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Best Offset Smokers Of 2021: Which Of These Is For You?

by Lianne Jones February 22, 2022

Best Offset Smokers Of 2021: Which Of These Is For You?

Also known as horizontal offset smokers or barrel smokers, the offset smoker is often considered to be the most traditional smoker on the market thanks to its simple, yet very effective design. 

Easily powered using wood or charcoal, or even both, offset smokers are perfect for anybody keen on mastering the conventional way of smoking while cooking large quantities of beautifully smoked meat in the process.

Despite their simple design, when it comes to purchasing the best offset smoker, only the best will do! The offset market is saturated with low-quality cheap smokers that use far too much fuel, leak smoke, and to be frank with you just aren’t good enough. 

This is something you can’t chance if you want a high-performing smoker, therefore you have to do your research!

In this guide, you’ll find reviews of 10 of the best offset smokers, with information regarding what they offer and any pros and cons they may come with. Each smoker we recommend has been chosen based on functionality, features, quality, and overall performance.

There is also a useful buyer’s guide at the end of the article to help you make a solid decision. 

What Is An Offset Smoker?

Before looking at the best smokers on the market, it is important to understand exactly what an offset smoker is. Offset smokers are barbecue smokers that have a horizontal cooking chamber with a firebox attached to its side. They are designed to cook meat with direct heat for a “low and slow” barbecue.

Often quite large in size, how an offset smoker works isn’t that complicated. Air drafts into the firebox from the “oven”, and out through the stack.

You maintain and control the temperature of the smoker by ensuring a wood or charcoal fire in the smoker's firebox is successfully maintained and by adjusting the flow of oxygen to the firebox and out of the stack. This is done using the smoker's adjustable vents. 

Opening the vents gives the fire an extra intake of air, which in turn raises the temperature. To lower the temperature of the fire, you must give the fire less air. Barometric pressure, wind, and the outside temperature all impact how hard the fire has to work to keep the smoker's temperature steady and smoke meat. 

While guidelines can help, maintaining a clean fire with perfect temperatures relies heavily on experience, practice, and dedication to the art of smoking. If you aren’t experienced when it comes to smoking with an offset smoker, you better get practicing.

Who Are Offset Smokers For?

Offset smokers aren’t for everyone, so before you commit to buying one, you should make sure it is the right sort of barbecue for you. 

Primarily, smokers are ideal for those of you who want to cook beautifully authentic barbecued or smoked meat with wood.

This mostly applies to the more heavy-duty offset smokers with a ¼” firebox and especially the smokers with reverse flow draft, with these smokers being the perfect smoker for burning logs. 

For newcomers who have never used a smoker before but are keen to get that authentic barbecue flavor, cooking on a base of charcoal briquettes, while also filling the fire with chunks of wood is fine. 

Offset smokers also suit individuals who like to do things old school. Smokers don’t get more traditional and old school than these hunks of steel, seasoned wood, a roaring fire, a pair of gloves, a shovel, and a monster piece of meat.

Those who prefer to work naturally without electricity should definitely look at an offset smoker. 

Finally, offset smokers are also suitable for those who like to cook a lot of meat or simply like the cool factor. Almost every type of offset smoker is designed to hold a lot of meat, so if you have a crowd to cook for or want plenty of leftovers, an offset smoker is a good choice.

In terms of open fire pits and cabinet smokers, they are certainly great, but none are as cool and unique as the offset smoker, so if you like something interesting and cool, an offset smoker has to be your choice.

Oklahoma Joe Highland Smoker

The first offset smoker on this list is the Oklahoma Joe Highland. By far the most traditional smoker on this list, this offset smoker offers a great balance between high-quality performance, impressive features, and price.

When it comes to backyard, or potentially semi-professional smoking, this unit is unbeatable. Crafted using solid high-temperature steel, this smoker gives users a more than generous cooking rack area of 691 square inches. This cooking space is more than enough to smoke a delicious pork butt or a large brisket to perfection. 

In terms of controlling the temperature of this smoker, it couldn’t be much easier. Even for inexperienced smokers, maintaining a good temperature isn’t difficult. Thanks to the quality dampers that are very easy to adjust and solid steel design, heat is easily held within the smoker.

When it comes to features, we were pleased with what we found in the Oklahoma Joe Highland. The smoker comes with all the features you need to make smoking easier. This includes a removal shelf, cool-touch handles, a built-in thermometer, and a cart with wheels, so you can move your smoker with ease.

Another nice touch is the 281 square inches of cooking space in the firebox. This gives users more space to grill food if hosting a larger crowd of people.

Pros

  • Multiple dampers- Multiple dampers provide easier heat control.
  • Built-in storage space - Utensils and other essentials can be stored in the smoker's storage spaces.
  • Easy to clean- The porcelain-coated grates are easy to clean and rust-resistant.

Cons

  • Susceptible to leakage- Occasionally, some Joe Longhorn smokers have been susceptible to small amounts of leakage. This can be easily addressed through some simple modifications.

Also available at Oklahomajoes.com

Oklahoma Joe’s Longhorn Reverse Flow Smoker

Produced by Char Broil, the Oklahoma Joe’s Longhorn Reverse Flow Smoker ups the game. Char Broil has taken the hugely popular Highland smoker and added to its design by including some excellent reverse flow technology.

This feature allows you to control the baffles to produce a much more even temperature throughout the smoker. Users can also use the smoker as a regular, more traditional offset smoker by simply removing the plates. Place the smoke stacker in the secondary port and off you go. 

Whichever way you choose to use this smoker, adjusting smoke levels and the temperature is relatively easy. This is because of the addition of a professional standard thermometer and multiple dampers.

For us, the best feature of the Longhorn smoker from Char Broil is its increased cooking area. In total, this smoker has a cooking area of 1,060 square inches. This includes a huge 751 square inch cooking space in the main chamber, and an extra 309 square inches in the firebox, perfect for grilling.

With a large, easily accessible firebox, high-quality gauge, 2 storage shelves, solid all-steel construction, large 10-inch wheels to move the smoker around, in the Oklahoma Joe’s Longhorn smoker we have a highly effective, all-round high-quality smoker. Offering an unparalleled barbecuing experience, this smoker is great value for money.

Pros

  • Reverse flow set up- This allows for a more even heat and smoke distribution throughout the smoker.
  • Large cooking space- With a 1,060 square inch cooking capacity, all your smoking and grilling needs will be met.
  • Increased heat control - Fitted with multiple dampers, it is easy to control the heat in this smoker.

Cons

  • Not fully leak-tight- This smoker isn’t completely smoke-tight. This can be solved cheaply.

Also available at Oklahomajoes.com

Broil King Offset Charcoal Smoker

If you’re a keen griller, you’ll have heard of Broil King before. Typically known for their famous portable and gas grills, Broil King also makes some great smokers. The offset charcoal smoker from Broil King is a very practical choice for anybody who hasn’t had experience using an offset smoker before.

This mid-range offset smoker has a decent cooking space of 625 square inches. It isn’t a beast, but it will allow you to cook enough food to easily enjoy the smoking experience with your friends and family. 

In terms of design, the Broil King charcoal smoker is made of durable 2 mm thick steel that successfully maintains the temperature, even during the coldest times of the year. With a weight of 186 pounds, the addition of wheels is appreciated. 

The smoker is equipped with heavy-duty porcelain-coated cast-iron grates that ensure long-lasting cooking and an easy cleaning process. To make cleaning easier, the smoker is also fitted with two removable ashtrays. 

When we reviewed this offset smoker, we were pleasantly surprised by its overall attractive chrome-coated appearance and the extra features the smoker came with.

These features included a thermometer, a large front shelf, utensil hooks, a lower storage shelf, and a bottle opener. All of these are neat touches that make the smoker a lot easier to use.

Pros

  • Good beginner smoker- If you don’t have offset smoker experience, take a look at this smoker.
  • Reasonable price - This smoker is available at a fair price.
  • Large cooking area- You have 625 square inches of cooking space to play with.

Cons

  • Not for professional use- This smoker is nowhere near good enough for professional smokers. 

Also available at Bbqgrills.com

Dyna-Glo DGO1890BDC-D Charcoal Smoker

Featuring a stylish vertical offset design, this offset smoker from Dyna-Glo solves the number one problem owners of offset smokers encounter, and that is a proper flow of smoke that goes directly upwards and not sideways.

A second advantage that comes with this smoker and one that should make you seriously consider it is its incredible cooking area.

You can choose between the wide and standard size variation of this smoker depending on how much you want to cook. Offering a huge cooking space of 1,890 square inches, spread over six durable cooking grates that can each hold 25lbs of meat, every meat smoking needs you have and more will be met. 

Giving you all the basic features you need to cook deliciously smoked meats, this smoker is for beginners and those who want brisket and ribs without having to pay a hefty price tag. 

The racks in this smoker are removable, so if you have something bigger to cook, simply remove a rack or two to make more room. Creating this extra height will give you space to cook bigger meats like turkey with ease. 

We found that controlling the temperature in this smoker was easy thanks to the adjustable smoke stack flute. We were also pleased with the porcelain-enameled fire chamber that helps to keep the briquettes tight stacked. This improves fuel efficiency across the smoker.

Although this smoker isn’t the cheapest on the market, it represents great value for money, so it has to be one of your top smokers to consider.

Pros

  • Affordable- This smoker offers great value for money.
  • Adjustable racks - Adjustable cooking racks help you organize your food.
  • Large cooking capacity- The 1,890 square inches of cooking space in this smoker is impressive.

Cons

  • No firebox grill- Unlike other offset smokers, there is no cooking grate in the firebox.

Also available at Wayfair.com

Dyna-Glo Signature Series DGSS1382VCS-D Heavy-Duty Vertical Smoker & Grill

If you have limited space but still want an effective smoker, you need to look at the Signature Series Heavy-Duty Vertical Smoker & Grill. Another vertical smoker produced by Dyna-Glo, this unit gives you enough space to cook tonnes of food without having to worry about how much space it takes up in your yard.

With a huge capacity of 1,098 square inches, spread over 5 easily removed racks, this Signature Series smoker has all the capabilities and features required to make smoking easy. Despite its low price tag, the design of this smoker is surprisingly strong.

Crafted from the very best heavy-duty steel, it may not be as thick as some professional-grade units, but it is more than sturdy and solid enough to withstand a beating from high temperatures.

Also included in the purchase of this smoker are pre-installed hooks. These hooks can be used to hang meat up. As if the 1,098 square inch cooking space wasn’t enough, there is also an extra 284 square inch cooking grill in the firebox.

In terms of temperature control, it is straightforward and easy. The vertical design helps to heat the smoker evenly throughout. The only downside we noticed was that some smoke does leak through the door and the joins. However, you should expect this with a model in this price range. 

Pros

  • Flexible configuration- This versatile smoker can be adjusted to suit your needs.
  • Small footprint - If you don’t have much space, this smoker is your best option.
  • Huge smoking capacity - This smoker has over 1,000 square inches of cooking space.

Cons

  • Leaks smoke- This Dyna-Glo smoker will leak some smoke.

Also available at Wayfair.com

Oklahoma Joe Longhorn Combo Smoker

Another high-performing, high-quality offset smoker from Char Broil is the Oklahoma Joe Longhorn Combo Smoker. This smoker is ideal for those of you who like to have plenty of options when it comes to entertainment and cooking. 

The Oklahoma Joe range from Char Broil has been with us since 1998. During this time, as a company, they have built a strong reputation as one of if not the best manufacturers of strong, durable, and sturdy at-home smokers. The Longhorn Combo only goes to show how far they have come. 

This impressive smoker provides you with a heavy gauge steel barrel, perfect for traditional smoking. You can also use it as a charcoal offset smoker.

Firing up a roaring fire in just minutes, you can almost instantly sear a beautiful steak for a no-nonsense dinner. Alternatively, you can try reverse searing, taking your tri-tip and other delicious meats to the next level. 

The Longhorn Combo offers a cooking capacity of 1,060 square inches, but you have to remember this is split between three sides of the smoker. The smoker side has 375 square inches of space, the grilling side also has 375, and finally, the firebox has 310 square inches of grilling space. 

Despite having smaller sections, we found that the adjustable porcelain-coated cast iron racks, dampers, and multi-temperature gauges provided plenty of space for cooking a huge range of meats with ease.

Pros

  • Very versatile- This smoker does it all. You can grill, smoke, and charcoal grill easily.
  • Decent overall cooking capacity- Overall the Longhorn Combo smoker has plenty of cooking space.
  • No leaking smoke - You shouldn’t experience any leaking smoke with this smoker.

Cons

  • Less space for one cooking method- Don’t choose this smoker if you only want to use one method of cooking. The overall cooking space is split between three grills.

Also available at Oklahomajoes.com

Char-Griller E1224

If you consider yourself to be a grill or smoker enthusiast, take a look at the Char-Griller E1224. This modern, attractive offset smoker features wooden shelves and handles that help the unit stand out from the crowd. 

The entire construction of the smoker is made from powder-coated, heavy-gauge steel, which lasts longer than ordinary painted steel. In terms of cooking capacity, with this smoker, you receive a generous total capacity of 830 square inches.

This is split between the main smoker chamber and the firebox. In the main chamber, there are 580 square inches of cooking space. In the firebox, there are 250. 

Thanks to the inclusion of removable charcoal drawers, cleaning the smoker is an effortless task. Once cooking is done, users can dump any waste ash easily. On the topic of cleaning, the nonstick iron grates can also be very easily cleaned after being used.

The easy to clean nature of this smoker gives it a longer life, making it more durable and a lot easier to maintain. 

Additional features included in the design of the Char-Griller E1224 are a temperature gauge, wheels for easy transport, and storage racks where you can store any food or essential cooking utensils.

Pros

  • Stylish- This smoker is probably the most stylish smoker on this list.
  • Good cooking capacity- With 830 square feet of cooking space, this smoker will cover all your cooking needs.
  • Easy ash removal- Using the removable charcoal drawers, you can easily dump any waste ash.

Cons

  • Takes time to assemble- This smoker takes longer to assemble.

Also available at Chargriller.com

Royal Gourmet CC1830F

Designed to give you everything you could ask for in a simple, yet effective offset smoker, the Royal Gourmet CC1830F is a brilliant budget-friendly smoker that comes with some great features and solid overall performance.

Featuring a cooking space of 782 square inches, this smoker may not have as much space as others, but it is still more than capable of successfully cooking a variety of different foods at once.

To make the cooking process easier for its user, the Royal Gourmet is equipped with two cooking shelves, one at the bottom and one at the front.

Porcelain-coated enameled cooking grates guarantee the best performance for a significant period of time and the chrome-plated unit maintains temperature well, ensuring heat is distributed evenly across the grill. 

One feature that we found useful with this smoker is the built-in thermometer. Located on the smoke chamber lid, this thermometer is super easy-to-read.

Another great feature is the two wheels that enable the smoker to move. Weighing 50lbs, the smoker may be fairly lightweight, but the extra help is always appreciated. 

Also included are stay-cool handles to allow for easy access to the firebox and smoke chamber. The 5lbs charcoal pan makes life even easier when it comes to loading up the required amount of charcoal for long smoking sessions.

Pros

  • Very affordable- The Royal Gourmet CC1830F smoker is available at a very reasonable price.
  • High-quality cooking grates - The porcelain-enameled cooking grates are very good.
  • Easy to load - The 5lb charcoal pan makes loading the firebox a lot easier.

Cons

  • Flaking painted body- This smoker has a painted body that tends to flake quite a bit.

Landmann 560202 Charcoal Grill

The final grill on our list is the 560202 charcoal grill from Landmann. We appreciate this grill because it packs a punch in a unit that makes the most of its limited space. If you have limited storage space in your backyard, this is the smoker you should be looking at.

With a folding side table and an extremely compact design, you should comfortably find space for this smoker. Despite its size, the performance of the grill isn’t compromised. The chrome-plated steel cooking racks provide enough space to comfortably cook a range of juicy meats.

However, in terms of cooking space, this smoker doesn’t have as much. Because space is of a premium, this grill only has 360 square inches of space to cook your food.

On top of that, there are 169 square inches of space in the firebox. This isn't a lot, but for a few friends and family, it is all you need, especially if you only have tight space.

To control the heat in the grill, Landmann has included a temperature gauge, hand crank, and plenty of vents. By adjusting these features, you can easily change the temperature in the smoker and also adjust the height of the charcoal.

Designed with plenty of handy openings, the Landmann 560202 Charcoal Grill is also very easy to clean.

Pros

  • Perfect for small spaces- If you have limited space this smoker is perfect.
  • Easy to control the heat- This smoker is packed with features that let you control the heat in the main chamber.
  • Easily cleaned- With easy access to various compartments of this smoker you can easily clean it out.

Cons

  • Small cooking capacity- You have to sacrifice your overall cooking space with the Landmann 560212 smoker.

Buyer’s Guide

Before you go ahead and buy your offset smoker, there are a few things to think about. With so many different types of offset smokers to choose from, it is important to make a final decision you are pleased with.

The last thing you want is to buy a smoker that doesn’t fit in your backyard, doesn’t have enough cooking space, or simply isn’t suitable for the style of cooking you want to do.

Even in our list, there are three or four different styles of smokers. To make sure you make the right decision, we have put together this buyer’s guide.

This buyer’s guide looks at the key things you need to consider before making your final decision. Consider the following points carefully if you want to make the best decision possible. 

Size

When it comes to any type of smoker, size definitely matters. Smokers come in a huge variety of different shapes and sizes, so you have to make the right choice. You first need to consider how much space you need for cooking. 

If you’re planning on preparing food for your family and friends, a smaller-sized offset smoker is all you require. On the other hand, if you plan on cooking for a crowd, you will need a much bigger smoker, with a larger cooking surface. 

Storage space is another important factor to consider. A lot of offset smokers are quite long. This means you’ll need more space to store them. If you don’t have much space, make sure you choose a smoker that fits in the space you have. 

Smoker Construction

Another major thing to take into consideration is how well the smoker has been put together. Luckily for you, all of the offset smokers on our list have been put together pretty well.

However, if you decide to go for a smoker that isn’t on our list and haven’t thought things through, it may not have a very good construction.

A considerable amount of inexpensive smokers are made from thin metals that can’t transfer or hold heat very well. This is shocking considering smoking and grilling is all about maintaining heat evenly across the unit. 

A good, high-quality smoker will be made out of thick metal that keeps the heat inside efficiently. Porcelain-coated steel is usually a good sign of solid construction. Proper ventilation is also very important. Make sure your smoker has plenty of vents so the smoke can flow effectively.

Budget

The budget you have to spend on an offset smoker will massively impact the quality of the smoker you can buy. Luckily, most offset smokers are pretty affordable, so you should be able to afford the one you want, however, some smokers can cost up to $900.

This might be out of reach, so you should avoid looking at these smokers altogether. 

The best thing you can do is to calculate your budget before doing anything else. Once you know how much you can afford to spend on a smoker, you can start looking at the offset smokers available in that price range.

What Are You Cooking?

What you plan on cooking on your smoker is something you really need to think about. If you plan on only grilling food, then clearly you don’t need a smoker that has a large capacity to smoke food.

The same applies if you want to just smoke food. If you plan on only smoking food, it makes no sense to buy a smoker that has a bigger capacity to grill food.

If you just plan on smoking meats such as brisket or ribs, we recommend choosing an upright smoker. If you prefer to sear your steaks and cook a burger now and again, a more traditional smoker with a specific place to sear meat will be a better option.

Portability 

We recommend looking for an offset smoker that is fairly easy to move. Some offset smokers can weigh well over 100lbs, so without any features that make them portable, moving your smoker around your backyard will be very difficult.

Some smokers will have solid wheels that make things a lot easier, whilst others have storage compartments so that you can easily move the unit without having to remove all of your essential items. 

Easy To Maintain

The worst thing about any offset smoker is the cleanup that has to be carried out after your cooking session. Once you’ve finished cooking nobody wants to scrub their smoker clean but unfortunately, it is a must. 

You can make things a lot easier for yourself by looking for a smoker that has features that make the cleaning process quicker and easier. Most smokers will at least have a catch pan below so that any waste can be easily removed.

Others are designed with panels and doors that are easily removed so that you can access the trays with all the ash in. 

You would be silly not to look out for a smoker with these features.

Traditional Vs Reverse Flow Smokers

One of the biggest decisions you will have to make is whether you pick a more traditional smoker or one with reverse flow. As a result of this, it is important to know exactly what both types of smokers offer.

Traditional smokers have the heat and smoke entering the main cooking chamber from the firebox before it finds any way possible to get to the chimney. This results in hot spots in the cooking chamber that allow you to either cook in the lower or higher heat areas. 

With reverse flow smokers, the steel plate below the cooking racks channels smoke from the unit's firebox over to the other side of the cooking chamber. The smoke is then released up into the upper chamber, where it finds its way to the other side.

The main advantage of reverse flow smokers is that the heat is evenly dispersed across the smoker, giving a steadier temperature. These types of smokers also provide an overall lower smoking temperature to the grates. This leads to a better-smoked meat experience. 

The one downside to reverse smokers is that they often have longer cooking times and are less fuel-efficient. As a result of these factors, not one type of smoker is better than the other. From the information we have provided, you should just make a decision that suits your needs best.

Brand

You will find a wide range of different offset smokers from a huge variety of different brands that add their own touch to the construction of each smoker in an attempt to set it apart from the competition.

If you have a brand of grills and smokers you already like, it is a good idea to stick with them because you already know what to expect. 

If the brand of offset smoker doesn’t matter to you, then you should simply keep the features in mind when looking for your perfect smoker. Keep the features in mind and then look for a brand that offers them. Key brands to look at include Char Broil, Char-Griller, and Oklahoma Joe.

Frequently Asked Questions

What Are Offset Smokers Good For?

The beauty of offset smokers is that they typically have a wide range of uses. These can range from smoking and grilling to charcoal grilling. In terms of what meats should be cooked on an offset smoker, your options are endless, however, generally speaking larger cuts of big meats are better suited to this style of grill.

Thanks to the smoker's dual-chamber, it has never been easier to add extra fuel if and when you need it. Most double smokers have a grill in the firebox too. This is great for quickly charcoal grilling delicious meats or vegetables.

What Is Offset Smoking?

Offset smoking is the process of barbecuing, grilling, or smoking food using an offset smoker. These smokers have vertical or horizontal cooking chambers, as well as a firebox attached to their side. Offset smoking is designed to cook food with low and slow indirect heat.

Available in a range of different styles, an offset smoker is great for cooking beautifully prepared food for your family and friends. Large units can even host larger crowds. 

How Do You Keep An Offset Smoker Going Overnight?

Sometimes we need to keep our food smoking overnight so that it tastes the best it possibly can. You might think this will be hard to do, but it is actually very straightforward to keep an offset smoker going overnight. 

To keep your offset smoker going overnight, you need to place unlit charcoal or a piece of unlit wood underneath the other logs of wood. As the fire starts to head towards the unlit part of the fire, it will flare back up, sending the fire back up. This process helps to keep the fire going for a much longer period of time.

Final Thoughts

That concludes our guide to the best offset smokers of 2021. After going through this guide you should not only have a good idea of what offset smokers are on the market but also what you should be looking for when buying one. 

While offset smokers might vary from brand to brand in terms of style, shape, size, and cooking capabilities, almost every high-quality smoker will be made from durable porcelain-coated steel and come equipped with features that allow you to cook a large variety of meats effortlessly.

We have looked at horizontal and vertical smokers, as well as more traditional smokers. They all differ in style, but we can confidently say that they all provide you with an amazing starting place to start cooking some beautiful tasting meat.

Now you’ve got our guide at your fingertips, it’s your turn to do some hard work. Take your time to look at each smoker carefully. When you’ve done this, you should be able to make a final decision you can be pleased with. Your final choice should suit all of your needs and requirements, helping you make the very best food.

Lianne Jones
Lianne Jones


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