Summer can be here in a flash, so now is about time to prepare the full BBQ set for your parties. Don’t forget to include the best offset smoker to boost the food’s flavor!
Even the most fastidious eaters have to agree that grilling is the king of all cooking styles. But fire and coal alone are never enough. To bring out all the flavors hidden inside your food, you need the best offset smoker.
After considering numerous smokers of top-tested brands, we have managed to figure out the qualities that set them apart from the crowd. Any further detail is right below, so make sure you stick around!
Types Of Offset Smokers
We get it. It has always been your dream to snatch that title of pitmaster from your showing off neighbor. Being able to differentiate the offset smokers will help in picking the greatest equipment for that job.
The good thing that you will not need to try that hard to remember them all. Offset smokers are the opposite of complex. They come in two types only, traditional and reverse flow.
Traditional Offset Smoker
This is the standard and most classic offset smoker that has been around for ages.
Like many similar units, its massive form is broken into two separated compartments linked to each other: a lidded cooking chamber and a smaller-sized firebox where the delicious smoke comes from.
Simple as it looks, this is always an oldie but goldie to expert pitmasters. They always claim that you can achieve quite a clean burn with its smoke distribution system and create as many heat zones for as many ingredients you would like.
But there is some bad news if you do not want to repeatedly flip the lid open. The heat goes past the food in one direction before coming out via the chimney, so one minute of carelessness can result in an overcooking issue.
Well, if your love for bringing out the best in your meat is big enough to overlook that one beef, we would suggest you try out Z GRILLS ZPG-550B. The quality of your food is one thing, this product is also big enough to hold at least half of your fridge!
Z GRILLS ZPG-550B
Reverse Flow Offset Smoker
Offset smokers called reverse flow are new cooks’ best friends as their particular design can prevent overheating while the lid remains shut. You can thank the upgraded smoke distribution system for this.
Their chimney is closer to the firebox, completely opposite to what you can see in any classic model. Underneath the cooking chamber, which holds and heats your dinner, lies a built-in baffle. The smoke goes through here first, then floats to all the sides of the smoker before escaping.
Since the working mechanism has seen some modifications, this offset smoker intensifies the heat in a slower, more uniform way.
Once the lid comes down, you can let the unit take over the cooking process. Only occasional checks to see if there should be any change are needed.
But more advanced is not entirely a good thing. You cannot expect a great heat disparity once settling down with anything reverse flow.
And yes, this also leads to all food getting the same treatment, no different heat zone for anything.
In case what you stack on the cooking rack is pretty much similar and want to give this type of offset smoker a go, consider Oklahoma Joe’s Longhorn Reverse Flow Smoker. The all-steel construction and giant cooking space will keep it by your side for years to come.
Oklahoma Joe’s Longhorn Reverse Flow Smoker
The Best Offset Smoker Buying Guide – Rules Of Thumb
All the juicy meat, loins, ribs, or fresh veggies that you spend all day combing the finest shops in town for will eventually have to rest inside the offset smoker, where the smoke makes some delish treats out of them.
That is to say, whether the grilled version of them coming out later has the taste that Gordon Ramsay approves of or becomes a disappointment pretty much depends on your smoker’s performance.
Now, you might have heard that one can never truly assess the ability of these cooking tools without experiencing them first hand. But that is not always the case, especially if you have our tips to back you up.
There is always that possibility that you let your eyes do the shopping then end up paying for an enormous offset smoker on a whim. Simply because, isn’t bigger is better?
Unless you have lots of mouths to feed, no, not exactly. You see, the rack that you have for grilling your BBQ party in offset smokers can go a long way.
There are those at the very end of this space spectrum, such as Royal Gourmet CC1830F, which lets you lay hands on over 800 square meters, pretty much your entire freezer. And there are the little ones, offering 200-300 square meters only.
Forgetting to take the number of people to serve into consideration and you will find yourself with more space than needed at the end of the day.
Plus, their price goes up as their size increases, which goes the same for the energy they consume. Make a wrong choice, and you lose more than just cooking efficiency.
But what if you have plenty of side dishes and a smaller offset smoker might not be able to cook all of them in time? You can always turn to the firebox! Most units have them work the extra job of a side grill since they keep all the charcoal and fire for the smoke production.
Offset smokers might look the same at first sight, a super heavy double-box design held together. Unbreakable and solid by all means. But be a smart buyer and do not let that deceive you.
Metals come in all shapes and sizes. And while reputable brands are serious about finding the right heavy-duty one, many companies never want to shell out for these high-cost materials. Most will use lightweight metals since they can cut corners for mass production that way.
Don’t worry, grilling and smoking on such a low-quality unit run no risk of explosion or anything life-threatening. But eventually, you will face a situation called ‘heat bleeding’.
This is a term referring to the uneven distribution of heat and smoke across the whole cooking chamber. You will have to bear with only one warm section, while the rest cannot even cook the surface of your meat. This means flipping and flipping until your arms fall off!
Avoid this by a quick inspection into the offset smoker’s material. Steel or high-end steel makes excellent choices for their heat retention and thickness. Or you can only buy from well-recommended brands to be extra safe.
Royal Gourmet is a prime example. They, for the most part, craft their smokers out of ¼ steel, so their lifespan is pretty much unmatched. Look at Royal Gourmet CC1830F and you can pretty much see the difference.
Royal Gourmet CC1830F
You can never expect heat without a hefty amount of oxygen. This is a fact that everybody is well aware of. But what they fail to realize is how the oxygen is channeled is a just as important factor.
It will not do you any good investing in a grill-and-smoke set that you have to struggle to adjust the vents. Oxygen needs to come in at the right level and the right time for consistent heat. As a result, having to fumble around to modify the flow of air can compromise the whole smoking process.
While you are checking the vents, remember to do so with the connection between the firebox and the main chamber. The smoke has to rise to evenly cover all your ingredients. Getting a product where the two boxes are on the same level runs the risk of poor heat dispersion.
You can clearly see this yourself when going around browsing for offset smokers. None put both of them on a matching height. If you see something like that, that is a sign for you to step away.
Cooking Grate’s Material
Some producers prefer stainless steel, others choose cast-iron metal, and there are plenty of brands into porcelain. All of them are great options to load your fancy meat on and achieve restaurant-quality results later.
Honestly speaking, we cannot think of what among these three stands out the most. But if we have to split hair, we would say that it would be speed for heavy cast-iron grates, not to mention the delicious sears they leave on the meat.
Meanwhile, anything porcelain is less expensive in terms of price. But they are high-maintenance since you cannot use any scrapers, and do not last as long. If this helps, they offer great meat quality, though.
Stainless steel gives appealing grilled dishes, not to mention they are the cheapest, so any household can have them at home. But being an option for all, what they offer is nowhere near as impressive as the top two. Frequent exposure to heat can leave them blackened and rusty as well.
And then… there is chrome. We have some doubts when adding it to the list, given its bad name among pitmasters and cooks in general. But after trying out Dyna-Glo Signature Series DGSS1382VCS-D, which is built with chrome grates, we think that as long as you go for a quality brand, nothing can go wrong.
Other Essential Accessories
What we have mentioned earlier are the non-negotiable parts of finding yourself a highly functioning offset smoker. But, sometimes, you just want some more features to get the job done in a much simpler way, especially if this is your first time working with a unit like this.
First off, the thermometer!
Some would argue that a built-in thermometer to measure the temperature of your grilling is a must, but we think it is only optional. It is great to keep an eye on what goes on under the lid, but you can count on a regular meat thermometer for that.
On top of that, you will soon grow out of that newbie phase. The chances are that the thermometer does not have much use at that point, for you have had your skills and understanding of the smoker to fall back on.
Other features related to the construction are also worthy of your consideration.
For example, you need to make sure that there is little gap between the lid and the chamber so that the ingredients can be quickly cooked to perfection. And if you are not into the idea of making trips back and forth to grab all the plates, utensils, and side dishes, the extra storage will do you some good.
Do not forget that you might need the wheels and rollers if you are not confident in your physical strength. An offset smoker is never a lightweight unit, so you might need all the help you can get to move it.
Frequently Asked Questions
Can Someone With No Cooking Knowledge Use An Offset Smoker?
Not likely. You can be a newbie in offset smoker operating, but you must at least know a thing or two about grilling or smoking before getting started. Even though the unit produces smoke for the highest quality of ingredients, it can be a bit complicated to get accustomed to.
Plus, they take a lot of time, perhaps hours, for the food to be ready to serve. And you have to watch the temperature almost all the time. All of these can be a bit too much for someone with no prior experience.
What Is Better, Horizontal, Or Vertical Offset Smokers?
There is no right answer to this question. We believe that it is a matter of preference. Both items are just as excellent when it comes to fire up your meat and other fresh ingredients, leaving your family and guests satisfied.
Still, if it is about flavor, the vertical version might take the lead. Since the grilling grates are positioned above each other as they run along its length, the juice can drip down into the food below, which is definitely a big boost in taste.
Then again, with how it is constructed, controlling these vertical offset smokers can be trickier. If you do not think you have the skills to achieve the best from them, the traditional horizontal products will suffice.
How Do You Control The Heat In An Offset Smoker?
Via the vents we have previously mentioned (see why it is so necessary to make their quality a priority?).
You tweak them around to change the way the air enters your soon-to-be meals inside. But that is not enough. If you are working with a classic model, you need to move and rotate the ingredients after a couple of minutes since the heat disparity varies from one place to another.
Most of the time, any area closer to the firebox tends to receive more heat, while the further corners stay cooler.
If this is the case of reverse flow offset smokers, the heat control will be much simpler, and do not require you to open the lid as much.
How Much Do Offset Smokers Cost?
In case you are wondering if your limited budget is enough to bring home a giant like this, no need to stress over it anymore, for offset smokers are available in many price ranges. From models around $200 that could not be cheaper, to high-end products that cost over $4000, you can find them all.
We would like to remind you that the cost does not necessarily equal the quality here. It is actually the set of features and the reputation of the brand that makes the difference. If you are lucky enough, you can even get a low-end unit that performs as well as one from the end of the price spectrum.
Make sure to do your research well, though. Skim through the reviews and the history of that brand to see if they have been involved in anything that does not seem right. Even reputed producers can release a flawed series.
What Is The Best Offset Smoker Brand?
Offset smokers are close to a needed piece of cooking equipment right now, especially for BBQ lovers. Therefore, the number of brands out there can easily exceed 100 so far.
Still, only a handful of them offer quality products that will not go out of shape after years of repetitive use. Char-Broil, Oklahoma Joe, or Royal Gourmet have the ability to be among the top of that list.
You can always choose a little-known brand if you know it well enough. Sometimes, the best gems can be found in the least expected place!
Hardly any food can work up our appetite as fast as anything with grilled sears and smoky aromas. Get the best offset smoker, and your experience with grilled food can be taken to one next level.
We have already provided you with a comprehensive buying guide, along with some products that are worthy of your money. Whatever the final decision can be is up to you.
Case in point, grab the Z GRILLS ZPG-550B if you are as much a grilling expert as any restaurant owners are and have yourself a good time leading the process all by yourself. But if you do not feel like moving the ingredients that much, go for the reverse flow technology of Oklahoma Joe’s Longhorn Reverse Flow Smoker instead.