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Best Reverse Flow Smoker: Your Top-Rated Options in 2021

by Outdoor Cooking Pros September 30, 2021

Best Reverse Flow Smoker: Your Top-Rated Options in 2021

If you want to up your smoking game, go for a reverse flow smoker. If you're not sure which one to get, you're in the right place.

We've rounded up our top-rated and well-reviewed smokers to help you choose the best one for you.

Plus, we'll give you important tips and reminders when buying a reverse flow smoker. Let's begin!

Top 4 Picks For Reverse Flow Smokers 

Without further ado, let’s check our top-rated favorites!

1. Oklahoma Joe’s Highland Reverse Flow Smoker - Best Overall

On the top of our list is the Oklahoma Joe’s Highland Reverse Flow Offset Smoker. It has topped our charts as well as captured the hearts of grill enthusiasts for a number of reasons.

Not only does it have a round and sleek design - the whole body is made of steel. Rain or shine - you won’t have to worry about it getting ruined or corroded.

    Its tough exterior can withstand harsh weather conditions and it will surely last you for a long time.

    If you like to host bbq parties or group dinners, this is PERFECT FOR YOU too! In contrast to an average smoker, the Highland has a wide smoking area. It has a whopping 900 square inches of cooking space! The firebox chamber adds an additional 309 square inches.

    You won’t have to keep a table waiting for their food because you can smoke 2 to 3 batches of meat here at the same time. Moreover, it is smartly designed to ensure that the food is cooked evenly.

    Some cooks are frustrated when there are areas that “burn” the food because of a higher temperature. Well, you won’t have to worry about that with the Highland smoker.

    Some of you may wonder - “if it has a large space, is it effective in regulating smoke and heat?”

    Yes! To support its large cooking space, it is equipped with 4 baffle plates.

    What Does That Mean?

    Having this many baffle plates ensures that smoke is highly adjustable. It also lessens the chance that the smoke escapes throughout the cooking process.

    The mini chimney or exhaust cylinder it has also serves as the vent for the smoke.

    You won’t have to worry about smelling like smoke even if you spend a couple of hours with the Highland.

    But What About the Maintenance?

    The other concern of grillers might be the maintenance. If it’s a large smoker - “this must mean it takes a while to clean it?”

    In reality, this is the exact opposite!

    It is designed to have a clean-up door on the side where you can easily discard the ashes.

    The body also has black semi-non stick paint. This means you need only a wet piece of cloth to wipe out any grease or splatters, and you’re good to go!

    Lastly, if you’re concerned about the price - we have GOOD NEWS! This smoker is highly affordable.

    With its price tag, this is definitely a great deal!

    Our Favorite Features 

    • Low maintenance cleaning
    • Straightforward and easy to use
    • Comes with steel wheels for easy mobility
    • The cooking space is equipped with porcelain-coated cooking grates
    • Highly customizable: it has ample holding trays, a removable bottom storage rack, and stainless steel fuel basket

    Areas for Improvement

    • Some parts may need sealant and latching to completely seal it off and prevent smoke leakage

    2. Oklahoma Joe’s Longhorn Reverse Flow Offset Smoker - Best Value

    If you are planning to invest in an offset smoker, you won’t find anything better than Oklahoma Joe’s Longhorn Smoker.

    Slightly pricier and more feature-packed than the Highland, this smoker has everything you’ll ever need.

    Similar to the Highland, this smoker is backed by 4 removable baffle plates.

    Why Removable, You May Ask?

    If you prefer normal grilling, you can easily remove them. For example, if you are smoking your meat, you can remove a couple of them and leave your meat there for 8 to 10 hours.

    However, it has a BIGGER grilling space than the Highland.

    You can smoke your meat simultaneously on its 1,060 square inches of cooking surface!

    Its multiple heat dampers promise fast and easy heat control. These also aid in keeping the ideal temperature for your meat for long periods of time.

    Get Ready for an Epic Feature Bomb

    What’s more, is that you’ll be lathering your meat on heavy gauge steel porcelain-coated cooking grates! This is such a steal and something you won’t find in most smoker equipment in the market.

    A large cooking area requires a large fuel basket as well.

    The Longhorn can store enough fuel for it to go continuously for 24 hours!

    If you are cooking or smoking your meat in short periods of time, you won’t have to worry about refilling it every now and then.

    Similar to the Highland, this one has a clean-out door. Even if you have ash build-up from previous grilling sessions, you can easily empty and clean up this smoker.

    What About Portability?

    It also sports the same all-around steel design. However, be warned that this big smoker weighs 200 pounds!

    You can choose a nice spot where you can station this smoker.

    If you have limited space in the garden or patio, or if you simply don’t want it lying around, it has steel wheels to help you move it to your garage or down to the corner so it doesn’t take up any space.

    In our honest opinion, if you have extra money to spare,the Longhorn will definitely give you the most bang for your buck.

    Our Favorite Features 

    • Efficient and removable baffle plates which allows more thorough smoke flow
    • Cooks meat FAST
    • Uniform cooking environment
    • Smart smoker as it releases more pellets when temperature is raised
    • Easy to use, clean, and maintain
    • Also equipped with a stainless steel fuel basket
    • It has multiple heat dampers for optimal heat control
    • Cook to the touch handles! You’ll never have to worry about burning your handle even when the smoker is on for hours.

    Areas for Improvement

    • Affordable smoker but a pricier than the previous offset smoker from Oklahoma Joe’s

    3. Dyna-Glo Signature Series Heavy-Duty Offset Smoker - Best Budget Pick

     Dyna-Glo Signature Series Heavy-Duty Offset Smoker

    Who knew that a 2-in-1 smoker can cost less than $400?Our best offset smoker for those on a budget is from Dyna-Glo.

    The Dyna-Glo Signature Series Heavy-Duty Offset Smoker  has both grilling and smoking options. So if you plan to switch or experiment with your cooking skills, this can be your best buddy.

    Check Out All It Has to Offer

    • It has a gauge that can help you check if you are cooking at the ideal temperature to ensure that the smoke and flavor are infused deeply into your food.
    • The analog temperature gauge has indicators to help you check the right heat for smoking or grilling.
    • Aside from being the best reverse flow smoker in terms of price, it is also packed with the BIGGEST cooking space!
    • This tiered quality smoker can accommodate multiple loads of meat with its 1382 square inches area from its chrome-plated cooking grills.
    • Its heating system allows for an even temperature distribution across ALL LEVELS.

    You won’t find that much space in other smokers belonging to the same price range, more so in reverse flow offset smokers.

    As for Design and Safety...

    It has safety measures in place such as cool-touch spring lid grip and handles.

    You’ll never have to worry about lifting the lid - which is a common issue in smokers, especially when they have been on for a while.

    Our favorite feature is the design. Normally, smokers are wide and only have one or two layers.

    The clever design of this smoker SAVES YOU space and time.

    Space -  because it has 5 layers of cooking grates. You won’t have to worry about it crowding your backyard. It may save you space but it doesn’t mean you get little cooking space.

    On the contrary, this smart design helps you save time when it comes to grilling. You can leave 4 to 5 batches of food and cook them all at the same time!

    In addition, since they are layered, the oil from the top tiers gets transferred to the bottom tiers. When it comes to grilling, this mixture of oil and fat adds complexity to the flavor of the meat!

    Aside from the grates, the lid has pre-installed hooks where you can place your sausage.

    If you don't think this is space-efficient at its best, we don't know what is.

    Lastly, this “mean machine” does not require hours of cleaning. It also comes with removable ashtrays. You can easily dispose of the ash in a minute.

    Our Favorite Features:

    • Affordability
    • Multi-function smoker (smoking or grilling)
    • Good heat control and distribution
    • Has essential tools and parts (hooks, ashtray, and steel wheels)
    • Has an analog gauge to guide you during grilling or smoking sessions

    Areas for Improvement:

    • Although fairly easy to assemble, it doesn’t have tools to help during the installation process

    4. Char-Griller E1224 Smokin Pro 830

    Holy smokes, it's the Char-Griller E1224!

    Although it's not as impressive as our 3 best picks, it's worth the mention for its ridiculously affordable price and 2-in-1 smoker & grill combo!

    For small-sized to medium BBQ parties, the 830 inches of cooking space is enough to get everyone having a good laugh and enjoyable feast.

    Now, there's one thing that stood out the most when we were assembling this unit: STURDINESS.

    You won't find any of that cheap thin metal in this heavy-duty smoker. It's a quality smoker, alright. Packed with powder-coated steel to handle temperatures perfect for smoking meat with HOT demands.

    And might we suggest?

    Adding BBQ silicone on every seam on the grill interior is asurefireway to upgrade its smoker capabilities!

    The charcoal drawer also adds to its ease of cleaning and ash dumping without worries. Our biggest drawback, though?

    The paint tends to chip off, and it's not ideal if you plan to smoke your meats as often as 5 - 6 times a week.

    BUT! If you need a versatile machine you can use to grill regularly while smoke 1 to 3 times a week, Char-Griller belongs in your backyard.

    Our Favorite Features

    • Quality smoker
    • Good heat distribution and adequate smoke control
    • Highly affordable
    • Easy cleaning
    • 2-in-1 grill & smoker functionality
    • Sturdy design

    Areas for Improvement

    • Paint tends to chip off
    • Can't handle heavy smoking use

    What Is a Reverse Flow Smoker?

    In contrast to usual average charcoal, gas, or electric grillers, a “reverse flow smoker” or “reverse flow offset smoker” has a special mechanism that regulates the amount of smoke that goes in contact with the food.

    Another term used is “offset smoker” - but to differentiate, reverse flow smokers have an additional metal plate.

    This extra plate has two benefits: it serves as an extra layer of protection from high temperatures or excessive heat AND it directs the flow of the smoke in such a way that it covers all sides of the meat.

    The heat regulation is made possible through its fire box that's different from the smoking compartment of the griller.

    As the smoke is easy to “control”, this also means that temperature is also easier to zero in using an offset smoker.

    Aside from the unique firebox chamber, the best reverse flow smokers have an effective and wide BAFFLE PLATE.

     

    A baffle plate acts like a heat sink which allows a more evenly distributed heat across all sections of the smoker.

    These two are the main differentiators and components of a reverse flow system.

    This is what helps the reverse flow offset smoker control the cooking temperature and adjust the smoke in the compartment.

    Things to Consider When Buying the Best Reverse Flow Smokers

    With countless options, what factors and features should you consider before you buy? Remember, most offset smokers are good when it comes to heat and smoke control.

    However, keep in mind it will take longer to cook food when smoking, compared to grilling meat on direct heat.

    For starters, the structure of your smoker should be able to ensure effective and efficient heat control.

    AT THE SAME TIME, it will still be able to do its primary job - which is to smoke meat using its circulation system.

    The best reverse flow offset smokers all meet the following criteria:

    Type of Fuel for Your Smoker

    Most reverse flow offset smokers get their heat source from stick burners. This means they use wood[1] or charcoal as stick burners.

    Similar to a pellet or charcoal grill, it TAKES TIME for it to be ready. The good part though is the flavor and smokiness which is hard to replicate in other grillers.

    • For beginners, if you have the patience to learn and wait for it to be ready, this will be a good practice.
    • For those who are unsure or do not have the time to start a fire from scratch, you can always go for a sturdy gas smoker or a powerful electric smoker.

     

    The main point of these smokers is to smoke the meat for long periods of time.

    Latching or Sealing

    In order for an offset smoker to be effective,all creases and nooks should be completely sealed off. This will ensure you are able to control the temperature and lock in the flavor of the smoke to the meat in the cooking chamber.

    Some are equipped with latches that can be locked. Others fortify it by lids or completely welding the equipment.

    If the smoke leaks every now and then, expect a longer cooking time AND the worst - dry meat.

    Smoke leakage is dependent on the next factor.

    Material

    Go for an all-steel smoker.

    Manufacturers normally weld the crevices to make sure the smoke is sealed and kept inside. Moreover, they can also opt to add lids that aid in keeping the smoke inside the chamber.

    Aside from stainless steel, ceramic or iron smokers are trusty options.

    Aside from the sealing factor - the material of the smoker will also determine how long it will last you.

    The smoker will need to endure HOURS of heat, plus, if it is kept outside without proper storage, it should be able to withstand rain or harsh weather conditions.

    The lesson to be learned? You can have fancy tools like a stainless steel thermometer or top-of-the-line grease pan, but a smoker with cheap material catches rust sooner than you think.

    Cooking Area

    Needless to say, the available space for you to put your meats and sausages is a crucial factor you need to consider.

    Rule of thumb for these smokers: always go for big smokers.

     

    Keep in mind you will be keeping the meat in the smoking compartment for hours, so you need to be able to put an ample amount of meat in one go.

    Imagine this: you're cooking for a group of 10 people but your offset smoker can only handle a batch good for 3 people. That means you’ll have to cook 3 batches!

    This will require more fuel and time; savings from a small smoker might prove to be more expensive in the long run.

    Temperature Monitoring

    Lastly, a crucial feature when it comes to smoking meat is an accurate thermometer.

    One thing you need to remember in any smoking process: opening the lid adds more to your cooking time. Each time you lift the lid, smoke and heat escape which means your smoker needs to reach that temperature again.

    Get a smoker with a built-in thermometer or gauge to help you track the reverse flow system and what’s happening inside the chamber.

    This thermometer will be your guide to make sure your smoker stays at the desired temperature all throughout the process.

    Extra Features

    These are NOT deal breakers but these features will definitely ease the cooking process using a reverse smoker.

    You need an offset smoker that is capable of retaining a certain temperature that will not burn your meat BUT AT THE SAME TIME - it will be able to infuse the earthy, high-quality flavor you get from smoke.

    The best offset smokers have the following:

    • Pipe or chimney to release hot air
    • Stainless, chrome-coated, or porcelain-coated cooking grates
    • Double as grease pan and watertight pan
    • Ashtrays and steel wheels

    Frequently Asked Questions

    How Does a Reverse Flow Smoker Make My Meat Taste Better?

    Basically, a reverse flow offset smoker is a barbecue smoker that has a special mechanism that regulates air and smoke in the chamber.

    This control allows the smoke and heat to be evenly distributed and travel further inside the smoker.

    This ensures no meat is cooked more than the other and fully absorbs the smoky flavor from the cooking process.

    Who Makes the Best Stick Burner Smoker?

    There are a number of brands that manufacture stick burner smokers or a.k.a. offset smokers. In our list, we have Oklahoma Joe’s, Horizon, Char-Grill, and Dyna-Glo.

    These are tried and tested brands that excel in producing reverse flow smokers.

    Conclusion

    There you have it!

    For those who want to invest in the best reverse flow smoker and stray away from a traditional smoker, the options above will surely give you a nice and smooth smoking experience.

    Remember, smoking any meat takes time so always consider a number of factors before making that purchase.

    Outdoor Cooking Pros
    Outdoor Cooking Pros


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