Nothing beats outdoor cooking. It’s the combination of the happy atmosphere and spending quality time with friends and family. Then there is the superior flavor of the food. In fact, we don’t wait for summer. Even if we have to eat indoors, we still try and cook outdoors once every couple of weeks. The best way to do this is with an offset smoker.
There are many different shapes and sizes but the most significant is vertical and horizontal. A vertical smoker cooks with the smoke rising from the bottom. A horizontal offset smoker has a compartment attached to the side and the smoke moves across to cook the food.
You will also find pellet smokers. You will need electricity for these. Cooking on them is easier but you won’t get the same smoked flavors as you will from an offset smoker with wood or charcoal.
Cooking with an offset smoker is going to take a bit of practice. But you will be able to cook an awful lot of mouth-watering food. Let’s take a look at a few offset smokers for sale at the moment.
Best Offset Smokers Review
|Dyna-Glo DGO1176BDC-D||47.03 x 34.52 x 20.2 inches||57lbs||Vertical|
|Royal Gourmet BBQ Charcoal||55.1 x 27.2 x 48.4 Inches||54.2lbs||Horizontal|
|Char-Broil 30”||54.3 x 43.9 x 22.7 inches||69.4lbs||Horizontal|
|Char-Griller E1224||62 x 29 x 50 inches||146lbs||Horizontal|
|Giantex BBQ||45.5 x 25.5 x 42.5 inches||25lbs||Horizontal|
|Landmann 560202||54 x 25.5 x 47.5 inches||78.7lbs||Horizontal|
The Dyna-Glo is a heavy-duty cast iron vertical offset smoker with 15,000 BTU. The main construction of the body is steel. It has a heavy gauge porcelain enameled steel wood chip box. There are two doors so you won’t lose heat when you need to add more wood chips. This offset smoker has a high temp powder coat finish to make it more durable and last longer.
In terms of cooking space, you have 784 square inches of space to cook on. This works out to be about 100lbs of food. There are 6 shelves inside that you can adjust to fit in a range of different foods. The lower shelves get around 225ºF of heat, whereas the top shelves get 240ºF, give or take.
With a height of 47.03”, a width of 34.52” and a depth of 20.2”, it is relatively compact. It weighs 57lbs. You can use wood or charcoal, depending on your preference. There is a handy removable grease cup and ash try for easy cleaning. The ashtray is a good size so you can keep cooking for hours!
There is a temperature gauge to monitor the heat inside and you can change the temperature to your liking with the adjustable flue.
Royal Gourmet BBQ Charcoal Grill and Offset Smoker
The first great feature is that you can choose between smoking and barbequing, so you have already doubled your cooking options. You can even smoke and BBQ at the same time. It has a new black coating that will withstand temperatures of up to 400º.
You have a total of 800 square inches of space. The main chamber has 483 square inches plus a 179 square inch swing-away rack. In the side box, there are an additional 183 square inches.
The grates are made of porcelain. They help to cook the meat evenly. There are two height settings in case you want to move the food slightly further away from the height. The grates are easy to remove and porcelain is easy to clean.
The access door to the charcoal or wood is on the side of the offset box, making it easy to control or add more. There is a temperature gauge and two adjustable dampers to help you control the temperature. You can also adjust the airflow if necessary.
It is 55.1” x 27.2” x 48.4”. It weighs 54.2lbs but with its two wheels, you can easily transport it. It also comes with a storage rack underneath and a side table. The side table has hooks under it to hang your cooking utensils on. On top of that, it has a scald-proof handle.
Char-Broil 30” Offset Smoker
Char-Broil is an American brand with a solid reputation for barbeques and offset smokers. This model has three charcoal grates so you can grill and smoke your food. The unit is made of sturdy steel for great durability.
In total, you have 605 square inch cooking space. The main chamber can fit 24 hamburgers on a 30”x20” grate. The grates are porcelain-coated for an even cook and juicy, tender meat. It comes with a side shelf for prep space and a bottom shelf for storage. The large 8” wheels make it easy to move around.
There is a temperature gauge in the lid. You can control the smoke by the air draft and you can use the top damper to adjust the smoke or heat. It is used to cook with charcoal and wood chips. This model has a three-piece smoking chamber construction. The design helps prevent the loss of smoke and heat. The offset box has an ash door, meaning it is simple to remove any ash and keep it clean.
It is quite heavy, weighing 69.4lbs. The extra weight doesn’t make it bulky at 54.3 inches x 43.9 inches x 22.7 inches. It is nice that the Chair-Broil Offset smoker comes with a one-year warranty on the whole unit.
Char-Griller E1224 Smokin Pro
This is a bit of a beast of an offset broiler for that Texas-style cook. It has a heavy-gauge powder-coated steel construction. It comes with non-stick cast-iron cooking grates. Cast-iron provides an excellent finish on meat and it won’t warp. It has both quality and design. The powder-heat finish makes it suitable for high temperatures.
You get a massive 830 square inches of cooking space, split between 580sq inches in the main chamber and another 250sq inches in the firebox. You have a side and front shelf, both made of wood. This gives you plenty of prep space. There is also a storage shelf underneath, fewer trips back and fro to the kitchen.
You can adjust the height of the grates, depending on the cook you are looking for on the food and if you want to leave the food higher to keep it warm, there is a swing rack. As well as moving the grates, you can also use the dampers to control the heat. Monitor the heat from the temperature gauge built into the lid.
It is really easy to clean by taking out the ash pan from the side and throwing out the ashes. There is a second, bottom lid that slides out so you can add extra charcoal without having to remove the grill. Both the main chamber and the fire-box have wooden handles to match the shelves and prevent burns.
It is the largest offset smoker we have seen so far. It is 62” x 29” x 50” and weighs 146lbs. There are 2 chunky wheels to make life easier when you want to move it. It is also a little more expensive but it is definitely a quality grill and smoker.
Giantex BBQ Grill with Offset Smoker Barbecue Oven
The Giantex is mainly constructed with black-coated steel that is anti-rust. The material is imported from PTFE. It has no burrs and can withstand temperatures between -76ºF and 500ºF. The firebox is made of steel.
It comes with most of the standard features we have seen. There is a nice wooden shelf to prepare food. This matches the handles on the firebox and the main chamber. There is a shelf underneath to store herbs, spices or plates, etc. There are two wheels to move the offset smoker to your preferred location.
The nice addition is the two black glass fiber stain resistant mats. They are environmentally friendly and meet all food safety and health rules for the BBQ. They are non-stick and super easy to clean with soapy water. With the two mats, you can cook things like eggs, fish, shrimp, grilled cheese, or anything else that would normally fall through the grills.
This Giantex has an easy to read thermometer. The side vent allows air to flow. You can also use the side vent to add more charcoal. The exhaust chimney will help reduce smoke and heat when you need to.
It comes at a great price and a great size, 45.5” x 25.5” x 42.5”. The two mats are 13” x 16”. The grill is only 25lbs
Landmann 560202 Charcoal Grill and Offset Smoker
The Landmann is made of cast-iron with porcelain-coated grates. It is a strong and sturdy offset smoker, right down to the extra thick legs. Even the storage tray looks firmer with a wide iron rim.
The porcelain cast-iron grates have a cooking capacity of 363 square inches. There is also a chrome-plated steel warming rack of 201 square inches. It can also be used for additional cooking space. The smoker box has a grate for another 169sq inches of cooking. It is not like the other boxes, the food won’t sit in the box, so you will only be able to put food in that allows the lid to close like thinner meats and vegetables.
We do like the adjustable charcoal pan with a crank handle, making it even easier to change the height of the heat source. Also, the removable ashtray is the same size as the grill so it is even easier to clean. There is a side air vent and adjustable dampers to control the heat, which can be monitored on the temperature gauge in the lid.
It has stainless steel handles that make the unit look stylish and there is a fold-down table for prep space. It is 54” x 25.5” x 47.5” and weighs 78.7lbs. Again, with the two wheels, you won’t feel the weight.
Things You Should Know Before Buying An Offset Smoker
Before going into specific details, you should remember that Offset Smokers are not the same as a grill. A grill uses high amounts of heat and even flames to cook food quickly. Offset smokers require more finesse and time. The end result is more succulent, tender meat.
Horizontal or Vertical Offset Smokers
First, let’s cover the size difference. The obvious thing you will notice is that a vertical offset smoker will be taller and thinner. This is good for people who are looking for something more compact. Horizontal offset smokers are generally bulkier and wider.
A horizontal offset smoker works by lighting a heat source to the side of the main chamber, the heat/smoke then flows through a hole into the main chamber. In a vertical offset smoker, the heat/ smoke comes from below the food. Vertical offset smokers need water, however, they are often easier to control.
Pellet smokers are great if you don’t have as much experience smoking food. It is easier to maintain the temperature when you use pellets. Because of this, you don’t need to have to watch over the food quite so much. They use 100% pure pellets from hardwood that are fed into the offset smoker bit by bit. You will also need a power supply. On the downside, you won’t have the same smoky flavor and not many pellet offset smokers have the option to grill at the same time.
With any option you choose, the key to a good offset smoker is the quality of the material. Cheap material will lead to an uneven cook on the meat. They normally don’t last that long either.
Your budget may not allow you to buy the most expensive material but try to find the heaviest metal gauge within your budget. The heavier your offset smoker is, the better it will retain heat. It will also handle extreme weather and is less likely to warp.
Most people use charcoal, wood or a combination. If you are using charcoal, buy good quality charcoal. It will have to burn for hours, so you don’t want it burning out too quickly. Also, remember to buy more than you think you might need. If you choose to use wood, it will have to be completely dry to get the necessary smoke. When using wood, pay attention to the type of wood because each will provide a slightly different taste to your food.
An absolute must is a temperature gauge. It is not like cooking on a barbecue where you can constantly monitor the cook on your meat. The lids remain closed to keep the smoke in, so you have to be able to see the inside temperature without opening the lid too often. Offset smokers come with exhaust chimneys, side vents and/or dampers to help you control heat and smoke. Particularly with dampers, you want to make sure there is a tight seal on the opening but that they still slide open and shut with ease. Seals should also be top-quality to prevent smoke from escaping.
Keeping it practical
There is nothing worse than at a crucial cooking moment you have to run to the kitchen to get a plate, the salt or a utensil. Ideally, when you buy an offset smoker you want some kind of working space and a storage shelf. Hooks to hang tools on are great but we can live without them.
A strong sturdy build is a must! You want to be able to set up the offset smoker as quickly and easily as possible, but you have to follow the instructions to make sure your unit is safe. Wobbly legs are a big no for us. We have seen what can happen when an offset smoker collapses!
Heat resistant handles might seem like a trivial thing to look for but trust us, when you are lifting (a potentially heavy lid) you don’t want to have to worry about burning your hands.
Some people are tempted to buy a smoker that comes with a few extras. It feels like you are getting more for your money. A free set of utensils or cleaning tools look like a bargain but they aren’t worth it if you are sacrificing quality or safety.
Read next: The Best Gas Grills Under 300$
Moving your offset smoker
Many people are going to want to move their offset smoker, at least to some degree. Even if it is just from one area of your garden or patio, it is not practical to lift a whole unit. In some cases, if you have chosen a heavy model, it might even be impossible. Others will opt to take their offset smoker on holiday with them, or for a day out. Wheels are definitely going to be a necessary feature is you plan on moving any sized offset smoker.
Once all the fun has been had and everyone is sitting on a full stomach, the realization hits that you need to clean your offset smoker. Pull-out ashtrays make life a whole lot easier. Removable grates are a better option so that you can take them out to wash them. The material will also play a part. Porcelain and stainless steel are generally easier to clean.
A warranty is always a safe bet, especially if you have bought one of the more expensive offset smokers. A cover is great to protect the unit from rain, preventing rust. If it doesn’t come with a cover, many have the option to buy one separately.
Frequently Asked Questions
How do you smoke with an offset firebox?
To light your offset smoker, make sure all the air vents are open. Add your charcoal and light it. Wait for about 15 minutes. After 15 minutes you can add wood if you want to. Close the lids and monitor the temperature until it reaches between 225ºF and 275ºF. Now you are ready to start adding your meat. Try to make sure the meat is at room temperature, as it will absorb more flavor.
You will need to check the temperature every 30 minutes or so. Adjusting the heat by opening or closing air vents/dampers. You may also want to spray your food or add a pot of water to the firebox t help keep your meat moist. Every hour, turn your meat over.
How do I to clean my offset smoker?
You must make sure the offset smoker has completely cooled down, including the ash. Even cold ash can still have warm embers that will burn through plastic bins. Remove all of the ash, hopefully, you can just slide out the tray. Remove the cooking grates so you can get to the bottom of the chambers. It is better to clean fat residues each time to prevent build up. Use a soft cloth or tissue paper, anything that won’t scratch the protective coating.
To clean the cooking grates it is best to leave them to soak in hot soapy water for 10 minutes before scrubbing them. If you prefer, you can buy a BBQ degreaser but you will still need to leave the grates for 5 minutes after spraying. Finally, you can put everything back together.
Can I grill on an offset smoker?
This depends on the model you have bought. Most horizontal offset smokers come with a main chamber that you can use as a grill, or simultaneously with the smoker.
How do I control temperature on an offset smoker?
This is probably the most difficult part of using an offset smoker and it will definitely take practice. It might sound strange, but as with a normal BBQ, you need time to get used to your offset smoker. Controlling the temperature will be from a combination of adjusting air vents and adding extra charcoal/wood when necessary. Monitor the effects of opening vents or adding fuel on the temperature gauge. This will help you learn to use your offset smoker faster.
I have read reviews about offset smokers peeling. How can I stop this?
More often than not it is because people haven’t seasoned their offset smoker before using it. First of all cover all parts of the offset smoker with cooking oil, either with a cloth or spray. Light the fuel and wait for 15 minutes with the lids open. After 15 minutes, close the lids and leave the vents half-open. You need to wait for 2 hours at a temperature of 150º. It is advisable to do this once a year.
Why does my offset smoker leak smoke?
It is normal that a small number of smoke leaks. If you feel that it is an excessive amount of smoke, you might need to reseal the doors.