in a wide range of temperatures. In fact, of all the different models that we checked into, this one has the highest temperature rating. This makes it perfect for pretty much any type of cooking, no matter if you want to grill or smoke your food.
This is also one of the easiest smokers on the market to use. It utilizes wood pellets, which are very easy to keep at a stable temperature. This model takes the level of ease up a notch, however, as it uses an automatic auger to keep the pellets moving into cooking position. This auger helps to make it a much more efficient smoker since all you really need to do is set the temperature and let the unit do its stuff.
This model also has a simple-to-use ash removal system which makes it a cinch to clean out the high-capacity hopper. It basically does all of the work for you. You just need to be sure to keep the ashtray in place. The cleanup cup is a different story, however, as it is difficult to get to since it is on the underside of the smoker.
If you are looking for a portable model, this is a good option as well. While it is somewhat heavy, the wheels are large, and the cooker is compact so that maneuvering it isn’t that difficult. Of course, as you can imagine with a small smoker, the cooking area is not all that large.
When it comes to finding a good offset smoker, the more you spend, the better of a cooker you are going to get. This is especially true with this model, which is definitely a pricier option, though it is well below $1000. The first thing that will stand out with this cooker is how durably built it is. It is made with nice, thick steel, which will allow it to withstand lots of use without ever breaking down. Of course, this does make it a bit heavier. While it does have some wheels on the bottom, it certainly isn’t easy to move around. So if you do decide to purchase this grill, be sure that you have a good spot for it in mind so you won’t have to maneuver it more than you need to.
Another facet of this grill where the price point really shows is how well-designed the cooker is. Not only is it easy to use, but it is also very effortless to assemble. Even if you aren’t much a handyman, you shouldn’t struggle with following the excellent instructions to get this cooker up and running.
The hopper and cooking area are nice and expansive. The large hopper makes it an excellent option for cooking over long periods of time at lower temperatures, which is perfect for smoking. The cooking area is actually separated into two different racks. Between the two of these racks, there is plenty of space for pretty much any amount of meat that you intend to make.
One thing that you need to keep in mind with this grill is that, while it does have a temperature gauge, it is not always very accurate. The higher the temperature goes, the less accurate it seems to be. If you intend to use this smoker at higher temperatures, you might want to purchase another thermometer so that you have a better amount of control over your cooking temps.
What do we love it for?
Large cooking area
Wide temperature range
Digital temperature control
Easy to assemble
What were we disappointed with?
The temperature gauge isn’t accurate at higher temperatures
Even though offset smokers are expensive by their very nature, that doesn’t mean you need to break the bank in order to buy a quality machine. This is an important thing to realize, especially if you are just getting started in the world of smoking. This model from Cuisinart is a relatively cheap, and straightforward option that will allow you to make delicious food in a very user-friendly manner.
To start with, this model has a high-capacity hopper. This larger style hopper makes it easier to get the cooker up to the proper temperature so that your food is made with just the right amount of heat without having to worry about refilling it anytime soon. It also uses wood pellets, which are an especially efficient fuel source, so you won’t have to refill this smoker often at all.
Even though this is not the most expensive option out there, it still has a pretty wide temperature range. The one thing that you need to be careful with this model, however, is when you get into the higher temperatures. While the temperature gauge works just fine at lower temps, it becomes increasingly inaccurate at higher temps, which limits the cooker’s versatility. This smoker should only be used as just that, a smoker, and not as a grill.
As you would expect from a smoker in this price range, this model is relatively small. It has a very compact design, which is perfect for limited spaces. It even has a collapsible front shelf, which makes its overall dimensions even smaller. This cooker is also quite lightweight, which makes it an easy grill to move around, even if you are on your own.
While most vertical style smokers are relatively compact, this model is not. It takes up a ton of room. This isn’t all that surprising, however, especially when you look at how large the overall cooking is. At 1,400 square inches, it packs plenty of cooking space into its oversized dimensions, making it perfect for a person who wants to smoke a ton of food at a time.
Surprisingly, this smoker can also be used as a grill, which is very different for a vertical style smoker. Usually, with their multiple racks and large main cavity, vertical smokers are not able to maintain a high enough temperature that would allow you to grill. This is not the case with this model, which only helps to make it that much more versatile as a cooker.
Even though this is such a spacious unit, it is actually quite easy to move. It has excessively large wheels, which make rolling its 124 pounds seem like a walk in the park. Even if you have to move this smoker on your own, you shouldn’t have too much difficulty.
Each individual cooking grate is quite large, so it’s easy to cook on and very effortless to clean. That is, of course, once you get them out of the cooker. The lower grates are a bit tricky to maneuver in and out of the body of the smoker. They would be especially difficult for someone who has a bad back, so you might want to get help to clean this model if this is the case.
What do we love it for?
Very large cooking area
Easy to move thanks to the oversized wheels
Can be used as a grill
Easy-to-clean cooking grates
What were we disappointed with?
Very large; takes up lots of space
Lower racks could be a problem for someone with a bad back
One of the unfortunate realities for most offset smokers is that they are very difficult to clean. It is, to put it simply, the price you have to pay for cooking using smoke. This process creates a ton of creosote, and because the environment inside of the cooker is so full of moisture, you also have to deal with a ton of liquid residue as well. This is, to put it lightly, very difficult to clean. That is, of course, unless you get this cooker. The Char-Griller 1224 is extremely easy to clean, thanks in part to its simple design. Where many other models have lots of different smoke channels, dampers, and flues to clean out, this one is a very straightforward model. There aren’t that many places for ashes, soot, grease, and grime to hide inside of this cooker.
The other reason that this model is so easy to clean is because of its well-designed and durable cooking grates. Unlike many other models that use steel for the grates, this cooker from Char-Griller utilizes non-stick cast iron. Cast iron is well known as an excellent cooking material since it conducts heat so evenly. Since these are non-stick, all you need to do is wipe them down after each use, and they are spotless and ready for your next smoking session.
This smoker is also very easy to move and has a nice sized cooking area, making it a perfect option for all of your smoking needs. It comes with a very easy to read heat gauge, which makes finding the right temperature a simple task. Although this model has a wide heat range that it can handle, it is better used for lower temperatures. The heat gauge is not always very accurate above 350 degrees, so it isn’t well suited for use as a grill.
One other issue that you need to keep in the back of your mind if you wish to purchase this model is that it is a bit tricky to put together at first. The assembly instructions are not well written, which makes it take a bit longer to assemble than you might think it would.
When it comes to picking the best offset smoker, you should check the many features that make a great smoker. In this review, we have done extensive research that enables us to authoritatively help you pick a high-value smoker and a not too great smoker. We have further answered several FAQs that will help you to better understand the different types of offset smokers in the market.
Reasons to get an offset smoker
For a person who has ever tasted something cooked using an offset smoker, they will need no persuasion to buy this equipment. Offset smokers look cool and they are credited with producing some of the smokiest, richest, and tastiest meats. Here is why you should buy your own today;
You can cook a lot of food all at once
They are not expensive to run
Adding fuel is easy and you won’t interfere with the cooking chamber’s temperature
You can grill on them. Some can also be used to roast, bake and braise
It is a lifetime equipment that will always liven your dining table atmosphere.
Offset smoker types to consider
When you say ‘smoker, most people automatically think of the horizontal or barrel smokers. An offset smoker has a smaller firebox that is used to filter smoke and heat through to a larger cooking chamber. Wood or charcoal are the sources of fuel for offset smokers. There are essentially two types of smokers, namely; vertical and barrel smokers. The difference between the two smokers lies in the design, the best type of fuel to use, and the process of cooking. However, with expert knowledge, one shouldn’t tell whether your meat has been prepared with either of the two.
Vertical offset smoker
A vertical smoker is basically a smoker that is vertically oriented. With these smokers, you will place charcoal at the bottom of the cooking area or in a firebox joined to the cooking area by a damper. These smokers draw the smoke and heat directly upwards through the cooking racks. The smoke exits from the top drum. A majority of offset smokers have one or more pans that are placed above the fire, and they hold water or wood chips that help achieve the desired results. Unlike vertical smokers, vertical offset smokers can be powered by wood as well.
Barrel offset smokers
The barrel smoker, which is also referred to as horizontal, or orientation offset smoker, has a simpler design than the vertical smoker. The smoker has a firebox where the source of heat is placed, and there is the cooking chamber. Most of the smokers in the market are the barrel smokers. Examples of these smokers include the Char-Griller 1224 and the Camp Chef Woodwind Classic.
There is a regulating intake valve that connects the firebox and the cooking chamber. Smoke and heat escape to the cooking chamber where a lift or sliding door opens to where the meat is being cooked.
The different offset smokers in the market carry different price tags because of their varying features and brand names. You will find some of the smokers commanding a price of more than $1,000 and others that go for less than $400. Some of the things that influence the big difference in price are the type of smoker or the technology employed.
Choose the best offset smoker by the following features
Choosing the best offset smoker depends on a plethora of factors. By understanding the different features that every smoker carries, you will have an easy time comparing the smokers. Here are the features to help you pick your ideal offset smoker.
When buying an offset smoker, you don’t want to make the mistake of buying one that offers insufficient cooking area. You don’t want to go back to the market looking to upgrade your smoker after only a few years. Different smokers boast of varying cooking space and this is an essential factor to consider. Look for smokers that have plenty of space, hooks, racks that can cook enough quantity of food at a time. In comparison, the Traeger Grills TFB38TOD offers 380 square inches while the vertical RiverGrille Rustler smoker commands 1,642 Square inches.
The source of energy for your smoker is paramount because it translates to the quality of meat or meals you will get from it. The main source of power is charcoal though some of the smokers like the Traeger Grills TFB38TOD and Z Grills ZPG-7002E use wood. A majority of the smokers use charcoal. However, some of the smokers, such as the Traeger Grills, use electricity alongside wood-pellets.
The hopper capacity is a key feature that determines how often you get to open the firebox or hopper door to refuel. The larger the hopper, the longer your meat will grill and smoke without interruptions. A larger hopper does not mean that you have to fill it with charcoal. Simply put enough to cook the quantity of meat that you have placed on the racks. Remember, though, that opening and closing of the hopper does not affect the quality of smoke or heat entering the cooking chamber. The Z Grills, the Camp Chef, and the Royal Gourmet BBQ smokers command 20, 18, and 5 lbs hopper capacity, respectively.
It is quite hard to come across an offset smoker without an assembly manual that will help you set up the equipment in your house or backyard. Some models are hard to assemble, while others are incredibly easy. Look for that smoker that has a simple manual and where possible, an online assembly manual. Some of the manufacturers will go the extra mile and include extra screws and other accessories in the package.
The overall dimensions of a smoker ultimately determine whether you can fit it in your kitchen or not. Given the changing times where space is everything, you might want to forego a great smoker because of its size. In many instances, the larger the smoker, the harder it is to move it around. The Char-Griller, which measures 62 x 29 x 50 inches might be a perfect accessory for your backyard. On the other hand, the Z Grills, which measures 22.5 x 48.4 x 51.2 inches, can be a good fit for a sizeable kitchen.
You don’t want a smoker that is impossible to maintain. The best way to check this feature is to check the manufacturer’s warranty. The other factor to consider under maintenance easiness is the ease with which you can clean the smoker. Check whether the plates are removable. Is the ashtray removable, and how easy can you scrub the whole equipment?
To get savory and well-smoked sausages or meat, it is critical that, the temperature inside the offset smoker must remain uninterrupted. For these results to be enjoyed, the lid of the cooking chamber should stay tightly shut. Invest in a brand that will give you accurate temperature readings to enjoy better control of your cooking. In many cases, two thermometers placed at either end of the smoker at the grate level is essential. This helps at recording the temperature differences and adjusting the smoker accordingly.
A good smoker can last you a lifetime. With proper care and love, you should use a smoker countless times through the years, and the quality of the meat should not change. Even though a smoker should be durable, you should pick one with a warranty for your peace of mind. There are manufacturer faults that can only be sorted if a warranty backs your smoker.
Different manufacturers will include some accessories in an effort to outdo each other. Check what the different smokers come accessorized with. Though accessories should not be your primary focus when it comes to picking the best offset smoker, you should consider checking whether a model comes with accessories such as extra racks, weather guard, rib hooks, or side shelves.
The durability of your smoker is dependent on several factors, among them the quality of materials used. Heavy gauge metal thicker than ¼” is often preferred because it is less likely to warp or get affected by adverse weather conditions. The seals and dampers used must be of the best quality to allow the optimal control of temperature inside the smoker. For durability, things such as hinges and latches must be of the best quality.
How to use an offset smoker
Because in most cases you will find yourself setting you smoker in your backyard or driveway, the first thing to check is the level of the smoker. Use a normal level and move it from side to side. Stabilize the smoker to give the smoker the most stable position. A heavy smoker like the Broil King 958050 will certainly perform optimally when its shaking and swaying.
The next step involves putting fuel in the firebox. Regular charcoal is better instead of briquettes. Also, avoid any wood from an evergreen tree such as pine. Wood splits from oak or maple trees are great. Use the locally available wood that is safe. Put the wood splits and charcoal together inside the firebox. The easiest way to start your fire is to use a chimney starter. Never use gasoline or paraffin to start your fire.
After the charcoal is well lit, put it in the firebox together with the wood splits. This is the time to put your meat inside the cooking area. Make sure the valve on the far end of the firebox is open when starting. Use the valve to control the fire and the smoke coming out of the chimney of the cooking area end. The Char-Griller 1224, and Oklahoma Joe’s Longhorn smoker work in this fashion.
The firebox is strategically located below but adjacent to the cooking oven. This is to force smoke and heat rising from the firebox to enter the cooking oven. The meat is cooked and smoked by the heat and the smoke before escaping through the chimney. In some cases, there is a second chamber where smoke passes again. This increases the cooking capacity.
If you want some visual guidance – watch the video below:
Every time you fail to remove carbon buildup and grease scale on the smoker lid, you are shortening the life of the whole smoker. Unlike popular believe that greasy grill grates and carbon covered lid help at enhancing the flavor of the meat, this is untrue. The rancid grease makes the food taste bad, especially in hot weather.
Before you start cooking using your smoker, ensure that you do a little cleanup. This helps remove flavors and also helps keep the equipment at an optimal performance level. If you use the smoker rarely, you should do a yearly thorough cleanup and maintenance exercise. If, on the other hand, you use smoker your meat regularly, clean the smoker twice or thrice a year. It is also essential to clean the smoker before you keep it away for winter.
Besides delivering fantastic smoked barbecues, an offset smoker can be used to perform several other functions. Many people grill and roast meat using their smokers. The Traeger Grills can actually bake, braise and smoke in addition to barbecuing.
Offset smokers are made using very tough materials that can withstand fire and harsh environment for many years. However, this cooking companion is not designed to be exposed to harsh weather over prolonged periods of time. Leaving your smoker outside will make it corrode and wear faster. If you don’t have enough space to store it under a roof, buy an offset smoker’s cover.
A smoker uses smoke to cook food. Smokers can use charcoal, wood, electricity, or gas as a source of heat. Though the electric and gas smokers are easier to use, the wood and charcoal smokers produce more genuine barbecue flavors. The meat cooked using a smoker is tender and full of flavor.
A grill, on the other hand, is a quick way of cooking food. The food is frequently rotated hence allowing even heating. You can opt to grill your food over high or low heat, but this mainly depends on the type of food being grilled. It’s ideal for small pieces of meat.
The Broil King 958050 takes the editor’s choice as the best offset smoker in this category. This smoker will not only help you serve exquisite flavors in your dining room but also leave you wanting more. It is a smoker that boasts of cool features such as 8” all-terrain wheels, removable ashtray, and a stainless-steel body.
The Oklahoma Joe’s Longhorn Reverse Flow Smoker is the best reverse flow offset smoker. The smoker provides you with a large cooking chamber of more than 1,000 square inches. It is a smoker that will give you the best value for your money if you are a true enthusiast of barbecued steak.
The Royal Gourmet BBQ Charcoal Grill with offset smoker is the best smoker you will get in the market, especially if you are a starter. This smoker will introduce your tongue to exploding flavors. At just 58 lbs and with a cooking space of slightly less than 800 square inches, you can rest assured to get the best value out of this smoker.